So I just got a pair of Celestron 15x70 binoculars and a tri-pod about a month ago and have been using them to look at the moon, a few planets and random stars from inside of my city. I also picked up a the book Nightwatch by Terence Dickinson and the Meade Star Chart book. Nightwatch has your regular 360 degree round charts which I can understand just fine. The Meade book however has a different style of chart that I'm having problems with. I'd really like to figure out how to use them because they are far more detailed that the other.
I just went out into the country last night for my first attempt at dedicated viewing outside of the light polluted city and spent more time digging through my book than actually observing. I eventually gave up and just started looking at random things because it was almost 5am and I could see sunlight creeping over the horizon. I did find what I think was the pleiades and a couple of the constellations around it but other than that I was lost because those were the only things that were on the simple chart in the Nightwatch book in the direction I was looking. I didn't even find those same things that I had already identified in the Meade book even though I knew what I was looking at in the sky.
So I have a few questions about this book because I'm trying to understand it and the instructions in the book are pretty confusing for a noob like myself.
1. This obviously isn't a 360 degree view chart. The instructions say to face south, but what if I want to look at the northern sky? It seems like these charts only show the southern sky and part of the east & west, but they put Polaris at the zenith but it's probably 30 degrees below zenith in my sky.
2. I think the main problem I'm having is knowing which chart I should be looking at. They are supposed to be seasonal charts but the summer charts didn't really seem to help me at all last night. The instructions say that the date table at the bottom of the charts is for 9pm standard time. Is that the same as Greenwich Mean? I live in Madison, Wisconsin which is US Central time. How am I supposed to know what chart I should have been looking at when I was outside at 3:30am looking at the eastern sky?
I imagine that some of the problems I'm having will just be something I'll need to get used to because these charts weren't made to be used specificly from southern Wisconsin, but I should be able to get some idea of what's going on.
Any help or advice would be much appreciated.
Thanks In Advance,