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Dark Sky Revelation


Epick Crom
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Hi my fellow stargazers! This is not really a report in the usual sense, more of an observation. Yesterday I traveled to a rural town called Mount Magnet, roughly 600 km out of Perth on a work assignment and stayed there overnight. There were thunderstorms while some workmates and I had dinner during nightfall at a local pub. As we walked to where we were staying for the night the clouds had disappeared and I was confronted by the most pitch black night sky I have ever seen in my life! Honestly I just stood there in stunned silence. My colleagues were impressed too , but I was simply gobsmacked as I compared it to my backyard sky back home. There was no comparison! The sky was the most deepest deep black, with so many stars visible I momentarily struggled to identify the constellations. Now I know what the term "dark Sky" means. This town is in the middle of the bush, with non existent light pollution. My colleagues had long gone to bed while I was still standing out there, not believing my eyes! The Magellanic Clouds were easy naked eye and very bright. Taurus and Orion were unrecognisable, thousands of stars and glowing patches. The entire sky was ablaze, set to the deep deep black sky. Even now I can't describe the blackness, it didn't seem real! Even now back at home it seems like a dream, it affected me that much. I can only imagine using a scope under such skies🤯. All of us amateur astronomers need to get to a truly dark site at least once in our lives, even only naked eye it is an experience that will be seared into your memory forever. I will never forget last night...

Joe

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That sounds like an amazing experience that will for sure stay with you for long! I think your 10" under these skies would have been  mind blowing. (I remember a few years back, before i got into the hobby, I was at a national park in UK, Snowdonia, and the sky was full of stars and no city/village lights to be seen; it still is in my memory and unfortunately,  I have not repeated it).

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I am lucky enough to not only live in a place with very dark skies, but to have grown up here and have moved back for my adult life.  I wasn't ever introduced to astronomy until I was in my 30's, but I grew up knowing many stars and how bright the Milky Way is, and being in disbelief that there were so many people who haven't even seen it.  Being older and more experienced now, I understand the difficulty the majority of people have in getting a chance to see truly dark skies.  I can tell you as a person who has frequent access to them that for one, anybody who has any interest in looking into space should absolutely make it to a dark sky site when they can! I have also lived in light pollution, and it's amazing how much can be seen by just eliminating that.  Also, it's so easy to get wrapped up in the romantic telescopic views (and I get it, so many DSO's and dim objects become available for viewing), but when you have a dark sky location and the moon is right, you don't need all the fancy optics.  Naked eye viewing is incredible, and stepping it up to even just binoculars can blow most peoples' minds.  Yes, if you have a target list then the ability too see specific object's is absolutely there, but eh amount of sky you can cover with less magnification often leads to so many more amazing discoveries.  Congratulations @Epick Crom for having discovered this, and I hope you find more of those dark skies!

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9 hours ago, Kon said:

That sounds like an amazing experience that will for sure stay with you for long! I think your 10" under these skies would have been  mind blowing. (I remember a few years back, before i got into the hobby, I was at a national park in UK, Snowdonia, and the sky was full of stars and no city/village lights to be seen; it still is in my memory and unfortunately,  I have not repeated it).

Hi Kostas, glad to hear of your experience. Ive read about people talking about dark sites, but once you actually see real dark skies it blows you away. Dark skies are indeed more important than aperture!

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6 hours ago, Hayduke27 said:

I am lucky enough to not only live in a place with very dark skies, but to have grown up here and have moved back for my adult life.  I wasn't ever introduced to astronomy until I was in my 30's, but I grew up knowing many stars and how bright the Milky Way is, and being in disbelief that there were so many people who haven't even seen it.  Being older and more experienced now, I understand the difficulty the majority of people have in getting a chance to see truly dark skies.  I can tell you as a person who has frequent access to them that for one, anybody who has any interest in looking into space should absolutely make it to a dark sky site when they can! I have also lived in light pollution, and it's amazing how much can be seen by just eliminating that.  Also, it's so easy to get wrapped up in the romantic telescopic views (and I get it, so many DSO's and dim objects become available for viewing), but when you have a dark sky location and the moon is right, you don't need all the fancy optics.  Naked eye viewing is incredible, and stepping it up to even just binoculars can blow most peoples' minds.  Yes, if you have a target list then the ability too see specific object's is absolutely there, but eh amount of sky you can cover with less magnification often leads to so many more amazing discoveries.  Congratulations @Epick Crom for having discovered this, and I hope you find more of those dark skies!

