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These are a few considerations that I've found handy and might be useful with organising your observing . Practical. Red torch, check it's working and the batteries are ok Check your finder is aligned

Amazing work, Nick and thank you for putting this together I'm sure it will help many folk and the advice and insights are  great Aye, + 1.

I have to unattach the washing line too.i have nearly hung myself on it twice Also its handy if its preplanned to fill the kettle beforehand, and put some coffee etc(n dried milk) in a cup. U don't wa

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It is tricky in a group observing session to keep up with note taking. I try, but am not very diligent.

To be honest, my most enjoyable evenings are the solo ones where I have had a plan and work through a set of targets, as I can then write up after quite easily from memory as well.

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I have to unattach the washing line too.i have nearly hung myself on it twice

Also its handy if its preplanned to fill the kettle beforehand, and put some coffee etc(n dried milk) in a cup. U don't want to a) wake the other half dropping a cup and B) get blinded by the fridge light coming on. Silly i know but it does save your eyesight whilst u warm up.

Sent from my iPhone so excuse the typos!

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Good article cheers.

Now I have stepped into the world of serious scopes any tips for someone recently upgraded to a Skywatcher 250px, what are the 'must see' 1st without getting to complicated just yet.

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Nick some good advice on observing. I use a white marker board to make notes rather than paper and pencil. When I prepare the nights programme I list the objects on the marker board. I have also bought some nice plastic boxes to hold star atlas etc. What I have also found convenient is a quality music stand to hold the atlas which has a Rolson flexible twin red light bought from Maplins to illuminate the atlas.

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Blimey I'm late to this party. Good summary Nicko, I'm glad it got pinned it should be very helpful to people. Anyone who's looked at your books at a star party can attest that no-one does planning and notes like you - plus some great sketches :)

Now I have stepped into the world of serious scopes any tips for someone recently upgraded to a Skywatcher 250px, what are the 'must see' 1st without getting to complicated just yet.

I know I'm late but I thought I'd answer anyway:

Globular clusters.

I mean really, anything and everything: familiar objects look totally different, things that used to be too faint will suddenly be attainable, so just make like a kid in a sweet shop. But the biggest step change for me when I went from my ST80 to Jeffery (8" dob) was globs - just WOW :D

That was on Nick's advice too, thinking about it!

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Fantastic, I now have a list of jobs to prepare for my first forays into the night sky! One of the most useful posts I've seen for a novice like me! I'm sure to have wasted a lot of time without this prep advice, thank you!

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

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Normally I just hop from one side of the sky to the other, I have never tried concentrating on one constellation at a time. It usually goes:

Jupiter

Venus

Saturn if visible

A few clusters

Try m31 (usually fail)

Look at everything again

Go home

Also is there a good constellation to start with? I have an 8" dob and I can't even see M31!

Thanks

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For working through a constellation try The Monthly Sky Guide by Ridpath+Tirion. It is sort of geared to a prominent constellation and the objects in it.

Bet you can see M31 but don't realise it.

All you will see is about 1/4 of it in an 8".

Suspect you are expecting a galaxy, not a slightly brightish bit of slightly compact candy floss. :grin: :grin: :grin:

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This is a great thread and it will be certainly of help for many people. I enjoyed reading it a lot and appreciated your stimulating and encouraging writing. There is a lot of fun in this hobby and, to me, part of it is also about documenting, be this during the session (e.g. sketching or taking live notes) or afterwards. 

I started documenting my sessions not much time ago and found it really important. First of all I enjoy it a lot, secondly it helps keep track of how objects are seen and therefore improve observation skills, and thirdly it helps keep track of which objects have been observed, which otherwise can be forgotten. I admire a lot people sketching their targets and to me that is the best way. Keeping notes is a good approximation though. Eventually everyone finds his/her own way.

Your advises are very useful and can change a person's approach to this hobby in a positive way. At least people should give a try. 

Thanks for sharing, 

Piero

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Try m31 (usually fail)

For something that's three times the size of the moon its suprisingly stealthy from our light polluted urban skies. Best I've ever seen visually from the backgarden is a small fuzzy blob in the very middle of the galaxy. On the same night my DSLR on the same scope could see massively more of M31, and a couple of other small galaxies in the same frame. That was with my 5.1" newtonian.

If you can get somewhere really dark, later in the year, on a moonless night, get properly dark adapted etc you wont even need a telescope to see M31 :)

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An A4 plastic sheeted file will keep these safe. One idea is to start off with the Telrad Messier charts. http://www.atmob.org/library/member/skymaps_jsmall.htmlThese are quite plain and can easily be added to with the best of targets.

Very nice guide!

But the link to Messier Charts seems outdated.  Everybody can try this Messier Finder Charts with the TelRad circles.

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So far, planning the objects I'm looking for is restricted to what's easily available/identifiable whilst I work out the limits of my scope & ability, using a couple of books and the odd magazine.

I'm curious as to how do you record your observations? I'm just starting to and trying to find a format that works (A4 ring binder, bound notebook, page a day diary etc.). Do you make rough notes and write them afterwards, remember & record later or record the final version there & then?

 

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