Society for Popular Astronomy

Dark sky views
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Author:  Kaustav [ Tue Oct 18, 2005 8:38 am ]
Post subject:  Dark sky views

Just returned from India with my telescope. I had no problems at all getting through Heathrow or Mumbai International Airport's security. I returned back to London via Delhi and there too I had no problems. No one inspected my 'scope after the bag was X-Rayed and no one questioned me about what was in my bag. The weight was not a problem either and Virgin Atlantic put a helpful "fragile" sticker on my tripod bag which I checked in to the main hold. It turned up in London undamaged. Whilst in India I got a specialist shop to make me a bespoke customised tripod bag for my Meade Deluxe Tripod with extra pockets and internal restraints which worked out brilliantly.

I had breathtaking views of the skies from Aurangabad which is in the western state of Maharastra, India. The sky was so dark that I could see open clusters and galaxies I have never been able to see from London or if I have they have been insignificant fuzzies. In Aurangabad they jumped out at me. The Pleiades were vivid and bright and reminded me of A grade blue diamonds. I saw the M31 and M32 galaxies and Andromeda actually showed faint structure which is amazing considering my 'scope is only 105mm. I could view Mars with such precise sharpness that I could pick out surface detail and dark regions which I normally cannot see from London. The Moon was so crisp that I could make out surface detail I never new existed and when I bumped the 'scope up to very high resolutions in excess of 250 x I could still focus and make great out detail. In London the turbulent air causes the surface of the moon to shimmer dramatically at high resolutions but from Aurangabad the air was so still and dry that at 250x I could see rock steady images of the moon. It was fascinating being able to make out the individual stars in the Double Cluster (NGC 869 and NGC 884 in Perseus) and I could see so much more colour and shape in The Ring Nebula. I now wish I could just live out there, retire at 31 and just live inside the barrel of my 6.2mm eye piece! LOL A few days later I ventured up to Mussourie, a former colonial hill station at 7,000 ft in the foot hills of the Himalayan mountain range. A 4 hour 13.5Km challenging trek up to the summit brought me amazingly defined views with the unaided eye. Unfortunately I didn't bring any binocular with me be just being able to see faint clumps, nebulae and galaxies with the unaided eye was good enough. The scene was like a description from a novel of yore containing romanticised descriptions of the night sky.

The Wide Screen Television Centre on Dorset Street (off Baker Street, W1) has been totally refurbished and extended. There is loads more shop floor space and they have tonnes of new telescopes in stock. Many of the new 'scopes are from the budget range under £300 and there is a massive range of new Meade eye pieces, especially ultra wide field high magnification lenses. It's well worth a quick visit if you're in the area between 9.30am and 5.30pm.


Author:  Lawrie [ Tue Oct 18, 2005 3:03 pm ]
Post subject: 

Once upon a time we used to have skies like that. Now we waste appalling amounts of energy lighting up our towns and cities all night.

Author:  Kaustav [ Tue Oct 18, 2005 3:14 pm ]
Post subject:  Lighting up

Yes indeed. Since I got back from holidays, I noticed the fencing company about a Km behind my house has re-installed a night security light which is even brighter and points even farther up in to the sky. The once sem-acceptible view I used to have from my back garden is now like perpetual dawn!

Author:  Cliff [ Wed Oct 19, 2005 7:22 pm ]
Post subject: 

Dear Kaustav
I am glad you had a nice holiday.
Hopefully the recent new light pollution legislation may give you sufficient grounds to complain about your new additional lighting problems.
Best wishes from the Grumpy Old Codger Cliff

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