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leezuza

learning the night sky

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Question

During the last few weeks I started using an app on my android tablet to help identify objects in the sky.  I am interested to learn more about location, bearings, distance and other general information that can help me appreciate the night sky once I can start using my telescope and would appreciate any advice how to achieve this, alongside  the regular skygazing. 

thanks

p

 

 

 

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Two useful tools: the free software package Stellarium (for PC, the mobile version is not free), and a pair of binoculars. These are hugely useful in scouting around the skies. They don't have to be huge or expensive to be a great addition to the astronomical toolbox

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Hi! Well, using an app is a great start. Don't know what app you're currently using, but most of them offer a variety of background info on the celestial objects. For Android, SkySafari 6 for example is easy to use and offers a lot of information. I'd also recommend a weather forecast app so you can easily find clear, cloudless nights. Finally, an app that lists interesting events (meteor showers, planetary conjunctions) for a given night might be useful. These kind of events can also be found on websites like Sky & Telescope or EarthSky.

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Welcome from Land Down Under

You might find Heavens Above useful as well

Comes in both PC and APP version which is free

Just a little trick when saving to your PC

Select your location, date and time, then add to favourites in IE, Chrome or EDGE, depending on which Windows operating system you have

Will open every time your location

Heavens Above will also allow you to receive notifications for ISS, though I use ISS Detector as well

The attached link is for my location, and you can modify to yours

https://www.heavens-above.com/main.aspx?lat=-27.92023&lng=153.29898&loc=Oxenford&alt=0&tz=UCTm10

Sky Map is good APP also Android handset

John 

 

 

 

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+1 on the use of Stellarium. I think to some degree we're always still learning about the night sky. Stellarium will give you all the info you are currently looking for and I use it in conjunction with my cheapo binoculars to learn more about constellations etc 

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I started off using a pair of binoculars and the Sky and Telescope Atlas. You're limited in what you can see with binoculars of course, but the wide field of view will make it harder to get lost, and with some decent glass you should be able to detect many of the brighter DSOs in the sky. Another advantage of binoculars is that everything is the right way up, looking through a telescope the world is upside down and back to front - not the easiest way the learn star hopping. Also you could try restricting yourself to just a couple of constellations in the same area of the sky per session, that way you can to memorise what the constellation looks like so you'll know it next time. Jumping around from one part of the sky to the other might end up confusing you.

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I think finding celestial objects using nothing more than an atlas or app is one of the best ways to maintain an interest in the hobby.  Apps are great for getting information  like distance, etc., seeking out the object by star-hopping is the time tested way to become familiar with the sky. 

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I'm a great believer in apps and the like. I use SkySafari 6 pro for mobile and Stellarium on my lappy. Wouldn't be without them but... I learned the sky by reading books and using printed atlases like Norton's but just about every book had either or both constellation diagrams and finder charts.

I think that way slows the process down to a manageable and memorable experience. Maybe a risk of information overload  with modern technology. Also large a format atlas like Sky Atlas 2000 can show more than a 9in tablet screen, helping with the wider view. I'm not saying don't use apps but don't discount printed aids either. I rarely use my Sky Atlas 2000 but it is very nice to look at!

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On 18/12/2018 at 10:20, Sunshine said:

You should download "Stellarium" for your computer, it is a valuable and interactive night sky tool which is pretty much the standard for us amateur's. 

https://stellarium.org

I'm going to try out Stellarium.  Thanks for the tip!

      Dave

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While I agree with the posts above I'd have to say that the best instructional tool I used was the book Turn Left At Orion - as it provides more advice for star hopping and using visual references than anything else I've seen. In fact, I don't think there's very many things out there that do a really good job of teaching you how to get around as well as that book.

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I would agree with popeye and get a planisphere. Once you have it set to date and pointing south, just hold it above your head and you see the entire sky on it (so you can find out what you are looking at) against the real sky. Yes, stellarium will give you the same information and something like that (or CdC - another great planetarium program) is great for going into more detail of the objects you have identified - once you are back in the warm, but for out-in-the-cold identification a planisphere is (IMO) better.

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4 minutes ago, Demonperformer said:

but for out-in-the-cold identification a planisphere is (IMO) better.

Yes do this, a good planisphere is gold when out in the cold, when I say good I mean a decent sized one, I've seen tiny pocket ones which are a giant pain.

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Page 1 here is useful too:

 

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