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General Astronomy >> Beginners Forum

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Jon Isaacs
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Reged: 06/16/04

Loc: San Diego and Boulevard, CA
Re: What to do when you can't get to a dark site new [Re: mitaccio]
      #5527325 - 11/19/12 04:32 AM

Quote:

I, like many others, would love to travel to a dark sky site to do my observations. Unfortunately life won't accomodate it. So, I resign myself to viewing in my yard. Problem is, it isn't ideal. Not by a long shot. But I know I am not alone in this, that others have travelled my road.

My question is this: if you can't travel to a dark sky site, what is the next best thing to do at home, and how do you make it a reality?




I am able to travel frequently to some darker skies but I enjoy stargazing from my backyard as well... I do what I always do, dark skies or not, take what the sky gives and I don't ask for more.

One nice thing about backyarding it is that there is no pressure. Hopes and expectations and effort is tied up in a trip to dark skies and time is limited... if it turns out to be cloudy or the conditions otherwise poor, it can be quite disappointing. From the backyard, you put the equipment away and go to bed...

From my backyard I tend to concentrate of the planets and double stars, both these are essentially unaffected by light pollution. And for deep sky objects, I enjoy viewing anything I can see... clusters are good because they are individual stars so increasing the magnification increases the contrast. Bright Planetary Nebula shine through the light pollution... fainter nebulae and galaxies represent challenges...

One thing that works for me is that I have a number of telescopes, a few are quite fancy but most are simple, basic telescopes I have purchased from Craigslist or Astromart. Using a different scope on different nights adds variety and I find makes it more interesting. One night I might use an 80mm F/11 achromat that is 25 years old, the next my trusty 10 inch GSO Dobsonian.

Jon


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izar187
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 09/02/06

Loc: 43N
Re: What to do when you can't get to a dark site new [Re: mitaccio]
      #5527596 - 11/19/12 10:04 AM

I've had good results from combining any and all of the countermeasures suggested by everyone. In suburbia screening out intrusive nearby lighting is a big help. A drape over the head or a hood is too. If one can get better dark adapted, then the results can be pretty amazing on nights when there is just less moisture aloft for urban/suburban lighting to illuminate. So anything from hanging a blanket strategically on a clothes line, to constructing portable screens, to some privacy fencing, or even an observatory....all can help. Hunting out local nearby, anything darker and more open observing sites, this helps. As mentioned, sometimes some work better later at night, after traffic is less. I'm inside a suburban forest, with nice neighbors who are all afraid of the dark. My yard is an exercise in frustration due to trees and intrusive light. So I observe pretty much elsewhere these days and am much happier because of it. I find local nearby open horizon places, of successively better darkness the farther afield I go. Multiple optional places to use depending on the sky conditions and my available time.

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RTLR 12
Post Laureate
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Reged: 12/04/08

Loc: The Great Pacific NorthWest
Re: What to do when you can't get to a dark site new [Re: Jon Isaacs]
      #5527691 - 11/19/12 10:59 AM

Quote:

Quote:

I, like many others, would love to travel to a dark sky site to do my observations. Unfortunately life won't accomodate it. So, I resign myself to viewing in my yard. Problem is, it isn't ideal. Not by a long shot. But I know I am not alone in this, that others have travelled my road.

My question is this: if you can't travel to a dark sky site, what is the next best thing to do at home, and how do you make it a reality?




I am able to travel frequently to some darker skies but I enjoy stargazing from my backyard as well... I do what I always do, dark skies or not, take what the sky gives and I don't ask for more.

One nice thing about backyarding it is that there is no pressure. Hopes and expectations and effort is tied up in a trip to dark skies and time is limited... if it turns out to be cloudy or the conditions otherwise poor, it can be quite disappointing. From the backyard, you put the equipment away and go to bed...

From my backyard I tend to concentrate of the planets and double stars, both these are essentially unaffected by light pollution. And for deep sky objects, I enjoy viewing anything I can see... clusters are good because they are individual stars so increasing the magnification increases the contrast. Bright Planetary Nebula shine through the light pollution... fainter nebulae and galaxies represent challenges...

One thing that works for me is that I have a number of telescopes, a few are quite fancy but most are simple, basic telescopes I have purchased from Craigslist or Astromart. Using a different scope on different nights adds variety and I find makes it more interesting. One night I might use an 80mm F/11 achromat that is 25 years old, the next my trusty 10 inch GSO Dobsonian.

Jon




Me too, Jon...Being on the beach in a fairly dark area and a variety of scopes makes the many nights of viewing I do from home quite enjoyable. Also, being retired I still get to enjoy 100+ days a year at other sites.

Stan


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edwincjones
Close Enough
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Reged: 04/10/04

Re: What to do when you can't get to a dark site new [Re: izar187]
      #5527701 - 11/19/12 11:04 AM

my goal is to have a 30-40" scope on an isolated mountain top in south New Zealand,
and fly back and forth in my private jet, but it is not going to happen

so I observe when I can, where I can
-naked eye
-binoculars
-telescopes

I build an observatory in my yard which helps, in spite of light polution
and just keep going

ONE OBJECT AT A TIME

edj


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panhard
It's All Good
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Reged: 01/20/08

Loc: Markham Ontario Canada
Re: What to do when you can't get to a dark site new [Re: edwincjones]
      #5527760 - 11/19/12 11:35 AM

efj you and I have a similar dream.

