Author Topic: Darkish site near Orpington  (Read 14521 times)

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Ivor

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Re: Darkish site near Orpington
« Reply #45 on: Mar 23, 2015, 09:06:23 »
I went exploring at the weekend trying to find some alternative locations, unfortunately nothing perfect. The best was Toys hill with a panarama view from due south to west, but it was 200m trek from the carpark. There are a number of places near me that are good but it comes down to how far you are prepared to drive, do we want to set a 30min cut off?

The Rec in Bidborough is pretty dark with a wide open view there is a couple street lights at the school but you can set up the other side of the field which would put the 130metres away.

Another one I'll check out on a clear night is Penshurst place it has a lovely big car park, I don't believe there are any lights at night but will need to check.

Google estimates these location are within 30mins from Orpington with easy access off the A21.

I was also wondering whether there was anywhere out near Luddingstone golf course, I don't the area too well but there might be a car park around there?

MarkH

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Re: Darkish site near Orpington
« Reply #46 on: Mar 23, 2015, 16:48:37 »
Ivor there is a car park at Lullinggstone but there's a coded gate you might be able to work a deal with SDC.

RobertM

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Re: Darkish site near Orpington
« Reply #47 on: Mar 23, 2015, 17:19:29 »
Penshurst must be one of the few villages with no street lighting (or at most very little), even so won't the car park be locked at night ?

Not sure Lully will be dark enough Mark.

Robert

Kenny

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Re: Darkish site near Orpington
« Reply #48 on: Mar 23, 2015, 18:30:06 »
Can you please post Google Maps links to the sites you're considering so I can also look them up.
Ta

MarkH

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Re: Darkish site near Orpington
« Reply #49 on: Mar 23, 2015, 20:31:39 »
Penshurst must be one of the few villages with no street lighting (or at most very little), even so won't the car park be locked at night ?

Not sure Lully will be dark enough Mark.

Robert
You're probably right Robert lot of direct light from London.

Ivor

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Re: Darkish site near Orpington
« Reply #50 on: Mar 23, 2015, 21:16:40 »
I checked out Penshurst place on the way home, alas there is one bright light that spoils the car park, however there is one spot 51.1795, 0.197 where I think we could use but would need to ask first. It's in the Penshurst estate on a cycle path, without permission you would have to walk there from Penshurst place car park, which is a 10 min walk. If we get permission (which I can't see why we wouldn't) it's possible to drive straight up from Ensfield Rd.

Bidborough rec is 51.167, 0.2385 I live a mile from here and the whole village has only a few street lights. You can park Rectory drive and walk down the footpath into the field.


Kenny

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Re: Darkish site near Orpington
« Reply #51 on: Mar 24, 2015, 18:22:53 »
I went exploring around Kent this morning, clearly far too much time on my hands. Results as follows, incorporating some of the previous comments.

Note: This was a daylight survey. A night time view of the better sites will be required.

Emmetts Garden
https://goo.gl/maps/3IieS
There are very good south-facing view options from Emmetts Garden next to the carpark. Unfortunately the carpark is shut after dark. The road leading up to the carpark doesn't really have space for parking on it and leads onto a private residents road. I'd say this site is no use for adhoc observing but has potential for a pre-organised visit. Edenbridge Astro have use this site (with permission) for an event before.

National Trust - Octavia Hill Bunkhouse
https://goo.gl/maps/N6BJj
There is an open access road leading up the the NT site. This road is for NT residents and farm access. The road has no gate blocking the entrance to it. About half way along this road is a small turning / access area which by my reckoning could fit 4, maybe 5, cars plus telescopes. Looks like it has great potential but I would advise another visit after dark. I chatted to the National Trust Ranger who is based at Chartwell. We would need to write to get permission to use the site and he has offered to pass the request on to the relevant people at NT. I have his contact details. I think this one is worth further investigation.
Google Maps View:

The spot:

Viewing Point: Visibility East to West (South is middle of the picture)


Bough Beach
https://goo.gl/maps/XeYuC
Looks like it has dark site potential but I couldn't find anywhere to park and set up. Access to the visitor centre is closed out of season and after dark.

Chiddingstone Castle
https://goo.gl/maps/39mS5
Looks like it has dark site potential but I couldn't find anywhere to park and set up. Access to the site is closed after dark.

However, I have just noticed nearby there is a south-facing sports ground with parking next to it that may be worth checking out.
https://goo.gl/maps/ChZuq

Penshurst Place
https://goo.gl/maps/XT81y
Looks like it has dark site potential but I couldn't find anywhere to park and set up. Access to the site is closed after dark. I'll leave Ivor to comment on this one further as he has checked out the site more thoroughly and has been in email exchange with the appropriate authorities about a possible site nearby within the grounds (https://goo.gl/maps/xTUrR).

