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Where are the stars?

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#1 Kepler 22b

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Posted 14 November 2018 - 04:24 AM

Beginner here. So i have not seen a single star in the sky for 2 weeks in northern Europe at about 59th parallel North. I havent even been able to try out my new old telescope properly since i bought it, very annoying.

 

What weather factors makes stargazing impossible or hard, more than cloudiness? Does fog make a big impact?  There is no snow at all and it doesnt seem so cloudy, at least in the daytime?

 

There is medium light pollution, but i have also driven to a relatively dark site but there i could not see a single star either.

Not even the moon have been the slightest visible, not at all.

 

So what are the different weather conditions that can hinder stargazing, and isnt the winter generally the best time for stargazing?

 

Also is some places on earth more suitable for stargazing in regards to the latitude etc.?

 

 


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#2 TOMDEY

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Posted 14 November 2018 - 04:33 AM

Astronomers, professional and amateur... We're ALL in the same boat: at the mercy of the weather. All four seasons are equally good. Winter just SEEMS better, because some of the flashier constellations are out, and the nights are longer... at least here, in the Northern mid-latitudes...

 

If you're willing to get up and observe EVERY clear or partially-clear night, there are PLENTY of them in the course of a year... it all pretty much evens out!  Tom


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#3 einarin

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Posted 14 November 2018 - 04:43 AM

Here in Scandinavia the best opportunities are August-September and then in spring March-April.

November-January usually are the worst regarding cloudiness.


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#4 Astrojensen

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Posted 14 November 2018 - 05:27 AM

Astronomers, professional and amateur... We're ALL in the same boat: at the mercy of the weather. All four seasons are equally good. Winter just SEEMS better, because some of the flashier constellations are out, and the nights are longer... at least here, in the Northern mid-latitudes...

 

If you're willing to get up and observe EVERY clear or partially-clear night, there are PLENTY of them in the course of a year... it all pretty much evens out!  Tom

No, it doesn't necessarily even out. That depends on your location. Let's say I have around 100 clear nights a year, but 50 of those happen in the three months of summer twilight. That only leaves 50 nights for the remaining nine months and I already know that April and the first weeks of May are going to get at least 15 of those. That's now only 25 nights for seven months, roughly three or four nights a month. And of those remaining seven months, I already know that August and September are much better than November, December and January, all three of which average one or two clear nights a month.  

 

All seasons here aren't equally good. At all. 

 

 

Clear skies!

Thomas, Denmark


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#5 Wouter1981

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Posted 14 November 2018 - 06:07 AM

Something I really underestimated was "bad seeing". A clear blue afternoon without a cloud in the sky. Dark blue with reds in the evening. It's finally getting dark and barely any star to see. Turbulence, fog, high clouds,... They all can make stars much dimmer although you have the impression the sky is cristal clear. Combine the three with some lightpollution, stirr well et voila, not a star in the sky.



#6 beggarly

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Posted 14 November 2018 - 06:58 AM

Weather apps:
 
 
 


#7 sg6

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Posted 14 November 2018 - 07:07 AM

Seems that cloud exists at 3 layers, classic of Low, Medium and High (no imagination in the naming).

From standing outside and looking I guess that the high tends to be almost invisible and for some reason uniform, so you do not easily "see" it. But it blocks just about everything.

 

Two nights back I was stood outside saw no stars (really), no obvious cloud, but a couple of transitting planes were visible. So whatever it was was aove the passing aircraft height.

 

You could find the jetstream upsets the view, it is turbulant air.

 

Not sure which bit of the 59N circle you are at but weather here says a high pressure is pushing in, that may well clear the upper regions of the atmosphere. Mainly as it is pushing from the continent not the Atlantic, so would be less moisture in it all.



#8 SeattleScott

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Posted 14 November 2018 - 07:45 AM

In terms of location, living at the equator is ideal because you get tore the northern sky stuff and southern sky stuff, dew on the season. If you live at one of the poles, your sky would never change. You would see the same stars all year. Actually, in the summer you wouldn’t see any stars since it wouldn’t get dark. At the equator you have consistent, reasonable sunset times all year. Those of us in the Northern Hemisphere envy those in the Southern Hemisphere because of all the cool sights they get to see that we don’t. It may go the other way too, but I get the impression southern folks really do have it better. Except when it comes to doing polar alignment.

Scott
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#9 db2005

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Posted 14 November 2018 - 08:04 AM

No, it doesn't necessarily even out. That depends on your location. Let's say I have around 100 clear nights a year, but 50 of those happen in the three months of summer twilight. That only leaves 50 nights for the remaining nine months and I already know that April and the first weeks of May are going to get at least 15 of those. That's now only 25 nights for seven months, roughly three or four nights a month. And of those remaining seven months, I already know that August and September are much better than November, December and January, all three of which average one or two clear nights a month.  

