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Best dark sky sites in Europe for binocular stargazing

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#1 Grimnir

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Posted 30 June 2020 - 07:22 AM

Post covid, I want to get away, however temporarily, from the increasingly poor seeing (Bortle 8) here in London so I'm thinking of a trip to somewhere really dark in Europe.

 

I've had a good look at https://www.lightpollutionmap.info but what is your personal experience of the darkest sites in Europe?

 

Does anyone have experience of Roque de los Muchachos in La Palma?

 

Graham


Edited by Grimnir, 30 June 2020 - 07:22 AM.


#2 Waddensky

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Posted 30 June 2020 - 08:03 AM

Wadden Sea area of The Netherlands. The Boschplaat and Lauwersmeer are Dark Sky Parks, but the overal darkness of the whole area is excellent, especially the Wadden Islands.

 

Some other suggestions (worldwide): https://www.darksky....ion/idsp/parks/


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#3 DeanD

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Posted 30 June 2020 - 08:11 AM

Hi Graham,

 

We stayed at Le Grange with Olly and Monique Penrice a number of years back. An Astronomy B&B! Well worth checking out: http://www.sunstarfrance.com

Very dark skies, several observatories on site and scopes available for use, but if you want to use your binos there are great spots to sit and view. Olly is English and Monique is French so there is no language problem, and there are some lovely drives and walks nearby for daytime sightseeing too.

Olly is a lovely bloke, he is very helpful, knows his astronomy and AP, and he claims to have the darkest skies in Southern Europe at least. SQM readings in the order of 21.6 or better: Bortle 1 or 2. Not quite as good as our Outback South Australian skies, but impressive nonetheless. wink.gif

 

All the best,

 

Dean


Edited by DeanD, 30 June 2020 - 08:14 AM.

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#4 PEterW

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Posted 30 June 2020 - 09:22 AM

Tenerife is another option, though the Canaries do get Sahara dust issues.... I’ve had friends spend a week under yellow skies.

Peter
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#5 Grimnir

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Posted 30 June 2020 - 10:06 AM

Wadden Sea area of The Netherlands. The Boschplaat and Lauwersmeer are Dark Sky Parks, but the overal darkness of the whole area is excellent, especially the Wadden Islands.

 

Some other suggestions (worldwide): https://www.darksky....ion/idsp/parks/

 

An interesting suggestion and one that would not have occurred to me - thank you!

 

Graham


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#6 Grimnir

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Posted 30 June 2020 - 10:07 AM

Hi Graham,

 

We stayed at Le Grange with Olly and Monique Penrice a number of years back. An Astronomy B&B! Well worth checking out: http://www.sunstarfrance.com

Very dark skies, several observatories on site and scopes available for use, but if you want to use your binos there are great spots to sit and view. Olly is English and Monique is French so there is no language problem, and there are some lovely drives and walks nearby for daytime sightseeing too.

Olly is a lovely bloke, he is very helpful, knows his astronomy and AP, and he claims to have the darkest skies in Southern Europe at least. SQM readings in the order of 21.6 or better: Bortle 1 or 2. Not quite as good as our Outback South Australian skies, but impressive nonetheless. wink.gif

 

All the best,

 

Dean

 

Very interesting Dean, thank you! I've had a look at their website and will drop them an email.

 

Graham


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#7 Grimnir

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Posted 30 June 2020 - 10:11 AM

Tenerife is another option, though the Canaries do get Sahara dust issues.... I’ve had friends spend a week under yellow skies.

Peter

 

Thank you Peter - if the Canaries then I was thinking I may as well go to La Palma as that's where ENO is based.

 

Graham


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#8 Waddensky

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Posted 30 June 2020 - 10:30 AM

An interesting suggestion and one that would not have occurred to me - thank you!

 

Graham

I can't blame you, NL is known as one of the most light-polluted countries in the world. But fortunately there are still some really dark sites around here.

 

Good luck with finding your destination!


