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Dark sites - personal protection


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Posted (edited)

I’ve sat in my new found favorite field for many hours now, and the things I hear around me can be terrifying lol. Coyotes, weird howling, shrieking, buzzing etc. Hell, even people show up sometimes and have no idea I’m sitting there…that’s worrisome to me in case they see a dark shadow moving and decide to investigate.

I guess it depends where you are but does anyone utilize some level of personal protection when out in the field? I want to make sure I’m not being paranoid and this is like a totally legitimate thing to do.

Edited by Maideneer
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From the UK here so we don't have to worry about wild animals which is always good. I definitely share your concerns when I'm out and about but in the ways of personal protection I'm not sure that's the best route to go down, if anything did happen it could get in you a bit of hot water. If you're taking gear out then just make sure its insured, would be a hassle to replace but probably the better option.

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I don’t think you’re being paranoid just legitimately sensible. There’s no guarantees but some things you could do-

I’m one of 4 keyholders who arrange visits to my club’s dark site. We are able to lock a gate on the single track access road. If you could do that it helps prevent unwanted vehicles turning up.

We don’t go there on our own, always with an observing friend (or friends).

Obviously have a charged phone, even if that won’t bring immediate assistance.

If unwanted folks do pass by if you keep quiet they may not be aware of your presence in the darkness. My scopes are hand driven so no motors buzzing.

If you’re hidden or partially hidden by bushes etc that will help.

If you are spotted keep calm and as friendly as possible. The unwanted visitors may well not be looking for trouble. Calmly explain what you’re doing in a friendly tone and you may find they leave you alone. If they’ve ruined your dark adaptation with lights it probably won’t be deliberate so just accept it.

All the best for safe enjoyable nighttime sessions, Ed.

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I’m guessing the OP is more worried about animal interference than human. I. The U.K. that’s not something we need to worry about; being mauled (well, grunted at) by a marauding hedgehog is the worst that’s happened to me!

I think US based members are most likely to be of help here but please note we are not a gun forum and are family friendly! 👍👍

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1 hour ago, Maideneer said:

I’ve sat in my new found favorite field for many hours now, and the things I hear around me can be terrifying lol. Coyotes, weird howling, shrieking, buzzing etc. Hell, even people show up sometimes and have no idea I’m sitting there…that’s worrisome to me in case they see a dark shadow moving and decide to investigate.

I guess it depends where you are but does anyone utilize some level of personal protection when out in the field? I want to make sure I’m not being paranoid and this is like a totally legitimate thing to do.

Watch out for Bigfoot!😉🤣

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When lone working, we have to set up a particular method of working, part of which may help. You can get very loud personal alarms where if you are stationary for any period of time they sound off, likewise you pull a tab and they sound off. May work on the animal front or if someone needs to find you. Additionally, you could set up some sort of arrangement where either you call someone or they call you at given time intervals. HTH

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Itr's never a good Idea to venture out on an Observing spell on ones own.
Much better to  organize these  outings with a couple of friends, preferably people who share your interest,
but even folks who don't will appreciate the sights you and your scopes will afford them.
They will be enthralled, and may well take up astronomy themselves.
Is there a local Astronomical Society near you perhaps, that would be the best
way to get a group together.
Ron.

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Posted (edited)
4 hours ago, Astro Waves said:

From the UK here so we don't have to worry about wild animals which is always good. I definitely share your concerns when I'm out and about but in the ways of personal protection I'm not sure that's the best route to go down, if anything did happen it could get in you a bit of hot water. If you're taking gear out then just make sure its insured, would be a hassle to replace but probably the better option.

Oh, I don’t know. We often get lions, wolves, snow Lea pots and such shouting most of the day and night, and I’m 20 or so miles from you.

Edited by iapa
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7 hours ago, Stu said:

I’m guessing the OP is more worried about animal interference than human. I. The U.K. that’s not something we need to worry about; being mauled (well, grunted at) by a marauding hedgehog is the worst that’s happened to me!

I think US based members are most likely to be of help here but please note we are not a gun forum and are family friendly! 👍👍

I've had run-ins or near run-ins with both lately.  And thanks, I wasn't specifically referring to guns but more of anything else really...mace / pepper spray, a hunting knife, etc etc

From the sounds of it, many are saying wild animals are not a UK problem, is that really true?  I presumed most of every country has issues with whatever is local to them.  I know around my area, coyotes are sometimes a problem, there have been reports of stray bears roaming around, definitely lots of deer, and who knows what else.

I do appreciate the other advice though about joining a club and going in packs, that's a good idea.  My problem is I am a bit of an introvert and suffer from some social anxiety, so sometimes I have trouble being with other people and I figured astronomy was a good hobby for loner types like myself.

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2 hours ago, Maideneer said:

I've had run-ins or near run-ins with both lately.  And thanks, I wasn't specifically referring to guns but more of anything else really...mace / pepper spray, a hunting knife, etc etc

From the sounds of it, many are saying wild animals are not a UK problem, is that really true?  I presumed most of every country has issues with whatever is local to them.  I know around my area, coyotes are sometimes a problem, there have been reports of stray bears roaming around, definitely lots of deer, and who knows what else.

