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General Astronomy >> General Observing and Astronomy

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Reged: 05/19/11

Factors affecting observing conditions (coastal) new
      #5625043 - 01/15/13 07:37 PM

I'm dreaming about getting a place on an island in the Mediterranean (Menorca or Corsica, perhaps) with dark skies. The opportunity for visual observing with clear dark skies and balmy temperatures would be one of the main draws.

Light pollution maps are not so hard to find - there's a particularly good one of Western Europe that's been posted recently on these forums.

But what about the other factors affecting observing conditions? How can one assess them based on an observing location's geography? I suppose that the best point of reference would be first hand experience, from people who have experience in all sorts of conditions. But this is harder to find. Anybody out there? I'm guessing Mallorca, Menorca, Corsica, and Sardinia would be similar.

These places in the Med are sunny most of the time, so I don't think clouds would be much of a problem. Temperature changes from day to night are moderate, regulated by the sea.

So these are all the things I can think of (and my thoughts on each). Please forgive any mistaken assertions (I'm quite new to this) - please just set me right! Can you add to my thoughts, or share your personal experience? Or maybe you can point me towards further information on this subject.

- clouds (mostly clear skies, can see sunshine hours on the web)
- light pollution (can see nice dark places on light pollution maps)
- low altitude turbulence - ( what conditions are most conducive to thermals?)
- high altitude turbulence - (does the Euopean jet stream wander over the Med often?)
- humidity? (can this affect transparency?)
- proximity to the sea? (the sea is never more than 20 miles away)
- altitude (mostly near sea level, but there are some elevated places in Mallorca and Corsica - at what altitude above see level would there be a marked improvement? Would one notice any improvement at 1000ft - Menorca's highest point? 6000ft - Corsica?)

So lots of questions from me. I'd very be grateful for your ideas!


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Duke of Deneb

Reged: 12/26/05

Loc: Raleigh, NC
Re: Factors affecting observing conditions (coastal) new [Re: johndgaul]
      #5625076 - 01/15/13 07:52 PM

You should ask Thomas (CN username: Astrojensen) who lives on a Danish island in the Baltic Sea that appears to be roughly 20x25 miles in size. In another thread a couple of months ago, I asked him about the prevailing seeing conditions on his island, which I assumed might be quite good because of the relatively homogeneous surrounding body of water (e.g. as in Florida), but according to Thomas that turns out to not necessarily be the case on his island, and he provided a quite articulate, sound explanation for it. He's a frequent poster to the observing forums here at CN, and would likely be helpfully responsive to your question, albeit Bornholm and the Baltic Sea aren't necessarily the same as Sardinia and the Mediterranean.

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Reged: 07/15/12

Loc: SE Ma.
Re: Factors affecting observing conditions (coastal) [Re: FirstSight]
      #5625792 - 01/16/13 08:54 AM

John that is so cool. I would love to do the same. I haven't been to those islands yet, except Mallorca. I don't remember much cloud cover there and that was in Oct-Nov. Med coast of France and Spain are pretty much dry locations and I recall having/seeing clear blue skies and evenings each day.
I plan on moving back to Germany and I know it's nearly always cloudy there. Might have to buy a summer house on one of those islands you've mentioned.

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