Author Topic: Light Pollution Saddens Me  (Read 260 times)

anpiecaga

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Light Pollution Saddens Me
« on: December 29, 2017, 03:00:35 AM »
Last night there was a small window of time before the gibbous moon was going to rise. We had a nice high pressure mass over the area and I was feeling optimism about getting in a little observing.

I went out on the deck and was even pleasantly surprised that the mosquitos seemed to be absent too for a change. It was looking to be a positive night, at least for a little while before the pesky moon would come up.

So here at 40*N, it starts to really get dark around 10PM now. I was watching the sky and waiting to see what would be visible before moonrise. My first disappointment was from seeing Ursa Major. Apparently, now it only has 6 stars. My blood pressure started to go up. The 3rd magnitude star that intersects the bowl with the handle was popping in and out of visibility. THAT IS IT?? This is what I'm going to get?

I ran in and grabbed my 7x50s. I scanned up along Lyra northward to Cassiopeia, which was gaining altitude in the NNE part of the sky. No milky way even in the 7x50s. IMPOSSIBLE, I thought. I could remember seeing star clouds easily just a couple of decades ago, with these binoculars andfrom the same spot in the yard. DARN! Well, I'll try something else...

Sure it is low in the east still, but I should be able to at least spot M31 in the binoculars. NOPE. Nothing. Blank sky.

Disgusted, I went in the house. The moon began to rise and I just was too sad to do any more astronomy.

Now I know there is nothing to do around here except look at the moon and the brighter planets. I'm going to have to get efficient at loading a scope into the car and driving at least 10 miles, probably more actually, if I want to see even the most rudimentary DSOs.

How did this happen? Years ago amateurs were talking about making some progress on light pollution. They have failed, utterly. It is worse than ever. We are losing one of the greatest things we have. It is making me sad and frustrated. RATS!



bardersgarli

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Re: Light Pollution Saddens Me
« Reply #1 on: December 30, 2017, 11:37:07 AM »
I feel your pain every night. I live next to the church that is scared of the dark and neighbors that only look up if it is raining.

Terry

Jamal Plump

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Re: Light Pollution Saddens Me
« Reply #2 on: December 30, 2017, 05:26:51 PM »
Drive 10 miles to dark skies? Boy, do you have it good! I drive 100 miles and the resulting skies still sadden me.

I was a little kid when my big sister taught me the constellations. We viewed themfrom the backyard.After the Big Dipper and Arcturus I had no idea what stars she was using for the shapes because there were zillions of them. I was utterly lost among them but also awed.

Move ahead 50 years. Now when I step outside I still can't trace out the constellations. Except this time, most of the stars in the shapes are too faint to penetrate the light glow over the city. Now there's just a dozen or twoisolated points of lights in the sky--too few to garner anyone's attention or awe.

The other night when there was a fat waxing gibbous Moon I couldn't even trace out the constellations *using 7x35 binoculars*! Of course the Moon didn't help, but the point is, I wasn't even getting to magnitude 5 *with binoculars*. Is it any wonder I've pretty much quit observing from town, unless the air is unusually clear and the Moon's out of the sky.

Paul Cobb

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Re: Light Pollution Saddens Me
« Reply #3 on: December 31, 2017, 03:32:17 PM »
Deefree,

I too lament the recent (?) passing of our dark skies in this country, even though I've read some reports in S&T, astronomy, etc., that some progress has been made on that front, but like you, I remain to be convinced. Seems to me to be 1-ft forward, 2-ft backwards.

Anyhow, this is off-topic but I see you have a C 9.25, and an AVX mount. Are youusing the 9.25 on the AVX?And if so, how does that mount handle that weight? And are you using it for visual only, or also doing AP w/ this setup? I have a C 9.25 and looking around for adecent mount for it for AP eventually, but want to keep the wt. of the mount down as much as possible as not getting any younger or stronger.Thanks deefree!

bauradoubpay

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Re: Light Pollution Saddens Me
« Reply #4 on: January 03, 2018, 08:11:33 AM »
Quote
Deefree,

I too lament the recent (?) passing of our dark skies in this country, even though I've read some reports in S&T, astronomy, etc., that some progress has been made on that front, but like you, I remain to be convinced. Seems to me to be 1-ft forward, 2-ft backwards.

Anyhow, this is off-topic but I see you have a C 9.25, and an AVX mount. Are youusing the 9.25 on the AVX?And if so, how does that mount handle that weight? And are you using it for visual only, or also doing AP w/ this setup? I have a C 9.25 and looking around for adecent mount for it for AP eventually, but want to keep the wt. of the mount down as much as possible as not getting any younger or stronger.Thanks deefree!

