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daynaby

How to go about getting more into astronomy?

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I want to start doing more astronomy (maybe one day saving up for some AP equipment) and I just am lost. From my home in New Jersey it is hard to see anything because of the light pollution, and recently I drove 2 hours with my dad for a Bortle 5, it was really beautiful and I want to go again, but it is far but my Dad can't drive me that often and the age for driving in New Jersey is pretty high so I would have to wait to drive myself. The nearest Bortle 2-3 (in northern Penn.) is 4.5 hours, how can I continue astronomy?

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Some suggestions: Concentrate on observing stuff that punches through the murk, eg the Sun, the Moon, the planets, and double stars.

To observe the planets you will need a good view (low horizon) to the south. 

It seems that deep space astrophotography will be a tough ask from your location.

Or you can subscribe to services that give you time on a remote telescope.

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I live in bortle 8/9 London so feel your pain and this is only my second year at it but there’s still quite a lot to see from these skies. My advice would be get some low power binoculars to help see more of the constellations and get to know your way around the sky finding the brighter dsos etc, double stars etc like Cosmic Geoff suggested, enjoy the planets when you can and see if you can find a local group to join who maybe do expeditions to darker skies you could hitch a ride with. By the time you can drive (you didn’t say how long that will be) you’ll have a good foundation and a whole new universe of things to discover. By that time you’ll also likely have built up a collection of decent kit to enjoy it with. Good luck and clear skies!

Mark

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Welcome aboard.  I'd also recommend looking at stars, in particular doubles, which can be studied from light polluted back yards (I'm in Bortle 7/8). Finding them will likely require a goto scope of some kind, but once you've found them there's a lot to observe and learn. You can learn to estimate magnitudes, watch over time as variable stars change from one magnitude to another, look at how the brightness and colours change depending on the type of stars and distance. For doubles you can try the challenge of splitting them at lower and lower powers, and learn how to measure the distance and angle between them. As you are young, you'll be able to re-visit them over the years and see how some of the gaps change as they orbit around each other.

If this piques your interest, here's some pointers:

https://skyandtelescope.org/observing/celestial-objects-to-watch/observing-double-stars-for-fun-and-science/

https://stargazerslounge.com/topic/360851-colour-contrasting-double-stars/

https://stargazerslounge.com/topic/359653-a-double-star-challenge-epsilon-lyrae/

There's lots of other threads on SGL, just search for "observing doubles".

Cheers,

Mark

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Wow! That seems really interesting I'll prolly bring my telescope out and do some of that tonight, thanks

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You need to do a rather outdated thing called apply some thought. Oddly it is getting rarer. Sometimes it seems extinct.

There are lists of colored double stars - Albireo and Almaak are the 2 most common talked of. Search the Astronomical League as I believe they have a program of them. You can simply download the list. Or make your own. Use Google and search for something like "colored double star list".

Also look through the various catalogues and find the bright objects. You need bright ones. Also just get outside and start identifing the stars that you can see and so which constellations are more or less which.

Have seen it said if someone said "search for M13 in Hercules", first you have to find Hercules. Usually a constellation will have 1 bright star. Bootes has Arcturus, Aquila has Altair, Lyra has Vega, Auriga has Capella. A few have more then 1, like Cygnus has Deneb and the others that make the cross. Ursa Major has those that make the Dipper - ever tried the others then the dipper in Ursa Major?

If you get to the Astro Leauge programs look at others like the Binocular Program. As binoculars tend to be small they are likely to list easier to find objects.

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Another vote for our nearest neighbour - the Moon. Lunar observing is available irrespective of light pollution .

A good starting point is the Lunar 100 list.

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Coloured double stars have been mentioned above. You might also give the Carbon stars a try, that shine in various pink-orange-red hues. Herschel's Garnet Star; Hind's Crimson Star in the constellation Lepus south of Orion (deep red - the "Vampire Star") and La Superba in Canes Venatici would be great starters even under light-polluted skies.  There are various lists in the net.

Stephan

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Once you do have enough for an AP setup, things will open up nicely in hydrogen alpha which is fairly immune to LP  (being as most of our galaxy is comprised of Hydrogen!). Depending on the local LP (whether LED or not), and if - like me you have a very tall street light just 25 yards away (I put up a screen to block it out and create a "shadow" for my gear to operate in).

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Welcome from Land Down Under

I am Bortle 3-4 where I am, especially around 10pm, just have everything above us

At the moment have Jupiter, Saturn, Mars and Scorpio directly overhead

After midnight have Orion and Pleiades on the eastern horizon as well with Venus visible early morning currently

Tonight is also the International Night of the Moon

John

 

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Dumb but genuine question from one new to astronomy - what is an 'AP setup' please?

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14 minutes ago, PaulyV said:

Dumb but genuine question from one new to astronomy - what is an 'AP setup' please?

Astrophotography Setup.

A gathering of expensive scope, guide-scopes, cables, motors, a huge driven mount, more cables, cameras, laptop, dew-heaters, cables, unicorn tears, and cables.

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Aha, thank you.  I think you missed out 'cables'.  This could all be so easily sidestepped if our eyes had shutter speeds.

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2 minutes ago, Pixies said:

Astrophotography Setup.

A gathering of expensive scope, guide-scopes, cables, motors, a huge driven mount, more cables, cameras, laptop, dew-heaters, cables, unicorn tears, and cables.

I would like to point out that the above is tongue-in-cheek and I am actually in awe of the images that you AP lot can make. If only I had the money and patience!

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