Many budding astronomers want to view the skies in the best way possible, but with notoriously fickle cloud cover in the United Kingdom and light pollution from nearby cities and facilities, the chances of even glimpsing anything beyond the moon are almost zero. So what can you do to maximise your chances and keep your interest in astronomy flowering? The first step is naturally to invest in good astronomical telescopes but it can also benefit you to simply be sensible.
Weather reports will naturally be your friend, since it is senseless to travel to a dark area only to find that the skies above are opaque with clouds. There will however be times where the weather is ambiguous: some cloud cover, some chance of seeing the desired astronomical phenomena. This will purely be a matter of your discretion, but what might inform your decision to travel is the rarity of the event that you are seeing. Some events only come around once every decade, century or even many millennia, so with a little bit of research on the Internet, you can easily decide whether to travel.
Location is all important. Again this will be largely dictated by the phenomena you are going to see and where is the best location to see it. To see more distant objects it is best to reduce interfering light as much as possible which can mean travelling into the countryside to get away from it completely. It is important to be wary that certain geographical features can actually turn the weather against you, particularly in Britain. Finding a spot that is ideal will be of primary concern and is something that a local astronomical group might have already identified. Joining them is a great idea and one of the best ways to increase your interest in astronomy rather than invest in telescopes only then to leave them in storage.
Night vision could help but it depends on what you want to do. If you are wanting to experience the outdoors as well as the night sky, then this could have uses. Again, interference from light in the form of nearby cities, moonlight, floodlights or even car headlights can ruin everything, even your equipment! So long as the conditions are dark enough, you should be able to see astronomical phenomena without the need for night optics. If you are wanting to use it, however, Cobra Optics offer a great range that can be used for astronomy as well as camping, bird watching, hunting and so on. These devices are particularly sensitive and are often not designed to withstand buffeting or shocks, so you must be careful with night optics, otherwise it will be an expensive waste of money. Optics like this can often be attached to other pieces of equipment.
We have lots of information on our site concerning all manner different pieces of astronomy equipment. If however, you are not finding the answers you seek, please send us an email and we will be only too happy to assist.
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