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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.

 

 

Arne


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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.

 

Jim


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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!

 

CB


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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?

 

https://tonyflanders...essier-project/

 

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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#15 reddog1972

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Posted 22 October 2018 - 12:49 PM

Falling in love with this hobby while living 20 miles west of New York city (Bortles 8/9 region) was a cruel joke as far as I was concerned due to the massive LP.  Eventually the LP was the reason I started going down the Astrophotography rabbit hole...


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#16 Ed D

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Posted 22 October 2018 - 05:32 PM

Jon, this is a great discussion.  Thanks for starting it.  Also, thanks to this discussion I took a closer look at the Bortle scale, etc, never really being that interested.  I knew the LP in my area was bad.  What I didn't realize is that I'm deep inside a Bortle 9 zone, which is more like 9+.  How depressing.

 

Anyway, heavy LP or not, I do like observing planets and the moon.  Jupiter and Mars are ever changing, sometimes in as little as hours.  Saturn has the occasional storms that are neat to catch.  Venus is challenging because under the right conditions, and with filters to cut down the glare, I might catch a bit of detail.  The moon through my 10" Dob and binoviewers at high magnification is mesmerizing.

 

I don't really do much deep sky any more, at least not from home.  Naked eye there is not much to be seen, and star hopping can often be an exercise in futility.  One area of interest are double and multiple stars, provided the stars are bright enough to be seen.  There are many doubles in the sky that can be seen through small refractors even in severe LP.  Through the 10" there are globulars that are fun to look at and make out the shell and core, even if dim.  With filters I can see a hint of some nebulae, such as the Lagoon.  The Orion Nebula is always impressive, especially through 10" aperture.  Some other nebula that I can see include the Ring Nebula.  Star fields are beautiful to look at and sweep through, with small and large scopes alike.  Right now Cygnus and Lyra are up, and I enjoy the awesome star fields that I can see in that area.  No, it's not like being at a dark site, but it is enjoyable.

 

Ed D

 

 


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#17 Dogamite

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Posted 23 October 2018 - 01:07 PM

I am in a Bortles 8 zone. Recently I spent some time in a class 4 zone. I forgot how beautiful the night sky can be and it has renewed my interest in astronomy. 



#18 Lacquerhead

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Posted 26 October 2018 - 03:55 PM

I live in a Bortle 8/9 zone north of Dallas.  I'm fortunate that just 4 hours away are 2(!) IDA Dark Sky Sites.  I do a fair amount of imaging from my backyard but when I have a disagreement with the cameras I'll always plop an eyepiece in the rescue the evening.  Globulars are always a favorite of mine both photographically and visually.  Planets are challenging with seeing usually being complete garbage thanks to all the heat from the city itself.  Particularly in winter.  Lunar has never failed to provide enjoyment.  I don't think I've ever gone a night without saying "Oh, wow...." 


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#19 Procyon

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Posted 31 October 2018 - 11:08 AM

I moved from a Bortle 9 zone to a borderline 7/8 zone with one thing in mind. Find a house with a forest as a backyard or no neighbors in the back. After a while I found one and it's been a big game changer. It's still in a Bortle 8 zone though. Another game changer has been to modify and adapt almost 90% of my viewing towards zenith comfortably and to get a larger scope. I did that too and now I actually see Magnitude 11-13 Galaxies on steady nights. So with a CPC 1100, a comfy chair that can be lowered and highered easily, observing has been excellent, I actually don't even want to go to dark sites at times, it's that good. 

 

The only problem is when it comes to planetary viewing and other low horizon objects. I'd do the same thing if I lived in a Bortle 9 zone, concentrate on viewing comfortably towards zenith, where it's darkest. Not easy for some for sure, especially if your living in a condo or have a balcony right on top of you. 


Edited by Procyon, 31 October 2018 - 11:09 AM.

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#20 Wire

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Posted 20 November 2018 - 10:16 PM

I live in a Bortle 8-9 area. Only a few dozen stars and planets in the summertime and maybe a few more in the winter. Nebula maybe on a clear night if the street lamps blow out.



