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Too many stars


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For a couple of weeks I have been in Scotland. For a time I was in the Dark Sky Park in Galloway but more recently I have been at Loch Rannoch.

Although there have been cloudy nights, when there isn't cloud or only partial cloud, WoW!

The trouble is when my eyes are dark adapted there are too many stars. I just can't identify the constellations apart from Orion which is now too close to the horizon and hidden by mountains. I couldn't find Polaris two nights ago even though the plough was still easily identified.

I know I'm just a beginner but are there any tricks to help me navigate when all the sky looks like one of those stacked photos of the milky way?

Edited by Chatham
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Going to hate this answer: No.

Been in much the same conditions, couldn't find a thing like Casseiopia, Taurus, Cygnus or anything lying in the milky way.

The Plough is OK as it is outside, so Polaris should have been easy.

You don't need scopes when it is that dark do you.

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I'm a city boy myself and consequently like you, have difficulty when getting to a really dark site. I guess practice and knowledge are the only mitigating circumstances for this problem so maybe a good starbook or planetarium and book yourself another trip away from it all.

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I am disorientated too at a dark site.

I think the best thing to do would be find markers stars which are reall bright and then 'fill in' using an 'all sky' chart for the month you are in. e.g. currently I would expect Betelgeuse, Vega, Arcturus and Sirius to be a good start and of course the Plough as stated. Not easy though for a while.

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It is a well known problem, believe me! I had it first in the Mojave desert on holiday.

Now that I'm in rural France people often complain that they can't get the hang of navigating here because of the plethora of stars - and another classic is, 'Oh no, where did that cloud come from?' The cloud, of course, is the Milky Way. That really does happen and more often than you might think.

Olly

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have you tried any of the astro apps on iphone or similar

Some have real time updates ("planets" app on iphone etc)

Gives you a good point to at least start looking

best of luck

Stick

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You could try wearing shades, or maybe shine a torch in your eyes to ruin the dark adaptation, either way you'll only see the really bright stars!!! :)

On a serious note though as the majority of constellations pre-date the modern phenomenon of light-pollution how did "the ancients" manage to see the patterns if we can't in what must be similar conditions? :D

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Would darkish glasses help? dark enough to block out some of the dimmer stars and leave the ones you'd normally see, just to help you get orintated.

/edid Key beat me to it.

Edited by Steep
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Heres a shout for the smartphone apps. I'd be lost without mine

Are there any comparison reviews of astronomy smartphone apps?

(I'm assuming there's more than one!)

Edited by Key
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Thanks for the replies.

Yes I did better the night that I was able to set up during twilight so I think sunglasses may be the way to go. Unfortunately on several clear nights it wasn't clear at twilight and I hadn't been expecting it to clear.

On the really clear dark nights there were very few directions that didn't seem packed with stars not just the milky way.

A phone just to look at the stars hmmmmm as I have a 7 year old phone that rarely gets switched on are you telling me I need an upgrade :D

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