 

All seasons here aren't equally good. At all. 

 

 

Clear skies!

Thomas, Denmark

+1 waytogo.gif

 

The unpredictable weather conditions in Scandinavia underline the value of having a grab-and-go scope (typically a small refractor) that can be brought outside at a moment's notice, acclimatize near-instantly and get some observing done before the clouds roll back in. My C8 stays inside except on good observing nights.


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#10 aeajr

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Posted 14 November 2018 - 08:25 AM

Beginner here. So i have not seen a single star in the sky for 2 weeks in northern Europe at about 59th parallel North. I havent even been able to try out my new old telescope properly since i bought it, very annoying.

 

What weather factors makes stargazing impossible or hard, more than cloudiness? Does fog make a big impact?  There is no snow at all and it doesnt seem so cloudy, at least in the daytime?

 

There is medium light pollution, but i have also driven to a relatively dark site but there i could not see a single star either.

Not even the moon have been the slightest visible, not at all.

 

So what are the different weather conditions that can hinder stargazing, and isnt the winter generally the best time for stargazing?

 

Also is some places on earth more suitable for stargazing in regards to the latitude etc.?

If we think of the term "weather" as atmospheric conditions that affect astronomy they would be:

  • Transparency - Clouds, atmospheric moisture, suspended ice crystals, smog and pollution particles in the air
  • Seeing - the turbulence of the air which effects the light as it comes through the air

 

What is SEEING and why it can be bad.  This is not a problem with your
telescope
http://www.skyandtel...ing-the-seeing/
http://www.damianpeach.com/seeing1.htm
http://www.damianpea...m/pickering.htm

 

 

 Light Pollution

  • Sky light pollution due do ground lights which reflect off the clouds, moisture and particles in the air
  • Ground light pollution that prevents your eyes from fully dark adapting

Dew

  • As the temperature approaches the dew point moisture will condense on the scope and optics
  • If the temp drops low enough this will result in frost

As mentioned earlier, the equator would be the best for star gazing as you have the largest view of the sky, both North and South. 

 

Final issue is buying new astronomy equipment.  Statistically this seems to attract clouds.  So buy all of your equipment once a year and be prepared for a month of clouds.   Buying in this manner will tend to provide more clear skies.   Of course if you don't coordinate this with other people in the area, their purchases could impact you.  scratchhead2.gif  

 

The only therapy for this condition is the Cloudy Nights Forum where you can at least talk about the things you can't do because of the above situations. welcome.gif  Glad you found us. 

 

Clear skies!


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#11 TOMDEY

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Posted 14 November 2018 - 10:31 AM

Few decades ago: The region where I lived, we got Lake Effect snow and clouds. At the local astronomy club, members constantly belly-ached about the weather precluding any actual observing. Yet, one other guy, and I... would show up month after month with observations and even photos (old-fashioned hand-guided film photos, necessarily averaging 2-3 continuous hours each and every frame). After a handful of years, we imaged nearly all the Messiers and were then working on the NGCs etc.

 

The ONLY difference was that we observed whenever it was clear. And some (admittedly few) of those nights were text-book perfection. We enjoyed those even more... but didn't put off observing, waiting for only them.

 

Here's one 3-hour exposure from then (one of 205 images... the good ones... the 900 "bad" ones are in another folder) Rather Meh, by today's digital-imaging standards, but that's the way it was, back then... >>>  Tom

 

Attached Thumbnails

  • 107 65 Film Rosette Meh JPG from film.jpg

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#12 Kepler 22b

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Posted 20 November 2018 - 10:02 AM

Thanks for the many answers. I have finally been able to test my Meade ETX70 on a cuple of nights with stars and the moon, i was just confused since it seemed cloud free the couple of weeks without stars, but then i guess it was cloudy after all?
Okay so since i live in Scandinavia (59 degrees latitude) this is not the best time of year to stargaze then?
I thought since its much darker here in the winter months it should be better viewing conditions?

By the way, i was a bit surprised how dim the stars looks on all magnifications except on the most lower ones.

Also the stars looks like ”round globes” with like a bubbling movement inside the star, not at all like all the amateur pictures of bright stars i see with or without spikes . Or does a star look totally different when photographed compared to when looked at in the telescope?

But i guess i have done something wrong in terms of settings or something else? The focus knob can only make the star look worse so i think the focus already is at its best?

Edited by Kepler 22b, 20 November 2018 - 10:31 AM.


#13 MalVeauX

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Posted 20 November 2018 - 10:15 AM

Unfortunately where you are and what the weather is like there absolutely effects what you'll see when you look up.

 

This is exactly why major observatories are built in specific locations and not just in the backyard of a university.

