2009
11.17

What a difference dark skies make.

Living in the great Pacific Northwest, opportunities to image under clear skies are rare.  Under dark skies, even rarer.

Lately, whenever the weather permits, I grab my gear and head up into the Olympic Mountains.  I enter up by Port Angeles and head up to Hurricane Ridge, which has an elevation of about 4000 ft.  There is a visitor center up on the ridge,  a parking lot,  and a nearly 360 deg view.

Although there is still a little glow from Seattle (roughly 70 miles away) and nearby Port Angeles, it is still very dark.  As astronomical  darkness approaches, the Milky Way starts to look like clouds passing overhead, but soon is presented with good detail and color.  It’s something I never see from my semi rural home.  The difference in images taken there vice at home is dramatic and well worth the easy 2 hour drive.  The main effect is that even with longer subs, the background sky is smooth and evenly dark which makes processing the images much easier.

One thing about imaging in the mountains is the cold.  You need to be prepared.  It can get very cold very quick.  I’ll write a long report about ways I’ve used to deal with it.

Anyway, if like me you’re stuck with light polluted & moisture filled skies, do yourself a favor and get outta town.

An example: My last Horsehead & Flame

al

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