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Thread: Pocket Sky Atlas

  1. #1
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    Default Pocket Sky Atlas



    Hi
    OK I got the book ( Pocket Sky Atlas ) and it says, Perfect for experienced and beginners the later being me, well can someone please tell me how do I use it,

    Let me start, I know were Polaris is, but lets say I don't,

    So how is this book going to help me point my telescope in the right direction, ?
    The book tells me Ascension and Declination, But how do I apply this to the book, see I am lost already
    Any help or have I wasted 15 smackers


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    Default Re: Pocket Sky Atlas

    You have absolutely not wasted money. The PSA is my most used observing guide, and I wouldn't go observing without it. But, it can't work magic by itself. You still have to go out and learn the sky yourself. You need to take the time to learn the major stars and constellations. The PSA can help you with this, as can any chart or planisphere. I highly recommend you spend some time under the stars just a chart and your eyes to teach yourself the general layout and orientation of the sky from your loation. A chart is first and foremost a learning tool, which has vast utility once you begin learning the sky. I will also recommend you download the freeware program Stellarium, which you can tailor to your location and will show you what is up at any time. But, as far as being under the stars, I haven't found anything as useful as a good chart, which the PSA is. Once you have some understanding of the sky, then you can utilize the PSA to help you star hop to whatever object you are trying to hunt down. Good luck, and enjoy the learning process, it is quite fun.

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  4. #3
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    Default Re: Pocket Sky Atlas

    Here's how I look at it, using my own crude analogies:

    A paper sky atlas is great for learning about the overall sky orientation i.e. relative position/distance of objects to each other. I would start with pages that show 'zoomed out' views of the sky, with only the brightest objects being displayed, and constellation lines to (hopefully) assist you. I would not get too bogged down in the 'zoomed in' detail pages while initially learning, except to give you a taste of the delights that you will eventually explore. You will also learn about the cartographic system used to show positions of objects (right ascension and declination).

    A computer star atlas/planetarium is great for learning how the sky looks for *your* location at *your* desired date/time. The sky is always moving, and this will tell you where to look for what you are looking for. A paper atlas cannot do that (unless you are very good at visualization in your head!). In a sense, you could use a computer star atlas/planetarium exclusively and skip the paper atlas, but it is still nice to sit down with paper every once in a while.

    After a bit of learning, you will realize that the sky over your head is very much like a 'dome', with center rotation point offset proportional to your geographic latitude. Because of this, some stars (like Polaris) will hardly appear to move at all (since they are very near the rotation axis), while others around the 'edge' move very quickly. Some stars in your dome will always be visible, some will only be visible at particular times of the year, and some you will never see. Neither using a 2D paper or computer app to show this 3D dome is going to be perfect, but once you get your head around what is going on, you are ready to move forward
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    Default Re: Pocket Sky Atlas

    great advise and comments above - it takes time and patience - but really, if you do this the skies do become familiar to you - and that is exciting, enjoyable and rewarding - keep it fun - take small bites at a time

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    Default Re: Pocket Sky Atlas

    For star hopping and using Pocket Sky Atlas, I suggest making a clear disk that is field of view of your finders scope. You will need to find this info for your finders scope if you don't know it. With this clear disk you can now go to the charts and see what you will see in your finders scope to star hop. I can tell you what you see through the disk on the charts is exactly what you will see through your finders scope. On the inside cover or 1st page of Pocket Sky Atlas has a template to make your disk. It even has a Telrad template for the Telrad folks. My finders scope has a field of view of 7 degrees. Therefore, from the template on the inside cover I sized up 7 degrees. Then I found something that's clear and with some rigidity like the bottom of a plastic bottle. Cut the disk the diameter you need and you are ready to use it on the charts. A drafting circle template comes in handy for this. Now with this disk and if you yo have in mind what you are going to see that night, you can practice star hopping to those objects before you go out. Then when you are at the scope you can use the disk in the Atlas and duplicate it with you finders scope.

    For example, to find M27, the Dumbbell Nebula, in Pocket Sky Atlas take the disk and center it on the star Altair, move the disk north about 7.5 degrees or so to get to the constellation Sagitta. This small constellation will fit inside the disk and your finder scope. Move the disk/finder scope east and center it on the gamma star in Sagitta. Now move the disk/finder scope north until the gamma Sagitta star is on the edge of the disk/finder scope. Now look into your main eyepiece and M27 should be in the field of view. Practice with other objects in Pocket Sky Atlas and duplicate the moves at the scope.

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    Default Re: Pocket Sky Atlas

    The book is not a waste of money. It's the only chart I use in the field. Here's a free lesson with pictures to add to Skfboiler's example above. Find out the FOV of your finderscope. Then, bend a wire into a circle using the scale printed on the inside of the front cover. I use a keychain ring that is pretty close to 5 degrees because my 9x50 finder is 5 degrees.

    Now lets say I want to find M27 Dumbbell Nebula. I find it on page 64 of the atlas. It's near the constellation Sagitta. Now if you have dark skies like I do, you should be able to find the constellation Sagitta in the sky. This is why it's a good idea to learn your constellations. I'm going to start at the star Gamma in Sagitta. So I aim my telescope until I can get that star centered in the finder. Now put your ring over that star in your atlas and compare the views.
    IMG_1990.jpg

    You should be able to see all the stars from inside the ring, in your finderscope. Plus maybe a few more.