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#9 KennyJ

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Posted 30 June 2020 - 10:33 AM

HI Graham,

 

During nights of yesteryear I've enjoyed some breathtaking views of night skies from Gran Canaria, Tenerife and Fuertaventura.

 

The bonus at those places are the pleasant night time temperatures.

 

If I lived on any of those islands, Astonomy would definitely become almost as passionate an hobby for me as guitar playing and reading about binoculars! smile.gif

 

Kenny


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#10 PEterW

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Posted 30 June 2020 - 12:43 PM

My friends described the difference between suburban London and the Isle of Wight (21.5) was similar to that between the Isle of Wight and La Palma.... go when the dust is likely to be less of an issue and enjoy. There are a few places in Namibia that get a mention, see things you’re not familiar with without changing time zones (much).

Peter
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#11 dezzie

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Posted 30 June 2020 - 02:23 PM

Keilder in Northumberland/Scottish borders is a massive dark sky night with an observatory at the top end of the lake and glamping pods etc if you wish to camp, great views day and night!
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#12 Erik Bakker

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Posted 30 June 2020 - 02:33 PM

If been to quite a few observatories, including those on Pico del Teide at an elevation of 2300 m at Tenerife, an island near La Palma. 

 

In winter, the best skies I'v seen were in the German High Eiffel, at a mere 700m altitude.

Also, above 1700m, I've seen some amazing skies both during summer and winter in the Austrian Alps. Both sights presenting mindblowing views in even my modest 10x56's, easily rivaling the views at Pico del Teide at 2300m. The difference is the generally much better and more consistent good weather and clear skies at the Teide. But to the Eiffel, I even brought my Questar 7, making the quality of skies + quality of instrument equate to a much better result than my small ST80 at 3000m next to some major observatories did.

 

If you can safely travel far, Mauna Kea or the Mountains at Cerro Tolole in Southern Chili will best them all.


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#13 ArsMachina

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Posted 30 June 2020 - 02:34 PM

Gornergrat Zermatt is also a nice location.

Dark and high elevation ...

 

Jochen


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#14 osbourne one-nil

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Posted 01 July 2020 - 04:02 AM

I'd get the Caledonian Sleeper up to Inverness and then head over to Sutherland. Some of the world's best scenery and Bortle 1 skies. You'd have to wait until late August of course...and take midge cream...and waterproofs....perhaps the Canaries?



#15 Grimnir

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Posted 01 July 2020 - 04:12 AM

I'd get the Caledonian Sleeper up to Inverness and then head over to Sutherland. Some of the world's best scenery and Bortle 1 skies. You'd have to wait until late August of course...and take midge cream...and waterproofs....perhaps the Canaries?

 

Yeah - flying to La Palma will probably be cheaper than the Caledonian sleeper and it'll be warmer with clearer skies and no midges!

 

Graham


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#16 Grimnir

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Posted 01 July 2020 - 05:56 AM

If been to quite a few observatories, including those on Pico del Teide at an elevation of 2300 m at Tenerife, an island near La Palma. 

 

In winter, the best skies I'v seen were in the German High Eiffel, at a mere 700m altitude.

Also, above 1700m, I've seen some amazing skies both during summer and winter in the Austrian Alps. Both sights presenting mindblowing views in even my modest 10x56's, easily rivaling the views at Pico del Teide at 2300m. The difference is the generally much better and more consistent good weather and clear skies at the Teide. But to the Eiffel, I even brought my Questar 7, making the quality of skies + quality of instrument equate to a much better result than my small ST80 at 3000m next to some major observatories did.

 

If you can safely travel far, Mauna Kea or the Mountains at Cerro Tolole in Southern Chili will best them all.

 

Thank you Erik - I'm putting Tenerife on my shortlist and I will consider the Eiffel. However Hawaii and Chile are too far for the moment - but maybe in a few years.

 

Graham


Edited by Grimnir, 01 July 2020 - 05:56 AM.



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