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Thread: Strategy For Beginners

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    Default Strategy For Beginners



    Hi All, this is my second post so i'm a newbie! I just got a Celestron 130 SLT and i love it! So my second post question, what's the best strategy for someone new for them to observe awesome stuff???

    I came up with this:

    1. Install google sky on your phone
    2. Use google sky to determine what is visible from where you're telescope is setup
    3. Skyalign your scope
    4. Use the menu's in the telescope to find the planets / named stars etc...
    5. Find an email alert that'll tell you when to setup your scope.

    What do you think, any better ways?
    Thanks!
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    Default Re: Strategy For Beginners

    I would suggest downloading Stellarium, assuming you have a computer. It is the most popular software out there to help you strategize your viewing session.

    An "email to alert you"? Not sure what you mean by that. You should setup your scope whenever the weather is nice, and you have time to enjoy your new hobby!

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    Default Re: Strategy For Beginners

    There is also a stellarium app for your phone, although it does not have as much bells and whistles as the computer version. I use both. I also check out clear sky chart and see what the nearest observatory's sky report says.

    Clear Sky Chart Homepage
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    Default Re: Strategy For Beginners

    Keep it simple:

    1. Look at the sky, if there are no clouds (and it is dark) set up the telescope.
    2. Explore the sky using the goto functionality built into the scope. You can use the free software Stellarium to help figure out what you want to see and what is visible at the time you are going to be observing.

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    Default

    I have an email that alerts me when the viewing conditions are forecasted to meet my set standards such as cloud cover, seeing, darkness and transparency.

    There is an app for smart phones called Clear Sky Charts. Also the website where you can set the email alerts is www.cleardarksky.com
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    Default Re: Strategy For Beginners

    you can get alerts to your email or smartphone to view the International Space Station and other satellites....You won't even need a scope for that...You can't miss the ISS...it'll be by far the brightest thing in the sky when it passes.....

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    Default Re: Strategy For Beginners

    If you happen to have an iPhone (may have versions on other phones, I just don't know), then you might like AstroAid. It is a few bucks. You select (or input if not in their standard list) your scopes, eyepieces, cameras, modifiers (e.g. Barlow) and then you select an object from their catalogs (Messier, NGC,IC and Caldwell), chose what gear you are using and it will show you what you will see in your eyepiece or with your camera. As a newly minted astro guy I find this quite helpful and well worth the 2 or 3 bucks to have it in your pocket.
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    Default Re: Strategy For Beginners

    I am not familiar with Google Sky, but I know many here use Stellarium. I tend to use Sky Safari Pro ($40) to plan viewing sessions and star hop for objects. Regardless, most planetarium software will allow you to roll the clock forward to some period in the future to see what will be visible when/where in the night sky. This allows you to plan your viewing sessions well in advance.

    Nothing more disappointing then getting out and then realizing that your desired objects won't be at a visible altitude until several hours later.

    Some of the things to determine with whatever planetarium software, your scope are, and your viewing site are:
    1) At what level of altitude are objects visible? This may vary for stars, planets, and various deep sky objects. I have done this by looking at Sky Safari software and trying to identify to lowest altitude star and/DSO.
    2) What views are more or less unobstructed at what altitude?
    3) What are the sources of light pollution, those you can manage and those you can't and what can you do about them?
    4) Use the software object database to identify objects of interests. Some key examples are the planets. Jupiter and Saturn are key targets. Mars and Venus are usually easy to find but not easy to see detail. Uranus and Neptune are always challenging unless within some small degree field from another easily found object. Reference Messier in your software database for when/if one of the 103 Messier objects will visible. Always a good source of night sky targets.

    Some examples of these point are:

    1) While the southern view of the sky is rather unobstructed, there is a lot of light pollution from the south I can't control (e.g. Large ball park with lights). So I really don't plan to view the southern sky except say after 10-11 pm or very early morning for most DSOs. However for most planets and the moon, it is fine. The lowest altitude for DSO is between 10 - 20 declination. So when planning southern DSOs, I have to consider when/if it will rise above 10-20 deg. Dec. and/or any ball game is occurring that night.

    2) To manage light pollution on eastern or northern viewing nights only, I can view from my backyard and have decent viewing conditions. However, my fence and neighbor's houses can obstruct my views. So i have to plan for setup of viewing when desired objects rise to view above neighbors' houses.

    So the key learning is to develop an understanding of the viewing limits and capabilities from your site and use your software database to help plan your next few viewing sessions, such as list of viewing targets.

    Also, it helps to find a good weather forecasting website or app. This is definitely a plus if you want to plan a few days or so out.

    Finally, if you want to get a list of more notable night sky events, say eclipses, occultations, meteor showers, some planetarium software may help, but I find one of the astronomy mags to be most useful. For Canada, I think SkyNews is the best.

    Hope some of this helps.
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    Default Re: Strategy For Beginners

    Quote Originally Posted by Jameedon View Post
    I have an email that alerts me when the viewing conditions are forecasted to meet my set standards such as cloud cover, seeing, darkness and transparency.

    There is an app for smart phones called Clear Sky Charts. Also the website where you can set the email alerts is ClearDarkSky
    I never realized they had that. I just signed up for email alerts! Thanks!
    - Kara

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    Default Re: Strategy For Beginners

    I have it on my Android tablet but there's what I feel a better one called Astro Panel - I like it better than Clear Sky but there's no alert feature.

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