Hi Jimr2 - Thanks for responding to my "wah wah" complaining. You're right it does seem to be sliding further and further into oblivion.They say in the far future, expansion will make the sky appear more and more empty but I'm afraid it is happening far ahead of schedule!

Anyways, enough of my complaining. Yes I do use the 9.25" with the AVX. I only do visual at this time and I'm not very experienced with all the equipment out there. Having said that though, I am very satisfied with the stability of the AVX andI'mvery impressed with its overall quality. It is nicely finished and really very well put together.

I can at least compare it with the Nexstar 6" and 8" that I have and while the 6" on the SE mountis reasonably steady, the 8" needsvibration pads. It does dampen out but when I was using an eyepiece withshorter eye relief, because I wear glasses, I ended up repeatedly making contact with the eyepiece. I was trying to see the whole field and couldn't withoutdoing that. Well, that did cause a minor ruckus with the image. It did damp out after a few seconds but thereyou go. Ididn't have any of that with the AVX. The legs are much more substantial and there really is no comparison. To me, it seems to bea serious piece of equipment.

The only thing is I haven't done any AP and it would bother me to lead you astray. I honestly think you should ask around some more just to be sure.

gatawestwall

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Re: Light Pollution Saddens Me
« Reply #5 on: January 04, 2018, 01:37:15 PM »
Look at this way.

In a few billion years the sun will engulf the Earth and everybodies troubles will be over....

PS.

Light pollution doesn't make me just sad. It sometimes makes me physically ill.

nijambaci

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Re: Light Pollution Saddens Me
« Reply #6 on: January 09, 2018, 01:23:02 PM »
deefree,

OK, thanks, re the AVX!, and the Nexstars! (I have a Nexstar 5.) Fortunately here in central NV, we still have pretty good dark skies (can see to mag 5.0-5.5 from my backyard in town!), so hope to be using the C 9.25--on an AVX or whatever--to be looking at them in the near future! Tanx again for the info!

Jon Beckner

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Re: Light Pollution Saddens Me
« Reply #7 on: January 09, 2018, 03:41:28 PM »
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Last night there was a small window of time before the gibbous moon was going to rise.

I don't think so. Last night, August 2, the Moon rose well before the sky got truly dark. In the center of a time zone, at latitude 40N, nautical twilight ended at 9:20, the Moon rose at 9:40, and astronomical twilight ended at 10 PM. Here at my country home, the Milky Way was just beginning to come into view when moonlight intruded and the Milky Way faded away in very short order. There are hills behind the house, so I couldn't actually see the Moon until much later, but I sure could see its glow.

You may indeed have bad light pollution at your home, but last night was not a reasonable test of that.

To put this in context, however, I observe frequently both from my country home and my city home. At my country home I usually set up my scope before sunset, then come out about a half hour after sunset to check out the planets. Then I look around and say ... nah, no point in starting deep-sky observing yet, the sky is still much too bright. And then I look at the constellations in more detail and realize that even then, long before the end of twilight, I can actually see more stars than I ever can in the city, on the best nights. Sobering.

Patrick Zhu

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Re: Light Pollution Saddens Me
« Reply #8 on: January 10, 2018, 03:42:27 AM »
Quote
Quote

Last night there was a small window of time before the gibbous moon was going to rise.

I don't think so. Last night, August 2, the Moon rose well before the sky got truly dark. In the center of a time zone, at latitude 40N, nautical twilight ended at 9:20, the Moon rose at 9:40, and astronomical twilight ended at 10 PM. Here at my country home, the Milky Way was just beginning to come into view when moonlight intruded and the Milky Way faded away in very short order. There are hills behind the house, so I couldn't actually see the Moon until much later, but I sure could see its glow.

You may indeed have bad light pollution at your home, but last night was not a reasonable test of that.

To put this in context, however, I observe frequently both from my country home and my city home. At my country home I usually set up my scope before sunset, then come out about a half hour after sunset to check out the planets. Then I look around and say ... nah, no point in starting deep-sky observing yet, the sky is still much too bright. And then I look at the constellations in more detail and realize that even then, long before the end of twilight, I can actually see more stars than I ever can in the city, on the best nights. Sobering.
10-4 on the astronomical twilight. We're only a few miles from downtown Columbus and it is worse here than it was a few decades ago. You are correct about the astronomical twilight and for me it wasn't clear whether I was seeing sky glow or the last vestiges of twilight. Nevertheless part of my inability to tell the difference has been somewhat skewed by living here the last 45 years.

Tonight was good seeing here and I adjusted my program and spent time ogling Saturn. It was worth it and a good decision considering the moon and the sky glow.

