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The view from my centre of town garden is both physically & light-pollution restricted. Anything below 25 degrees is out of the question, anything West below 60 degrees behind bright buildings and a huge South-Easterly sycamore tree combines with a neighbour’s security & outdoor fairy-light obsession to make a fairly narrow observing window to say the least.

The local park about 5 mins away potentially offers a darker & wider alternative which I confirmed this week on a late night dog comfort-break excursion.  All of a sudden, from a spot around the 22 on the rugby pitch, a break in the cloud  presented a full vista of Orion, Taurus, both Canis, Auriga, Gemini, Perseus & Cassiopeia- I was star-struck to the point where my furry companion thought I’d lost it. Messier clusters in Auriga I’d struggled to get in the eyepiece from the garden were immediately visible as naked-eye diamond-dust, the Pleiades sparkled and M42 glowed.  It was ten minutes of magic. 

Inspired by my mid-week bonus I hatched a plan to head to the park the next time a clear-sky coincided with a non-school night.  Tonight promised a couple of clear hours around midnight but dodgy weather earlier in the evening combined with the feeling that lugging the Mak and tripod to the park might  be tough to justify as a lockdown exercise break, confined me to a late night stroll armed only with my trusty 10x50s. Having overcome the nagging sensation I might be mistaken for some kind of lurking pervert, I set off for the park.  

In the end I got about 15 minutes  before fog bubbled up from the river. But even this fleeting glimpse allowed me to confirm I can now easily find the Messier clusters in Auriga and put my bins straight onto the double cluster in Perseus, things I’d never seen before lockdown.

As the fog closed in I took a sweep of the alpha Perseii cluster and Pleiades, my current binocular greatest hits, and headed home happy. 


 


 


 


 

 


 

Edited by SuburbanMak
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8 hours ago, Stu said:

Nice report! Darker skies make such a different, seemingly tough targets just become easy. Hopefully you can get your scope down there once lockdown eases.

Thanks - yes, the park will definitely be on the list for a quick impromptu view that’s darker than the garden. Am on the edge of the S.Downs national park & have a few spots identified a short car trip away for after lockdown that should offer about as good as it gets for South central England. 

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12 minutes ago, SuburbanMak said:

Thanks - yes, the park will definitely be on the list for a quick impromptu view that’s darker than the garden. Am on the edge of the S.Downs national park & have a few spots identified a short car trip away for after lockdown that should offer about as good as it gets for South central England. 

The South Downs are pretty good. I’m Walton-on-Thames and my club have occasionally ventured down to near Bignor which has been excellent on occasion. Mind you, Ranmore Common is much nearer for us and still worthwhile.

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Can't beat a sky with less light pollution.
I remember a few years back helping a visitor put some things into her car on my drive.
Looking up (At Orion) she commented 'you have more stars here than where I live'.
It was about 15 miles away.
I know😕

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37 minutes ago, Carbon Brush said:

Can't beat a sky with less light pollution.
I remember a few years back helping a visitor put some things into her car on my drive.
Looking up (At Orion) she commented 'you have more stars here than where I live'.
It was about 15 miles away.
I know😕

This has got me looking at dark sky maps near me & I realised this week is the CPRE starcount which I’ll do with kids if the sky clears (Wednesday looking most likely right now).   
https://www.cpre.org.uk/what-we-care-about/nature-and-landscapes/dark-skies/star-count-2021/

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1 hour ago, Stu said:

The South Downs are pretty good. I’m Walton-on-Thames and my club have occasionally ventured down to near Bignor which has been excellent on occasion. Mind you, Ranmore Common is much nearer for us and still worthwhile.

Bignor looks great, right in the middle, although a bit of a drive for me. Going to try Cheesefoot Head on the A272 Petersfield road out of Winchester should give a good panorama W,N & E. and having dropped the kids off there for various Scout night hikes know its pretty dark up there,  Old Winchester Hill in Meonstoke which is called out by the NP as one of their stargazing sites and Farley Mount Monument which promised great elevated views E-S & W.  

Edited by SuburbanMak
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