The difference that dark sky makes.

Dark skies rule !

Star-hopping with a chart is easy . Constellations can melt into the background. Very often the sky can look almost brown and granular with stars. The Milky Way becomes a huge , torn and twisted ribbon across the sky. In Galloway , I could only find Cepheus by the Milky arm leading to it. In addition , even a small scope will pick up sights impossible from light polluted sites.

Through binoculars for instance , the spiral arms and knots of M33 can be picked out. Another example is the galaxy NGC 4449 in Canes Venatici. It’s an irregular star burst active galaxy, with a high rate of star formation. A halo of hydrogen indicates it’s reactions with other galaxies. From here , at the edge of town , it appears just as a smudge . By averted vision it does appear irregular. However , dark sky and a bit of aperture and it’s possible to resolve its stars . A stunning glistening sight !

What really pained me on return home was NGC 891 . I had found and observed this in a 10″ Dobsonian. Not only was the central dust lane there , but the pronounced halo. From home , I couldn’t find the pointer star ρ Persei. Goto with an 8″ Newtonian and there was just nothing there !

Its worth persevering with faint fuzzies , there are good bright targets , like Bode’s and M94. I was surprised to get the whole Leo triplet a few nights ago. Otherwise   It’s back to those inexhaustible binary stars , clusters, planets and brighter nebulae.

As for aperture , it makes little difference in town , but opens up to give more detail depending on the viewing conditions. Good indicators are M33 and Searching for those familiar constellations , under ,

clear skies ! Nick.

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