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Notes - how do you take yours?

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....makes me feel like I ought to try to improve on mine. If I'm after a specific object I usually print out a specific chart for it and then scribble random things on it. Then stuff it into an astro book or my kit box.

When I open my 'astro stuff box', I am greeted by a small cloud of random (sized/shaped/dated...) bits of paper from the past years.

I have downloaded some of the various 'observing sheets' from the internet and will now road-test some before finalising on a 'more' proper recording system.

'Random bits of paper'... sounds like how my brain works!


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I take notes and make sketches but have to type them up after as I am normally writing in the cold under red light. I include date, time, seeing, transparancy, location, conditions (ie light pollution etc), general descriptions (eg number of stars resolved in clusters, any particularly bright or any colours etc). Number of satellites/meteors with time and position. I try not to get too bogged down though as I don't want to spend more time writing than observing!

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As most of my observing is double star based my notes are quite striaght forward.

I use a WHSmith A4 sketch book.

I draw 4 7cm circles per page and write the notes describing my observation next to the circle. I then draw a sketch in the circle.

At the star of each session I note the start time, conditions - Seeing,Transparancy, Moon, cloud cover, apparent LP.

For each individual observation I note the scope used, eyepiece & magnification, magnitude difference, colours and any interesting asterims.

I take the observations and add the basic detail into an excel spreadsheet.

I have 400 pairs logged like this so far and I hope to get to 600+ by the end of 2009.



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I start with date, time seeing. Temperature, pressure....

I use Astroplanner, Calsky and Tonights Sky.

All free software..

I usually spend two or three cloudy nights sorting my planning with the software and using Starry Night Pro+ working out FOV's etc...

I normally have to enter a darkened room for my planning as i'm a bit geeky about it (Or so my wife tells me....o)..)

Once set up and at the eyepiece i'll make notes and use a dictaphone thing to record stuff like meteor showers or flares..

I've started making sketches (Following Carols work in S@Night magazine...Excellent by the way :) ) No where near good enough to put on here yet though...

then transfer it all to paper the next cloudy night..

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  • 2 weeks later...

I use a hard-backed A4 sketch book. I draw circles for the eyepiece view (but not always, sometimes I draw without circles) sketches. Underneath these I leave space for notes.

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i hav kept sum less than decent notes since beginning, but they r already great to look back on

my method at moment is to write down any targets i might have for that night

and keep large A4 pad indoors close to scope when sumthing is noted i then take view of object(s)n make sum quick notes normally just basic

what is object, and what i see any colour, n how clear easy to spot

also use pad by my scope on occassions for approx 1-2m for quick sketch of Jupiter n its Moons,

sum notes include more more detail than others e.g no.of bands viewed on Jupiter, what ep was used

i rewrite my A4notes n any sketch the next day as my handwriting is terrible

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Great thread! Thanks for the comments everyone. I've been thinking it was high time I start taking notes of some sort. Still debating between dictaphone and notepad. Main drawback of the notepad is I already long enough under red light consulting charts to work out which way to point the scope. Main drawback of the dictaphone is it's going to be hard to record exactly where I thought I saw that faint detail. Hmmm.

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Main drawback of the dictaphone is it's going to be hard to record exactly where I thought I saw that faint detail. Hmmm.

And, it is not exactly easy to make a sketch on a dictaphone...! :)

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i have a spirall bound briefcase thingy that i have sub-divided into a few headings i.e. Messier objects, Lunar 100, Planets etc, then i use a simple observing log i found on 'tinternet , time, date, temp, seeing, equipment used etc and there is even a little 'window' for doing a basic sketch, which i do use ( but to no great effect:icon_scratch:).

I find that if you write things down it helps you to remeber the object a littel better:)

Nice thread Amanda:hello2:


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Really enjoyed reading all your responses people :) I think the one thing we can take from the responses is that making notes seems to add an extra dimension to your observing sessions... that can only be a good thing! Like sketching, thinking up ways to make decent notes to accompany an observing sessions makes you a more 'observant observer.' Think I'm going to join the notes and sketching and start drawing around mugs to make room for a little sketch when I'm at the EP, best of both worlds then :)

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I've kept a log book for the last 6 years. I've nearly finished book number 3. The level of detail I use is very similar to that used by Amanda. I have been looking at using Astroplanner for quite a while. The logging functions in version 2 (still in beta) looks amazing. However, two things are stopping me using it.

1) The software works on the principle that you first sets up an observing plan, then you log observations against this plan. This workflow is not ideal if you observe an 'unplanned' object. You have to go back and set up a plan with that object in it (or add it to an existing plan) before you can record your observations for it.

2) There is no facility for recording such things as Jovian moon transits, specific lunar features, meteor showers, noctilucent clouds, aurorae or comets.

Until Astroplanner addresses these issues, particularly those in 2), then I think I'll stick with my log books.

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  • 2 months later...

Following this thread with interest as I'm just starting out. The way I've decided to go is use pencil and 'Rite In the Rain 'notebook , from what I can gather they are very good - you can even use them underwater :D! Then I'll transcribe into DeepSky Planner.

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I keep mine on a simple observation sheet - 10 observations per page, 20 observations per sheet (front & back). Then a day or two later, I enter them into an Oracle database. The database updates all of my observing lists and can be viewed by whatever parameters I choose: constellation, R.A. Date, Herschell, Astronomical League and so forth.

I've attached a sample observation sheet and no, I don't do sketches. This is my website - still in progress: http://www.wro.org/neumann/observations.html



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