Observing Sites

Where possible, choose your observing site with care. Stray light is obviously to be avoided. Also avoid observing over buildings or other sources of heat. Altitude can be an advantage as it can take you above sources of stray light and you have less (polluted) atmosphere between you and your target objects. As little as 300 m (1,000 ft) can make a noticeable difference; transparency is usually considerably better from my home on the North Downs of Kent than it is a few miles away on Romney Marsh. Conversely, if you cannot get to high ground, you may be able to observe over a sea horizon. The choice sites are those of very high altitude with a sea horizon, but few of us have access to such places.

If you observe on your own property, you can, of course prepare it. Screens can be used to block intrusive lights if they cannot be blocked by buildings or vegetation. Equally important is to prepare the ground. You cannot observe in a relaxed manner if you are in danger of tripping over objects on the ground!

If you use a site away from home, do reconnoitre it in daylight and, where appropriate, get the landowner's permission. Take personal security into account. You cannot enjoy observing if you are concerned about the potential presence of domesticated or wild animals or of antisocial people.

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