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Dark Skies are amazing!

Started by ivanong, 06/02/2003 09:41AM
Posted 06/02/2003 09:41AM Opening Post
I've been in astronomy on and off for the past 20 years, but never had the luxury of good dark skies. Yesterday, I drove 2.5 hrs from Charlotte into the Blue Ridge mountains to a popular Carolinas dark site called Dalton Park. After a spectacular sunset the wind picked up Typhoon-style and the temperature plunged to the low 40's. The stars gradually appeared until they sparkled like jewels. At 10:30pm, it was dark enough to start observing with my 4" Tak. What an amazing experience, Messier and NGC objects that I have struggled vainly to find in my light polluted backyard popped right out in my EP. I flew through all the Virgo galaxies with ease by star hopping (I've never been able to find M85 and M98 but there they were!) and everything was easy to find. The milky way hung like frayed and knotted white China silk over the sky and stretched out before me. Cygnus which is usually about 10 stars in my backyard became an incomprehensible mass of stars. You could spend a life time in that little region. From a technical side, the 4" Apo really shines in dark skies (whoever said it was an suburban instrument?). The unbelievable contrast more than offsets its medium aperture, and with careful averted vision, many structures were easily discernable. The color integrity is amazing- I could easily see yellow, red, blue, green stars.
I would have stayed on forever but faced with the prospect of a long drive home and work the next day I had to leave reluctantly at 1:30am. Of course, right now at work I am struggling to keep my eyes open. What a spiritually incredible night. Now the question the heck do I buy land up there?
Clear skies, Ivan
Posted 06/02/2003 12:14PM #1
Ain't the FS102 beautiful and DSOs through it satisfyingly challenging as well as pleasing in many instances, Ivan ;-)? Ain't the FS102 > 3d FOV make finding those DSOs almost like child's play? And panning the Milky Way! Dark sky is the 4-incher best friend!

Ron the 4-inch Tall Evangelist B[ee]