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Impact of light pollution on night vision astronomy


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One of the key benefits of night vision astronomy is the ability to observe many DSOs from a light polluted site which would otherwise be invisible (or virtually invisible ) with normal glass eyepieces.

However, light pollution still has quite an adverse impact on the views with night vision compared to observing from a dark site. I was pretty impressed with the nebulae views I got from London earlier this week. But I still get significantly more enjoyment from night vision when observing at a dark site. 

In June this year, I observed several of the same nebulae from a dark site on the Isle of Wight (sqm 21+) using a reasonably similar setup (effective speed, aperture, image scale).

I attach the London vs Isle of Wight night vision comparison of the North America, Butterfly, Veil, Pac-man, Soul nebulae. Quite a difference I think!!!











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What a difference! The brightness and contrast is so much better - most noticeable on the Veil for me, with its delicate filaments standing out so much more clearly. I went to Kelling Heath a couple of years ago and I’ll never forget my first observation of the night - I held my binoculars up looked towards Andromeda and saw a small cloud in the sky - I thought it might have been cloudy skies on the way but it turned out to be M33! It was incredibly bright and almost glowing, amazing. I’m lucky to see it at all from my home. 

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Great illustrations Gavin.There’s a huge difference of course. But not as huge as the difference between city and dark skies without night vision! Wouldn’t stand a chance with any of these objects inside the M25 visually without a bit of photon intensifying.  



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  • 2 weeks later...

I was in Devon a few months back at a bortle 3 location with my 12" dob I when straight for the easy target of Jupiter to get me started and couldnt believe the level of detail across the disc. Back home at my bortle 6 location i can get some bands and colouring but need to sit for a while and observe. at the dark site it just popped with detail like i had never seen before.

I didnt think that LP would effect planet viewing as much as it did!


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