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My first real view of Milky Way

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#1 Abhat

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Posted 19 September 2020 - 09:22 AM

I have been doing backyard astronomy for years from Bortle 4-5 zone in Maryland. But had never ventured out. I can see fat free milk version of Milky Way from my backyard on clear nights.

Last night I decided to go in search of dark sky site nearby using https://www.lightpollutionmap.info. The smoke had completely cleared out. After driving for 40 miles west of Hagerstown, MD I landed on the top a mountain near Green Ridge state forest which is Bortle 3. Oh my, what a difference it made. As soon as I shut off my car and got out, I could see the full arch of thick whole milk version of milky way. After 15 minutes of adaption what I could see was breathtaking. I envy guys who live near such areas and see this everyday.  I am wondering how milky way would look like from Bortle 2 or Bortle 1. Plan to visit the Spruce Knob area in WV this weekend.


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#2 gene 4181

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Posted 19 September 2020 - 09:41 AM

        Realtor .com   ,   , smile.gif


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#3 AstroBrett

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Posted 19 September 2020 - 09:53 AM

I grew up in the suburbs of the Hampton Roads metro area in the 1960's, and light pollution wasn't so bad that I couldn't star hop and enjoy solar system objects, but nebula were mostly out of the question. About 20 years ago I moved to the Shenandoah Valley, and most clear nights the Milky Way is quite obvious, and the rift is prominent from Sagittarius up through Cygnus. Here is a quick shot I grabbed a few nights ago from my backyard:

 

MWay Staunton.JPG

 

You can see the light dome from Staunton in the lower right corner, but most clear nights I enjoy mag 21.5 skies. Nevertheless, when I go over to WV my jaw drops at the difference between there and here. The area around Green Bank up through Cedar Know is spectacular, and it is a shame that the majority of Americans miss out on such a beautiful sight. I hope you enjoy your trip, and please report back when you return.

 

The forecast is REALLY good this weekend, so I wish you the best.

 

Brett


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#4 sparks

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Posted 21 September 2020 - 10:02 PM

I spent about 5 years looking for a dark sky site to purchase and found it in Cave Mountain, WV. It's in the Spruce Knob-Seneca Rocks National Recreation Area and it is one of the darkest sites on the east coast. It's 3 hours from home in Fairfax Station, VA but I decided long ago that when it comes to observing time, quality over quantity is better. It's in Bortle class 1-2 and we get a horizon to horizon Milky Way that never gets old. I have turned it into an observing club called the Cave Mountain Observatory Retreat. Check it out here: https://groups.io/g/CMOR

 

We have open houses on a regular basis, so sign up on the CMOR list to get notices so that you can visit and check it out.

 

Bob

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#5 BrooksObs

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Posted 22 September 2020 - 10:30 AM

I have been doing backyard astronomy for years from Bortle 4-5 zone in Maryland. But had never ventured out. I can see fat free milk version of Milky Way from my backyard on clear nights.

Last night I decided to go in search of dark sky site nearby using https://www.lightpollutionmap.info. The smoke had completely cleared out. After driving for 40 miles west of Hagerstown, MD I landed on the top a mountain near Green Ridge state forest which is Bortle 3. Oh my, what a difference it made. As soon as I shut off my car and got out, I could see the full arch of thick whole milk version of milky way. After 15 minutes of adaption what I could see was breathtaking. I envy guys who live near such areas and see this everyday.  I am wondering how milky way would look like from Bortle 2 or Bortle 1. Plan to visit the Spruce Knob area in WV this weekend.

I

 

Honestly, at least a whole order on magnitude better than what you saw! From true Bortle class1 sites I've been to the central Milky Way extends as far westward as across the constellation of Libra; in total the galaxy's hub spanning ~45 degrees or more in width. Virtually all the Messier nebulae and clusters in the area are distinct naked eye features. M8, the Lagoon Nebula, is better than a degree wide in its long axis and 45' vertically, with a total magnitude of around 4 with just your eyes! Other Milky Way details elsewhere include noting the galaxy extending throughout the constellation of Cepheus reaching almost to the Pole Star. Handheld 50mm binoculars will easily reveal ALL the Messier objects and countless more. M33 is a distinct little elliptical cloud without optical aid. At the same time the Zodical Band spans the entire vault of the heavens, while the Zodical Light stands more than 70 degrees tall before dawn this time of year. It is such a view as to be almost beyond comprehension to the average urban hobbyist!

 

BrooksObs


Edited by BrooksObs, 23 September 2020 - 09:44 AM.

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