The first step in observing the deep site is finding an observing site.
Avoid the city’s lights ~ the best way to look at a good map of the area. To determine where the lights are the most problem.
Spend some time with those satellite photos and a map, that you can spot all the large, bright cities in effort to avoid them!
Obvious is that you must make an observing list for the part of the night sky;
- If you are going to the East, do not make the observing list of object for the West.
- If you are going to the South, do not make the observing list of object for the North.
Because . . . you will have driven for an hour or more and set up the telescope, only to be chasing objects that are lost in city lights or below the horizon, that way, they will be “in the dark” once the sun goes down in the West.
In general, make an observing list that is in the sky direction you’re driving toward, so if you’re driving to the East, make a list of galaxies, nebulae and clusters that are well above the eastern horizon.
If you are concerned about one light dome in the low sky and/or if there are multiple cities glowing nearby, you just have to do the best you can.
Look at your maps carefully again and minimum the sky brightness of your site. What seems to be the best site is just dark, quiet country road or at the National Parks , you may have to determine if the land is privately owned.
Occasionally, driving to a new site to find that some unexpected lights are interfering with what we wanted to observe. A problem with comets or other objects, which are often, near the horizon where the lights can be most bothersome. If you don’t need to get too close to the horizon, then try using hills or trees to block the unwanted light source. A vehicle can also be used to block off the lights if it is flat country.
What is light pollution?
Light pollution or skyglow is caused by light scattered in the atmosphere by minute particles of dust or water. Light fittings which emit light above the horizontal are the main cause, although light reflected from illuminated objects and poorly directed floodlight do contribute to skyglow.
Back to `Your First Night Sky` page.