    So now you want to move your ring up towards M27, like in the following picture.
    IMG_1991.jpg

    Notice where Gamma is now. It's down at the bottom of your ring. So move your telescope until Gamma moves towards the bottom of your finderscope FOV. Now compare your star patterns again. You should be able to see the star that is right over M27 in your finder. If you have dark skies and good seeing, you might even be able to see M27 in the finder as well. It will look like like a fuzzy star. Weather you can see M27 in the finder or not, move you telescope until that area where it should be is centered in your finder. If your finder is aligned properly, you should have no trouble seeing M27 in a low power eyepiece. If not, you can slowly sweep around a bit until you find it.

    I hope this helps the OP as well as anybody else who is learning how to manually star hope.
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    Default Re: Pocket Sky Atlas

    can't wait til my new chair and this pocket sky atlas arives but i know its just going to full the fire to upgrade to 9x50 right angle finder from the 6x23 (? i think im sleepy )

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    Default Re: Pocket Sky Atlas

    Just to add to KT4HX's comment, but to provide a slightly different perspective (as someone returning to astronomy after several decades during which I've forgotten most of everything I knew!), in my opinion then

    1. You have not wasted your money. You will find it useful ... when you have found your way around the skies and want a good book to do your planning on and have with you at the scope.

    2. It is not an absolute beginner's guide, nor do I get any sense from the book itself that it was ever intended to be - I can't find the word "beginner" mentioned anywhere. The opening chapters make clear that it was developed to give experienced astronomers a more convenient format to use in the field. The book does not often show the constellations as a whole and there is a whole lot of detail in there that (again, in my opinion) will serve to confuse the average beginner.

    3. A beginner is probably best served initially by a sky atlas that shows the constellations at a somewhat smaller scale (ie, more of the sky on a page!) - and a good pair of 7x50 or 10x50 binoculars to help find their way around. RA and Dec are quite useful if you've manage to put a mental grid around Polaris and find a reference line. Far better for a beginner, though, is to enter the RA & Dec into a program, such as Stellarium or Winstars, and then have a look at the Altitude & Azimuth. These observatory programs also allow the user to change the scale and/or show/hide objects.

    4. I have found that when it comes to deep sky objects, such as the Messiers or Caldwells, that it greatly helps to have an idea of what they look like - when I first started observing, I spent several frustrating occasions looking for Messiers, only to discover that I had actually seen them but they weren't what I was expecting!!!

    5. You have a got a pretty decent piece of kit on your hands in the CPC 9.25" scope. I would imagine, although I've never seen one, that you should have some way of inputting RA and Dec into your controller and thus going direct to any object you choose from the S&T Sky Atlas. For some of the objects, you should be able to enter its name into the controller as well. For those with less automation, I'd recommend the previously mentioned binoculars as an adjunct to stock 6x24 or 6x30 finders. I recently had trouble finding something low on the horizon in an area without any bright "signposts" - the field of view of both the finder and scope was too narrow to be confident I was looking in the right place and the Mk 1 eyeball isn't that good these days. However, a glance through binoculars gave a much larger and clearer view of the area, thus allowing me to confirm I'd got my Messier.
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    Default Re: Pocket Sky Atlas

    Quote Originally Posted by jonny ringo View Post
    The book is not a waste of money. It's the only chart I use in the field. Here's a free lesson with pictures to add to Skfboiler's example above. Find out the FOV of your finderscope. Then, bend a wire into a circle using the scale printed on the inside of the front cover. I use a keychain ring that is pretty close to 5 degrees because my 9x50 finder is 5 degrees.

    Now lets say I want to find M27 Dumbbell Nebula. I find it on page 64 of the atlas. It's near the constellation Sagitta. Now if you have dark skies like I do, you should be able to find the constellation Sagitta in the sky. This is why it's a good idea to learn your constellations. I'm going to start at the star Gamma in Sagitta. So I aim my telescope until I can get that star centered in the finder. Now put your ring over that star in your atlas and compare the views.
    IMG_1990.jpg

    You should be able to see all the stars from inside the ring, in your finderscope. Plus maybe a few more.


    So now you want to move your ring up towards M27, like in the following picture.
    IMG_1991.jpg

    Notice where Gamma is now. It's down at the bottom of your ring. So move your telescope until Gamma moves towards the bottom of your finderscope FOV. Now compare your star patterns again. You should be able to see the star that is right over M27 in your finder. If you have dark skies and good seeing, you might even be able to see M27 in the finder as well. It will look like like a fuzzy star. Weather you can see M27 in the finder or not, move you telescope until that area where it should be is centered in your finder. If your finder is aligned properly, you should have no trouble seeing M27 in a low power eyepiece. If not, you can slowly sweep around a bit until you find it.

    I hope this helps the OP as well as anybody else who is learning how to manually star hope.
    that is a great tip - thank you

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    Default Re: Pocket Sky Atlas

    just keep reading it till it sinks in, its a great little book, the charts are awesome
    if at 1st you dont succeed, screw it
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