The Joys and Laments of Viewing Under Darker Skies

Over Labor Day weekend I brought the OneSky along on a family camping trip to the green zone skies of Northern VT. Thanks to the late rising third quarter moon I had lots of time under dark skies gawking at an overwhelming number of stars. It had been a little while since I’ve used the OneSky and I was reminded just how great a scope it is.

Some highlights of the two nights were seeing the Andromeda galaxy stretching beyond the OneSky’s 2.5ยบ max field of view, the Double Cluster, and the brightest, most detailed view of M81 / M82 I’ve had yet. Not to mention the star clouds of the Milky Way arcing across the sky.

Returning home I was disappointed to see my skies appearing gray and washed out but I am slowly becoming re-accustomed to my suburban backyard view of the heavens. I’ve heard of other enthusiasts who only or primarily observe from a dark site and I can certainly see the appeal. The Moon and planets excepted, pretty much every object shows a brighter, more detailed view under a darker sky.

Still, I plan to pursue enjoyment in viewing from wherever I can. At the very least it’s good practice – keeping me mindful of the constellations’ current positions, star hopping to new and familiar targets, and rehearsing the dance of working with the telescope – it all helps me to make the most of the brief opportunities I do get to view under darker skies.

And while this rationale may help to steel myself against the temptation to accept a memory of magnificent skies as a replacement for viewing from my backyard, once outside it doesn’t take long before I am enjoying the views through the eyepiece on their own terms.

Clear skies!


Original content copyright 2015 by David Philips. All Rights Reserved. This post may contain links to affiliate sites; sales through affiliate links may benefit this site.

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