What qualifies as a good place for stargazing, i.e. with least light pollution?

  • I know that minimal light pollution is a must for stargazing, and a place which is away from civilization is better.



    Does altitude of a place matter for light pollution?



    Does it affect the quality of star gazing?


    Lights affect the quality of star gazing by not letting your eyes adjust far enough to see the dimmer stars.

  • Jeremy

    Jeremy Correct answer

    9 years ago

    A good question, and in the early 2000s John Bortle published a categorization of a variety of conditions, with descriptions for each category. It is the commonly used scale to describe to others the sort of conditions at a location.



    Probably one of the more significant factors provided by a dark sky site is: how faint do stars have to be for you not to see them anymore (overwhelmed by light pollution). There are specific stellar regions, each a triangle, and the idea is you could how many stars you can see in the triangle, and you look the number up in a table, and it will tell you the magnitude limit you are perceiving at that site.



    Yes, high altitudes also help - less air between you and the stars means better seeing conditions/less atmospheric distortion.



    Being able to see more stars IS better for star gazing. Living in a city, I am continually frustrated at the poor skies, and love being in dark sky locations like the International Dark Skies Reserve at Tekapo, New Zealand.


    I should observe that high altitude observatories are usually there to benefit from the thin atmosphere, but they also happen to be far from cities, which is a not really a coincidence - the combination makes a great site.

    Nice answer. I share your frustration of having poor skies. I too live in a city. Could you provide a link to that table containing the no. of stars? Btw what is it called?

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Content dated before 7/24/2021 11:53 AM

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