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Optimal exit pupil size for city light pollution

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#26 Rich V.

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Posted 16 July 2021 - 09:30 PM

 

Please note that the above is just for my skies where the average SQM reading is about 16.  I'd imagine that the 10x35's significant reach advantage would improve under darker skies where the balance may very well tip in its favor.

I live in Tokyo's "Opposite World" by comparison.  My SQM-L readings on best nights will be over 21. Some members here can do way better than that.  Best ever from home was 21.76 looking east, but frequently 21 or less because LP is increasing here as well as common transparency issues. Half a day's drive to central Nevada is like that over the whole sky dome; seen up to 21.85 there  When clouds form overhead, they're black against a brighter, star filled sky like dark nebulae.   cool.gif

 

The 10x35s spend a lot of time around my neck as finder binos while using scopes or mounted binos.  From home, the 10x35s smallish exit pupil is surprisingly potent and I prefer them over the 8x.  Great contrast helps.  They just go deeper and 7° is still wider than a typical finder scope, anyhow.   They can show small, faint little M objects like M1 and M78 on a transparent night.  In comparison, though, the 10x42Ls clearly go deeper.  Exit pupil still matters at equal magnifications.  They actually are a bit sharper and certainly have flatter focus across the field than either EII.  You'll never forget you've got them around your neck like I do with the EIIs!   wink.gif

 

Enjoy using your fine optics; you, myself and many of us here have reason to be counting our lucky stars every night!

 

Rich


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#27 MT4

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Posted 16 July 2021 - 09:52 PM

Rich - I so envy your skies.  It seems that I need 10x binoculars to reach the NELM where you are smile.gif.   That's why my 7x, 8x and 10x binoculars always play supporting roles for me.  Nevertheless, I enjoy using them immensely on the night sky.  There's no higher beauty than the beauty of the heavens above.  And it's eternal, or ... maybe not smile.gif



#28 ECP M42

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Posted 17 July 2021 - 11:52 AM

With the sky and ground so brightly lit in mid Tokyo, regardless of the hour of the day, I don't think there is such a thing as dark adaptation.  Even if you stay in a dark room for an hour, the moment you step outside all that dark adaptation is instantly gone.

 

I have an observing hood and a few bino bandits and some home-made light blocking sheets, but all I use them for is to block out the pesky street lights and park lights around me.

But in fact, it is precisely for this reason that I made the two observations. Perhaps the underlying meaning was not clear.

Once your eyes are adjusted to the dark (as far as they can), you should dip them into the eyepieces of the harnessed binoculars of all possible lens hoods, avoiding letting them see all the light around you.

I simply wanted to advise you to close the eyesgramps.gif  before taking them out of the eyepieces and putting them back in other eyepieces, of other binoculars under test. Because the light around you definitely cancels the dark adaptation of the retina (for what is possible under 8-9 Bortle skies).

 

 

I place an equivalence table that I found interesting ...

 

http://www.darkskies...ss-nomogram.gif


Edited by ECP M42, 17 July 2021 - 11:55 AM.


#29 MT4

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Posted 17 July 2021 - 12:16 PM

ECP - Believe me, with the level of light pollution where I am being literally off the charts (i.e. much worse than is typical for the highest Bortle-9 class), I've tried every trick in the book, and some of my own too, to get around the pesky street/park lights around me.  Those aperture masking tests were done with all those tricks being employed to the best of my ability.  I may not be very experienced with binoculars and stargazing but I've had a quite a bit of experience dealing with light pollution to even get this hobby off the ground.

 

it's just my reality of living in mid Tokyo.  New York City is often referred to in the movies as the city that never sleeps but Tokyo is sadly on another level here.  That's why I've long considered all my 7x/8x/10x binoculars as companions to my "real" binoculars which start at 15x.  In other words, I need something like 10x to see what someone under reasonably dark skies can see with the naked eye.



#30 ECP M42

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Posted 17 July 2021 - 12:44 PM

it's just my reality of living in mid Tokyo.  New York City is often referred to in the movies as the city that never sleeps but Tokyo is sadly on another level here.

