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Things that go bump in the night

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#1 penguinx64

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Posted 02 August 2014 - 02:31 AM

Last night, I was trying to see the Pinwheel and Whirlpool galaxies. Then I heard some strange animal noises that made me quite nervous. I tried to make some loud noises to frighten them away, but it was no use. I wasn't having much luck with the galaxies, so at the risk of my night vision I turned on my backyard lights. It turned out to be 2 hedgehogs 'doing it' right in the middle of my backyard. That explains why I couldn't frighten them off. So I turned off the lights and switched to the Andromeda galaxy. I compared several eyepieces: 21mm RKE, 20mm Meade Super Plossl, 18mm BCO, 15mm RKE and 10mm BCO. I tried them with and without my Orion Skyglow Broadband filter. I saw the most detail using the 18mm BCO with the filter. By now it was almost 2am and it was time to call it a night. The hedgehogs were still going at it. Those hedgehogs had more stamina that I did last night.
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#2 jethro

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Posted 02 August 2014 - 06:07 AM

I wonder if they had a cigarette when they were done...

#3 Pinbout

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Posted 02 August 2014 - 06:38 AM

this past week, I pulled into my driveway late in the evening to some cats trying to perform. I guess the female cat was reluctant cause she ran under my wife's car and the male cat was just staring from outside.

he would not leave. 3 times I charged him and he didn't moved, only looked at me like, "don't mess with me man..."

after I scared him off enough that he started to chase something else, I went inside my house.

My wife and son told me the cats were just fighting.

uhm, son...they weren't fighting...:grin:

#4 Achernar

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Posted 02 August 2014 - 07:26 AM

Here in coastal Alabama, it's opossums, raccoons, bats, horned owls, whippoorwills and cats that usually go bump in the night. Sometimes even skunks come visiting. Once I thought someone was sneaking up on me, and when I shined my Maglite in the direction of the sound, it turned out to be the largest, fattest skunk I had ever seen. Only this one was not the Pepe Le Pew character. Fortunately for me, he was not in the mood to spray.

Taras

#5 precaud

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Posted 02 August 2014 - 07:40 AM

When I was out a couple weeks ago, I was nearly overrun by a pack of smallish furry things (I saw six, there may have been more) foraging in the yard and right through my setup as if they didn't see it. Startled is the kind word to use to describe how I felt... until I grabbed the flashlight, saw it was racoons, and shooed them away. They were not intimidated in the least!

#6 Star-gaze69

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Posted 02 August 2014 - 07:48 AM

Something's been excavating in my yard lately. It happens to be a night creature who's been going about his business long after I go to bed.
Considering the holes have been scratched out, and aren't very deep, I'm thinking it's an Armadillo.

#7 roscoe

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Posted 02 August 2014 - 08:15 AM

I heard a funny 'whoof' the other night, and shined my bright red light in the direction of the noise, there was a yearling deer about 20 feet away checking me out. She stared at me (or more likely my light) for maybe 20 seconds, then ambled away.

#8 pepit

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Posted 02 August 2014 - 10:15 AM

Now you have a story to tell :D

My dark sky observing site is next to a factory in the field. Great conditions, but interesting things are around... I am close to another factory, but it is an old abounded one from the era of communism. There is no noise, but it's the quitness that creeps me...

There are a few wild dogs in the new factory, which are not a problem, but when they bark that means there is something nearby, mostly foxes, but it may be something else...or not :D .

#9 csrlice12

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Posted 02 August 2014 - 11:52 AM

Notice you never hear from those who got ate......
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#10 pepit

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Posted 02 August 2014 - 01:32 PM

Notice you never hear from those who got ate......

Thinking about this, only a few dogs have been around lately...

#11 csrlice12

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Posted 02 August 2014 - 02:57 PM

Just remember, in some countries, dog is a delicasy.....

#12 pepit

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Posted 02 August 2014 - 03:21 PM

Humans are quite genetically close to dogs...

#13 herrointment

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Posted 02 August 2014 - 04:19 PM

In the dead of winter, in utter silence I peer through the eyepiece when the Great Horned Owl 50 feet above my position decides it's time to hoot.

