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Thread: New here

  1. #1
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    New here

    Hi all,

    I am new to this board. I have always been interested in astronomy however I only recently purchased a telescope. I was wondering if anyone had any tips or tricks they use when locating stars, constellations, planets, nebulae etc....i have also purchased some basic equipment such as a compass and a night vision flashlight....Please keep in mind that i have no degree in astronomy and I am only doing this for pure enjoyment. Thanks and I look forward to discussing my own experiences with you all.

  2. #2
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    Re: New here

    Quote Originally Posted by BradC
    Hi all,

    I am new to this board. I have always been interested in astronomy however I only recently purchased a telescope. I was wondering if anyone had any tips or tricks they use when locating stars, constellations, planets, nebulae etc....i have also purchased some basic equipment such as a compass and a night vision flashlight....Please keep in mind that i have no degree in astronomy and I am only doing this for pure enjoyment. Thanks and I look forward to discussing my own experiences with you all.
    Welcome aboard the BABB BradC. By far, most of us are amatures without a degree in astronomy. So, no need to feel inferior on that account.

    As we obviously enjoy the trappings of astronomy, it is a rule that, if you get any new equipment, you must come here and tell us all about it. You have a new scope and maybe some accessories. Tell us all about it, make, model, aperture, configuration (newtonian, schmit-cas, etc.), accessories that came with it, accessories you bought with it/later, etc.

    Assuming that it will rain or be overcast for one week per $100 you spent, how long will we have to wait for clear skys?

    Keep in mind that we joke a lot and try to be friends, so if someone says something wierd to you, it's a good bet there's a joke hiding in there somewhere.

    Again, welcome aboard.

  3. #3
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    Welcome to BABB

    What type of scope do you have?

    Do you have a Planispere? If not I highly reccomend getting a good quality one ($25). That will be indespencible in locating stars and constilations naked eye.

    Try locating Jupiter(high overhead) Sirius(west) and for a constilation try the big dipper.

  4. #4
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    Welcome aboard BradC. The thing that makes this website tick (besides Phil Tait's generosity and dedication) is the mix of people from all backrounds all over the world who frequent it so if there's something you want to raise, clarify or just talk about then someone will be able to help out.

  5. #5
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    Where is Phil from? I'm curious as he has the same last name as me, could be a distant relative.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by mickal555
    Welcome to BABB

    What type of scope do you have?

    Do you have a Planispere? If not I highly reccomend getting a good quality one ($25). That will be indespencible in locating stars and constilations naked eye.

    Try locating Jupiter(high overhead) Sirius(west) and for a constilation try the big dipper.
    Good idea, Mickal. I bought a planisphere, and I find Sky & Telescope magazine so helpful (the web site too), that I can find a bunch of constellations no problem now, whereas before I was basically clueless, except for maybe four or five items in the sky.

    Go anywhere on their site, it's so helpful. They also have the magazine Night Sky, which the BA has written article(s) for. I have no degree in astronomy, not even a course, and I've learned much lately. I also bought some books through the BA's recommended book list, and I'm not embarrassed to admit that I had to start with baby-steps.

    See site:
    http://skyandtelescope.com/observing/highlights/

    Edit typo

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Melusine
    Quote Originally Posted by mickal555
    Welcome to BABB

    What type of scope do you have?

    Do you have a Planispere? If not I highly reccomend getting a good quality one ($25). That will be indespencible in locating stars and constilations naked eye.

    Try locating Jupiter(high overhead) Sirius(west) and for a constilation try the big dipper.
    Good idea, Mickal. I bought a planisphere, and I find Sky & Telescope magazine so helpful (the web site too), that I can find a bunch of constellations no problem now, whereas before I was basically clueless, except for maybe four or five items in the sky.

    Go anywhere on their site, it's so helpful. They also have the magazine Night Sky, which the BA has written article(s) for. I have no degree in astronomy, not even a course, and I've learned much lately. I also bought some books through the BA's recommended book list, and I'm not embarrassed to admit that I had to start with baby-steps.

