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alnab01

observation lists

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Hi

I was wondering how you plan your observing sessions prior to going out. How do you decide what will be on your list, how many targets etc. Do you use software to aid in your planning?

Your advice would be greatly appreciated.

Alan

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I use stellarium to see what's about, and plan my starhop on my starcharts. I also peruse the latest magazines to see if they have suggestions for the month.

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Much will depend on what the "purpose" of the observing is.

Are you heading out to tick off the next group of Messier objects, or Calwell objects, going to view double stars, galaxies, planetary nebula, clusters.

If a "general" observing then determine the most appropriate 3 constellations and pick out say 8 or 10 objects in them, list them then go find.

To keep a list I find that setting a Word doc to custom size of 6x4 inches and getting a pack of 6x4 card works well. Likely other sizes but A4 is a bit big and it also means esy to print on paper and that is not as convenient as card.

Create a table of 5 or 6 columns on the card, write in the object and any required information then print off and head outside with pen.

If really good create a diagram of the constellation, create the table to sit on the rear (double sided). Also means you can create the basic constellation the mark in pen your objects. Helps locate things, little point heading outside then think now where am I supposed to be looking.

If you are going to observe specific items then it follows much the same approach.

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I plan a list each month which is published on the Cornwall Astonomy Society website, you can download it here;

http://www.cornwallas.org.uk/2016-01.pdf

Briefly, it's in various sections;

Circumpolar (from my location)

In month objects

Our solar system's planets

Moon phases

Comets

Now that I've been producing these for over a year, each month I just have to update the in month objects, plants, moon phases and comets. I haven't had a month yet where I've ticked off everything, the fun is in looking at each object in detail.

If you find it useful, please feel free to keep returning to www.Cornwallas.org to download each month's list.

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I prepare for sessions by looking to see which constellations will be in favourable positions to view at midnight from my garden. I then make a list of specific targets and star hopping routes to find them. I do not make long lists. I like to spend time on each of the objects. The longer I look, the more I see.

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I prepare for sessions by looking to see which constellations will be in favourable positions to view at midnight from my garden. I then make a list of specific targets and star hopping routes to find them. I do not make long lists. I like to spend time on each of the objects. The longer I look, the more I see.

Exactly!

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Depends how the mood takes me - often I'll have one "objective" (Something I've never observed before, an unsual event, a "one-off") and will then point my telescope at random things in the sky. Last year, observing sessions were so few and far between that I'd take my telescope out and observe things for the sheer joy of actually being able to get outside and observe!

Paul

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Thanks so much for your help. I think im going to take onboard the advice of seeing which constellations are viable from my viewing point,choose a few targets within them and plan a star hop to get there. Not many targets to start with just so i can get used to planning my sessions more accurately.

Alan

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I like to plan an observing session on the day by using Stellarium which lets me see where targets will be at any given time. Next I use Turn Left At Orion or my more in-depth star chart and check out the star hop and off I go into the night.......although up here in Edinburgh there has scarcley been a good night in the last 2 months

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Yip last clear night was hogmanay and guess what I was doing that night?? Glug, glug! Seriously regretting it now

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I use a program called SkySafari Pro on my iPad. HUGE amounts of objects, and you can pick the objects you want to view, add them to the list, input your seeing and transparency conditions, and if you'd like, jot down notes. The night mode is great. Super dim and red and black with shades of red only. I've never had any issues. It is $20-$30 USD. Expensive for an app, but worth it in my opinion.

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I use a plannisphere to find which const will be high up, then turn to its page on 'an illustrated guide to astronomical wonders' and go through each object I think I stand a chance of seeing, and note them down. It's a great book - it gives you an individual description of all the objects worth seeing including a description of what the author saw in his ten inch and a description of how to find it.

It also helps to note which page of your atlas it's on - you don't want to be flicking through a book for ages with freezing numb fingers!

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Ive not had a chance to use mine at all yet. I was in edinburgh on hogmanay for the street party and noticed how clear the sky was.could clearly see orion etc but my scope was back in Glasgow ha

Alan

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I'm still too new at this to have an experienced opinion but for a beginner I use Turn Left at Orion to identify achievable targets. Stellarium for telling me where it is in the sky and when. Lastly I use FLO's Clear Outside to tell me its gonna be overcast all night. Probably got that in the wrong order though!

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Clear outside is telling ke that i wont have a clear night until the 17th. Just need to keep practicing and get some objects to look out for!

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