Stargazing & Bikepacking

Not-so expensive astronomy and some bikepacking stories

3 short bino sessions @ Ameland

I stayed on the island of Ameland for a couple of days this week. Out of 4 nights no less than three were clear. Unfortunately no room for the 8″ telescope so I brought my 25 euro Bresser 10×50 along for some short sessions. Best telescope ever.

Just 100 meters from our rental house was a nice spot where the Dark Sky Meter app measured a little under SQM 21. A kilometer further East (near the Oerd) I measured a bit over 21.4 which is *really* good for The Netherlands. Only Terschelling, the island to the West of Ameland, is better. But not much. The difference between 100 meters and 1000 meters are the streetlights of the holiday resorts on Ameland.

The DSM app found it too dark

In no particular order I managed to see:

  • M81 and M82 as two oblong fuzzies;
  • M51 was roundish;
  • M31 was large, and I think I saw the big dust lane;
  • Kemble’s Cascade is a naked eye object when skies are dark, I did not know this!;
  • Double Cluster;
  • Melotte 111;
  • M44, the Beehive;
  • M42 but also a really faint smudge of the Running Man;
  • Comet C/2018 Y1 “Iwamoto” as it veered through Auriga (not so bright any more on the 27th though…);
  • Naked eye Cygnus dipping low, in the North Sea;
  • Naked eye winter Milky Way which I in fact had never seen this clear ever before.

The towns on Ameland do give off a lot of light but I see some of the street lights are being replaced by full cut-off LED’s. An easy win in these otherwise dark parts. The parking lot North of Klein-Vaarwater is the biggest light polluter and I will write a letter about this in an attempt to lower the intensity there as it spoils the entire night sky. Ameland can be quite a lot darker without many adoptations of their lighting plans.

parking at the end of Jan Sietsjespad

I also experimented with simple astrophotography. But after two attempts in which I managed to forget the battery, messed with F-value, messed up the perfect focus while framing the image and more I quickly decided to give up. Astrophotography is not my cup of tea. I did squeeze out this 2x6s + 1 dark image of Orion with the Nikon D3000 and Yongnuo 50mm at 2.8!

Orion Nebula

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