    See site:
    http://skyandtelescope.com/observing/highlights/

    Edit typo
    Planispheres are great when you're getting to know the constellations...even the cheap one that I scabbed from a mapping competition allowed me to learn them all.

    Post here with anything your having trubs with.

    with regards

  8. #8
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    Greetings all,

    Thanks for all the helpful replies....The scope i purchased is just a beginners scope..its a Meade Telestar 60AZ-A. Its a refracting altazimuth 2.4 in. It came with a 25mm, 9mm, and a 2x barlow lens. I got this one because i wanted something that would be easy to get my feet wet with before 'graduating' to something alittle more powerful. From the research i have done, it looks like i will want an equatorial mount scope later on. Where can i purchase a planisphere?? That sounds like something useful. Do i need one for every month or does one cover all?? Also, late last night about 2330 gmt-6, i witnessed a lit object travelling from the southern sky heading north. It travelled much faster than an airplane and was also much higher in the sky. Was this probably a meteor shower??

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by BradC
    Greetings all,

    Thanks for all the helpful replies....The scope i purchased is just a beginners scope..its a Meade Telestar 60AZ-A. Its a refracting altazimuth 2.4 in. It came with a 25mm, 9mm, and a 2x barlow lens. I got this one because i wanted something that would be easy to get my feet wet with before 'graduating' to something alittle more powerful. From the research i have done, it looks like i will want an equatorial mount scope later on. Where can i purchase a planisphere?? That sounds like something useful. Do i need one for every month or does one cover all?? Also, late last night about 2330 gmt-6, i witnessed a lit object travelling from the southern sky heading north. It travelled much faster than an airplane and was also much higher in the sky. Was this probably a meteor shower??
    You can probably purchase a planisphere from a national geographic store or a neraby optics centre (if not, there's plenty to choose from online). And one planisphere will cover the whole year - every year. So unless your looking to do some observing several thousand years from now, you won't need to purchase another one.

    Here's a computer-generated version: http://nio.astronomy.cz/om/

    What you saw was probabaly a satellite. These can sometimes be very bright and last a long way before the solar panels face away from our perspective and you lose sight of it. Events like this can be forcasted from visiting sites that monitor them. Meteor showers often have many meteors that produce short arcs of light, and radiate from one particular region. It depends how long you saw it for - if it was only a second, then probably a meteor - any longer and I would put it down to a satellite.

    with regards

  10. #10
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    As well, just go to Amazon and type "planisphere" (not plural), and it has all the planispheres you could want. I have one of those blue The Night Sky ones, then some more detailed sky charts. It's very easy to use outside with your little light and has a laminated cover. I paid $10 for mine in a museum shop. I've found that printed ones from the PC or the ones from Sky & Telescope get crushed, damp, and ripped too easily when using outside. Late night dew is a bear.

  11. #11
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    Re: New here

    Welcome to the BABB, BradC!

    Have fun. This is a good place to pick up a lot of quality information about astronomy, and, in other areas, learn what isn't astronomy at all (i.e., Bad Astronomy).

    Since you have Internet access, I'd recommend that instead of trying to find and buy a planisphere, you go to

    Heavens Above

    then register and enter your latitude and longitude (If you don't know them go to Topozone, and enter your location. That will give you your lat and long).

    Once you've personalized Heavens Above, you'll be able to see a custom planisphere for your location, which can be printed for use the night you're outside observing.

    Plus Heavens Above will give you information on planet, comet, and asteroid locations, as well as cluing you in to when and where the visible satellites above your location will be observable.

    It's a great website. Check it out.

    And happy observing!


  12. #12
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    Re: New here

    Quote Originally Posted by Maksutov
    Welcome to the BABB, BradC!

    Heavens Above

    Plus Heavens Above will give you information on planet, comet, and asteroid locations, as well as cluing you in to when and where the visible satellites above your location will be observable.

    It's a great website. Check it out.

