Can I see the stars in a small city?

Dec 3, 2021
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I live in a city of 200,000 people, and I was just wondering if I would be able to practice amateur astronomy with the light pollution and all. Basically, it's still dark enough to see some stars with the naked eye, but not very many, if that helps.
 
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rod

Oct 22, 2019
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My answer is yes. I recommend you download and use Stellarium, free software. Stellarium Astronomy Software

You can configure for your geolocation, run the application and check out what stars are visible in your sky. If you left click on a star like Sirius, all kinds of information is displayed including brightness level or magnitude. Where I live at I can see stars about magnitude 5.5 or 5.6 but I am not in a city area with many lights around and no street lights too.
 
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Nov 19, 2021
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Yes, you can see plenty of stars from a small city, even a large one. I saw Halley's comet from Times Square in NYC. It was a clear night and I knew right where to look, blocked direct lighting with my hand.
 
Dec 3, 2021
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Yes, you can see plenty of stars from a small city, even a large one. I saw Halley's comet from Times Square in NYC. It was a clear night and I knew right where to look, blocked direct lighting with my hand.
That's good to hear, I'm really excited to start stargazing!
 
May 14, 2021
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John Dobson, who popularized the 'Dobsonian' mount for telescopes, frequently set up his scope on the sidewalk in San Francisco and showed sky objects to anyone who passed by. You'll see stuff you can't see with the naked eye if you can figure out where to look.
 
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Jun 10, 2022
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Small towns simply have fewer lights, meaning you can see more stars. If you go up into the mountains, where there are both fewer lights and less atmosphere, the number of stars and the brilliance of the night sky is breathtaking. landstaronline
 
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Many objects aren't that affected by minor light pollution from a small city. Planets, the Moon, even moons of some planets aren't that affected. Nebulae, on the other hand, are harder to see. You might want to buy a filter to help you, especially if the city uses sodium or other narrow band lighting, which are lower cost to the city.

The bigger challenge is if you do astrophotography because the longer exposures will be greatly affected by the pollution.

One interesting side note.... The brightness of a celestial object increases due to pollution. This is because the pollution light that is scattered in the sky is added to the light of the object. Unfortunately, one's ability to see is based more on contrast for dim objects. But it's still interesting.
 

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