I can understand, I am a photographer!

The light exposure of the faces in this night image, is almost "equal" to that of the day. 

 

tokyo.jpg



#31 MT4

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Posted 17 July 2021 - 12:45 PM

With all the depressing talks of light pollution in this thread, I thought I'd give a bit of a positive update.  Stopping down my Nikon 18x70 to 58mm to get a nice darkened background, I just saw  perfectly round Jupiter and its four Galilean moons all lined up in a straight line.  It's truly a magnificent view, one worth staying up for especially after I suffered through more than a month of nothingness in the sky, a.k.a the brutally long rainy season smile.gif

 

I think my Nikon 18x70 is now perfectly safe from my upcoming Canon 18x50 IS.

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#32 Rich V.

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Posted 17 July 2021 - 01:18 PM

MT4, planets and Luna will always be good targets from Tokyo!  Have you considered a small scope to compliment your binos?.  Telescope.gif   As you know, they punch through the LP like it's hardly there on the bright targets.   Get yourself a good Moon atlas and you'll be amazed at the details you'll see and enjoy.

 

Probably not helping here...  tongue2.gif


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#33 ECP M42

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Posted 17 July 2021 - 01:32 PM

MT4, do not despair ... one day the Sun will come (sooner or later)  lol.gif


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#34 MT4

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Posted 17 July 2021 - 02:06 PM

MT4, planets and Luna will always be good targets from Tokyo!  Have you considered a small scope to compliment your binos?.  Telescope.gif   As you know, they punch through the LP like it's hardly there on the bright targets.   Get yourself a good Moon atlas and you'll be amazed at the details you'll see and enjoy.

 

Probably not helping here...  tongue2.gif

 

@Rich - You have helped me a lot with your clear explanations and sound advice, and for that I sincerely thank you.  (I've also learned a lot from your many posts without you even knowing it.  For starter, the idea of using a tripod with a geared center column plus a height-adjustable observing chair has made a world of difference in terms of viewing comfort for me.  Frankly it's made workable for me the whole notion of using a tripod, which is an absolute must for my Kowa Highlander Prominar.)

 

One of my dreams is to be able to observe galaxies.  I've seen just one such galaxy so far, M31, in my Maven B5 15x56.  That was a bit of a letdown, to put it very mildly, as M31 was extremely faint in the view.  I  hope that my Kowa at 50x would have significantly better reach than the Maven and show me some galaxies for real.  Now that the long rainy season is over and the sky is starting to clear up, I can't wait to put my Kowa to work again.

 

I'm due for a trip up north to a place with much darker skies early in the fall, and I'll be sure to bring some of my best binoculars with me, but to be honest what I'd really like is to be able to view galaxies and other DSOs on a more frequent basis, like every weekend weather permitting smile.gif   So yeah the thought of buying a refractor in the medium-term future has crossed my mind.  I've been casually checking out Takahashi 130mm/150mm refractors but I feel that I need to first learn what I can and cannot do with my existing binoculars and also need to gain more knowledge of the sky before getting a scope.



#35 Rich V.

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Posted 17 July 2021 - 05:24 PM

MT4, good to hear you'll be getting away to darker skies in the fall.  Where do amateur astronomers go to get access to dark skies away from Tokyo?

 

Looking back and forth between LP and highway maps shows the national parks north of Tokyo get you into some pretty dark skies.  The lack of LP looks quite good up into Oze Nat'l Park from Lake Ozenuma northward but access looks very limited.  What kind of place is Ozemiike?  That area looks beautiful by day with dark skies. 

 

We watch some Japanese-sourced TV travel and food programs on NHK but that's as close as we get over here.  Finishing the July Grand Sumo basho right now.   sumo.gif  

 

Rich



#36 MT4

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Posted 17 July 2021 - 07:24 PM

MT4, good to hear you'll be getting away to darker skies in the fall.  Where do amateur astronomers go to get access to dark skies away from Tokyo?

