Tag Archives: Dark Skies

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!


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An 80mm Refractor under Dark(ish) Skies

I spent last week in North-Western Massachusetts, a relatively rural area that shows as dark-yellow on the light pollution charts, which is to say it is considerably darker than my red zone suburban backyard. I was understandably eager to observe under such conditions and so came the decision as to which telescope to bring along.

The AWB OneSky was an obvious choice but for whatever reasons (maybe just for the sake of variety) I decided to bring an 80mm refactor. While the 5″ aperture of the AWB would’ve been appreciated, under decent skies an 80mm can be a satisfying scope, and, being equipped with a 2″ focuser, the 80mm is capable of some breathtakingly wide fields of view.

It turned out that over the course of the week there was only one really clear night for observing but it certainly made bringing the scope worthwhile.

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