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General Astronomy >> General Observing and Astronomy

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Kon Dealer
professor emeritus


Reged: 01/05/11

Loc: Cambridge UK
Dark Site Rocks!
      #5549005 - 12/01/12 03:50 PM

Fed up with urban LP I drove just 20 minutes out of town.
What a difference Could see the Milky way with the naked eye, not just a few of the brighter stars- the sky was full.
Just take one example-the Double Cluster
More stars with my 102mm 'frac than I can see in my 8SE in the back garden.
Had no idea it would make such a difference.
I can't imagine what a REAL dark site will look
One downside, the cold forced me home much sooner than I wanted


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csrlice12
Postmaster
*****

Reged: 05/22/12

Loc: Denver, CO
Re: Dark Site Rocks! new [Re: Kon Dealer]
      #5549011 - 12/01/12 03:54 PM

I've always said the best filter is the "gas filter". Heard the viewing in the UK can be limited due too the weather a lot. If you're ever in Colorado, USA there's lots of dark sky here, even black sites.

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Dave Mitsky
Postmaster
*****

Reged: 04/08/02

Loc: PA, USA, Planet Earth
Re: Dark Site Rocks! new [Re: csrlice12]
      #5549041 - 12/01/12 04:17 PM

You can have more fun with a 4" telescope at a truly dark site than with one four times larger in aperture at a light-polluted one.

Dave Mitsky


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Pinbout
Postmaster
*****

Reged: 02/22/10

Loc: nj
Re: Dark Site Rocks! new [Re: Kon Dealer]
      #5549219 - 12/01/12 06:43 PM

Quote:

Had no idea it would make such a difference.





from my white skies i can't see m82 in my 8in. but from a dark site m81/82 are bright as day in my tv genesis sdf.

it's like who turned on the light switch.


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frito
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 10/05/12

Loc: Fremont, CA
Re: Dark Site Rocks! new [Re: Pinbout]
      #5549595 - 12/01/12 11:44 PM

sky conditions matter much more than the scope 9 times out of 10.

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sg6
professor emeritus


Reged: 02/14/10

Loc: Norfolk, UK.
Re: Dark Site Rocks! new [Re: Kon Dealer]
      #5549929 - 12/02/12 08:34 AM

A good dark sky is amazing, visited or lived at a couple, can be a problem walking as you cannot see where you are stepping. Another is that many of the expected constellations are difficult to locate. Casseiopia gets lost as does Cygnus and a lot of others.

Am I to guess that you were brave and went North or North East of Cambridge? Never know what would have happened had the Fen Folk caught you.


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Tony Flanders
Postmaster
*****

Reged: 05/18/06

Loc: Cambridge, MA, USA
Re: Dark Site Rocks! new [Re: sg6]
      #5550059 - 12/02/12 10:01 AM

Quote:

Another is that many of the expected constellations are difficult to locate. Casseiopia gets lost as does Cygnus and a lot of others.




I think that's only a problem for people who have always lived in the same setting, and learned the constellations there.

For me, the constellations stand out every bit as well in dark skies as bright skies -- perhaps better, in fact. How could anybody miss the W of Cassiopeia when its stars are so dazzlingly bright? They stand out equallly well from the background regardless of whether that has no other stars or dozens of other stars.

That's presumably due to the fact that I grew up spending 3/4 my time in New York City and 1/4 at my country home. So to me nature forms a single continuum regardless of location; the constellations look very much the same to me in Manhattan and in southern Utah, except that some of the stars are invisible in Manhattan. Same with wildlife; I don't see a fundamental difference between a raccoon or deer in New York City and the same animals in the wilderness.


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Dave Mitsky
Postmaster
*****

Reged: 04/08/02

Loc: PA, USA, Planet Earth
Re: Dark Site Rocks! new [Re: Tony Flanders]
      #5550418 - 12/02/12 02:11 PM

I've never had any trouble distinguishing constellations under very dark skies either.