    And happy observing!
    I didn't have that Heavens Above one--that's sure useful. I did have the Topozone one (you've posted it several times), which is great too, but thanks for the Heaven's Above site. I like the way it has everything--satellites and all--on one page. That's helpful.

  13. #13
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    I put my Heavens Above printouts in a plastic wallet which is good enough to keep the damp off. By the time it gets tatty it's time to print a new one anyway. I would also recommend as well as the compass a reliable watch with seconds accurately syncronized to your timezone and a pencil and notebook or diary for recording date, time, weather, seeing and any worthy events of interest like satelite flares or meteor showers and odd fireballs.

  14. #14
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    Re: New here

    Quote Originally Posted by Maksutov
    Since you have Internet access, I'd recommend that instead of trying to find and buy a planisphere, you go to

    Heavens Above

    then register and enter your latitude and longitude (If you don't know them go to Topozone, and enter your location. That will give you your lat and long).
    Sky View Cafe might be a good start as well; perhaps a bit more user-friendly.

  15. #15
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    Hi all,

    I checked out both Heavens above and Sky View cafe and they are both really neat websites....Now i just need to get a replacement printer cartridge and I will be all set.. Another question I have about what i could expect to observe from within the city limits( minimal light pollution). Are there certain things that I really should find a place out in the country for?? Also,,,,on Skyview Cafe...is my position right in the middle of the sphere??

  16. #16
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    For most any obsevation the more stable and darker the sky the better so I would suss out some places out of town and get to know the terrain in daylight so you are familiar with it for those special occasions. WI is within the range of seeing active aurora and for that whole experience you really need to be away from as much artificial light as possible. Likewise viewing comets, meteor storms and nebulae. I also like a quiet place where there's no traffic noise, just the sounds of sheep and cattle or the nightbirds like owls and curlews calling. Also check out for any regular aircraft flightpaths. You don't really want to try observing under runway 5

    Within city limits you will be able to learn to navigate around the stars because you will loose a lot of the faint ones in the light pollution so the main constelations are easily recognised. In a dark location it can be quite confusing because there are so many stars visible. As well as the major planets you should also be able to see the Pliades which are great with moderate magnification and Orion is always a winter favorite in the Northern hemisphere.

    Finally check in here regularly for news and views; its one of the best ways to keep abreast of what's going on.

    On that note for anyone with a clear sky tonight there is a lot of auroral activity at this moment. It's pouring with rain here so I can't give a report but going by the indicators it's definately worth a look towards the North

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by BradC
    Also,,,,on Skyview Cafe...is my position right in the middle of the sphere??
    Depending on what you mean, yes.

    To correctly read such charts, imagine laying on the ground, feet point south and head pointing north, gazing straight up.

  18. #18
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    Re: New here

    Quote Originally Posted by Robert Andersson
    Quote Originally Posted by BradC
    Also,,,,on Skyview Cafe...is my position right in the middle of the sphere??
    Depending on what you mean, yes.

    To correctly read such charts, imagine laying on the ground, feet point south and head pointing north, gazing straight up.
    Of course the chart has to be aligned to those compass points too. BTW, if you don't have one, a red-filtered flashlight is a very useful tool. You can read charts and not lose your adaptation to the darkness. Orion has an LED version with adjustable intensity.

    Has it stopped raining where you are yet? :wink:

  19. #19
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    Re: New here

    Quote Originally Posted by Maksutov
    Quote Originally Posted by Robert Andersson
    Quote Originally Posted by BradC
    Also,,,,on Skyview Cafe...is my position right in the middle of the sphere??
    Depending on what you mean, yes.

    To correctly read such charts, imagine laying on the ground, feet point south and head pointing north, gazing straight up.
    Of course the chart has to be aligned to those compass points too. BTW, if you don't have one, a red-filtered flashlight is a very useful tool. You can read charts and not lose your adaptation to the darkness. Orion has an LED version with adjustable intensity.

