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Swithin StCleeve

star maps for binocular astronomy?

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I took advantage of the FSO offer of the Opticron 10X50s for £99, they should arrive tomorrow. I can't wait to start using them! My old pair of 10x50s got knocked out of line a while ago, and I've been using some little rubbish Argos things that are about as much use as looking down a toilet roll tube.
I noticed in the Sky at Night magazine, Steven Tonkins does a 'binocular tour' every month. I don't subscribe, (I've always bought Astronomy Now), but I think I may start getting Sky at Night regularly, because his binocular sky maps are pretty fantastic. Cassiopeia is in this month, and there's quite a few objects in there I've put on my 'next clear sky' list. I've ordered a copy of his book on the strength of these charts. Does anyone have it? Does it have maps comparable to the ones in Sky at Night? I've searched my old magazine pile for back-issues of the Sky at Night, and I've found a couple more. Gemini and Cygnus.
What maps do you guys use when you're  binocular observing?
 

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Hi,

I have also recently purchased a decent pair of binoculars to observe with.

Despite owning a telescope or two, there are occasions where a relaxing scan around with a pair of bins is in order, also very quick to set up.

The Binocular Sky do a free newsletter with observation charts. It`s free to sign up to so see what you think. Link below:

http://binocularsky.com/

 

 

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I’ve found these to be quite useful for starting off, giving an overview of the sky along with suitable naked eye, binocular and telescope targets. The April download is available now.

http://www.skymaps.com/downloads.html

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Thanks guys. I've downloaded the maps. Excellent!

I do think the Sky at Night star maps that Tonkins does will be hard to beat, because they concentrate on one constellation, so they're more detailed that most, and they're geared towards the binocular owner. I want a complete set! :happy10:

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I agree. I have often referred back to the observation target pages in the magazines.

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Back in the 90's, Astronomy Now magazine did a series of articles on constellations, one a month, with a great map, and a write-up on the constellation. They later published them all in a book called 'The Universe From Your Backyard'. It's still one of my favourite practical astronomy books, and you can pick up second hand copies for a few quid. I'd recommend it to anyone.

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29 minutes ago, oldfruit said:

Despite owning a telescope or two, there are occasions where a relaxing scan around with a pair of bins is in order, also very quick to set up.

 

The older I get, the more I appreciate 'faff-free' observing. I found last year, that my favourite part of my observing session was the bit after I put the telescope away, and did a simple sky-scan with my 10x50s.
 

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Posted (edited)

I'm sure your going to enjoy the view through them - I've had those pair for a few years and really enjoyed using them, especially on faint diffuse objects as the contrast level is very good. 

I tend to look at The Binocular Sky Newsletter here to see whats of interest and then use Sky Safari with a five degree field to match the binoculars in the field, and the same with Stellarium. 

 

andrew

Edited by andrew63
spell

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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, Swithin StCleeve said:

Steven Tonkins does a 'binocular tour' every month. I don't subscribe,

Already mentioned above  by oldfruit, check under news letter, and if you subscribe (its free) you'll end up on the mailing list too!  http://binocularsky.com
You may also find more of what your after in the archives?

Edited by Charic
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9 minutes ago, Charic said:

Check under news letter, and if you subscribe (its free) you'll end up on the mailing list too!  http://binocularsky.com

I do get the PDF newsletter off the site Charic, but it's his page in the Sky at Night magazine I was referring to when I said "I don't subscribe".

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No worries. I think Steve's charts are also clickable, giving an even larger view.
I have  produced my own charts in the past by using and editing the freeware program Stellarium. I just choose the area of interest and print only what I need.
S.Tonkin's maps provide more detail than I would know where to start!

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Posted (edited)

Oh yea! I use Stellarium to make hand-sketched star diagrams in my observation book. I found Neptune in my 10x50s last year thanks to Stellarium.
I do like Tonkin's page in the Sky at Night magazine a lot. He gives a 'hit list' with boxes you can tick when you've seen the objects. I like that. It's quite train-spottery in a way, but hell, why not

Edited by Swithin StCleeve
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for charts I use Cartes du Ciel (Sky Chart). It gives great liberty: you include on the chart whatever you want. I Print them as B&W pdf files, which I take out in my e-reader. A few examples:

Pleiades.pdf with 8.1° circle for my 8x42 binos
M31etc.pdf a wider view 
CBr-bino.pdf Corona Borealis

The website is here: https://sourceforge.net/projects/skychart/

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13 hours ago, Swithin StCleeve said:

 Tonkins

Nope, not plural, only one of me (many will be relieved to know). :D

 

Quote

but I think I may start getting Sky at Night regularly, because his binocular sky maps are pretty fantastic.

Glad you like them, but they are actually done by Pete Lawrence (+ Steve Marsh from the S@N art department). I provide a chart from Guide output, and Pete makes it look nice for the mag.