 

Looking back and forth between LP and highway maps shows the national parks north of Tokyo get you into some pretty dark skies.  The lack of LP looks quite good up into Oze Nat'l Park from Lake Ozenuma northward but access looks very limited.  What kind of place is Ozemiike?  That area looks beautiful by day with dark skies. 

 

We watch some Japanese-sourced TV travel and food programs on NHK but that's as close as we get over here.  Finishing the July Grand Sumo basho right now.   sumo.gif  

 

Rich

 

I don't actually know where amateur astronomers go to get away from Tokyo and get access to dark skies.  Those national parks that you mentioned would be way better than Tokyo.  In fact, if you start from Tokyo and simply head due north out of Tokyo, you should get skies that are darker than Tokyo's.  The further north you travel, the darker the skies I suppose.  I went to a nice place in Aomori ("blue woods") a couple of summers ago and I absolutely loved it for its beautiful scenery, lakes and rivers.  Now with astronomy in mind, I wouldn't mind going there again.

 

The final decision on where to go is, as usually the case, up to my wife not me unfortunately smile.gif.  Being Japanese, her most essential requirement for any vacation in Japan is that the place must have good natural hot springs for her to enjoy every day, multiple times a day.  On the other hand, I don't really care for hot springs, nor can I eat sushi other than California rolls if you could even call them "sushi".  (They're not, according to my wife.  And by the way, when someone goes to a Japanese sushi restaurant, the raw-fish dishes that they typically order are sashimi not sushi !).

 

The reality for an amateur stargazer in Tokyo is that any place outside of Tokyo is way better than Tokyo.  I used to dream of retiring to a small fishing village on an island (Tokyo is technically on an island, but for it to be a small fishing village one would need to take that proverbial time machine back in time a good many hundred years), catching fish and breathing in the fresh air every day, away from the hustle and bustle of Tokyo city life.  I can now add one more thing to do in that pipe dream:  stargazing at night, away from the god-awful light pollution.


Edited by MT4, 17 July 2021 - 07:42 PM.

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#37 SMark

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Posted 17 July 2021 - 09:46 PM

I used to dream of retiring to a small fishing village on an island (Tokyo is technically on an island, but for it to be a small fishing village one would need to take that proverbial time machine back in time a good many hundred years), catching fish and breathing in the fresh air every day, away from the hustle and bustle of Tokyo city life.  I can now add one more thing to do in that pipe dream:  stargazing at night, away from the god-awful light pollution.

My wife and I just retired from the Bortle 7.3 Atlanta suburbs to a Bortle 3.4 "out in the middle of nowhere" in Alabama. We're not fishing every day (though we did consider purchasing a stocked catfish pond) but the entire concept of "never even seeing your neighbors" is not at all hard to get used to. 

 

Actually, I will say that I did take the time to go visit the girls next door on the day we moved-in. It appeared that they were just dying to meet me... flowerred.gif

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#38 Rich V.

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Posted 17 July 2021 - 09:50 PM

Have you consulted an LP map like this one?  I just zoomed in on Japan and saw the situation immediately.  Zoom in closer to see roads, towns, etc.  Oze is in one of the blue spots north of Tokyo.  Looks pretty remote but it's hard for me to imagine since it's close to a huge urban center.  I'll bet it's beautiful up there.


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#39 MT4

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Posted 18 July 2021 - 01:29 AM

My wife and I just retired from the Bortle 7.3 Atlanta suburbs to a Bortle 3.4 "out in the middle of nowhere" in Alabama. We're not fishing every day (though we did consider purchasing a stocked catfish pond) but the entire concept of "never even seeing your neighbors" is not at all hard to get used to. 

 

Actually, I will say that I did take the time to go visit the girls next door on the day we moved-in. It appeared that they were just dying to meet me... flowerred.gif

 

Oh that's a lovely picture!  I bet the girls were wondering about the new neighbors and if they should go give you a warm welcome smile.gif

 

I bet your 7x35 widefields suddenly looked like they were all super-wide 10x50's in terms of reach.  I can see why it's not at all hard to get used to.


