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Bortles 8-9 thread

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#1 Jond105



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Posted 30 September 2018 - 04:28 AM

I wasn't sure if I should post this in general observing or here. I chose here I guess

I wanted to start this thread for anybody living in these types of skies to help give input on how and what you observe. Me being one that could use the help. I'm hoping with winter coming I'll get a new list of doubles. I don't have nor do I plan to set up EAA or anything like that, strictly visual. With work, wife's work and kids I can't just drive off to darker skies, and even doing that would take forever to get to one. I'm trying to stay positive in this hobby, but lately been getting down. I see absolutely nothing to the west of me, unless the brightest of bright objects. The next 3 cities over all pretty much use LED lights and a freeway runs that way for miles. East is much darker. South is somewhat decent, even looking directly over downtown. North is hard to see as another freeway follows that way. How do you guys stay positive in your backyard under these conditions?
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#2 Barlowbill


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Posted 30 September 2018 - 04:41 AM

I stay positive by looking at pictures here on CN and reading about folks like me who live in a red zone.  Why are we awake at this ungodly hour?  Cloudy here or I would be observing.  I feel your pain, brother

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#3 aneeg


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Posted 30 September 2018 - 05:06 AM

I live in a Borttle 6 area, but somerimes it is B8, sometimes B4. It all depends on the humidity of the air. In winter, if the fjords freeze I might reach B3.




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#4 wa5dxp


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Posted 30 September 2018 - 05:14 AM

Same here, horrible shy conditions, hoping it will improve a bit in winter.  Also restricted to just viewing small part of E x ESE sky.  Keep trying though.  Lucky to even see a 3rd mag star.



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#5 SeaBee1



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Posted 30 September 2018 - 09:58 AM

I think there are a lot of us that can feel your pain. I live under the DFW light barrier and trust me, it's BAD. The southern night sky here is NEVER black, only different versions of GREY. It is slightly better to my north, away from the city lights, but only marginally so. Most nights to my north I can barely see Polaris, but I can see it.


So I look mainly at objects that easily shrug off light pollution... Moon... planets... double/multiple stars... and I get a huge kick out of those. I am almost afraid to go to a dark site, for fear it would ruin the hobby for me...


I also have an H-alpha solar scope for looking at the greatest light polluter of all... the Sun! Kind of poetic justice I guess...


And even with all its limitations due to circumstances beyond our control, it's still a wonderful hobby!


Clear DARK skies!



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#6 sickfish


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Posted 30 September 2018 - 10:02 AM

My dark site is yellow.

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#7 treadmarks


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Posted 30 September 2018 - 10:45 AM

Not only am I in a Bortle 8 zone, I don't even have a backyard - I have a parking lot with an orange floodlight. And yeah, I sometimes use a telescope in that parking lot, in somebody's reserved space when they're out. More often though, I just observe through my apartment's window. When I'm in the apartment it blocks out that darn floodlight. Aside from the lights, the other problem is obstructed horizons from all the trees and tall buildings.


So going to a better site, even if it's only a park 1 or 2 miles away, is usually worth it. I'm pretty sure a park 1 or 2 miles away gets me to a Bortle 7 zone. And with a 20-25 minute drive I can be in a Bortle 5 zone - HUGE improvement. Most other hobbies require some amount of travel to be practiced. Not everyone can go skiing or golfing or boating in their backyard, although I'm sure some try. But this travel requirement hasn't killed off those hobbies, so why should it do so with astronomy?


What do I look at when in a Bortle 8 zone? Planets and the Moon, mostly. I've been getting some good views of the Pleiades lately too. Hyades shines through as well, so star clusters in general are good. Double stars also work pretty well. I do have a solar filter and obviously there's no need to worry about the Sun. M42 and M31 are just barely visible here, not very interesting. It's really just galaxies and nebulae that get lost in the LP. But I have seen the Ring Nebula from within the Bortle 8 zone.


So actually, quite a lot of "astronomical observation" is possible from within heavy LP. If we divide the hobby into 7 areas: star clusters, doubles/variables/carbons etc., planets, Sun, Moon, nebulae, galaxies, you're still able to do the great majority of object types. It's really the naked eye views that take the biggest hit, and that's when only a trip to a dark site will do.

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#8 nimitz69


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Posted 30 September 2018 - 11:42 AM

have you looked into NV yet?  Real-time visual viewing just like using any other EP.  Head over to the EAA sub forum and do a search for threads with the tag ‘NV” and start reading.  You may just discover an answer to your current situation.  And while it’s true you’ll have to spend some money, that’s all you have to do.  Once you have your NVD you just stick it in your focuser and start observing.  No camera, no s/w, no stacking or PP.  Add a H-a filter and see emission nebula throughout the MW you never imaged ...