You are right @Hayduke27, I was completely satisfied just staring at the dark sky spectacle with the naked eye. I could have stayed out there for hours just gazing but unfortunately had to go to bed because I was leaving early the next morning 😭. This experience has really hit home just how much light pollution is robbing us all😠

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If only more people get this experience there will be progress to reduce unnecessary light pollution.

Christmas is a bit to blame too,  whole towns glowing now in silly fairy lights even at the small hours of the morning when there is no one to see it :( 

It's so good to go somewhere remote with a dark sky! I agree - just eyes and bins are enough for a whole night of observing.

Edited by Nik271
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2 hours ago, Epick Crom said:

You are right @Hayduke27, I was completely satisfied just staring at the dark sky spectacle with the naked eye. I could have stayed out there for hours just gazing but unfortunately had to go to bed because I was leaving early the next morning 😭. This experience has really hit home just how much light pollution is robbing us all

I originally come from Athens, Greece and this summer when I visited i paid more attention on the night sky and I was blown away, in a bad way, that I could only just see Jupiter by naked eye. I feel really blessed having my fairly dark skies in UK now. If I ever had to move back to city, I would defiantly buy a grab and go telescope to venture in the countryside.

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We used to have family living at a Dark Sky location, it was always amazing to look up when visiting.
Often just the eyeball view was enough to draw comment, but the binocular view made things sing.
Sadly the family member has now passed away and that avenue of adventure now closed.

Its an amazing sight though and I expect a Dark Sky in remote Oz is far Darker than one in Blighty.

 

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I have a site in mind as a potential darksite, keep meaning to go and do a recce. 

But now this has inspired me to go and have a look, will just take binoculars though for first time. 

Just need a break in the weather, oh wait! 😅

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1 hour ago, bomberbaz said:

I have a site in mind as a potential darksite, keep meaning to go and do a recce. 

But now this has inspired me to go and have a look, will just take binoculars though for first time. 

Just need a break in the weather, oh wait! 😅

Give it a go @bomberbaz. This was my first taste of what a truly dark site is like, now I'm hooked. Hope you get that break in the weather 🙂

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Wow good for you Joe! A number of us have had their dark-sky Epiphany moments while exiting the pub, myself included and @niallk from memory. A common theme seems to be "where have all the constellations gone?". I recall someone else saying looking up was almost vertigo-inducing, looking up you felt as though you could fall into the sky.

I had a quick check to see actually what your sky would look like from Mount Magnet. Orion completely upside-down, he must have a serious permanent headache :)! And M42 more than 50 degrees up! I also learned that Western Australia (all Australia?) abolished daylight savings a few years ago.

Cheers, Magnus

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Great Joe. 👍 The only problem you have now is when at home you know what you're missing. ☹️

For me, seeing the likes of M31 and the Double Cluster with the naked eye is wonderful.

You need to travel with binoculars... and have a ready supply of coffee because you won't get much sleep next time...😁

 

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18 hours ago, Captain Magenta said:

Wow good for you Joe! A number of us have had their dark-sky Epiphany moments while exiting the pub, myself included and @niallk from memory. A common theme seems to be "where have all the constellations gone?". I recall someone else saying looking up was almost vertigo-inducing, looking up you felt as though you could fall into the sky.

I had a quick check to see actually what your sky would look like from Mount Magnet. Orion completely upside-down, he must have a serious permanent headache :)! And M42 more than 50 degrees up! I also learned that Western Australia (all Australia?) abolished daylight savings a few years ago.

Cheers, Magnus

Hi Magnus, it sure was was an amazing sight, one I will never forget. Yes Western Australia abolished daylight saving approx 6 years ago. The eastern states still have daylight savings I believe..

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15 hours ago, ScouseSpaceCadet said:

Great Joe. 👍 The only problem you have now is when at home you know what you're missing. ☹️

For me, seeing the likes of M31 and the Double Cluster with the naked eye is wonderful.

You need to travel with binoculars... and have a ready supply of coffee because you won't get much sleep next time...😁

 

Too true @ScouseSpaceCadet. Now when I look at my skies I feel underwhelmed ☹️  +1 regarding binoculars, I need to buy a pair soon. If I'm ever blessed to go back I will certainly take a massive supply of coffee 😁

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