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#40 MT4

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Posted 18 July 2021 - 01:32 AM

Have you consulted an LP map like this one?  I just zoomed in on Japan and saw the situation immediately.  Zoom in closer to see roads, towns, etc.  Oze is in one of the blue spots north of Tokyo.  Looks pretty remote but it's hard for me to imagine since it's close to a huge urban center.  I'll bet it's beautiful up there.

 

Yes I've used that map.  Thank you Rich.



#41 ihf

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Posted 18 July 2021 - 02:08 AM

Being Japanese, her most essential requirement for any vacation in Japan is that the place must have good natural hot springs for her to enjoy every day, multiple times a day.

Are these springs open at night? My favorite experience with the Canon 10x42 was watching the stars while sitting in a hot spring pool in the California mountains. Of course those are wild.


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#42 MT4

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Posted 18 July 2021 - 03:11 AM

Are these springs open at night? My favorite experience with the Canon 10x42 was watching the stars while sitting in a hot spring pool in the California mountains. Of course those are wild.

 

Yes they typically are.

 

Wow watching the stars while sitting in a hot-spring pool.  That sounds like stargazing taken to the next level smile.gif


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#43 MT4

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Posted 18 July 2021 - 09:20 AM

Just came back from a mini observing session. 

 

The sky was mostly clear with some low-flying clouds.  I went to my favorite observing site, a.k.a. the city park next door.  I had with me my Nikon 18x58* (stopped down for a darkened background, accepting a not-insignificant loss of light gathering) and Nikon EDG 7x42.  I didn't even bring my lightweight carbon-fibre tripod + 502 video head combo, nor my new stargazing chair.  I just sat down at a park bench and got comfortable.  The temperature was perfect for a summer night at about 26 degrees Celsius.  There was a gentle breeze blowing, creating the perfect ambience for a relaxing stargazing session.

 

And what a relaxing stargazing session it was.  I started out with my 7x Nikon for a broad overview of the night sky.  Then I looked at the moon emerging from the top of a tall tree.  The view through the 8-deg sharp-to-the-edge little Nikon was mesmerizing.  I spent a good deal of time looking at the moon and picking out some pinpoint sources of light in the same FOV.  Then I moved up towards Arcturus, my new favorite star.  After a quick star hop I arrived at the Northern Crown which all fit inside the 7x Nikon's 8-deg FOV.  That was magnificent.

 

Next I switched over to the 18x Nikon.  The moon was no less mesmerizing in the bigger Nikon, thanks to the much bigger image scale.  There's something truly magical about this instrument.  Everything looks bigger and that much more impressive, and yet the 18x Nikon still has a nice FOV of 4 degs, enough to fit 8 full moons in its FOV.  Moving up to the Northern Crown, now an easy star hop away, I was amazed again at the view.  With half the FOV of the 7x Nikon, the 18x Nikon could only fit a little over half of the Northern Crown but this loss was well compensated by the bigger image scale.

 

In the end, I couldn't decide which of my two instruments provided the better view of the first-quarter moon and the Northern Crown.   I think it came down to more context in the 7x Nikon vs bigger image scale in the 18x Nikon, and that was not at all an easy call to make.  Fortunately, I didn't have to make the call and so to have both instruments meant doubling the enjoyment factor.  And enjoying the beauty of the heavens above should really be what this hobby is all about, if I may say so myself.

 

 

Edit:  Just wanted to add that at no point in the mini session did I wish that the 18x Nikon had a flat field like that in the 7x Nikon.  The bigger Nikon's lack of edge sharpness simply didn't matter in a field so wide and so impressive.


Edited by MT4, 18 July 2021 - 11:22 PM.

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#44 ECP M42

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Posted 18 July 2021 - 01:40 PM

It is really very beautiful and fascinating to look up towards the boundless space (or confined only by the field diaphragm) ... but let's go back to the topic.

 lol.gif

 

Now that the skies have returned a little more clear, you could do some tests of the best exit pupil. 

 

The muscles and the "commands" that effect the closure of the iris (miosis), are different from those that implement the opening (mydriasis). Therefore, there may also be a more or less neutral and / or intermediate size of the pupil, where both muscles will be equally relaxed.

