Astronomy

Resources for Urban Stargazers



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The urban stargazer can have many difficulties pursuing their hobby of astronomy.  What with light pollution in the city being the problem it is nowadays, and localised pollution getting in the way.  The urban stargazer also needs to find a safe and secure place to set up his telescope to allow him to optimise what resources he has.

First of all, the myth that a large aperture telescope in a light polluted situation will just end up being more affected by the stray light than a small aperture telescope is just not true.

A large aperture telescope can be successfully used in an urban environment without any problems.  Light pollution will wipe out many deep space viewing objects, and many but the brightest stars.  This is true of any size telescope, but there are plenty of objects out there for an urban stargazer to view.

The biggest problem an urban stargazer will come across is localised, or line of site light pollution.  Street lighting, security lighting or stray patio lights cause this.  Such pollution can be overcome by building a temporary observatory, if you have a garden. Even throwing a blanket over a clothesline to block out the offending light will help.

Joining a local astronomy club may be a possible answer if your viewing areas are limited.  Such clubs usually have club owned telescopes you can use, and organise stargazing outings.  They are also a good way to find out the best telescope and accessories for your situation.

Basically, in an urban situation, you have to make the most of the resources you have.  The best time to view the sky when you are an urban stargazer, is in the early hours of the morning, when light pollution is at its lowest.  Concentrate on planets and constellations when they are nearest to the North Star, again, light pollution has less impact at the highest point in the sky than on the horizon.

If taking your telescope away from your house, then find a secure and safe area to do your viewing.   If you do decide to use the local park or unused car park, do check it out during the day.  A balcony or flat roof of a garage can also make a perfect viewing platform.

Another consideration when transporting your telescope is whether you can easily and safely carry it to your destination.  If the telescope is going into your car, check that will fit without problems.  An urban stargazer has to be resourceful and willing to make the resources around them work for them.  With this attitude, you will have the best possible resources available to allow you to study the stars even in an urban area.

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