Dave Mitsky


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Kon Dealer
professor emeritus


Reged: 01/05/11

Loc: Cambridge UK
Re: Dark Site Rocks! new [Re: sg6]
      #5550602 - 12/02/12 03:57 PM

Quote:

A good dark sky is amazing, visited or lived at a couple, can be a problem walking as you cannot see where you are stepping. Another is that many of the expected constellations are difficult to locate. Casseiopia gets lost as does Cygnus and a lot of others.

Am I to guess that you were brave and went North or North East of Cambridge? Never know what would have happened had the Fen Folk caught you.




No, I am scared stiff of running into someone with webbed hands.

Went South and West. Not as dark, but less likely to run into mutants


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sg6
professor emeritus


Reged: 02/14/10

Loc: Norfolk, UK.
Re: Dark Site Rocks! new [Re: Kon Dealer]
      #5553380 - 12/04/12 06:02 AM

Quote:

No, I am scared stiff of running into someone with webbed hands.

Went South and West. Not as dark, but less likely to run into mutants





Don't venture into Hertfordshire, they won't allow you back into Cambs.
I have to sneak into Cambridge under cover of darkness.
Melbourn is still unhappy to have a Stevenage post code not a Cambridge one after 25-30 years.


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Tom S.
member


Reged: 02/16/07

Loc: Benicia, Calif.
Re: Dark Site Rocks! new [Re: Kon Dealer]
      #5553450 - 12/04/12 07:20 AM

Like you, I have a 102 mm 'frac and live under a light dome. I too was blown away by how much more I could see under seriously dark skies. Truly amazing! I saw the Veil for the first time ever, and M31 wouldn't even fully fit in the FOV of my lowest/widest EP. And stars were more piercing and colorful. Now I know that I MUST get out of town sometimes, and that having a portable telescope is vital!

What I still haven't experienced is a site with sustained excellent steadiness. Does such a place even exist?


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rick-SeMI
sage


Reged: 01/08/11

Loc: Michigan - USA
Re: Dark Site Rocks! new [Re: Kon Dealer]
      #5553472 - 12/04/12 07:35 AM

20 minutes, your lucky.
My sites:
5 - 10 minutes * white/red
25 - 30 minutes * orange
45 - 60 minutes * green
2 - 3 hours * blue (once a year)
4 - 5 hours * grey -- have one picked out, haven't been there yet.

I have pretty much given up observing at my house.
360° circle of light. Nice name for an observatory ? NOT


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Warren914
super member
*****

Reged: 03/21/12

Loc: Nova Scotia, Canada
Re: Dark Site Rocks! new [Re: rick-SeMI]
      #5553481 - 12/04/12 07:40 AM

It takes all of about 60 seconds for me to go from sofa to green/blue in the driveway. It's about 90 minutes drive to the dark sky preserve in one of the national parks. Never gone there for viewing though.

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Starman1
Vendor (EyepiecesEtc.com)
*****

Reged: 06/24/03

Loc: Los Angeles
Re: Dark Site Rocks! new [Re: Warren914]
      #5555971 - 12/05/12 04:46 PM

Average SQM brightness in my backyard--mag. 17.5 per square arc-second
Average SQM brightness at my observing site 110 miles away--mag. 21.4 per square arc-second (almost 4 full magnitudes darker!!!).
Average SQM brightness at my observing site 200 miles away--mag.21.7-21.9 per square arc-second (just a couple tenths brighter than the darkest skies on Earth).
Telescope used at dark sites: 12.5"
Telescope size needed for same view at home: 104"
I've observed with the 60" at Mt. Wilson (SQM reading: 19.75), and my friend's 28" at a dark site radically outperforms it.
Bright skies don't help any aperture.
Dark skies help ALL apertures.


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Ron (Lubbock)
sage


Reged: 08/17/12

Loc: West TX
Re: Dark Site Rocks! new [Re: Starman1]
      #5557690 - 12/06/12 02:59 PM

Going to a truly black observing site on a moonless night is amazing. The amount of structure in the milky way, with all its ragged dark nebulae, is just breathtaking.

