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Ags

observing from urban areas

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It looks very likely that I will be moving to a very light-polluted urban area. :-(

I'm hoping I will still be able to do some observing from my back garden despite the yellow sky. Would I still be able to get reasonable views of the planets of will the light pollution ruin the contrast? Or will all the building thermals around me spoil the seeing, especially at high mags?

I know the best thing to do is to get to a dark site, but to be honest I'm not keen on going out to dark fields alone.

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I live in the West end of Glasgow. The light pollution is horrendous and the sky is often orange in colour. I am getting very nice views of Jupiter at the moment (GRS, cloud bands etc). Last year I was able to make out surface details on Mars using a 12" Dob. Not really a planetary 'scope as such.

My 80mm APO picks out nice detail on Jupiter also.

So to answer your question, Planets should be okay, Lunar observing is good, but DSOs are a BIG challenge.

Cheers

Tom

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You could consider reading The Urban Astronomer's Guide. It not only has good advice, but is excellent for reassuring you that light pollution isn't the end of the world.

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Them faint fuzzies are elusive in orange skies. but hey Jupiter's up and Saturn will be back in Dec :)

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globs and open clusters are DSOs too and I bet you'll still see lots of those. I was surprised to be able to pick out the little dumbbell M76 tonight (for the first time) with moonshine and light pollution (although I was using the large dob and once located the Oiii filter really made a difference.).

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Moon and planets will be fine and could keep you busy forever. Nebulae might be possible with a filter. Galaxies aren't going to be worth the effort. If you really want to see them then don't be afraid to venture into the countryside alone at night - it's a much safer place than the city. You'll never be mugged by sheep. Only time I've ever felt spooked was when I went out after watching Blair Witch Project. That really wasn't such a good idea.

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I moved from the countryside with almost no light pollution to a place with an orange sky. It does make things tougher (103P Hartley has proved impossible in my 15x70's) but doesn't put a stop to anything. The planets, moon and many of the clusters still look good in a scope. Having said that I only bought my telescope when I moved to an urban area (long story) but still found 50+ Messiers with my 6" scope from a small blacony with a restricted view and street lights outside. Just don't expect HST views!

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You could consider reading The Urban Astronomer's Guide. It not only has good advice, but is excellent for reassuring you that light pollution isn't the end of the world.
I've got this book. The thing is the author reckons that a limiting magnitude of 3 or 4 is as bad as it gets

It’s rare for thiings to be much worse than that. Which in my experience simply ain't the case - certainly not in europe. When I lived in Staines, I could see maybe half a dozen stars - tops. Most of the constellations simply didn't exist. My VLM was somewhere between 0 and 1. Even where I live now, on the edge of a small town in the south-east - which personally I'd consider a "rural/suburban transition" to use the Bortle terminology is about 2½ magnitudes, or a factor of 10, brighter than what the scale claims for this classification.

Even now, in my "dark" location a great deal of the visual targets that Rod talks about (based on his experience in the southern USA) either don't rise above the horizon, with the UK being much further north, or are lost in the murk that is the light pollution which extends up to 30°.

So yes, read the book - but bear in mind that the author has a very privileged situation and an impression of "light polluted" skies that people in densely populated europe wouldn't recognise.

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Pete,

You make some excellent points. I perhaps got so carried away with the spirit of "Yes! Yes I can still do astronomy with light pollution!" that I didn't treat his words very critically.

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I've had to come to terms with the pretty awful light pollution of London's famous Lewisham. Moon, planets and clusters are all fine, and there are some nights when it's worth having a look at M31, M57, M27 etc. Very occasionally conditions are good - I have seen a hint of milky way from my SE23 postcode, but that's only once and I'm already 43.

So I've tended to concentrate on planets, which seem not to be too badly affected by LP even when there is no more than a handful of stars visible; sure, the seeing is worse than in the countryside but if you stay out late enough, things seem to settle down. I guess that's because the neighbours' central heating has turned off and the houses and road surfaces have finished radiating away the previous day's heat.

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I managed to get allot of detail on Mars through the 10" scope I had at the time, I live on the outskirts of Manchester in Bolton. In my (admittedly short experience) planets shouldn't be to badly effected if at all. Granted the skies in Bolton aren't the worst but it was still very difficult to see the lower magnitude "faint fuzzies", some of the galaxies I went for were within the ability of the scope but were rendered invisible by the sky glow. It's probably best to stick with the messier objects if you want to explore the deep sky, and as mentioned above star clusters tend not to be as badly effected by light pollution as nebula and galaxies.

:):):)

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Try double stars and variables. They may look less interesting than nebulae but as you observe them and find out what type of stars they are and how distant etc, you might begin to appreciate them and there are lots of stars to see through a telescope even in light-polluted places. I look at doubles during times of bad seeing, mist and moonlight (when the moon isn't in a favourable position).

Dont know what scope you have but it's probably best to use smaller apertures, as larger ones tend to be more effected by light-pollution for the same reasons they are more effected by other types of bad seeing. Perhaps invest in quality smaller telescopes such as a good refractor.

Alan.

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Have you seen if there is a social group setup for your area. There's quite a few setup now, so a good chance there maybe one. That way you won't be observing alone at a dark site.

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Would this one, the Welsh Valleys, be any good for you?

Stargazers Lounge - Welsh valleys

There are 24 members, including some moderators from the forum. Looks a really good bunch.

Edited by russ

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I have terrible light pollution problems that vary depending on what the railway are doing at the bottom of our garden. If the railway have their lights on for some train maintenance, i simply do not bother. I can count the stars on one hand. My location also suffers with chronic bad seeing and dew. But occasionally there are some good views of the planets. I had a really nice view of Jupiter in early August for instance.

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Thanks Russ. I'll look at joining a group in Amsterdam (I'm moving there).

Alan - you say little telescopes are best for light-polluted areas? Well, lucky I've got a 100mm Mak!

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Ah i see. You are moving from Wales to Amsterdam. Hopefully there will be a group local to you. Hope the move goes well.

Edited by russ

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