Stubbs Wood, IDE Hill
Robert's comments below from our outing a week or two ago. I've added some photos of the site for those who haven't seen it.
1. IDE Hill, location is about 0.5 mile south of the town and quite easy to get to, about 20 mins from Orpington.
https://www.google.co.uk/maps/place/51%C2%B014'45.3%22N+0%C2%B008'34.2%22E/@51.2459161,0.1428333,2294m/data=!3m2!1e3!4b1!4m2!3m1!1s0x0:0x0?hl=en
This looked quite good to the south but had trees to the east and west.  You would not be able to image below within about 30 degrees of the horizon E/W otherwise it's likely to be quite dark.  The car park is mostly loose gravel and firm with no muddy patches and good drainage.
Google Maps View

The Carpark

Viewing Point: Visibility East to West (South is middle of the picture)


Eagle Heights
https://goo.gl/maps/sS73x
I thought this might be a good site because I know there is a field that is used as an overflow carpark. Unfortunately there is a little sign on the gate saying that it is closed after dark. Also, the field is to the north of Eagle Heights so south-facing may not be dark, and the M25 is just a little too close without any hill to shield it.
Google Maps View

Car Park (facing north towards the M25 in the distance)


Lullingstone Castle
https://goo.gl/maps/GPUcN
There is a long access road to this site from Eynsford and Eagle Heights which does not have a gate restricting access. There is however a sign just past the Lullingstone Roman Villa Visitor Centre saying that the rest of the road is private access. This has some potential as a dark site. There is plenty of parking. We would need to set up the telescopes in the carpark as access to the field is somewhat restricted unless you want to carry your kit a few hundred yards. I took the advice of some dog-walking locals and called the caretaker. It was a short call - he hung up on me quite rudely after about 60 seconds! The short answer is: This part of the road is private and exclusively for use of residents and castle visitors when the castle is open. Shame he wouldn't entertain a conversation about us visiting a couple of times a month.
Google Maps View

Viewing Point: Visibility East to West (South is middle of the picture)


Otford Village Memorial Hall
https://goo.gl/maps/65C4j
For completeness, and for those that haven't visited this site. I've used this site on numerous occassions with my camera primarily. It's an easily accessible site with a great horizon all round though the sodium glow of London is clearly visible to the northwest. I've been there when the streetlights were turned off and the external lights outside the toilets in the carpark were also turned off - it was very dark and clear. The problem is they usually aren't turned off. I've also had concerns about boy-racers in the car park and lads drinking in the playground. To get to the darkest area you'd want to carry your kit across the length of the park to where the model solar system is centre (avoiding the invisible wire fence round the cricket pitch in the dark). That's fine if you're just carrying a camera and tripod but you wouldn't do it with a scope.
Google Maps View

Viewing Point: Visibility East to West (South is middle of the picture)




Apophis

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Re: Darkish site near Orpington
« Reply #52 on: Mar 24, 2015, 21:45:13 »
fantastic work kenny ,"dr livingstone i presume"....lol
roger
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MarkS

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Re: Darkish site near Orpington
« Reply #53 on: Mar 25, 2015, 00:06:55 »
To help you in your search, download some light pollution kmz (Google Earth overlay) files from http://www.lichtverschmutzung.de/seiten/karten_en.php

A few good ones are:
2012 VIIRS data
2010 DMSP satellite data
Sky background brightness from Cinzano

In Google Earth go to the properties of each overlay in order to adjust opaqueness and potentially produce a composite of all three.

Mark
« Last Edit: Mar 25, 2015, 00:14:42 by MarkS »

MarkS

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Kenny

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Re: Darkish site near Orpington
« Reply #55 on: Mar 25, 2015, 22:44:53 »
Thanks Mark. Both very useful tools.

Kenny

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Re: Darkish site near Orpington
« Reply #56 on: Apr 12, 2015, 03:45:19 »
3 1/2 hour tour of Kent last night / this morning, with clear moonless skies, visiting sites I was discussing with Ivor (most proposed by him). I only intend to visit the nearest two to me, including Octavia Bunkhouse I previously visited in the daytime, but got sucked in as the next site was so near and so on...

My findings as as follows:

Chevening Church, Chevington Lane
https://www.google.co.uk/maps/place/St+Botolph's+Graveyard,+Sevenoaks,+Kent+TN14/@51.298933,0.134735,18z/data=!4m2!3m1!1s0x47df53ac1a7c96a9:0xce29843794ee7905
Not suitable. No through road beyond the church. No access to fields near church. Church has motion sensitive kw grade security light. Houses and cars along road opposite church. Can see sodium streetlights on Sundridge Road.  Also a great deal of reflect white light from the M25. Sky was milky white, with an orange tinge to the North though the worst of the London light pollution was shielded by the North Downs.

Access road near Octavia Bunkhouse (NT site)
https://goo.gl/maps/xKT43
Would need permission to use though access isn't gated/locked. Very dark site and very remote. No direct lights at all. A couple of houses over a kilometre away on the opposite hill are masked by a hedgerow adjacent to the observing site. To the North / Northwest this is a lot of orange light pollution at the horizon from London. To the Southwest behind the hill there is a much smaller amount of light pollution from a large town (probably East Grinstead). Rest of the sky is very dark. Was able to make out the full shape of Leo. M44/Praesepe was naked eye visible. M67 was visible in binoculars.

