Stargazing and Scarecrows…

Last weekend Stella and I made our annual pilgrimage to the village of Wray for its Scarecrow Festival. “What’s that got to do with astronomy???” I hear you cry. Well, this year we decided to find a place to camp down there, rather than go there and back in a day, and the place we stayed at – Redwell Fisheries – turned out to have a pretty good dark sky, dark enough to enable me to take some pretty good photographs of the stars, and dark enough to set me thinking about a future EAS event – but more of that later…

Here’s where we camped at, Redwell Fisheries… (click on all the following images to enlarge them)

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…and here’s the camping field, with our wee tent…

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The Scarecrow Festival parade was very good, as usual, and by the time we got back to the campsite it was getting dark, with a beautiful crescent Moon (plus Earthshine) and Jupiter sinking down towards the west…

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About an hour later it was dark enough to see actual stars, so Stella and I headed down to the lake which lies at the centre of the site, found a nice dark spit, and I started what turned into a couple of hours of pretty rewarding astrophotography. Here are some of the pics I took – note some of these are composites of several stacked images…

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(That’s CASSIOPEIA, if you couldn’t pick it out)

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Moon with Earthshine…

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The Milky Way above the lake…

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The stars around Deneb

So, a pretty successful “astrophotography safari”, and it did set me wondering about a possible EAS trip there, maybe even for a camping weekend? The site manager said she would be delighted to have us there, and would turn off as many lights as she could to make it as dark as possible for us. The sky is already pretty dark, considering the site’s proximity to Lancaster and Morecambe etc… Here’s where it is on the national Google Earth light pollution map…

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…but that doesn’t really do it justice, trust me. The NW sky was a little bright, but the sweep of the sky from north to south was really very dark, and I’m sure we’d enjoy great views through our telescopes from there if we went. Anyway, just mulling a few ideas over, so I’ll let you know if anything is planned. 🙂