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Sharpiejas

London woes?

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Hi, i have been intrested in the stars since i was young but have just started getting more focused after watching Cox's Wonders of the Solar System. I wanted to get a starter telescope but was wondering if i would end up being disapointed because of light pollution, i live in London (Wood Green). When i look up from my back garden, there is a light haze in the sky always. My back garden is small and enclosed, so there is no problem from street lights. I guess i am just looking for someone to say they cope well in urban areas and so to give me the confidence to go forward.

Thanks for any advice.

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Hi Sharpiejas and welcome.

I'm sorry but exactly where in London is Wood Green ?

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Although its horrible and we would be far better off with less light pollution it is possible to kind of work around it. Your lucky not to have streetlamps and security lights in your vision too really :)

When I am really after something dim or want the best view I can I wait until objects are as close to overhead as possible, that helps lots. Also you can use a LPF (light pollution filter). Mine was about £20, it specifically filters out the kind of light from man made sources but leaves the rest. I haven't actually got to test it too much yet, too much cloud pollution :)

Allowing your eyes to get fully dark adapted is important too. You will see things start to pop out of the haze.

I am in harrow which I suspect has similar levels to yours.

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Oh I see, I was going to say that if you lived over near Hainault, Hainault forest is a reasonable dark sky site ( according to my sister in law ).

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You could concentrate on observing the moon, planets and double stars which arn't as effected by light pollution as galaxies and nebulae. There's a lifetime of study and enjoyment in just those objects. You need a good finder or perhaps even 2 ie a 6 X 30 and one of larger light grasp so you can see faint stars through the pollution to locate clusters and doubles. Can you drive to a darker location to fullfill hankerings for faint fuzzies too ?

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I've read that light pollution filters dont help with galaxies because their light is partly made up of the same frequencies as the unwanted light. Galaxies are different from some gaseous nebulae which have a narrower range of frequencies.

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I am quite near you and tbh it's moon, planets, a few clusters and a couple of dozen of the brightest fuzzies. filters do not help at all for seeing galaxies but will potentially help for certain other nebulae (planetary nebulae particularly). Having said that, moon and planets can keep you happy for a long long time and you can get a lovely refractor without worrying when people say "aperture is king blah blah blah":)

ps - i should just mention that there are no stars shine within 5 miles of WHL - never have been, never will be.

oh, except pat jennings :)

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I have terrible light pollution due to a railway yard almost in my garden. It really is a case of moon and planets only, plus the occasional look at a double star or bright cluster. It's enough to keep you ticking over.

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Oh i should have first said:

Hello and welcome to SGL :)

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I lived in Wood Green for about 6 years and now live a few miles up the road.

As others have said, the moon, planets and double stars are not really affected by light pollution. The brighter star clusters can also still be spectacular even from North London.

Light Pollution filters will not achieve a great deal from my experience. I suspect a large scope with a narrow bandwidth filter might be more successful than my 4" setup, but ultimately I regard a lot of my backyard stargazing as "practice" for when I can get to a dark sky site.

Tim

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…incidentally Enfield council, where I now live, are replacing all their streetlights with new light-pollution reducing ones - massive improvement!

Maybe Haringey will follow suit…

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Hi and welcome to the forum.

Is there any chance of you joining a local astro club/observation group to see if they go observing from a dark site?

Clear skies

James

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I live in Edmonton (North London) so am now hopeful the Street light upgrades make it to my area as we come under Enfield council also.

I have a cheep and nasty scope (30 quid from shopping channel) and I get to see some reasonable stuff.

On a clear night I get a good Jupiter view.

Cant wait to upgrade but have been forbidden untill I get a new shed, no space left in house :-(

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Hi and welcome to SGL.

I live just down the road from Heathrow and have terrible light pollution but as others have said you can still enjoy astronomy as long as you are selective about your targets. You want bright compact objects as opposed to large diffuse ones. Planets, double stars, clusters and even some nebulae are good. Galaxies are really hard.

Again repeating advice, but I also found that improving my finderscope was crucial. My scope came with a red-dot finder, but with no magnification I often couldn't make out guide stars. I upgraded to a Rigel Quikfinder (to get me in the rough area) and a 9x50 finder scope.

HTH

Andrew

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