Suffolk

Discuss the greatest threat to amateur astronomy today

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Phil Rice
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Suffolk

Post by Phil Rice »

A few thoughts on light pollution:
Just came back from a few days camping in Suffolk (Burgh to be precise, c. 10 miles from Ipswich). Significantly better than Walton-on-Thames in Surrey. Able to see Venus, Saturn and Jupiter all togther along the ecliptic, just after sunset. Also saw for the first time, M13, though I have not looked very hard before. Very beautiful with either binos or my 70mm. However, in my opinion, the skies lacked the inky blackness of north Norfolk or County Waterford, Ireland. It was here, two years ago, that I dragged my daughters out of bed at midnight to see the Milky Way.
They were impressed I can assure you.

That said I still reckon the best place in UK that I have seen our galaxy was from the Isles of Scilly. Breathtaking is all I can say.

What do others think about the best observing site available to them?

Phil :lol:
BigGeoff
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Post by BigGeoff »

Hi Phil

As I live in Watford (until next week anyway) my local views are somewhat grim, but where my mum and sister live, in Eastchurch on the Isle of Sheppey, the nights can be nice and darkish and that's where I first saw M31 unaided, not to mention all sorts of blobs I couldn't identify. Similarly with my other halfs parents abode in Pembrokeshire, but it always seems to be raining when we go there. One of the best views of the milky way was strangely enough from Folkstone about 15 years ago, but the all time best view was about 10 years ago from Norfolk, as I staggered across a field in the middle of nowhere (don't ask). With no moon in sight, I couldn't see my own feet and I have to agree the sight is breathtaking. Unfortunately, when I was in the Scilly Isles about 25 years ago, I was diving in the daytime and drinking at night, plus I hadn't discovered astronomy proper then so never thought to look up. What a missed opportunity.

Hopefully Baldock will be better than Watford :lol:

Geoff
Geoff

There's a saying amongst prospectors:'Go out looking for one thing, and that's all you'll ever find'
mark_smith
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Post by mark_smith »

i cant even begin to think about what that looks like seeing m31 with the unaided eye its hard enough with my scope never mind eye. can anyone post a simple pic of there observing conditions and i will do the same when time allows.
jeff.stevens
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SkyPics

Post by jeff.stevens »

Hi Mark,

An interesting suggestion, however, I would have thought that to be able to make a meaningful comparison then you would need to have people image the same area of sky (perhaps with the camera pointing at the zenith - would local light pollution have less effect there?), for an agreed exposure time, and during an agreed time period. I think there are some examples of such images on the Campaign for Dark Skies (CfDS) website, but I think these are mostly examples from light polluted areas, rather than actual dark sky sites.

As an aside, I believe there used to be a project called StarWatch UK, which was aimed at gauging light pollution levels across the UK, and asked people to make individual unaided eye observations of a selected target area of sky, as well as submitting photographic examples. I don't know whether this still runs, or whether anyone recalls submitting observation examples to them?

In the meantime, a useful guide to observing conditions across the UK is the Philip's Dark Sky Map, which depicts limiting magnitude using different colour bandings across the UK, and is great value at £6.99.

Regards,

Jeff.
Cliff
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Post by Cliff »

Dear Jeff
You are quite right about there being\0r rather was a so called Star Watch UK project several years ago. If i remember rightly there were two ways of contributing, one being making visual or photographs of the Pleiades.
I contribute to the project for a while. However, nothing seemed to happen. I think it was at least partly because the project was run by professional astronomers (Greenwhich ObservatoryT possibly) then there were big funding cut backs. Astronomers moved or lost jobs and StarWatch UK seemed to get lost. I think the Star Watch project actually originated several years before in Japan and the Japanese took it more seriously than us in the UK. In my opinion Starwatch UK never stood much chance in the UK because of UK astronomers pathetic attitude to fighting light pollution. On top of that I thought the Pleiades Project was actually quite tricky to do properly and may have put people off. I have to admit that I never felt at totally home doing it.
Then out of the blue after several years "Astronomy Now" actually published some interim Star Watch UK results (although that was several years back now). Then Star Watch UK seemed to disappear into oblivion? But I might be wrong about that.
Best wishes from Cliff
mark_smith
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Post by mark_smith »

Thank you Jeff I have heard of the dark skies map but have never really bothered about getting it I know I live near some of the darkest areas in the country such as Horncastle. The pictures that i suggested were just in general as a good idea nothing too hard. But if this did happen just choose a simple direction point and snap lets say north for example.

Mark
DeepSkyObserver
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Post by DeepSkyObserver »

I live on the Isle of Wight and in the south of the island, where I am, it is much darker and less light polluted than the north (the north is affected by the island's main towns and also by Southampton, Exxon's Fawley Oil Terminal and Portsmouth). If you go to the south-west coast of the IoW you get some of the darkest skies in England, with nothing between you and France, save a few passing ships.
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