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Astronomy in the City

  1. Sep 19, 2006 #1
    Question: I live in west Los Angeles, and I was wondering if I would be able to see much at all with a personal telescope, if I got one. I imagine the light pollution would prevent me from observing anything but the brightest of objects (Moon, Venus, Polaris, etc). Has anyone attempting to do some serious observing in a place with a lot of light pollution?
     
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  3. Sep 19, 2006 #2

    russ_watters

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    It isn't great where I live (15 miles west of Philadelphia), but I don't know how it compares to where you are - can you identify what the dimmest stars you can see are? Anyway, telescopes are surprisingly able to burn through the skyglow and see dim objects. The 5 bright planets are, of course, a given, but you can also see pretty much all major star clusters. Nebulae and galaxies are a little tougher.

    For me, it is worth it to drive an hour and a half every now and then to use my telescope somewhere much darker.
     
  4. Sep 19, 2006 #3
    It's pretty crappy in West LA. Your best bet is to head out towards Lancaster or Palmdale for anything other than the brightest stars.
     
  5. Sep 19, 2006 #4

    chroot

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    You might want to consider one of the many light pollution filters on the market. The narrowband filters are good at removing individual components of light pollution, like high-pressure sodium light. The broadband filters are more aggressive -- killing more of the light from the objects you're trying to view -- but can really help out a lot in extremely light polluted skies.

    There really is no comparison to just driving out to a dark site, however.

    - Warren
     
  6. Sep 19, 2006 #5

    russ_watters

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    More specifically, many nebulae emit light at very specific frequencies (like Hydrogen Alpha) and a broadband filter that allows only those frequencies in can be very effective (so I've heard - I haven't done much work wih them yet...). But it won't help much for galaxies.
     
  7. Sep 19, 2006 #6

    chroot

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    H-alpha and Oxygen-III line filters are very effective for certain kinds of objects, but they are not intended for use as "light pollution filters." A light pollution filter is not a line filter -- it's essentially an all-pass filter with a few carefully chosen notches to reject e.g. sodium-vapor light from commercial lighting systems.

    - Warren
     
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