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Walking on the Moon

Finding a star

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The easiest way with charts is to look for the constellations.


Most people nowadays use planetarium software either on their computer or phone as this can show what is actually overhead how it will appear to you and can even show th field of view of your scope to give you an idea what you will see.

Stellarium and Cartes du Ciel are both free.


For mobile devices I would suggest Sky Safari.

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Hi and welcome to SGL 

It's basic map reading skills. First orientate the sky map remembering that you are in reality looking at the map and the heavens upside down meaning east will be on your left hand side. Noe pick a prominent star on the star map I would suggest Polaris, try to locate Polaris in the sky. Once you have found Polaris on the map and in the sky use other prominent stars (stars in Ursa major or caseopia are you good for this)to orientate yourself. Now you have orientated your map see if you can relate any other stars to the map, don't forget you will be effectively looking at the map upside down, what appears on your left on the map will appear on your right hand in the sky, you could hold the map above your head to help you grasp this 

Now practice


Edited by BXRO
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What exactly do you mean? Only ask this as the usual is to identify the constellation that the star is in and assuminy it is one that forms the main pattern of the constellation you pick it out then aim the scope at it. That is the easy one.

Now if it is a star in the constellation but not a main one that forms the pattern you have to aim/look at one close then "hop" across to the required one. Again it presumes that you can more or less still see it.

If the star is not naked eye visible then you badically do as just previous and hop to an apparent nearby star then use the scope/finder to perform the next hop a bit blind to where you where the star in question should be, and hopefully the star required cn be identified.

You have the option of using RA+Dec setting circles but it all needs to be accurate, and RA+Dec is not overly easy to use without some learning.

If you have a goto the theoretically you select the star from a list or enter the RA+Dec then tell the scope to go to it. Probably a bit inaccurate so the usual option is to go to a nearby star, sync on that position then make a short hop to the required star.

They all take a little time to master, even the goto option.

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3 hours ago, Barry webb said:

How do you find a star using the star chart 

Barry, probably the most common type of star chart that folk start off with is the Phillips Planisphere - in this type there is a clear window which rotates over the star map below.  As stars and constellations change position throughout the night/month/year the Planisphere allows the observer to align the rotating window to the current time/date using the scale printed on the outside.  The observer then simply orients the Planisphere, usually pointing North, to identify the local overhead star field.  The Planisphere has the advantage over the traditional book/folding type star map in that it shows a presentation of what the over head view would look like in local orientation. That said, the Planisphere can take a wee bit of perseverance to master.  I would recommend as Dan has that you start of with something like Stellarium, download it free of charge, it really is a fantastic astro resource and it will have you familiar with stars and constellations and more in no time at all.




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