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Thread: What's Your Favorite Star Hop?

  1. #1
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    Default What's Your Favorite Star Hop?



    I know a couple. The newest one I learned was: Navi, then Mirach, then above and a little to the left you'll find Mu Andromadae, and then Nu Andromedae, (using Binoculars) and right above that is M31.

    But I wish I knew more of them.

    I've been thinking about this for a bit and I was wondering if anyone would be willing to share their favorites, or current star hops they're working on?

    I think it would be awesome to be trying these out. They're great ways to find objects and learn your way around the sky!
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    Default Re: What's Your Favorite Star Hop?

    Not so sure I could claim a favorite star hop. I have favorite objects that I star hop to, though after a while and repeated observing, I tend to either point the scope right at them, or zip right through the star hop.

    And, for me, I may not take the same route twice, though I often do. Sometimes it depends on where the scope is pointing and in which direction I need to move to get to the next target.

    I have memorable star hops, and these typically involve a very tough object at the end of the route, or something profound. The one that stands out the most would be getting to Mayall II (or G1), the brightest globular cluster orbiting M31. Quasar 3C 273 in Virgo is another star hop that resulted in a rather profound observation.

    Peering into the murk low in the south to dig taters out of the dirt can offer very challenging star hops.

    And sometimes, the conditions of the sky and/or the brightness of the Moon can alter a star hop. On a clear dark night, I can initiate a star hop closer to my intended target. On a soupy or bright moony night, I often have to back off to the nearest naked eye star and work my way back in via RACI.

    And often, I'll sweep over something interesting during a star hop and I'll stop to figure out what it is I'm looking at, and log a new object or revisit an old friend prior to moving on to my intended destination.

    I really dig formulating the plan of attack, building the mental image of the route in my head and keeping track of my place in the sky, and working my way from star to star. For me, this is part of the pleasure of observing. It is meditative, relaxing, and thoroughly enjoyble, and part of the overall experience for me. I am GOTO.
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    Default Re: What's Your Favorite Star Hop?

    I like the star hop from zeta Tauri to M1 the Crab Nebula. Center zeta in the eyepiece and then a bit north and east and voila, there is the Crab. Also like the hop from Mirach to Mirach's Ghost (NGC 404). Visible in the same field of view as the bright star, but can be lost in the glow if you don't look carefully. Another good one is following the chain of stars above Mizar and Alcor to get to M101, which can be a real toughie, large and faint and easy to pass over.
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    Default Re: What's Your Favorite Star Hop?

    My first "star hop", if I am allowed to call it that was from M7 to M6. Its not really much of a hop, but at the time it was a big deal to me. That evening I hopped all over Sagittarius.
    I was juggling the star chart and a flash light with a red dixie cup stuck over the end. I spent a lot of time recovering my dark adapted seeing. But that first hop based on charts was a big leap for me.
    Not much for you to emulate here Dee, but thats my story and I'm stickin to it! :-)
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  9. #5
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    Default Re: What's Your Favorite Star Hop?

    Living within two miles of the Vegas strip, I can only see (naked eye) thirteen stars in the entire sky. Needless to say, star hopping is out of the question there, and I depend on an azimuth circle & Wixey almost all the time.

    When I'm in the dark desert, I'll use the circle/Wixey and star hopping techniques as necessary. I don't, however, have a "favorite" hop... I just do whatever route is convenient and can't tell you five minutes later how I got there.

    BTW: With a properly aligned Dob, I can outrun the best of 'em with a circle/Wixey. Every time.
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    Default Re: What's Your Favorite Star Hop?

    I'm not sure what qualifies as a star hop vs just remembering where you left your keys.

    Recently, I "discovered" the Wild Duck! Cluster in Scutum (M11), conveniently located a hop away from the beak of The Eagle (Aquila).
    (I'm a big enough fan of this cluster that I have decided the exclamation point is part of the name. Wild Duck!)

    Another easy one is M22, just next to a bright star up and over from Kaus Borealis on top of Sagittarius. This is one that I stumbled into while scannnig the skies with binoculars.

    I live under light-polluted skies and am my own goto, like BladeKeeper above. Planning and making the approach usually means going from Pocket Sky Atlas, finding some naked eye star somewhere, narrowing down with binoculars as best as deep as possible, maybe then using Telrad on my 6" dob. back and forth with binoculars, then RACI, and only then going to the eyepiece...

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    Default Re: What's Your Favorite Star Hop?

    Having done this for decades, I can't really say I would have any particular star hops or routes that would stand out. I pretty much view them all equally. They are a means to an end, and each is unique because they reveal their own character based on where in the sky they are. I find star hopping a relaxing endeavor, that has allowed me to become very intimate with the sky. It is not unusual for them to reveal an object or interesting star patterns along the way that I was not expecting. A pleasant surprise.

    Often times there are varying ways to get to the same object, while in some cases, there is really only one that makes sense. I have many routes burned into memory. In those cases I often don't even need to consult a chart, and can often simply aim the scope at the object using the RACI and my memory of the surrounding star pattern. I guess the fact that I've built up that reservoir of mental charts is a commentary on my age!
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    Default Re: What's Your Favorite Star Hop?

    Hmmm. I don't know that I have a favorite, but some are more fun than others. I use SkySafari on a dimly lit iPad while I am at the scope. Hops that involve tracing my way around little asterisms are my favorite and sometimes you run across some interesting little patterns.
    I will say there are places that are not very fun to star hop. Constellations like Cygnus can make you want to pull your hair out!
    Overall though, I find star hopping to be very rewarding. It kind of adds a puzzle experience to observing.
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    Default Re: What's Your Favorite Star Hop?

    I'd say Orion nebula, Beehive cluster, and the Pleiades M42, M44 and M45. Good viewing on a winter night in Socal.
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