When you start night photography you will come to see that any time spent photographing is very precious. You are the mercy of the weather and unlike many aspects of photography you cannot plan ahead. Take a look at my calculation and see whether this is about right for you.
365 days a year
- 2 (6 months too light) = 182.5 days
- 10 days a month x 6 months due to full moon and poor weather = 60 days
182.5 - 60 days = 122.5
- 4 days a week (Other commitments ) x 4 weeks x 6 months = 96 days
122.5 - 96 = 26.5 days per year
4.41 days per month if you are lucky
Talking with many astronomers in and around Sheffield , they usually consider that they only manage about 10-12 sessions a year.(this may be optimal view conditions, you can never tell what the atmospheric conditions are going to be like, well up in the sky ) Therefore I might have over calculated, if you take January and February this year you will have already lost around 7/8 days due to the very wet, cloudy and windy conditions.
So to maximize my chances on good viewing nights i have decided to start to use two cameras on tripods (just picked up an excellent Monfrotto pro tripod for £50) rock solid with a good head. Then I can take two sky objects at the same time. Often one camera will be tied up taking a long exposure so it will keep me busy.
Also the other objective is to move permanently to Shetland therefore increasing my night viewing times. It goes darker earlier and in winter sunrises very late. One problem will be the very windy conditions so the locations will have to be chosen carefully, at least the number of dark sites will increase dramatically. Around Sheffield it is virtually impossible to find one.