Scope Nights: Dark Sky Locations
Dark Sky Map
The Dark Sky Locations Upgrade gives you full access to the Scope Nights Dark Sky Map. This is a high resolution global light pollution map designed to help you find local dark sky sites with the best stargazing forecasts. Your favourite Scope Sites will be shown on the map with the stargazing ratings for the coming night, and you can select any Observatory or IDA Dark Sky Site to add to your Scope Sites list or to view the stargazing forecast in detail. You can also switch the Observatory and Dark Sky markers on and off using the button at the top of the map.
Scope Night’s global light pollution map is derived from NASA Earth Observatory 2012 satellite imagery provided courtesy of the NOAA National Geophysical Data Centre, and is designed as an aid to finding local dark sky sites. It shows the actual observed light pollution level directly above any given location. It is not a calibrated scale of night sky brightness, and is not a model of light pollution caused by skyglow or atmospheric scattering like many other dark sky maps. Light pollution generally increases closer to the horizon due to scattering of light by the atmosphere but it can also vary considerably depending on weather or pollution. As a general guide, locations furthest away from high light pollution sources will experience the least amount of skyglow and will have the darkest skies.
Scope Nights Dark Sky Map may look slightly pixelated when you zoom in, but this is due to the resolution of the images taken from space. Many other dark sky maps show modelled light propagation in the atmosphere rather than actual light pollution data, and the resolution may look higher on these types of maps when you zoom in, but when you compare a large geographical area the modelled light pollution map is artificially smooth and doesn’t show as much fine detail as the Scope Nights light pollution map which uses the latest raw data from NASA.
Please note: If your device can’t find your current location the dark sky map defaults to zero degrees long & lat. This is usually because either the app has been denied access or permission to use Location Services which you can fix in the iOS settings, or your device cannot triangulate your position using WiFi spots or mobile masts so try refreshing the forecasts to allow the app to re-locate your position.
Best Stargazing Sites
The Dark Sky Locations Upgrade also lets you view a list of the best stargazing sites for each night using the button at the top of the Scope Nights summary page. This list shows which of your favourite Scope Sites has the best stargazing rating for each night.
The algorithm that creates this list will compare the stargazing ratings automatically for each night and tell you which site has the best stargazing ratings based upon your weather settings. If Scope Sites have equal ratings your highest ranked site will be shown, so it is best to order your favourite Scope Sites with your preferred sites first.
This is useful if you have a choice of stargazing locations, but want to choose the one with the best stargazing conditions. Eg. You might want to find which dark sky site will have the best forecast to suit your Astronomer’s Weather Settings. Or you might want to see which robotic telescope has the best observing window, or you might simply want to know which star party to attend or which local stargazing spot is likely to have the best conditions.
With the Dark Sky Locations Upgrade you can compare stargazing forecasts for up to five of your favourite observing locations (“Scope Sites”) plus your current location. The “My Scope Sites” page lets you remove Scope Sites or change the order on the Scope Nights summary page. You can add Scope Sites by selecting any location from the Site Search, Observatories or IDA Dark Sky Sites pages. You can also add Scope Sites via the Dark Sky Map by tapping the markers.
The Site Search page is where you can search for any global place name and the results will be automatically ordered to show the closest places to your current location. The Observatories page contains a list of major astronomical observatories including robotic observatories, and the IDA Dark Sky Sites page contains an automatically updated list of official IDA Dark Sky Parks (IDSP), Reserves (IDSR) and Communities (IDSC). These lists are automatically ordered to show the closest sites to your current location, but if you require a particular site there is also a search feature at the top of each page.
Please note: If your device can’t find your current location no forecast will appear for the first Scope Site. This is usually because either the app has been denied access or permission to use Location Services which you can fix in the iOS settings, or your device cannot triangulate your position using WiFi spots or mobile masts so try refreshing the forecasts to allow the app to re-locate your position.