#21 jgraham

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Posted 22 November 2018 - 07:43 AM

I do all of my imaging and observing from my solid Bortle 8 backyard. I used to make frequent trips out to our club's dark sky site, but I have always been and always will be a backyard astronomer at heart. For me the key was learning to be patient at the eyepiece, being comfortable, and lesrning how to see what there is to see. Modern imaging techniques have also helped to completely remove all of the frustrations that I previously experienced with visual observing. Having access to my own unprocesed source images showed that I was often chasing an illusion based on published images that were processed beyond all recognition. Even popular observing guides and magazines are guilty of this practice (and so am I when I am finished processing my images). Knowing exactly where to look and what to look for has been a huge help. I also enjoy electronic assisted astronomy (EAA) using a modest, fast scope (8" f/2.4) fitted with a little Revolution Imager 2 video camera.

 

Modern amateur astronomy is a deep and rich hobby with so much to offer even under challenging observing conditions. My sky may not be dark (no Milky Way for me), but my backyard is my private little sanctuary that opens up into the limitless Comos.

 

Enjoy!


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#22 treadmarks

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Posted 22 November 2018 - 06:32 PM

I moved from a Bortle 9 zone to a borderline 7/8 zone with one thing in mind. Find a house with a forest as a backyard or no neighbors in the back. After a while I found one and it's been a big game changer. It's still in a Bortle 8 zone though. Another game changer has been to modify and adapt almost 90% of my viewing towards zenith comfortably and to get a larger scope. I did that too and now I actually see Magnitude 11-13 Galaxies on steady nights. So with a CPC 1100, a comfy chair that can be lowered and highered easily, observing has been excellent, I actually don't even want to go to dark sites at times, it's that good. 

 

The only problem is when it comes to planetary viewing and other low horizon objects. I'd do the same thing if I lived in a Bortle 9 zone, concentrate on viewing comfortably towards zenith, where it's darkest. Not easy for some for sure, especially if your living in a condo or have a balcony right on top of you. 

I'm not sure if it's what you're getting at, but getting your eyes dark adapted when you're in an urban environment is not easy with all the lights around everywhere. But if you can get it done, it's like a whole different sky compared to what you may have come to expect.

 

As for viewing at zenith, this is one of the reasons having a go-to SCT is very helpful.  Their super short tubes means the eyepiece stays in a comfortable spot whereas refractors typically have long tubes and lots of eyepiece travel so you need a really good setup to overcome that. Dobsonians have the "Dobson's Hole" problem and in either case, I've found searching for objects near the zenith to be very disorienting. Go-tos don't get disoriented, they are champs at finding stuff near the zenith.... Unless you bump them out of alignment.

 

One more tip about the zenith... Depending on your latitude, and most of us are mid-northern, a lot of desirable objects won't come close to the zenith. This especially includes planets right now. Just because they don't reach the zenith doesn't mean we don't want to view them. So there is another concept we can use - the meridian. This is the north-south line, from pole to pole, at your location. The significance of it is that when a celestial object is at the meridian, that is the highest point it will rise over your location, no matter what it is. And when it's at its highest point, there is the least amount of LP and atmospheric turbulence between you and it. So when something has reached the meridian, that is the optimal time to observe the object regardless of whether it is one that can reach the zenith for you.


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#23 Procyon

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Posted 22 November 2018 - 08:09 PM

You're right, that's how I pan around, with just a meridian line on Stellarium/Skysafari. Anything crossing the line is coming right over my roof or sides. And yes, the first thing someone should do is try and cover all straight light coming from all sides, back and front of your viewing area. Even one light pole or neighbor's light can be a battle to cover at times. If you can avoid all straight light it helps exponentially viewing towards meridian and zenith.

Edited by Procyon, 22 November 2018 - 08:15 PM.

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#24 WyattDavis

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Posted 22 November 2018 - 08:18 PM

Open clusters, globular clusters, brighter nebulae and brightest galaxies, doubles. Essential read for technique to make the best of the situation (which also includes lists of apt targets):  Rod Mollise's Urban Astronomer's Guide.


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#25 Jond105

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Posted 22 November 2018 - 10:36 PM

I just want to say, Since posting this thread, I still haven't missed a clear night out. Ive been positive and have been very happy with my observations night in and night out. Due to fall/winter it's generally clouded over, so the limited time I get out lately have been great. Even better on the moonless nights. Have discovered new clusters and doubles Ive never observed before spending. Almost each night I find something new I generally spend an hour on a single object I've never seen before rather than hopping to another or trying for another right away.
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