Stargazing and the moon...





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  1. #1
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    Default Stargazing and the moon...

    Hi all,

    Simple question: where are the best places in southern africa and also specifically South Africa, for beautiful stargazing nights and observing full moons? Within 600km from Gauteng is preferential.

    Just for context: I know nothing of astronomy but recently I've developed a real appreciation for a starlit night.

    Some of the best I've seen were:
    - Makgadigadi salt pans (kubu island)
    - Thuli block
    - Ithala game reserve in Natal.



    Thanks


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  2. #2
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    Default Re: Stargazing and the moon...

    My suggestion of Sutherland is way further than 600 km, about double I would guess, but it is a prime stargazing spot, especially in winter when the air is cold and crisp. You can perhaps include a visit Sutherland as part of a longer trip. You can visit the big observatory and there is at least one private observatory where one can use their telescopes to check out the rings around the planets. It will be best to time such a visit to coincide with the new moon.

    My view is to go to a spot as far as possible from any city or town to avoid any light pollution. I spend last weekend in the Cederberg, about 300 km north of Cape Town and took a few photos of the stars and the Milky Way. There was no moon and it was pitch black, the only source of light was the stars.

    On a previous occasion when I took astro photos at another spot in the Cederberg, the lights of the small town of Citrusdal, 40 km and two mountain ranges away influenced the pictures. It was not visible to the naked eye, but made its appearance on the long exposure photographs.

    For spectacular moon rise photos I like a bit of dust or pollution in the air.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Stargazing and the moon...

    Thanks Merwe
    I'll keep that in mind but for now I'll look for something a little closer to home.


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  4. #4
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    Default Re: Stargazing and the moon...

    Quote Originally Posted by Merwe Erasmus View Post
    .... especially in winter when the air is cold and crisp...


    Since I don't anything, let me confirm: colder air is better for stargazing?

    So best would be remote areas during winter time.


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  5. #5
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    Default Re: Stargazing and the moon...

    Quote Originally Posted by Merwe Erasmus View Post
    ....

    My view is to go to a spot as far as possible from any city or town to avoid any light pollution....

    Correct. I understand the same.

    How much distance is required though? 50km? Maybe even 100 or 200km?

    Let's see if anyone knows any good spots within 600km from Gauteng.


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  6. #6
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    Default Re: Stargazing and the moon...

    Quote Originally Posted by pantoffel View Post
    Correct. I understand the same.

    How much distance is required though? 50km? Maybe even 100 or 200km?

    Let's see if anyone knows any good spots within 600km from Gauteng.
    Gamsberg is about 90 km, as the crow flies, from Windhoek. Met some professional stargazers there from Europe and they reckon that Windhoek's lights has no effect on them at that distance. But then, I believe Windhoek's lights is a patch against your bigger cities.

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    Default Re: Stargazing and the moon...

    I go to Kalahari but Van Zylsrust I believe is also good. Erwin Niemand is doing a night photography (including startrails, milky way and painting with light) there at the end of the month.

    PM me for detail if interested.
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  8. #8
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    Default Re: Stargazing and the moon...

    Quote Originally Posted by Woestynbrak View Post
    Gamsberg is about 90 km, as the crow flies, from Windhoek. Met some professional stargazers there from Europe and they reckon that Windhoek's lights has no effect on them at that distance. But then, I believe Windhoek's lights is a patch against your bigger cities.


    Thanks! That's a starting measure


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  9. #9
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    Default Re: Stargazing and the moon...

    So far I've seen a few articles online mentioning Waterberg district game reserves and the far north of kruger national park.


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  10. #10
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    Default Re: Stargazing and the moon...

    River trip!

    My best star photos have been taken there.

    http://www.4x4community.co.za/forum/...-the-milky-way

    If you don't know what/where river trip is, search this forum.

    There is a trick in there: these river beds are actually not that far from settlements, but because you are low down, the light pollution does not reach you much. When trying to look at stars, we instinctively try to get up high, perhaps sub-consciously trying to get closer, but it actually works better to get down into a hole.
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  11. #11
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    Default Re: Stargazing and the moon...

    Quote Originally Posted by Peter Connan View Post
    River trip!

    My best star photos have been taken there.

    http://www.4x4community.co.za/forum/...-the-milky-way

    If you don't know what/where river trip is, search this forum.

    There is a trick in there: these river beds are actually not that far from settlements, but because you are low down, the light pollution does not reach you much. When trying to look at stars, we instinctively try to get up high, perhaps sub-consciously trying to get closer, but it actually works better to get down into a hole.


    Some very useful info - thank you Peter.

    I looked through the entire thread you quoted there as well - amazing pictures.

    Cheers


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  12. #12
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    Default Re: Stargazing and the moon...

    Quote Originally Posted by pantoffel View Post
    Since I don't anything, let me confirm: colder air is better for stargazing?

    So best would be remote areas during winter time.

    Yes the colder air is better as you dont have the problem with heat wave distortion. But to cold plays havoc with condensation on your mirror if you use a reflector telescope. I like to stargaze after a heavy rain shower...
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  13. #13
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    Default Re: Stargazing and the moon...

    I've seen some amazing stars just outside Dullstroom. I stayed about 14Km outside of Dullstroom about 4/5 years ago but can't recall the place's name unfortunately.

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Stargazing and the moon...

    Quote Originally Posted by TheOtherGuy View Post
    I've seen some amazing stars just outside Dullstroom. I stayed about 14Km outside of Dullstroom about 4/5 years ago but can't recall the place's name unfortunately.


    Thanks thanks - that helps!


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    Default Re: Stargazing and the moon...

    Quote Originally Posted by 4WD View Post
    Yes the colder air is better as you dont have the problem with heat wave distortion. But to cold plays havoc with condensation on your mirror if you use a reflector telescope. I like to stargaze after a heavy rain shower...

    Cool - thanks!


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  16. #16
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    Default Re: Stargazing and the moon...

    You needn't go anywhere special to view the moon and most of the planets. They are very bright and can be appreciated as easily from suburban skies as anywhere else. The full moon is not as interesting to view through a small telescope as a waxing or waning one, because of the lack of shadows.

    It may not be necessarily obvious to a new stargazer, but the moon is a major source of light pollution. So be sure to plan your dark sky gettaways when the moon is new, or a week or so before.
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    Default Re: Stargazing and the moon...

    We found Sodwana to be excellent, but was there last 2008, so cannot comment on current situation. Mauritius was brilliant, but a touch further than 600 km...

  18. #18
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    Default Re: Stargazing and the moon...

    Quote Originally Posted by pantoffel View Post
    So far I've seen a few articles online mentioning Waterberg district game reserves and the far north of kruger national park.
    Just came back from waterberg area and night photography of stars was amazing. Light polution was absolute minimum where i was

  19. #19
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    Default Re: Stargazing and the moon...

    Any farm in Free State in winter and also a clear night in Mozzie - sorry, bit far
    Last edited by julius caesar; 2016/09/10 at 11:23 AM.
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