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Hi there

Apologies if this should be in the 'Observing' section but seeing as I'm new to this I thought this section would be appropiate.

I'm getting my first telescope soon and have been out and about with my binoculars recently trying to find some good dark sites nearby. I live close to a large town (Banbury) so would like to get into the countryside to get the best from my new scope. But what do people generally do? Park on the side of the road and set up in a field? Find a local country park and go there? Or just walk from your house until you're away from all the light? The trouble I see is that wandering around fields in the middle of the night makes you look as if you're up to no good!

Any help you guys have will be greatly appreciated.

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Usually I just stay in my backyard. It's much easier to pop the scope from the garage and do a little observing.

When I do move (only when the weather forecast is excellent) I use a few tourist-landscape-observation-spots (I'm sure there's a proper word for these in English) in dark areas, by the road. That way access is easy (I don't want to fall and damage my gear) and the places are usually a bit high in altitude which helps as you have a bit less atmosphere above and so the seeing conditions improve (less shimmering).

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I agree with the idea of finding a local observing group or contacting a local astro club to see if you can locate any possible sites.

I wouldn't advise wandering around fields but if you can spot a good location during the day, go to the nearest village and see if you can locate the farmer who owns the land and in person, make contact with them to see if they can help you - they might know a better spot. This is what I have done on several occasions as its good to have more than one location!

I would certainly avoid using public spaces on an evening as its more trouble than its worth to be honest, especially if you're observing by yourself. The biggest problem I have encountered even in the countyside are adults (mostly male) who drive around in the early hours conducting their own observations of, shall we say, an adult nature :):eek: and the constant interruptions of people driving up to you (full beam of course) having noticed your car parked up enquiring what your doing. If your on private property (courtesy of the farmer) you can ask them to leave as you have permission to be there - they don't. Its a pain but the countryside does provide for dark skies and that's what makes it all worth while!:o:hello2:

Best of luck in locating either a site or other observers.

James

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Thanks for all the info guys. I'll start in my back garden at first but my neighbours conservatory emits alot of light long into the night so I'll just have to wait and see how it affects viewing.

I know of one local astronomy club but its quite a way away (over 30 mins) so their sites most likely won't be that local to me but it's worth a try. And as you say, astronomers are 100% good people so it'll be worth meeting others!

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The only public site near you I can think of is Burton Dasset Country Park. I have been out there to photograph the odd comet as it a reasonably 'dark' site for the area. The only problem with these places is that they attract 'd o g g i n g' types if you know I mean! The only advice I can give is to find a really quiet, out of site area to set up, away from the main car parks.

Failing that, if you own a 4x4 then the green lanes in the area provide a quiet night time retreat which I have sometimes used for observing.

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