Welcome to Washed-out Astronomy

This web site is dedicated to helping amateur astronomers make the most of washed-out skies. As much as we all dream of having dark skies, many of us unfortunately live in areas where the skies are washed-out by light pollution. We many not have access to a decent dark site, and even if we do, we don't always have the time or energy to go there. So what can we do to get the most enjoyment of the skies we have? What kinds of celestial objects can we focus on? What objects are within reach? What can we do to see things better? Are there equipment tweaks that help? These questions are what this site is about. Everything here touches in some way to the question of observing the heavens under washed-out skies.

What you won't find on this site is information on fighting light pollution at the social and political level.  All amateur astronomers should be interested in working with their communities to limit or even reduce light pollution and there are many organizations and web sites devoted to that cause.  While the Washed-out Astronomer actively supports these efforts (and hopes you will, too), that is not what this site is about.  At the end of the day, when the sun sets and the stars come out, we have to find ways to make the best of the washed-out skies we have.  And that is what Washed-out Astronomy is all about.

About the Washed-out Astronomer

The Washed-out Astronomer lives in the Washington DC metro area, under skies that are heavily light polluted.  On really clear winter nights, 4.5 magnitude stars might be visible within 45 degrees of zenith.  On hazy summer nights, it can be a challenge to see even 4th magnitude stars.  The Washed-out Astronomer also has a street light about 200 feet (60m) away that shines pretty directly on where he usually sets up his gear.  Luckily, the neighbors all know about the Washed-out Astronomer's hobby and are generally pretty good about keeping exterior lighting to a minimum (except, of course, around Christmas).

The Washed-out Astronomer started observing as a teenager in 1973 in suburban Fairfield County, CT (which back then had relatively dark skies: he regularly observed M76 and M97 with a 4.25 inch Edmund Palomar Jr).  Since then he has observed from wherever he has lived, including Pasadena CA, Gaeta Italy, and San Diego CA—all areas with moderately to heavily light-polluted skies.

The Washed-out Astronomer currently observes with his eyes, 10x50 binoculars, a 3.5 inch (90mm) refractor, a 4.25 inch (108mm) Newtonian reflector, and a 10 inch (254mm) Dobsonian reflector.  This web site reflects his experiences and opinions in dealing with light pollution.  He hopes that what he has learned will help others better enjoy astronomy, no matter where they live or the condition of their skies.  Even if the skies are washed-out by light pollution, there is always a lot to see!

Clear skies!

The Washed-out Astronomer

Reach me at washedoutastronomer at washedoutastronomy dot com