West coast phenomenom are not few nor far between so each I am never surprised with what I discover- it's one of the charms of living on Eriska!
As I walked home the other night I noticed two figures on the ground by the hotel- two guests lying on their back gazing up at the dark skies above. Initially I thought something tragic had happened and then I noticed they were looking at an ipad screen and enjoying the view . After a brief discussion I found out that they were lying looking at the dark skies- a natural occurance with little or no light source close by casuing pollution and working out the sights and shapes with the help of a trusty app!
Unlike the big cities (i.e Glasgow, Manchester and London) where you’d be lucky to see more than just Orion’s belt on a good night, Argyll has very little light pollution so on a clear night you really do see it all: stars, planets and the occasional satellite casually moving in-between.
As well as all the usual constellations that can generally be seen from anywhere in the northern hemisphere, like Ursa Major (which is partly made up of the “Big Dipper” or “Plough”), Ursa Minor, Cassiopeia and Draco; those out stargazing locally get to enjoy some truly phenomenal sights without having to use a telescope.
Being consumed by complete darkness at night allows a great view of small clusters of new born stars resulting from a supernova; the edge of the Milky Way and an a whole other galaxy in the Andromeda cluster. Even without a powerful telescope it is possible to make out shapes and details if the skies are clear although the use of any form of magnification is always
going to help the star gazers. In addition you can also enquire in the office and there is always a helpful guide on hand to assist or at least point you in the right direction or ipad address!
So before the nights get too short and the days too long it is worth getting out of cities to see the real dark skies