I am going to work outa deal with some folks I know that are a good distance away from the city. It will be a welcome change and a chance to really put those expensive scopes I bought through their paces.


David Reynolds

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Re: Light Pollution Saddens Me
« Reply #9 on: January 10, 2018, 09:46:06 PM »
It happened because most amateur astronomers don't realize the power they have to effect change. As a group, we amateur astronomers literally have hundreds of millions of dollars invested telescopes, which we then deploy in large measure to venues that give us access to the public. This is an enormous asset that has yet to be leveraged by the amateur astronomy community.
Think of the impact we could have it at every star party someone showed IDA's "Losing the Dark" video, followed up with a simple lighting demonstration, and handing out IDA brochures. We can not change the past, but everyone alive today has the ability to affect the future.

Justin Lewis

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Re: Light Pollution Saddens Me
« Reply #10 on: January 11, 2018, 07:42:44 AM »
Quote
It happened because most amateur astronomers don't realize the power they have to effect change. As a group, we amateur astronomers literally have hundreds of millions of dollars invested telescopes, which we then deploy in large measure to venues that give us access to the public. This is an enormous asset that has yet to be leveraged by the amateur astronomy community.
Think of the impact we could have it at every star party someone showed IDA's "Losing the Dark" video, followed up with a simple lighting demonstration, and handing out IDA brochures. We can not change the past, but everyone alive today has the ability to affect the future.


 While I have not done it for years, (shame on me), I did in the past give light pollution demonstrations at School Star Parties and other Outreach events.

 I used a very simple prop to raise awareness of how bright our skies have become. I would ask the kids or members of the public to tell me what color the sky looked to them. Most would look up and answer "black" or "dark gray". Surprisingly, more than I expected would occasionally answer "gray" and sometimes "light gray". I would then produce my main prop. It was a paper tube such as those that paper towels come rolled on to. I had spray painted the inside black.

 I would ask the attendees to look at the sky through the tube and describe what they see. Most would now describe a "white sky" with a nice dark surrounding area. I would next ask them to compare that view to what they might expect if they were far from any city or lights. Even young children caught on to the fact that our skies are actually not dark at all compared to what they could be.

 While the demo is somewhat biased (as even the best dark skies are not completely black), the overall conversation worked very well to raise the awareness of what has been lost living in most modern cities.

John

itupmenra

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Re: Light Pollution Saddens Me
« Reply #11 on: January 12, 2018, 12:59:19 AM »
Interesting JD.

Hey, did you ever finish that 17.5 inch blank I sold you back in the late 90s?

Jeffrey Hunter

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Re: Light Pollution Saddens Me
« Reply #12 on: January 12, 2018, 06:56:14 AM »
Good job John. What is really cool is that now days you don't even have to be that creative as IDA supplies most of the needed materials and information for a great program. What I have done is put the IDA "Losing the Dark" video on my laptop computer. Then when people come to my telescope area I ask them if they would like to see a video. Ninety Nine percent of the time the answer is yes. So usually have have a group of 10-12 people watching the video at a time. After the video I demonstrate how much better a shielded light looks and works than an unshielded light. This is the one part of the program I've had to put together myself. I bought a lamp socket at Home Depot, and made a shield that can slide over it out of card board. Crude, but effective. I point out how obtrusive and unattractive the glare of the unshielded light is, and how much more attractive and how much better your eyes can work with the shielded light. Then I had out IDA brochures. Think of the impact if every astronomy club would do this at the public events.

suppsilzuning

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Re: Light Pollution Saddens Me
« Reply #13 on: January 13, 2018, 08:25:03 AM »
"I want to persuade of smarter ways to illuminate our necessary businesses and lives so we can all appreciate something our ancestors took for granted for thousands of years." -- Brandon Finnigan

http://thefederalist...-the-night-sky/

Tyson Conway

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Re: Light Pollution Saddens Me
« Reply #14 on: January 14, 2018, 02:58:22 AM »
Quote
It happened because most amateur astronomers don't realize the power they have to effect change. As a group, we amateur astronomers literally have hundreds of millions of dollars invested telescopes, which we then deploy in large measure to venues that give us access to the public. This is an enormous asset that has yet to be leveraged by the amateur astronomy community.
Think of the impact we could have it at every star party someone showed IDA's "Losing the Dark" video, followed up with a simple lighting demonstration, and handing out IDA brochures. We can not change the past, but everyone alive today has the ability to affect the future.

The last time I went to a star party there were countless people there using flashlights. One woman used the flashlight app on her phone to try to "help" someone with his scope. Nobody said a word, but that was the perfect time for education on the topic. Just a thought.