Edited by nimitz69, 30 September 2018 - 11:42 AM.

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#9 ascii



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Posted 30 September 2018 - 04:52 PM

Have you tried many of the objects in Tony Flanders' urban/suburban guide?




Aside from the usual suspects of the Moon, planets (Try to see how many of Saturn's moons you can spot.), double stars, and carbon stars, I concentrate on the frequently forgotten urban category of open clusters.  There's quite a number of those to see even in my Bortle 8 skies, and not just M45 and M44.  Just use as much magnification as they can reasonably take, in order to darken the sky.


Don't give up entirely on other DSOs.  There are at least a handful of brighter nebulae, galaxies, and globular clusters like M13, M42, M8, M20, M57, M31, M32, M27, and M81 that I've seen in my cesspool of LP.


Be sure to have a good narrowband filter for the emission nebulae. I've seen a noticeable improvement with my new 2018 issue of the Lumicon UHC.  It doesn't perform miracles, but it does help.


Observing under Bortle 8+ skies stinks, but it isn't totally without things to see, even if they are a pale reflection of their dark sky selves.

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#10 VXUMa



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Posted 30 September 2018 - 07:14 PM

I like open clusters. I find ones that are relatively close to a star that's bright enough for me to see, Telrad to the star I can see, then star-hop to the cluster.

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#11 RyanSem


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Posted 02 October 2018 - 02:20 PM

I live in a Bortle 7 zone, about 15 minutes north of Atlanta. My backyard is absolutely terrible for spotting things - not only from the glow of the city, but from a giant electrical plant across the street with LED lights pointing every which way. Basically, the south is washed out due to Atlanta, the north is washed out due to the electrical plant, and the west (my darkest horizon) is completely blocked by a wonderfully huge magnolia tree. The east is my only open horizon and it's mediocre at best.


From my backyard I'm mostly limited to Planets, Doubles, and some bright Messiers. I've been able to get down to magnitude 8-9 on occasion, but most nights if I'm home I don't even attempt anything I know will be faint. That said, I get enough enjoyment out of these objects to make it fun. Since I can't get an alignment on account of being restricted to one direction I use backyard time as practice for star hopping. This way at least I feel accomplished after I find what I'm looking for! That's what keeps it fun for me. 


I know finding time to drive out to a dark site is hard, but even a 30 minute drive can really help the sky. I drive about 45 minutes north to a yellow zone and from even there the Milky Way is visible to the naked eye overhead. It's so much more enjoyable to view from there compared to my driveway that I'd gladly make the drive any chance I get. 

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#12 GarageSaleReflector



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Posted 02 October 2018 - 07:08 PM

I've been using the Astro League's Urban Observer and Double Star lists as starting points for things to look at. From north to somewhat southeast, the skies are OK enough to see most of them. Denver to the south and the mass of lights to the west make anything other than the Moon and planets in those directions problematic at best. There's stuff out there, it just takes a bit of effort to tease out of the yellow-gray skies.

Edited by GarageSaleReflector, 02 October 2018 - 08:13 PM.

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#13 Tony Flanders

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Posted 03 October 2018 - 05:32 AM

When I'm at my city home in Cambridge, MA, the key for me is finding a good nearby observing site. Obviously I cannot escape the skyglow without a long trip, but that's OK. What I really can't accept is bright lights above me shining directly into my face. Since I care at least as much about the constellations as about anything I can see through a telescope, having lights shining in my face removes most of the joy of astronomy for me.


Fortunately, like most people in dense cities in the Northeast, I have no backyard -- so I'm not tempted to put up with the compromises that an urban backyard necessarily entails. I occasionally set up on the sidewalk when the only things I want to observe are the Moon and/or planets. But for the most part, I go to one of the nearby parks. After all, the whole point of living in a city is the ease of getting out of your home. Instead of tiny backyard, urbanites share huge public spaces.


I am also lucky that both my own city and the adjoining city of Arlington have enlightened streetlight policies, so it's easy to find parks where nearby streetlights are only a minor nuisance at worst. The parks also have good vibes; they're extensively used at night by the locals, which is the key to personal safety.


Given the lack of direct glare, it's possible to see some stars in all the constellations and most of the key stars in many of the constellations. And, using a telescope, countless stars and deep-sky objects.

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#14 csrlice12



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Posted 11 October 2018 - 11:23 AM

Mostly the moon and planets....but occassionally watch the planes at DIA land/take off or the night helicopter flight training at Buckley AFB....or the clouds as they roll in, especially during a full moon.  I'm luckier than most as I have access to the clubs blue site an hour's drive away.

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