A more usual mean aperture could be estimated around 3.6 mm, but with tolerance also based on individual retinic sensitivity (between 3.2 and 4.0 mm approximately). 

 

I have never tried to measure the iris during my nocturnal observations, but I know that the pupil dilates very quickly after sunset. While during the day the iris will be maximally closed (with a diameter between about 1 and 2.5 mm), observing inside a very dense wood, in the evening, could require pupillary values greater than 3 mm. 

 

The "more fitting" exit pupil of the astronomical binoculars seems to me to be rather dependent on the magnification (with the same sky and conditions). 


Edited by ECP M42, 18 July 2021 - 01:43 PM.


#45 Upstate New Yorker

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Posted 18 July 2021 - 03:30 PM

Hi MT4:

 

Have you considered visiting one of the islands of Japan or South Korea?  I've heard that the more southerly ones have pleasant climates and that the skies are darker.  For example, Jeju Island (South Korea) is supposed to be beautiful.  It even has a flat, grass-topped volcano: that might be good for star gazing.  And the Ryukyu Islands stretch towards Taiwan and the peaks probably have good star gazing.

 

You know what I mean: get out of Tokyo for a week or two in favor of a tranquil island, with your binocs in tow.  Only problem is that you have to give up the excitement of big-city life for a while. 


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#46 MT4

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Posted 18 July 2021 - 09:57 PM

Hi MT4:

 

Have you considered visiting one of the islands of Japan or South Korea?  I've heard that the more southerly ones have pleasant climates and that the skies are darker.  For example, Jeju Island (South Korea) is supposed to be beautiful.  It even has a flat, grass-topped volcano: that might be good for star gazing.  And the Ryukyu Islands stretch towards Taiwan and the peaks probably have good star gazing.

 

You know what I mean: get out of Tokyo for a week or two in favor of a tranquil island, with your binocs in tow.  Only problem is that you have to give up the excitement of big-city life for a while. 

 

My original idea of a late-summer-early-fall vacation was indeed to spend a week to 10 days in a small island near Okinawa.  Catching fish and eating your catch during the day, and stargazing at night.  If there were ever a paradise on earth, that'd be it for me smile.gif

 

https://jw-webmagazi...a-a9edfd855f92/

 

My plan has been turned up side down with the latest covid-19 outbreaks in Japan.  Okinawa's government has appealed to tourists to please not come to Okinawa this summer.  Tokyo and a quite a few other places in Japan are under a fresh round of State of Emergency, whatever that means since the government insists it does NOT have the authority to restrict any travels or movements of the people nor give them any fines.

 

So my latest plan is to head north to the mountains by car in the early fall.  Beautiful scenery, rivers and lakes to enjoy during the day and starry skies to marvel at at night.  That may not be the paradise that I had envisioned on a remote island off Okinawa, but it might still be just the ticket to refreshing the heart and soul.   Having lived in various big cities for decades, I know I won't miss the excitement of big-city life smile.gif


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#47 MT4

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Posted 18 July 2021 - 10:26 PM

The muscles and the "commands" that effect the closure of the iris (miosis), are different from those that implement the opening (mydriasis). Therefore, there may also be a more or less neutral and / or intermediate size of the pupil, where both muscles will be equally relaxed.

A more usual mean aperture could be estimated around 3.6 mm, but with tolerance also based on individual retinic sensitivity (between 3.2 and 4.0 mm approximately). 

 

I have never tried to measure the iris during my nocturnal observations, but I know that the pupil dilates very quickly after sunset. While during the day the iris will be maximally closed (with a diameter between about 1 and 2.5 mm), observing inside a very dense wood, in the evening, could require pupillary values greater than 3 mm. 

 

The "more fitting" exit pupil of the astronomical binoculars seems to me to be rather dependent on the magnification (with the same sky and conditions). 

 

ECP - I think I've already done aperture masking tests and posted my results.   See post #24 earlier. 

