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Dark Skye , dark sky.


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Awoke at 1.30 and lasted until 2.45. Nice and chill and the wind had dropped.

Opening the door and looking up was a shock, just took my breath away . So many stars, I couldn't find a constellation. At first I thought it was another universe , the eye being drawn to a huge spider web buzz of stars. Given its size , Berenice 's hair , the melotte dominating Coma Berenices.

Just about picked out Ursa Major. How do those stars disappear into the carpets of stars ? Ok, down to Arcturus and the line to Vega. Corona Borealis was a full crown and M13 was obvious in the extended keystone .

Quite low down was the shining carpet of the Milky Way. Ragged and halting through Cygnus up to low Cassiopeia and a shining double cluster .

No star chart, no telescope. Still struggling by eye to fit the whole sky together. Low over the hill behind , a curving sweep of stars , the sickle of Leo . 

Still in a state of awe , I reached for my old Prinzlux 7x15-32 zoom Spacemaster. The Milky Way glide along provided just packed star fields with clusters popping into view. Up to Bode's , M101, M51, galaxies filling the bowl  of the plough . Just spring galaxies everywhere . You won't be overawed with tiny bins , it's more " err there's a light bit missing stars " galaxy moment . 

The double cluster just blended into the full star background.

A last look around by eye , soaking in the sky. 

Not a bad place , off for porridge in the conservatoire!

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Keep safe , stay happy under clear skies !

Nick.

 

 

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Edited by cotterless45
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Experiences like this are so uplifting and a gentle reminder of how small we are as well.

Reading your description felt like I was stood alongside you Nick, thank you for inviting me.

 

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I used to visit the Isle of Skye quite regularly many years ago when I traveled all over Scotland salmon fishing. It’s a truly beautiful place, but unfortunately for me i hadn’t yet rekindled my love for astronomy 😞

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Posted (edited)

Thanks Nick, what a great read!

We are spending 2 weeks in a combination of Lewis, Harris, Skye and Mull in September, including a full week on Mull in a remote cottage.

I'm just hoping we get a couple of nights like you described, and I'm planning to take my trusty old Vixen SP102 and mount up with me..🤞🔭😊

Dave

Edited by F15Rules
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You can’t properly correlate Bortle with SQM and satellite data can’t perfectly give you a real SQM estimate. If you look at the sequential VIIRS data you’ll see random variations. If someone there cam check one clear, dark night and confirm their skies are best described by the bortle 1 description then I’d be interested and it’ll save on air miles from the more readily known B1 skies.

Peter

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On 24/04/2022 at 07:18, rojay said:

Sounds like a great experience! I think the sky with the most stars that I ever saw was from west Scotland.

Sssshhhhhhh - everyone will be up here 😉 

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2 minutes ago, Skipper Billy said:

Sssshhhhhhh - everyone will be up here 😉 

But you need to be lucky (unless you've moved permanently). The best view I ever had was from the north of Arran, but a few years later I spent a whole week in Skye and never saw a star.

 

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Re the light pollution map, I stayed for a week in a cottage in a hamlet(?) called Sheigra, sometimes Shegra, north of Kinlochbervie and then north of Oldshoremore. The coastal road north stops there. The end. 

My dob and I travelled with high hopes - nay, more - this would be dark, dark, darkest black. The area is rated Bortle 1 on the map and may well be. How- e-e-ver, the half-dozen or so households in Sheigra - who leave their windows and doors unlocked 24/7 - have ‘security’ lighting! On all night! All night!! There are camper vans, too.

And it can be cloudy. Five out of six were. A dob too far.

I have had a couple of great nights on Skye and when the skies are good they are unbeatable. Nevertheless, I think one should travel in hope but always keep expectations to a manageable level. Maps are only maps.

Just saying … 😑

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9 minutes ago, Zermelo said:

But you need to be lucky (unless you've moved permanently). The best view I ever had was from the north of Arran, but a few years later I spent a whole week in Skye and never saw a star.

We have just had a whole winter where I barely saw a star !!!!! 😉 

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2 minutes ago, Skipper Billy said:

We have just had a whole winter where I barely saw a star !!!!! 😉

I know, a week is no time at all to get peeved over. Perhaps cloud-induced frustration is inversely proportional to the local Bortle rating?

It was still a great week, the weather was fine for walking.

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The best I had on the Isle of Wight would be Bortle4 by the descriptions, mag21.5 measured. The locals noted the night wasn’t too good compared to what they can get… guess the more chances you take the more chances of a special night.

Peter

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I don't really understand all those SQM and Bortle numbers but if you don't recognise any of the usual constellations, because they are lost in a swarm of stars, then you know you are under great skies. I've only experienced this once and it was on a camping trip near Dartmoor.

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