The secrets to stargazing from your backyard

mosaix

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How to search the sky and what to see, from moon and stars to planets and the International Space Station. Go on a journey of billions of miles … from your garden.
 

Dave

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The secret must be to wait for an electricity powercut. With buildings and streetlights all around my garden it is impossible to see anything but a very small circle straight up above, but even if I could magically remove those, then there would still be general light pollution from the city around the horizon. In fact, there is nowhere I know in England, even away from cities, with no light pollution. The secret is to go on holiday into some wilderness. Australia and New Zealand were fabulous - the whole Milky Way being visible was something I'd always wanted to see since childhood.

However, that article is about Astronomy Apps and yes, they are great. I have two free Apps on my phone. Much better than trying to look at Norton's star maps and position them the correct way around, in the dark.

And yes, you can still see phases of the Moon, the planets, the ISS and Starlink from your city back garden. Depending how far North you live you can see Aurora.

I also have ancient 10 x 50 binoculars, also on the advice of Patrick Moore. They are great for Astronomy in your back garden. They are a bit heavy to carry, so not so good for birdwatching. If you want more general purpose binoculars then you should consider that.
 

mosaix

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Where I live it's not too bad for light pollution although, after attending a dark skies session last year, I lrealise just how good it could be. My problem is that they have erected a street light in the path behind my home. I didn't even know it was being considered until it was done. In all fairness the path was totally unlit and bit dangerous.
 

Vince W

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Light pollution is a huge problem for astronomy, especially in your back garden if you live in a populated area. I use an 8" dobson for my astronomy related activities, but am saving for my fantasy scope that I hope to purchase when I retire.

Two free tools I would recommend are:
https://celestia.space/ and
XEphem
XEphem is truly powerful.
 

Foxbat

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Many years ago I had a telescope...nothing special but I bought a camera adaptor and tried to take pictures of the night sky from my garden. The light pollution made it almost impossible. The one thing I got some cracking shots of was the moon. This was in the day before digital cameras and I’ve no idea what I did with the prints.

I gave it up eventually because I became concerned that the neighbours might think there was a prowler roaming the darkness instead of just me and my telescope.
 

Ashley R

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My partner does computational astrography from our flat in London; a Bortle 8 light using a program that stacks multiple images to create a final image that can reveal down to magnitude 16/17 stars.
 

Vince W

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There are places you can rent time on robotic telescopes to take your own images. I can't say whether they are any good or not, but I have been tempted many times to try.
 

dannymcg

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I also have ancient 10 x 50 binoculars, also on the advice of Patrick Moore. They are great for Astronomy in your back garden
"Sigh!"
I'd like to have a go but if I went into my back garden at night with binoculars my missus would throw a fit.

New people moved in a few weeks ago to the house in the next street. Their back garden joins to our back garden so the ladies often have a chat through the fence.

However the new woman is a very fit and buxom girl in her early twenties and, for some reason, this means my wife gets somewhat possessive about me talking to this girl.

(I don't myself see why this girl would have any ulterior interested in a fat baldy bloke in his sixties but there you go)

The assumption would be made I was setting off to lech at this girl and get me an ear bashing. TBH I'd sooner sneak into the kitchen for a snack nowadays ;)
 

Brian G Turner

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(I don't myself see why this girl would have any ulterior interested in a fat baldy bloke in his sixties but there you go)
Classic male mistake! That might be interpreted as "I would if I could". Instead: "I don't see why anyone would think I'd be interested in this girl when I love my wife." :)
 

BigBadBob141

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REF: Dave.
The only times I have seen Orion's Dagger with the naked eye is during power cuts, lots of light pollution where I am.
P.S. I have been told that 7 x 50 binoculars are also a good size for astronomy because the diameter of the light cone exiting the eyepiece is the same as your dilated pupils, therefore you get the maximum amount of light to see with, pretty good quality ones can be got from Amazon for not too much money.
REF: Foxbat.
Same here, had a three inch Tasco refractor with a cheap SLR, the Moon was about all I could shoot.
Try mounting your camera on a tripod then locking the shutter open ( don't know if you can do this on modern electronic cameras, am thinking of the old film ones), leave for a few hours and you get a nice star trail shot, might even capture a meteor!
 
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Vince W

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I still have my Soviet Zenit camera that I've used for astrophotography in the past. A very solid manual camera. When DSLRs came along there was a problem because you couldn't keep the sensor active for long exposures. Canon got wise and produced the 60Da specifically for astrophotography. Now there are several models suitable for this.
 
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