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Jon Isaacs
Postmaster
*****

Reged: 06/16/04

Loc: San Diego and Boulevard, CA
Re: What to do when you can't get to a dark site new [Re: edwincjones]
      #5527814 - 11/19/12 12:06 PM Attachment (7 downloads)

Quote:

my goal is to have a 30-40" scope on an isolated mountain top in south New Zealand, and fly back and forth in my private jet, but it is not going to happen




I had a similar dream.... a small home somewhere in NE Arizona or western New Mexico... But my wife and I recognized that was not realistic. My dream, a small place in the nearby mountains with a telescope or two of reasonable size... This is what that dream looks like:

Jon


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RTLR 12
Post Laureate
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Reged: 12/04/08

Loc: The Great Pacific NorthWest
Re: What to do when you can't get to a dark site new [Re: Jon Isaacs]
      #5527884 - 11/19/12 12:50 PM

Jon,

Do you climb that pole in the back ground to look through the EP?

Stan


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csrlice12
Postmaster
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Reged: 05/22/12

Loc: Denver, CO
Re: What to do when you can't get to a dark site new [Re: RTLR 12]
      #5527892 - 11/19/12 12:56 PM

Jon: Ya just gotta do a little better then a WalMart scope.....

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DavidC
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 11/24/05

Loc: Mesa, Arizona
Re: What to do when you can't get to a dark site new [Re: mitaccio]
      #5528092 - 11/19/12 02:33 PM

I don't get to a dark skies as often as I would like. Most of the time I have given up on viewing from my back yard, unless its 1 or 2 in the am when all the flood and porch lights are out. Too many street lights. There is a vacant lot about 8 miles away that I go to do my rural observing, I go for mostly brighter objects like double stars, planets, brighter globulars, and open clusters, PN's show up pretty good also. There are a few street lights, but they are quite a ways away. I like going to www.washedoutastronomy.com they have some good stuff, and Loughton Astronomical Association in England, and use their Loughton List, a list of urban observing DSO's for urban skies. Google Loughton Astronomical and check out the Loughton List, it's really informative.
David


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csrlice12
Postmaster
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Reged: 05/22/12

Loc: Denver, CO
Re: What to do when you can't get to a dark site new [Re: DavidC]
      #5528272 - 11/19/12 03:56 PM

Earlier this summer I went to Cherry Creek State Park. There's a nice model airplane field there....I soon discovered that after hours, it's an international mosquito port.........

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dodgerm37
member


Reged: 02/10/12

Loc: N.E Ohio, USA
Re: What to do when you can't get to a dark site new [Re: jerwin]
      #5528481 - 11/19/12 05:54 PM

I roll my scope out of the garage onto the driveway and set up in the shadow cast by house ( area lights across the road).As with many things, make the best of what's on hand. Bob

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Raginar
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Reged: 10/19/10

Loc: Rapid CIty, SD
Re: What to do when you can't get to a dark site new [Re: jerwin]
      #5528619 - 11/19/12 07:19 PM

Try getting a mallincam or similar video camera device. Lots of DSOs show up great on them, especially nebulae. Or, similarly, try filters. A good LP filter can make a huge difference depending on the lighting around your town.

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SteveNH
professor emeritus
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Reged: 07/10/11

Loc: Millbrae, CA
Re: What to do when you can't get to a dark site new [Re: mitaccio]
      #5528696 - 11/19/12 07:58 PM

Not only is traveling to a dark site becoming impractical for me these days, but my backyard has a very narrow view in a white zone (next door to the airport). I've taken up a quest to refine my planetary imaging using a webcam - that's something you can really get into in these otherwise unfavorable conditions. Step by step I'm collecting up or improving on the various pieces of equipment necessary to do this, and the photos get better and better. Hopefully where you are in Hawaii will offer you at least some nights of excellent seeing - here, they are very far and few between, but despite the slow progress, it's been challenging and exciting.

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Jon Isaacs
Postmaster
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Reged: 06/16/04

Loc: San Diego and Boulevard, CA
Re: What to do when you can't get to a dark site new [Re: csrlice12]
      #5529145 - 11/19/12 11:47 PM

Quote:

Earlier this summer I went to Cherry Creek State Park. There's a nice model airplane field there....I soon discovered that after hours, it's an international mosquito port.........






Fortunately there are no flights into San Diego...

Jon


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Starman81
Carpal Tunnel
*****

Reged: 03/06/08

Loc: Metro Detroit, MI, USA
Re: What to do when you can't get to a dark site new [Re: Jon Isaacs]
      #5529192 - 11/20/12 12:17 AM

Try to make the best of what you have. I used to observe in direct light in the parking lot of my apartment complex. Then I started observing in the backyard (duh) which is luckily shielded from most of the neighborhood lights. Do your best to get dark adapted and put in the EP and just start surfin! I no longer use my smaller scopes that much anymore--an 8" dob for me is grab'n'go. I grab it and go to the backyard. For light pollution you need as much aperture as you can get unless you are strictly doing lunar/planetary/double stars. I put in a low power EP and go starhopping, seldomly even looking up. I remain glued to the EP or looking at SkySafari on my phone. What great fun! Pretty soon, I realized my skies are not that bad, not bad at all for a white zone. I routinely see stars down to mag 4.6 at the faintest. Hearing these stories of mag 3 skies shows me--it could be a lot worse!

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