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lord love rocket

Stellarium Question

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I have loaded the above onto my computer, (fantastic tool by the way). However, I am really struggling with locating certain stars. Now, I have been reading up and using stellarium and can spot certain easy ones like the Plough, Polaris, Andromeda etc, however if I want to find something else say the Andromeda Galaxy M31 I use Stellarium to tell me where it is, however, can I find it with the scope, can I hell.

Could someone please explain very simply what I should be looking at on Stellarium to locate exactly the position in the sky.

Thanks.

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Well installing it is one thing, using it is another :)

If you're using it for purely visual astronomy you'll need to get your bearings and then star hop from an identified constellation. I normally just use Stellarium to tell me me where something is in relation to an object I already know.

Here's an example of star hopping that might help you find Andromeda.

The principle is the same for most other objects; find a point of reference and then move from star to star until you get to your destination.

HTH

Mark

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Stellarium is a good program but only if you have the new version (10 I think), the previous ones were quite dodgy and slow (for some users).

The trouble with Stellarium is its inability to really explain DSO's (Deep SKy Objects) and from the farthest zoom out level (minimum magnification and therefore naked eye view of the sky) the number of DSO's it portrays is pretty bad. To find any DSO's you have to zoom in on the sky and it will show little blue circles. There is however a search facility I think.

If your after a program which shows you dso's at a naked eye mag. then go for Voyager 4 or Cartes Du Ciel. Don't get me wrong, Stellarium is good, but for accuracy then the others may be better.

However, if I were you I would scrap the computer altogether and get a book or star atlas such as Ian Ridpath's Stars and Planets, combine this with a red torch or LED light and you will be able to easily look at the book and then the through the scope without having the hassle of playing with a mouse or touchpad and moving indoors and outdoors everytime you want to locate an object.

The best tip I can give you for relaying what you see on a program or in a book is to get yourself a green laser pointer. Aim it through the viewfinder scope of your telescope and then you will be able to see exactly where your scope is aimed, for alignment purposes initially try it on a bright star such as Capella or Vega then switch to that elusive DSO...works well for me

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do you have an equatorial or alt-az mount?

First thing to do is to measure the field of view of your finderscope and your lowest power eyepiece in your main scope. Typical values are 5 degrees and 1 degree respectively. Then you need to make sure that your finder and your scope are aligned with each other. Practice with Polaris, it's pretty much on its own in that region of the sky and it's a double (the faint secondary helps as an identification check). Then, use the finderscope to point at Mirach in Andromeda. It's the star that the second V in the Cassiopeia W is pointing at. At 9 pm, M31 is directly over that star, about 7.5 degrees up (that's from my location, different in yours).

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Hey thanks for the replies.

I have an EQ1 mount. (skywatcher 1145).

Finder and scope are aligned.

Thanks for the tip (Mirach) would give it a go but we have cloud cover, hopefully tomorrow night may be better.

EA2007, I have Patrick Moores Guide to Stars and Planets, I also have turn left at Orion, however was under the wrong impression that Stellarium would be more accurate, however according to your comments this may not be the case.

Will give the books a go.

Re the green laser, I thought these were illegal re causing overhead planes a problem.

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I don't think they are illegal but their sale and public use is regulated, if they are above Classes I and II.

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There's a post somewhere on this forum about green laser pointers, here it is:

http://stargazerslounge.com/index.php/topic,32670.0.html

Basically they aren't illegal, but certain online stores such as eBay and Amazon are going to stop selling them because people (chavs) keep using them, as you say, to aim at incoming aircraft to an airport. The majority of users are sensible but the few that mess on make it bad for the rest of us.

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Don't forget that you are looking for a faint white blob in your scope, not the pictures that you see on here.

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I find that the charts in "Turn Left at Orion" are pretty good - the finderscope chart usually matches very closely what I see in my 9x50 finder.

To find M31, locate Mirach as described by themos above (the top V in Cassiopeia (the deeper one, not the wide shallow one) points almost directly at it.