    Has it stopped raining where you are yet? :wink:
    Yes i purchased a compass and a red night vision flashlight...tonight is very cloudy....somebody must have spent some money??

  20. #20
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    For those with a small telescope, a great book is Turn Left at Orion.

    You might be able to find it at your local library, or certainly in bookstores.

    It really helps in getting started with Star Hopping, by starting first with only the very brightest stars, and then including drawings of what the object will look like in a finderscope and in a 4 inch telescope. It also includes a description of what the object is, and the book covers over a hundred of the best things to see with a small scope (Note, the book is for those in the Northern Hemisphere, primarily).

    I really recommend it as a place to get started. It will keep you busy for quite awhile, and when you are ready to graduate beyond it there are lots of books and charts and websites to refer to!

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by BradC
    Another question I have about what i could expect to observe from within the city limits( minimal light pollution). Are there certain things that I really should find a place out in the country for??
    With the telescope you mentioned (a 2.4" refractor) in the city, you should be able to see the moon and the planets (although Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto might be difficult) pretty well, bright stars, and some double stars. Deep sky objects (like galaxies and nebulae) are going to be more difficult. Yet even with a 2.4" scope, if you're away from the city, you'll be able some detail on things like the Orion Nebula.

    If you have a 25mm eyepiece, a 9mm eyepiece, and a 2x barlow lens, you're likely to get the best use out of the 25mm eyepiece without using the barlow.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by frogesque
    . . . (besides Phil Tait's generosity and dedication) . . .
    (empahsis added)

    you spelled Phil's name wrong! blasphemer!
    _____________________________________________
    Gillian

    "Now everyone was giving her that kind of look UFOlogists get when they suddenly say, 'Hey, if you shade your eyes you can see it is just a flock of geese after all.'"

    "You can't erase icing."

    "I can't believe it doesn't work! I found it on the internet, man!"

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gillianren
    Quote Originally Posted by frogesque
    . . . (besides Phil Tait's generosity and dedication) . . .
    (empahsis added)

    you spelled Phil's name wrong! blasphemer!
    Arrrggghhh!! ops: My most humble apologies to the BA: Phil Plait

    (I seem to have a thing about getting names wrong lately - blame it on age, or the moon or GLP or something)

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by aurora
    For those with a small telescope, a great book is Turn Left at Orion.

    You might be able to find it at your local library, or certainly in bookstores.

    It really helps in getting started with Star Hopping, by starting first with only the very brightest stars, and then including drawings of what the object will look like in a finderscope and in a 4 inch telescope. It also includes a description of what the object is, and the book covers over a hundred of the best things to see with a small scope (Note, the book is for those in the Northern Hemisphere, primarily).

    I really recommend it as a place to get started. It will keep you busy for quite awhile, and when you are ready to graduate beyond it there are lots of books and charts and websites to refer to!
    Looks like a great book...i am going to look for it this weekend....

  25. #25
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    My little personal contribution here: The Earth moves faster than you'd think when looking through your scope. Be prepared to constantly adjust your scope. Having an equatorial mount tripod helps enormously.

    I also switch back and forth between a wider angle lens and a narrower one to find my target. A spotting scope is nice but mine is never aligned exactly right and I find switching lenses easier. ops: Definitely amateur and not ashamed of it. :P

  26. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by beskeptical
    My little personal contribution here: The Earth moves faster than you'd think when looking through your scope. Be prepared to constantly adjust your scope. Having an equatorial mount tripod helps enormously.

    I also switch back and forth between a wider angle lens and a narrower one to find my target. A spotting scope is nice but mine is never aligned exactly right and I find switching lenses easier. ops: Definitely amateur and not ashamed of it. :P
    The higher magnification you use, the quicker the field of view is going to change. Hence when you're looking for a target, you should use a lower magnification lens and then switch to a higher power to get more out of what you are seeing (of course some things are better viewed when they're not a glowing white blob ).

    An equatorial amount is great for tracking, but since I switched to a dob' I'm alot happier (you can just kneel on the ground ).

    with regards

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