 

Lots of places are just totally not suitable to astronomy at all. If you're in a location where there are days, weeks, that you cannot see the outline of the sun or moon due to cloud cover, like a lot of the Northern Europe and UK and Asia areas, astronomy will be a very rare thing.

 

Very best,



#14 Kepler 22b

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Posted 20 November 2018 - 10:38 AM

Unfortunately where you are and what the weather is like there absolutely effects what you'll see when you look up.

This is exactly why major observatories are built in specific locations and not just in the backyard of a university.

Lots of places are just totally not suitable to astronomy at all. If you're in a location where there are days, weeks, that you cannot see the outline of the sun or moon due to cloud cover, like a lot of the Northern Europe and UK and Asia areas, astronomy will be a very rare thing.

Very best,


Yes and there seems to be nothing at all one can do about it (except travel to the other side of the globe), frustrating indeed. Maybe it gets less frustrating when you have been doing this hobby for a long time. Often one can do something to overcome different issues but this one seems hard to be able to do something about. I guess its all up to the weather gods.

#15 MalVeauX

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Posted 20 November 2018 - 10:59 AM

Yes and there seems to be nothing at all one can do about it (except travel to the other side of the globe), frustrating indeed. Maybe it gets less frustrating when you have been doing this hobby for a long time. Often one can do something to overcome different issues but this one seems hard to be able to do something about. I guess its all up to the weather gods.

You could explore radio astronomy too. I don't know enough about it to know if it will be an option where you are, but finding planets and other objects with radio is pretty awesome.

 

Very best,



#16 SeaBee1

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Posted 21 November 2018 - 08:46 AM

Thanks for the many answers. I have finally been able to test my Meade ETX70 on a cuple of nights with stars and the moon, i was just confused since it seemed cloud free the couple of weeks without stars, but then i guess it was cloudy after all?
Okay so since i live in Scandinavia (59 degrees latitude) this is not the best time of year to stargaze then?
I thought since its much darker here in the winter months it should be better viewing conditions?

By the way, i was a bit surprised how dim the stars looks on all magnifications except on the most lower ones.

Also the stars looks like ”round globes” with like a bubbling movement inside the star, not at all like all the amateur pictures of bright stars i see with or without spikes . Or does a star look totally different when photographed compared to when looked at in the telescope?

But i guess i have done something wrong in terms of settings or something else? The focus knob can only make the star look worse so i think the focus already is at its best?

 

First thing: Something doesn't sound right here... even under poor seeing conditions, stars should appear as "dots" not "globes". If you see a globe big enough to detect "bubbling movement inside the star", you have not achieved focus, and what you are seeing is likely atmospheric turbulence magnified in the unfocused image. Are you using a star diagonal in your scope? Some scopes will not come to proper focus without the use of one.

 

Second thing: Don't get hung up on photo images vs what you see in the eyepiece. Most of the time, it is different. Spikes are diffraction artifacts in the image caused by the suspension system for the secondary mirror in reflector telescopes. You will not see them in the eyepiece of a refractor telescope, which I think your ETX70 is.

 

Third thing: Yes, your focus may already be at its best with the scope as it is. But, as I mentioned above, you may need something additional in the image train in order to reach PERFECT focus. Unless I am missing something and I am totally off base... A picture of your scope as you are using it right now could be helpful.

 

CB



#17 Kepler 22b

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Posted 01 December 2018 - 04:31 AM

No I'm not using star diagonal, maybe that would help? And maybe the focus wasn't at its best?

 

Also when i had an higher magnification this type of wrong look of the star become more pronounced. But on the other hand with the lowest magnification eyepiece I own so far (25mm) the stars looked like a short streaks almost.

 

But yes i´m pretty sure its the focus and the atmospheric conditions that makes it not look good, and maybe a few other things as well?


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#18 SeaBee1

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Posted 01 December 2018 - 08:11 AM

No I'm not using star diagonal, maybe that would help? And maybe the focus wasn't at its best?

 

Also when i had an higher magnification this type of wrong look of the star become more pronounced. But on the other hand with the lowest magnification eyepiece I own so far (25mm) the stars looked like a short streaks almost.

 

But yes i´m pretty sure its the focus and the atmospheric conditions that makes it not look good, and maybe a few other things as well?

 

Based on my own experience, I highly recommend the use of a good star diagonal. If I am not mistaken, your scope is equipped with a 1.25 inch focuser. Astronomics, the sponsor for the Cloudy Nights forum is a good source for what you need. If you are unsure of what to get, tell them your scope details and they will make a recommendation. Good people to work with, I have made several purchases with them. And as a member of Cloudy Nights, you qualify for a small discount. When you purchase, just give them your CN username and they will apply the discount.

 

Good hunting!

 

CB




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