Happens every year and still jump 10 feet at that first call.
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#14 APshooter

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Posted 02 August 2014 - 04:22 PM

Once, I was hurrying to set up and video an eclipse of Saturn by the moon. I had driven out to a remote spot in the California hills, places few people drive to. The wind was up, maybe 25 mph, but I was determined and hurriedly setup anyway, scrambling to get setup before the event was over. As I was turning on my equipment, something very large and very fast began to 'charge' at me from the darkness. The first thing I thought of was 'mountain lion'. There had been an incident not long before of a woman who had been attacked while jogging in the hills just South of where I was set up. I turned around, hair standing on end while this huge thing galomped towards me in the utter blackness at breakneck speed. I squeezed between the table and the fender of my truck in total darkness as a giant tumbleweed roared past and disappeared into the desert.

On another trip I was manually guiding a film shot if M31 (again, alone on Mt. Pinos, not a good idea). I could hear something rustling in the woods behind me. Not wanting to ruin the shot, I kept guiding. Every five minutes or so it would rustle again, thrashing about in the trees just off the parking lot. Finally I decided 'enough is enough' and threw in the towel. I've never taken apart my rig and thrown it in the truck so fast before or since. As I drove down the first curve of the parking lot, a bobcat scooted across the road in front of me. He'd been hunting probably no more than 50 feet behind me.

#15 MikeBOKC

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Posted 02 August 2014 - 07:01 PM

I enjoy hearing the coyotes howl at dusk at our club dark site. Sort of an alarm that says "observing time!"

My only close up wildlife encounter was many years ago when I looked down one night and saw a hefty bullsnake curling in around the tripod legs. As my avatar suggests herpetology is s sideline hobby so I was less startled that enthralled. Pinned his head and carried him a few feet away to resume his nightly rodent hunt. He was about a five footer, nice size and like most of his brethren much given to hissing and puffing and tail vibrating displays.

#16 DSObserver2000

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Posted 04 August 2014 - 01:01 AM

I was out observing one night and while looking at m11, a bird swooped just above my head scaring the living daylight out of me. I sat there stunned for a minute and went back observing. I've seen giant spiderwebs flying above my house to a red light zooming by. Pretty scary place in my backyard. Too bad I live a few feet away. :crazy:



#17 cwilson

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Posted 04 August 2014 - 06:09 PM

I was observing in the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge years ago when a herd of bison wandered by and one decided to scratch itself on my scope, knocking it over.... No real damage, but it did wonders for my colimation! :(


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#18 Starman1

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Posted 04 August 2014 - 10:41 PM

One winter, after observing all night in the Santa Monica mountains near the coast (about 3000'), I crawled into the sleeping bag in my car to catch an hour of shuteye before loading to drive home.

I woke up to hear a ton of "Oo-Woo! Oo--Woo!" sounds around my car.  I rubbed a hole in the frost on the inside of the window and saw a few peacocks.

I got out of the car to see about 50 peacocks.  One of the 2 flocks that calls those hills its home surrounded my car and was making their way past, obliterating all seeds and insects along the way.

They're aggressive birds though, and a few of them charged me.  And they're about the size of a large turkey, too, so I quickly retreated to the car and didn't get out again until the flock passed.

 

The same site, a month later, and few rustles in the bush.  I shone my red flashlight at full brightness over at the bush, and reflecting back at me were 4 pairs of eyes--2 pairs about 2' off the ground, and 2 pairs about 1' off the ground.  I guessed coyotes (I'd heard them howling earlier).  So I picked up a small rock and flung it in their direction and heard 4 animals running down the canyon away from me, yelping as they went.  Around there, coyotes are a good thing, because mountain lions won't hang out in the same area, and the fact the adults felt safe enough to let the pups look at me meant there was no lion nearby.  Maybe the Coyotes wanted my Oreos?



#19 cwilson

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Posted 05 August 2014 - 08:09 PM

Probably the worst thing I ever had go "bump in the dark" was an unexpected human being. I was out at a dark sky site in the middle of nowhere when suddenly I'm approached by a guy asking for money! Suddenly hearing a voice out of the darkness really gets your blood pumping!



