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SpoonyPizzas

How to plan my session better?

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Good afternoon all,

Just wanted to know how I can plan my night viewing sessions better?

At the moment, I tend to check weather forecast and see what day's I can actually get the Dob out.

So for example, I can see Saturday is supposedly a good night for stargazing.  Now my normal plan would be check Night Sky Tools app minutes before I'm about to observe or Google Sky Maps as I'm observing lol.  The other night I was aimlessly trawling the sky and was would be like - what's that?  Then Google to find out what I'm looking at which was fun.   However I'd like to get a bit more structure into my sessions, especially when I go to a dark site.

Just wondering how everyone else plans their sessions or are they like me - last minute.com?

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There are various applications that will help you plan your sessions. Most of them allow you to keep log of the equipment used and the objects observed.

I'll nominate Deep Sky Planner from Knightware. You can have multiple 'projects' running to cover different catalogs/locations etc.

It also has a 'plan' that you create for a given date, location and catalog. The plan runs in real-time so you can keep track of what your next object will be.

It also interfaces with various planetariums so you can click on an object in the plan, and you can see it in the planetarium.

You can then export the observing reports to HTML or (and I forget the name) a standards compliant format.

There are loads of these type of apps...

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You need to decide what it is that you want to look at.

This may take the form of what is in the SpoonyP constallation - and you scribble down, or draw, where the items are and out you go to get them all. Tick them off as you locate them, possibly a more oin depth record.

The "common" one is to locate and view each of the Messier objects, then work through those.

This one means that you will move between constellations, and that those constellations need to be up there and visible.

Make your own target list, say the galaxies of the Messier list, or the planetary nebula from it.

There are many target lists, The Astro League and RASC have several.

I tend to work through a constellation. Reason is simple - I used Word to create a set of diagrams of each and put in the diagram what objects are in each. These fit on a 6x4 card that I simply print off (2 of them) and I can work through whatever is in the constellation. This does not tend to take a great deal of time and it usually means I have spare time to just look around. Think I have 15 simple constellation diagrams at present.

There are lists of double stars - 20 nice coloured ones on the Delaware Astro Site.

So you could make your own lists of Messier Galaxies, Messier Planetary Nebula and say the Delaware Coloured Doubles. That would give 3 to try out.

As galaxies and planetary nebula tend to be primary targets for many (more appealing the clusters) doing these seperately is a bit more interest and you could also tick them off the Messier Catalogue.

There is also the Caldwell Catalogue - a sort of mirror of the Messier Catalogue that was put together by SPM.

If you want something a bit difficult or different search out a list of Carbon Stars.

Will say it need you sitting down and thinking up possible options.

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All good advise that i will now follow in future 

Paul

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All good advice above. Another idea is look at the observing reports on this site. I take special notice of what Nick(Cotterless) and Rob(Qualia) have to say but also look at other members' reports. 

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Cassiopeia64.docPlNeb.doc5xGal64.doc

These are 3 of the "cards" I made up,

In the Cassiopeia the M's are Messiers, simple numbers will (I hope) be NGC's and what the ones marked I are I have no idea.

Seem to have been saved as a row of items not a column.

They give an idea of an option.

Drawn to fit on a 6x4 inch blank card, but A4 should not be a problem.

Edited by ronin

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great thread, thanks folks

as a newb I am still finding my way but what works for me right now is more book/paper than App based:

Stargazer 2015 and Deep Sky Observers Guide - both a couple of £ from The Works - plus the lists already suggested above help me get interesting targets

Cambridge Star Atlas (cheap from Astroboot among others) helps me plan stuff on real star maps - I have photo copied some maps and plan to laminate them so I can scribble on them

Most expensive purchase as Guide to Astronomical Wonders (just over £10) and that has a world of stuff to find, organised by constellation - great book and I expect to use it more as I find my way

Bought a Planisphere (again couple of quid from Astroboot) and it really didnt help me much, though my kids use it to find the constellations - maybe I'm not using it right

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"Bought a Planisphere (again couple of quid from Astroboot) and it really didnt help me much, though my kids use it to find the constellations - maybe I'm not using it right "

Planisphere's are a bit odd.

I used one for some time knowing how to use it but not exactly why/how it worked.

It sort of made sense in use but if I had to explain to someone why it worked I would have been unable.

Then one day I saw the explanation of how it "worked" and ta-da it made sense.

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thanks ronin, the planisphere seems easy enough to use - I just don't find it very useful

Watched videos etc and it was useful to learn about the little blue cross etc which I hadnt noticed before, whereas the star maps in Cambridge Atlas and Guide to Astro Wonders are great, and work nicely for me

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thanks ronin, the planisphere seems easy enough to use - I just don't find it very useful

Watched videos etc and it was useful to learn about the little blue cross etc which I hadnt noticed before, whereas the star maps in Cambridge Atlas and Guide to Astro Wonders are great, and work nicely for me

Like a lot of this hobby its horses for courses, that's why it is so difficult to advise others but it doesn't stop us trying  :grin:

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