 

Quote

. I've ordered a copy of his book on the strength of these charts. Does anyone have it? Does it have maps comparable to the ones in Sky at Night?

No, the maps are very different in the book. They are on a white background; there are two types: summary charts covering approx 60* x 60* of sky that highlights object for which there are individual entries, plus 196 individual finder charts for each object or close group of objects (with an aperture circle dependent upon the size of binocular recommended) and descriptions for each object, eg:
 

Quote

 

03N.png.490668e5dd2e229cf144bf3ded15528e.png

 

Cassiopeia: Open Cluster: NGC 654 (70mm)

NGC663.png.cf20538829d099e70940423d19e7862b.png

NGC 654 is just over halfway from δ to ε Cas; it is in the same field of view as NGC 663.
NGC 654 appears as the more northerly apex of a tight equilateral triangle that has a bright (magnitude 7) and faint (magnitude 9) stars as the other apexes; the brighter of these is over 200 times more luminous than the sun. NGC 654 appears as a small, but very distinct, misty glow. It is about 20 million years old and 7,00 light-years distant.

 

 

Quote

What maps do you guys use when you're  binocular observing?

If I'm seeking unfamiliar stuff, or stuff I've forgotten how to find, I mostly use Sky Safari or Collins Gem Stars - a surprisingly good little star atlas, with charts by the superb Wil Tirion, that fits in a shirt pocket or a binocular case.

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I have that Gem book its a little cracker of a pocket sized star atlas .Had it going on for 25-30 years now :icon_biggrin:

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Thanks for that great response Steve. I like the white sky maps, I'm looking forward to getting the book and the bins, (the bins were dispatched today, which is a shame as the local society it meeting up for an observing session tonight, but it might end up as pub).
I remember Pete Lawrence from the 2006 eclipse trip to Turkey, he did a lecture the night before. Great memories!

P1000193.jpg

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3 minutes ago, Swithin StCleeve said:

Thanks for that great response Steve. I like the white sky maps, I'm looking forward to getting the book and the bins, (the bins were dispatched today, which is a shame as the local society it meeting up for an observing session tonight, but it might end up as pub).
I remember Pete Lawrence from the 2006 eclipse trip to Turkey, he did a lecture the night before. Great memories!

P1000193.jpg

<off topic> Ah, Turkey 2006, we should have been in that audience (our friend was) but Mike got food poisening in the airport hotel and we ended up in Surrey Hospital instead of Turkey :crybaby2: But our friend enjoyed the amazing experience!

Helen

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Oh no! That's a terrible story. I feel for you.

 

You didn't miss much. Just a solar eclipse in a cloudless sky on a beach by the Mediterranean.

P1010031.jpg

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Yes, I'm so glad it was perfect :glasses9:  - our friend got to see/experience her first totality (we'd seen the 1996 one).  It would have been fun to have been there to share it too.  But we did get perfect conditions for last year's eclipse in the states :hello2:

Awesome experiences!!

Helen

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Ahh, cool. I was in the States too for the 2017 eclipse. Hopkinsville Tennessee, and it couldn't have been better.

Anyway, back to binos, getting very off topic now. 

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I bought “Night Watch” by Terance Dickinson back 15 yrs ago and still have it . Great book showing constellations and their jewels . Great for binocs or scoping . Thats how i learned the night sky . I also have Cartes Du Ceil program which is a free excellent program for printing off any section you want . 

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One more question on the Sky at Night star maps please. The smallest binocular size given is 10x50. I have a friend who is interested in doing some binocular astronomy over the summer, and she has a pair of Olympus 8x40 bins. They're a nice pair, I've used them. Would you expect to find most of the objects that are in the Sky at Night maps, with 8x40s?
She has a caravan over in the countryside, so she gets access to dark skies.

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Posted (edited)

lot of folks on here use 8x40 bins so i dont see why your friend wouldnt see most of the objects if not all of the objects you can see with 10x50 maybe not quite as big picture as the 10x50

a lot depends on the quality of the glass and the coatings used in the bins . mind you even 8x40 bins will be better using a mono or tripod really steadies the view

have a read at Steve Tonkins Binocular Sky site reall good reading and reviews on bins

http://binocularsky.com/

Edited by Stormbringer
added info
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Yep, exit pupil is the same for 10x50 as 8x40 at 5mm so many objects will just appear smaller but surface brightness will be the same. The 10x50 would go a smidge deeper in terms of stars due to higher mag but plenty to see with 8x40, with the benefit of a wider field of view.

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Thanks guys.

Someone at my local Astronomy club has a bunch of Sky at Night back issues, so I'm hoping to get a good handful of the Binocular Tour maps. My new Opticron 10x50s arrived yesterday and they're beautiful, and there's a clear blue sky right now, so I'm hoping to post up an observation report later!

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