A Simple, Cheap And Easy Way For The Suburban Back Yard Amateur To Observe, Despite That Neighbor’s Pesky Porch Light Or A Terrible Street Light. Interested?

I’ve been a humble visual observer for more than forty years, and have never owned or had a permanent observatory.

Why? My back yard has never been worthy of the investment, so I have to observe from different locations in the yard, based on the location of the deep-sky object.

Example: Any object with a south latitude, requires that load up my telescope and supporting equipment and drive to a dark site. However, in recent years I do this very seldom. I just don’t like all of the effort required, loading and driving to a remote dark-site, all by myself and beyond cell phone range.

So, for those more southern objects, I take my telescope and equipment out into the back yard, but often have a neighbor that will leave their back porch light on. And, also there is a distant street light that shines into the corner of my eye. Such an annoyance…

Last month, I had problems locating and seeing the Observer’s Challenge object, which was planetary nebula, NGC 6772…but finally was successful, but without a good view due to ambient light.

It took me extra time to observe, sketch and make notes of NGC 6772, so I was not able to observe, the September challenge object, planetary nebula, NGC 6751, also in Aquila.

However, for all deep-sky objects greater than -02º S latitude, I can observe from my back deck, using my GoTo mount, which is great, and without having a problem with lights.

I just don’t know why, I’ve let this mount, a Celestron CGE-Pro Mount sit in the corner of my living room for at least eight years. I have panels and light blocks built on my deck, so lights are not a problem. And it’s so easy to move the mount only 10 feet, and bolt down via inserts in the deck.

I’ve increased the number of support posts under the deck, to insure there are no vibrations while observing. I have a custom stainless steel base for the Pro mount with wheels and large levelers, but at a weight of almost 200 pounds. This base in now in storage, as it’s no longer needed.

My new location for storing the above equatorial mount: A Rubbermaid plastic storage building, located on my back deck, and only feet away from the deck inserts.

Back to my back yard, and my “easy” to make, and set-up…light block panel.

I was not going to deal with that “pesky” street light which “almost” ruined my observations of NGC 6772, so I did the following, and taking less than 30 minutes to construct. And today, I’ll take it down…maybe taking less than 10 minutes.

Materials required:

Two 8-foot metal fence poles, from Lowe’s Home Improvement Center.

25 feet of HD nylon, and two plastic tent pegs, also from Lowe’s…also a few wooden clothes pins.

At one time I was associated with a company that manufactured marine fabrics. A Very heavy black woven cloth, with a backing. No light can shine through this fabric!

So, last night I was successful in “easily” locating, and seeing the planetary nebula NGC 6751 , also making a decent sketch and notes, which “again” is the September Observer’s Challenge object.

So easy!

This is the medium duty mount, I use when observing with my 10-inch reflector, from the back yard. It’s heavy, but not that heavy.

So, if you are a suburban observer, and have trouble with “pesky” lights…give the portable light block a try. Roger Ivester

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