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Southern Stars Shocker!

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Posted by Sean Craddock on May 24, 2001 09:55:14 UTC

Right, I sent this message via. email to Astronomy Now magazine, yet no reply as yet.
Here goes:

Dear Astronomy Now,

Last August, my family and I were holidaying in the North Yorkshire Moors. Aware of the dark skies and lovely weather ahead I took my telescope (a 3 inch refractor) with us.
On the last night the sky was blacker than I had ever seen before, with the Milky Way clearly defined. Our campsite is situated on a hill near Whitby away from all the lights of any towns.
When looking to the South I could clearly see the constellation of Sagittarius and it's rich Milky Way starfields. I had never seen it before as I live in a valley and have around 30 degrees of sky stopped by a large hill. What was more striking was the fact that Sagittarius was quite a way up from the horizon. Several 'non British declination' constellations could be seen with ease. I consulted my star atlas. The book revealed that the constellations were: Scorpius (including the tail!), Corona Australis and even more amazingly, the top of the constellation Ara!!! Ara is over 10 degrees in declination too far South!!!!
How was this possible? I am assuming it was atmospheric refraction, but the sky was totally clear!
Please answer!

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