 

"Optimal" exit pupil as a function of mag is as follows for my local skies.  (Note that "optimal" here is really about striking a balance between getting a nicely darkened background and not losing too much light gathering.   In terms of sheer reach, the higher the mag and the higher the aperture the better.  Just as Tony has said.)

    Nikon EII 8x30:        3.8mm

    Maven B5 15x52*:   3.5mm

    Nikon 18x58*:          3.2mm

    Kowa 32x82:           2.6mm

 

What's interesting is that my perceived "optimal" exit pupil size decreases as the mag goes up.  I don't know what theory may explain this.  Perhaps existing theories don't really apply when the level of light pollution is literally off the charts.



#48 Upstate New Yorker

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Posted 19 July 2021 - 05:42 AM

My original idea of a late-summer-early-fall vacation was indeed to spend a week to 10 days in a small island near Okinawa.  Catching fish and eating your catch during the day, and stargazing at night.  If there were ever a paradise on earth, that'd be it for me smile.gif

 

https://jw-webmagazi...a-a9edfd855f92/

 

My plan has been turned up side down with the latest covid-19 outbreaks in Japan.  Okinawa's government has appealed to tourists to please not come to Okinawa this summer.  Tokyo and a quite a few other places in Japan are under a fresh round of State of Emergency, whatever that means since the government insists it does NOT have the authority to restrict any travels or movements of the people nor give them any fines.

 

So my latest plan is to head north to the mountains by car in the early fall.  Beautiful scenery, rivers and lakes to enjoy during the day and starry skies to marvel at at night.  That may not be the paradise that I had envisioned on a remote island off Okinawa, but it might still be just the ticket to refreshing the heart and soul.   Having lived in various big cities for decades, I know I won't miss the excitement of big-city life smile.gif

The islands of Okinawa do look like paradise.  I see many solutions to your light pollution problems in store.  Perhaps you'll retire to one of these places one day.


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#49 Fiske

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Posted 19 July 2021 - 07:14 AM

My wife and I just retired from the Bortle 7.3 Atlanta suburbs to a Bortle 3.4 "out in the middle of nowhere" in Alabama. We're not fishing every day (though we did consider purchasing a stocked catfish pond) but the entire concept of "never even seeing your neighbors" is not at all hard to get used to. 

 

Actually, I will say that I did take the time to go visit the girls next door on the day we moved-in. It appeared that they were just dying to meet me... flowerred.gif

Congratulations, SMark. waytogo.gif

 

Now you have wonderfully dark skies for astronomy. Not to mention peace and quiet!

 

Fiske


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#50 MT4

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Posted 19 July 2021 - 09:02 PM

While the long rainy season was brutal to my fledging stargazing hobby, I think it turned out to be a bit of a blessing in disguise.  Back in late April and early May, right at the onset of the rainy season, I was hopelessly chasing Messier objects in my Kowa Prominar Highlander, despite my lack of knowledge of the sky.  While the Kowa is a wonderful instrument and it gave me outstanding views of the heavens including some magnificent open clusters and double stars that made my night a good many nights, I think in a sense I wasn't really ready for the Kowa's true power given my lack of knowledge of the sky.  It's like trying to handle a bazooka when one can barely shoot with a handheld gun.  (Not that I'd know anything about guns and bazookas smile.gif)

 

Having had time to reflect, I have decided to change my stargazing approach.  Instead of chasing Messier objects and trying to get as many of them into my bag of celestial trophies as quickly as possible, I'll let them come to me as I learn the sky starting with my 15x/18x binoculars, along with my 7x/8x binoculars for when a broader overview is preferred.  After getting more familiar with the sky and learning how to star hop, the Kowa Highlander Prominar will come back into play.  I think the new approach should allow me to better enjoy the beauty of the heavens above without feeling rushed.  As long as I am in good health, and my eyes don't go out on me, the heavens should be here the next day and the day after so there's no need to hurry.

 

In a sense, I've learned to come to terms with the reality of my local viewing conditions.  There's plenty to enjoy even right here in heavily light-polluted Tokyo.  And when I am able to get away to darker skies, I can aim to bag some more Messier objects and galaxies.


  • Fiske and ihf like this


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