#20 seawolfe

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Posted 06 August 2014 - 05:06 AM

Probably the worst thing I ever had go "bump in the dark" was an unexpected human being. I was out at a dark sky site in the middle of nowhere when suddenly I'm approached by a guy asking for money! Suddenly hearing a voice out of the darkness really gets your blood pumping!

 

Yikes! :scared:

 

Good thing that ALL he was asking for! :sweaty:



#21 caheaton

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Posted 06 August 2014 - 09:38 AM

One night I was observing alone at our club's dark sky site.  It's in a frequently used state park, so I'm always on my guard a bit when there alone at night.  As I was observing I was startled to feel some creature brush up against my leg.  After jumping from my stool I looked down and there was a friendly house cat .  He was my observing companion for the rest of the session and I was more relaxed with a bit of company.   :grin:

 

Another time while camping in Michigan I heard some scratching sounds in the dirt perhaps 15 to 20 feet away from me.  I shined my flashlight and there was a skunk scratching in the dirt (likely looking for grubs or such).  Thankfully, he minded his business and I minded mine...

 

What's more scary are the humans.  One night I was set up at a state park located near my home.  About 2 or 3 am a pickup truck drives by, slowing as he passes me.  He continued on a short ways, then turns around with the truck pointing towards me.  A minute later he turns off his lights and honks 3 times, then just sits there.  I ignored him and after about 20 minutes he drove away.  I'm guessing it was a drug dealer who thought I was his contact.


Edited by caheaton, 06 August 2014 - 09:42 AM.

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#22 WD-42

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Posted 06 August 2014 - 10:18 AM

Like they say there's nothing in the night that isnt there during the day. Except vampires.
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#23 DocFinance

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Posted 06 August 2014 - 03:52 PM

bobcats.  The scariest were bobcats in the woods nearby.  Scream that would curdle milk. 

 

The skunks were always loud enough to avoid (tromp tromp tromp).



#24 cwilson

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Posted 06 August 2014 - 05:58 PM

One night I was observing alone at our club's dark sky site.  It's in a frequently used state park, so I'm always on my guard a bit when there alone at night.  As I was observing I was startled to feel some creature brush up against my leg.  After jumping from my stool I looked down and there was a friendly house cat .  He was my observing companion for the rest of the session and I was more relaxed with a bit of company.   :grin:

 

Another time while camping in Michigan I heard some scratching sounds in the dirt perhaps 15 to 20 feet away from me.  I shined my flashlight and there was a skunk scratching in the dirt (likely looking for grubs or such).  Thankfully, he minded his business and I minded mine...

 

What's more scary are the humans.  One night I was set up at a state park located near my home.  About 2 or 3 am a pickup truck drives by, slowing as he passes me.  He continued on a short ways, then turns around with the truck pointing towards me.  A minute later he turns off his lights and honks 3 times, then just sits there.  I ignored him and after about 20 minutes he drove away.  I'm guessing it was a drug dealer who thought I was his contact.

 

I had something similar happen at a semi-dark site I used in a rural area. People kept on stopping there, looking me over, then leaving. I concluded that I was probably at a location used for drug deals, and that I was being mistaken for the dealer or clients. Needless to say, I don't use that spot any more. I know a lot of people don't think much about their personal safety when observing. For one, worrying about safety detracts from why we are out there in the first place. But it pays to take safety into consideration.



#25 areyoukiddingme

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Posted 06 August 2014 - 06:47 PM

I typically observe in the mountains above Santa Barbara. I go out by myself most times, and have had a few interesting interactions. One time I could hear definite footsteps in leaf litter near by. Shone my mag light in the general direction to find a fox--it was quite funny. He/she didn't know what to do with the light and walk back and forth confused. Another time, I took a pee in the bushes, to hear some very odd noises. Turned out to be a group of deer.

 

The worst are the humans. I've found them all to be friendly, but car loads of yahoos with full beams annoy me a lot more than the wildlife. 

 

Thankfully I now have access to our clubs dark site. It's a gun club with a locked gate. Plus, I figure there's going to be relatively few people who will want to approach a figure standing by himself in the dark AT A GUN CLUB!


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