With Mirach in the finder, move towards Cassiopeia, veering slightly to the right as you do so. You'll come to another fairly bright star. Keep going in the same direction to a third star, slightly dimmer than the previous one. M31 lies just beyond that. It'll be visible in the finder at the same time as the 3rd star I just mentioned. From my back garden with pretty bad light pollution, M31 is clearly visible in the finder as a fuzzy patch of light.

Hope that helps! :)

Trev

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There are some good guides in the BBC Sky at Night magazine for star hopping. I'm pretty hopless at it myself and usually either find an object I CAN identify and hunt around where I think the fuzzy I am seeking may be OR I use the setting circles to get the Declination and then roll the scope through the RA slowly and see if I can spot it. One of these methdds generally works ( in the end :) :) :D ).

Point has already been made but I would reiterate and say some of these things are VERY faint. Andromeda in my 4" Mak is just a faint patch in the sky and would be VERY easy to miss if you didn't know it was there.

Lots of stuff even when viewded through the 8" scope is not much more than a smokey pattern on the sky. Under good skies at Salisbury I located the Dumbell Nebula ( with some help ) and its frankly pretty underwhelming as a pure seeing object - the thrill of course is being able to see anything at all considering the distance.

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All depends on the 'seeing'! I found loads of stuff with the NexStar4, comparable to my 8"newtonian. Just gotta have the right conditions. Eyepieces also help.

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All depends on the 'seeing'! I found loads of stuff with the NexStar4, comparable to my 8"newtonian. Just gotta have the right conditions. Eyepieces also help.

Yes, I find eyepieces essential.

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When I first started (not that long ago) I borrowed a TAL reflector from the local astro society and searched in vain for DSOs. Although it was a good little scope I could only find what I could actually see - the moon, Jupiter and Venus. I found it difficult to 'aim' a scope on an Equatorial mount and through the eyepiece everything was upside down and back to front. I then remembered the age old advice that, in my enthusiasm, I had ignored; namely to start exploring the night sky with your eyes and then binoculars. To my absolute delight I found that I could actually locate the Andromeda Galaxy, the double cluster in Perseus, the globular cluster in Hercules, etc using my grandad's old WWII naval binoculars. Spurred on by this I then bought a pair of big binos (Helios 25x100) and these enabled me to find many more objects. Using binos on a tripod is far more natural and instinctive and everything is the right way up. Every session was full of wonder and excitement - instead of the frustration of trying to use a telescope too soon.

I became very familiar with Philips Planisphere, Constellations and brighter stars, learned how the sky moves hour by hour due to the Earth's rotation and season by season due to its orbit round the Sun. Another milestone was getting a copy of the book 'Turn Left at Orion' which is a real help in navigating the sky and knowing what you will see when you get there. Then I got my first telescope and haven't looked back since. I still regularly use the binos though.

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Yes, finding objects in the night sky is down to time and practice - whatever aids you use (except perhaps "Go-To").

I personally have taken to using a pair of 8 x 42 binoculars to find things. Have managed to locate M36, M37 and M38 and several other deep sky objects up to about 9th magnitude.

As "Astrobaby" says - the views of these objects are not very awe inspiring, but I do agree that there is a bit of a thrill in actually finding these things for yourself, and then thinking of the vast distances the light is travelling.

And of course, on a nice clear night - whether mild or cold, scanning slowly across the night sky, the sheer "visual" majesty of the heavens is always breathtaking!

Oh! for some clear nights!!

Regards,

philsail1

P.S. I do think the best thing about "Stargazers Lounge" is that everyone constantly inspires eachother! (which keeps our spirits up, and hope renewed for future clear skies!).

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I agree some sights are "Is that It".

Take for example the M103 in Cass. It is amoung so may star filled open clusters that it's not awe inspiring at all.

But the fact is that you, with your scope and map and star hopping found it.

For me it's the finding the object that is the most enjoyable part.

I've found 23 of the messier objects now and numerous NGC's.

It's great.

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A little jingle I am sure we can all appreciate..........

"star hopping across the universe, always going forwards and never in reverse!"

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