I do appreciate the other advice though about joining a club and going in packs, that's a good idea.  My problem is I am a bit of an introvert and suffer from some social anxiety, so sometimes I have trouble being with other people and I figured astronomy was a good hobby for loner types like myself.

I would say a personal alarm and perhaps pepper spray would be most suitable. Trouble with anything else is that it can be turned on you if alone and you face multiple people. That, and a mobile phone, make sure you have coverage and telling someone where you are going and when to expect you back.

EDIT of course local laws vary a lot and should always be followed!

There is nothing dangerous in the U.K. no bears, wolves, boar or anything like that. The only poisonous snake is the adder which will be tucked up safe at night. Foxes are the biggest wild dog which is no issue, no threat to humans. Biggest danger would likely be spooking a herd of cows into stampeding at you if you go into the wrong field, but that’s probably unlikely.

I understand the anxiety part, but even if with a group, you can still keep yourself to yourself, just being near others gives you some safety if needed. Even if it’s just an accident, better that happens with others around, not on your own somewhere remote.

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3 hours ago, iapa said:

Oh, I don’t know. We often get lions, wolves, snow Lea pots and such shouting most of the day and night, and I’m 20 or so miles from you.

West Calder?  I'm just over the hill :)  

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In the UK carrying a knife of any description without a lawful reason (self defense is not a lawful reason) is an arrestable offense. Sounds ridiculous but if challenged by an idiot, as far as the law is concerned, the safest thing to do is just hand everything over ☹️

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2 hours ago, johninderby said:

BTW in the UK pepper spray is considered a firearm and carries the same legal penalties as carrying a gun does.

Thanks John. Yes, I was referring to what might be legal in the US. I have added a clarifying comment in my post saying local laws should always be followed!

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2 hours ago, johninderby said:

BTW in the UK pepper spray is considered a firearm and carries the same legal penalties as carrying a gun does.

Back in 2015 my daughter in law who is French went to the UK on a months exchange (working) she went on the big wheel in London her bag was searched and she had a CS spray the police came over and she explained that she was French and perfectly legal here but a no no in the UK lesson learnt she happily handed it over and that was that.

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Posted (edited)

Pepper spray is illegal in most EU countries but legal in France, Italy, Spain and a few others. It is possible to get a license to carry it in Germany and Switzerland but said license is very hard to get.

In the strange world of legal and illegal weapons it is legal to drive your own main battle tank on UK roads if it has rubber pads on the treads and of course gun must be deactivated.

Edited by johninderby
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I rather like the concept of going to a dark site in a tank, deactivated gun or not! Suspect one might fall foul of the green lobby on a host of front though.

Like many "remote activities" I can only echo what has been said already - don't do it alone, have a check in procedure in place, keep your mobile well charged and get good insurance. 

.

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3 hours ago, Maideneer said:

stray bears roaming around

😨

Maybe you should be considering a gun! Or perhaps something else that will make a similarly loud bang to scare them off?

 

3 hours ago, Maideneer said:

From the sounds of it, many are saying wild animals are not a UK problem, is that really true?

Mostly. If you're headed out with some particularly expensive equipment, you should beware Gramsci. Rumour has it he roams wild on Hampstead Heath...

+1 for anyone who gets the reference. 

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Posted (edited)

Antonio? Wasn’t he about equality and the people being civil to each other? And there’s no “ownership”

Doubt that’s who you mean tho’

Edited by iapa
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UK law, carrying anything which can be classed as a weapon is right out, so taking along a baseball bat or knife or whatever is completely out of the question . However, if you have a large powerful metal bodied torch (U.S. 'flashlight') like a 3 or 4D maglite with you for perfectly legitimate reasons (you need it to find your dropped eyepiece ...) you have a comforting lump of metal to hold and the ability to shine a bright light in the eyes of a human aggressor, destroy their night vision, and take yourself away, head quietly for safety while they see not much at all for minutes .

That said, I'd prefer concealment to confrontation any day (or night) so would  strive to choose a location where human interference would be unlikely, and from where I could leave easily, not a spot with only one access where I might be blocked in. Staying still and silent , and not silhouetted against any bright light makes sense, as does positioning yourself so approaching you from the rear unnoticed would be difficult , so ideally try to keep some barrier like a fence or wall or rock formation behind you.

Here in the UK we have no non-human animals which would pose a danger at night,  as long as we don't set up in a cow field (nosy bullocks & heifers are mostly just annoying, but cows with calves can be dangerous). Mind you,  one tiny inoffensive hedgehog can sound like a giant marauding beast as it crashes around the undergrowth :evil4:and eerie sounds like the cries of foxes do seem magnified in the still of the night .

Heather

 

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1 minute ago, iapa said:

Antonio? Wasn’t he about equality and the people being civil to each other?

Doubt that’s who you mean tho’

I was thinking the same , 'Beware of the wild Marxists on the heath'  ?!

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