Last month, we had a night that was so dark here in west TX that I just stood there gawking at the northern milky way in Cassiopeia and Perseus, with its ragged structure and dark patches, and seeing the subtle colors of the stars with my unaided eye, which is impossible from a light polluted area.


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Gastrol
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 11/04/11

Loc: los angeles
Re: Dark Site Rocks! new [Re: Starman1]
      #5557721 - 12/06/12 03:17 PM

Quote:


Average SQM brightness at my observing site 110 miles away--mag. 21.4 per square arc-second (almost 4 full magnitudes darker!!!).
Average SQM brightness at my observing site 200 miles away--mag.21.7-21.9 per square arc-second (just a couple tenths brighter than the darkest skies on Earth).





Are they Mt Pinos and Amboy Crater?


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Starman1
Vendor (EyepiecesEtc.com)
*****

Reged: 06/24/03

Loc: Los Angeles
Re: Dark Site Rocks! new [Re: Gastrol]
      #5557812 - 12/06/12 04:12 PM

Could be. The darker site was just north of Desert Center, but Amboy Crater can get just as dark.

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bob irvin
sage


Reged: 03/22/11

Loc: Greater Los Angeles, CA
Re: Dark Site Rocks! new [Re: Kon Dealer]
      #5557831 - 12/06/12 04:29 PM

Quote:

Fed up with urban LP I drove just 20 minutes out of town.





As other have said you're lucky you can get to a site within 20 minutes where you can see the milky way. It takes me at least 1.5 hours, and to get to a really decent dark site over two hours.

It's really worth the trip, but it turns an observing outing into an expedition.

bob


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Tony Flanders
Postmaster
*****

Reged: 05/18/06

Loc: Cambridge, MA, USA
Re: Dark Site Rocks! new [Re: bob irvin]
      #5557925 - 12/06/12 05:22 PM

Quote:

As other have said you're lucky you can get to a site within 20 minutes where you can see the milky way. It takes me at least 1.5 hours.




Yikes! Is that in rush-hour traffic, or all the time?

With all the state parks and national forests in the L.A. Basin, it's hard to believe that anywhere is 1.5 hours from a spot where the Milky Way is easy to see when the roads are clear.

Where I live near downtown Boston, I'm 2 hours from anywhere that's even close to dark, but there are plenty of places within a half hour where the summer Milky Way is easy to see.


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Starman1
Vendor (EyepiecesEtc.com)
*****

Reged: 06/24/03

Loc: Los Angeles
Re: Dark Site Rocks! new [Re: Tony Flanders]
      #5557964 - 12/06/12 05:41 PM

Tony,
From downtown LA, the nearest site with a magnitude limit of at least 21 is about 100 miles--2.5 hrs on average.
If you specify at least magnitude 21.5, that distance is 180 miles--3.5 hours on average.
If you just want a hint of the Milky Way, then a 45 minute drive can get you that, but the sky will be mag.19-19.5 or so, and the distance 35-50 miles.
The last time I observed with someone in downtown LA, we could see, on a really clear night, the two shoulder stars in Orion, the 3 belt stars, and the two knees, for a total of 7 stars. The night sky was light blue with a hint of orange.


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Kon Dealer
professor emeritus


Reged: 01/05/11

Loc: Cambridge UK
Re: Dark Site Rocks! new [Re: bob irvin]
      #5558011 - 12/06/12 06:07 PM

Quote:

Quote:

Fed up with urban LP I drove just 20 minutes out of town.





As other have said you're lucky you can get to a site within 20 minutes where you can see the milky way. It takes me at least 1.5 hours, and to get to a really decent dark site over two hours.

It's really worth the trip, but it turns an observing outing into an expedition.

bob




When I said the Milky Way, I didn't mean in its full glory.
I'm probably talking about Bortle 5-6, but its is significantly better than the Bortle 8-9 in my backgarden


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