Chiddingstone Sports Ground
https://www.google.co.uk/maps/@51.1850738,0.1488351,19z?hl=en
Short access road which says access only to the sports ground and for pedestrians. Says no parking but I think this means for visitors to the village where parking is a big problem. Very large carpark. You need to walk around 50-100m into the sports ground to get a good horizon from the bordering trees. Very dark site and very remote. Almost no direct lights however there unfortunately is a group of houses around 3/4km to the Southeast with very bright external lights which it doesn't appear to be possible to hide from going deeper into the sports ground. To the North / Northwest this is a lot of orange light pollution at the horizon from London. Rest of the sky is very dark. Was able to make out the full shape of Leo. M44/Praesepe was make eye visible. M67 was visible in binoculars. On Gatwick flightpath.

Bidborough Rec
https://www.google.co.uk/maps/place/Bidborough,+Tunbridge+Wells,+Kent+TN3/@51.1682882,0.2375395,17z/data=!4m2!3m1!1s0x47df457761fa75c5:0x321530311cdbfc8c?hl=en
Not suitable. Very little available parking on lane Southwest of park. Primary school adjacent has two separate kw type security lights lighting up the park.

Frant Lakes
https://www.google.co.uk/maps/place/51%C2%B006'39.8%22N+0%C2%B018'04.6%22E/@51.111045,0.301267,126m/data=!3m2!1e3!4b1!4m2!3m1!1s0x0:0x0
Would need permission to access. I couldn't get on site to see what the horizon was like but from the entry gate (which was closed and locked) it was a very very dark site. I spoke to the caretaker. It is a commercial site for fishing. Paid entry. Only open 7am - 7pm. The manager also appears to be on site but was not available. Contact 01892 616424.

Bayham Abbey Ruins
https://www.google.co.uk/maps/@51.099282,0.350524,3a,75y,28.08h,83.85t/data=!3m4!1e1!3m2!1sWIncf6cgWd12ZELzVp5XCw!2e0
Would need permission to access. I couldn't get on site to see what the horizon was like but from the entry gate (which was closed and locked) it was a very very dark site. Sign says no access after 5pm.

Action Paintball, Dundale Road
https://www.google.co.uk/maps/place/51%C2%B007'28.9%22N+0%C2%B020'32.8%22E/@51.124702,0.342443,477m/data=!3m2!1e3!4b1!4m2!3m1!1s0x0:0x0
Would need permission to access. Not suitable. Locked gate. Behind the gate is a very large carpark surrounded by very tall trees severely restricting the view.

Pembury playing field
https://www.google.co.uk/maps/place/51%C2%B008'25.8%22N+0%C2%B020'15.4%22E/@51.140502,0.33761,125m/data=!3m2!1e3!4b1!4m2!3m1!1s0x0:0x0
Not suitable site. Access to site down a long narrow lane (which I was very uncomfortable with driving down at night) with a closed gate at the playing fields, pedestrian access from there. No parking available except on the lane, blocking access, and barely enough turning space. Fairly dark site but streetlights nearby including one at the end of the access lane. You would also need to go quite far into the playing fields to get a South Horizon which is also crossed by the A21 less than a mile away.

Lower Green Recreation Ground, Pembury
https://www.google.co.uk/maps/place/51%C2%B008'42.5%22N+0%C2%B019'22.9%22E/@51.145148,0.323018,17z/data=!3m1!4b1!4m2!3m1!1s0x0:0x0
Would need permission to access. Access to the carpark was open but the access lane is actually gated with a sign saying the gate will be closed 30 minutes before sunset. Inside the site the recreation grounds had a boundary fence with a locked gate so there was no means of access.

Postern Lane
https://www.google.co.uk/maps/place/51%C2%B011'26.1%22N+0%C2%B018'06.6%22E/@51.190579,0.30183,17z/data=!3m1!4b1!4m2!3m1!1s0x0:0x0
Possible but might be impacted by Tonbridge lights. Forgot to visit this site on the way back from Pembury.

OAS possible observing sites
https://www.google.com/maps/d/edit?mid=z2zU_B50o51U.kMn9pVPeQuBE
I've created a Google Map showing the sites we have surveyed so far or plan to survey. I'll update it tomorrow with the notes from tonight's survey. It's possible to add other "layers" but it bugs out when I try to add any of the light pollution layer that Mark proposed.

Cheers

Kenny




Apophis

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Re: Darkish site near Orpington
« Reply #57 on: Apr 12, 2015, 07:40:58 »
sterling work kenny, im always up to help if you go out again, or anything...

  rog
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Fay

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Re: Darkish site near Orpington
« Reply #58 on: Apr 12, 2015, 08:00:25 »
Kenny, you are so dedicated, lots of good work you are doing
It is healthier to be mutton dressed as lamb, than mutton dressed as mutton!

Kenny

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Re: Darkish site near Orpington
« Reply #59 on: Apr 12, 2015, 09:14:52 »
Thanks. After a few hours sleep I appear to have "I drove all night" playing in my head. Thanks also to Ivor who is running a ton of marathon training miles weekly round remote locations and finding these potential dark sites.