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Thread: Star Hopping

  1. #1
    sstadler's Avatar
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    Default Star Hopping



    I have Bisque, TheSky, and I am wondering if there is a way to plot out star hopping, in a similar way to pictures people have posted where they draw in their pocket sky atlas?
    Thank You,
    Steve
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    Default Re: Star Hopping

    Welcome to the forum Steve. Excellent question and I look forward to answers from the experts. I've been a go-to person but I've now acquired an 8" Dob which I can push to objects I know, but have trouble finding something by star hopping.

    Cheers
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  3. #3
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    Default Re: Star Hopping

    Well, I don't know that you can actually plot.

    I use Sky Safari on my iPad. I have my target list in the app, and my intended targets for the evening are highlighted on the atlas.

    I have a RACI and either a telrad/Rigel Quickfinder on my scopes.

    I also have my eyepieces and finder scopes keyed into the app so that I can display the appropriately sized FOV circles.

    My first order of business is identifying the nearest naked eye visible star to my intended target. Once that is done, I use the telrad (or Rigel) to point the scope at that star.

    Next, I return to the app to adjust the FOV to show the finder scope FOV circle and then use that in conjunction with my RACI to star hop as close as I can to my highlight target. Once I run out of stars visible in the RACI, I configure the app to display the properly oriented FOV of my eyepiece (depending on the scope I am using) and that takes about a second and a half. I then move to the eyepiece and finish up my star hop.

    So that's how I use Sky Safari. Perhaps one of the software solutions you have can be utilized in a similar fashion?

    I used to do this with Stellarium on my laptop too, but as I progressed to dimmer and dimmer targets (I like galaxy hunting), the laptop simply became too bright. With my iPad, I can dim things down considerably to the point of barely being able to read it.

    Otherwise, it's a good ol' print atlas. I prefer the Interstellarum Deep Sky Atlas. With a print atlas, you can mark it up and annotate as much as you want.

    With enough star hopping under my belt, I find that I do not need to plot. I can pretty much just wing it and have no trouble acquiring my field. I started off with binoculars and learned to star hop that way. Nowadays, I'm darn near as fast as a GOTO mount. I've timed it.
    Bryan

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  5. #4
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    Default Re: Star Hopping

    Howdy there. Here is how I do the trick:

    Step 01 - find the nearest naked eye star to your target. Connecting the dots of the constellations in my mind helps me a lot with the first step, knowing the name and location of the magnitude 0 and 1 (very bright) stars helps too

    Step 02 - point the red dot to this star and then it is RACI time. I look at the app and try to see patterns I can recognize (like squares, triangles, "Z" shape etc), then I look through my small finder scope and try to find the same patterns there too. When I do ,I center it and repeat the process, always going to the direction of my target.

    Step 03 - this will get me to the target frequently, but sometimes the trail is over on the RACI, then it is time to star hop on the eyepiece, choose the lowest power you have and zoom the app accordingly, just remember the view on the EP may be inverted so you need to change that on the APP too, to match your view. Just use same process as finder scope (pattern - center - pattern - center) until you find your target.

    This is how I do it. Sky Safari 5 helps a lot, because you can invert the view without flipping your phone upside down and because you can configure the FOV of your eyepieces and finders.

    It is a piece of cake. A hard, difficult, frustrating cake at first, but after you get the hang of it you will have the GoTo installed in your brain, and that is pretty neat. And when it settles the cake becomes very sweet

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  6. #5
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    Default Re: Star Hopping

    I make custom charts with Cartes du Ciel. It's free software that gives you full control of what to include. It even lets you add circles showing your field of view with different eyepieces.

    Don
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  7. #6
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    Default Re: Star Hopping

    Thank you for these suggestions!

    Using "TheSky" I made a small observing list of what I should be able to see from my backyard view. The first one on the list was M81. Using the computer program, there is so much more displayed than I can see with the naked eye, so getting used to what is on the screen, then looking up and finding out what I can really see in order to start navigating is my first step. I went out with my binoculars to practice how to even start locating something like M81. People were describing a triangle, where if you see the triangle, you went a little too far, so just go back toward the big dipper. There are some triangles that show up on the computer screen that I initially thought were the ones people were referring to, but when I went out to see what I could find through my binoculars, I found that the triangle that people were referring to is huge, and much farther away from M81. I went back and found that triangle on the computer too. So then I had that as a signpost. I found that M81 is about half way between that large triangle and Dubhe. Then I found another star pattern, 4 stars in sort of a curved line with a bright star a little way above that line. M81 is close to that bright star above the line. It took several iterations of looking through the binoculars, and trying to find what I could actually see on the computer star chart. I have to zoom way out, so most of the starts are not shown, and what is left, is what I can see through the binoculars. Then I can make out some of the shapes I am seeing. Now I have two sign posts for getting to M81 using my binoculars. I can't see M81 using my binoculars. So, the next step will be to try using my telescope to get to the same place. I have a Rigel finder, and a red dot finder, but I won't be able to see those signposts I came up with in my binoculars using those. Perhaps I'll look for a RACI that I can install on my ETX-90 that has a similar FOV to my binoculars?

    Picking something to try to find, and learning what I can see, and making some sign posts for how to get to it, and learning more about what I can see up there .vs. what I can see on a chart or computer program is what most people are already good at, and I am still trying to figure out.

    I think by trying to use only a Rigel and a wide angle eyepiece, there is to much difference between the amount of stars you can see and the FOV you can see, so adding a RACI might help me a lot.
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  8. #7
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    Default Re: Star Hopping

    I don't know if this is feasible for you, but this is what I do and it works well for me. I have very heavy light pollution. I mounted a cheap laser pointer on my scope and aligned it. I make a chart with Cartes du Ciel that shows the object I'm looking for and at least one star I can see with binoculars. I make the chart to show stars down to magnitude 10 which is as dim as I can see with my lowest power eyepiece and 8 inch scope.

    I use Stellarium on my tablet and my binoculars to find the first star. Then, using the binoculars I aim the laser at that star. I'm very careful that there are no aircraft in the vicinity and I fire the laser in very short bursts. Once I'm on the starting point, I switch to my scope eyepiece and use the chart to hop to my goal.

    With my 10x50 binoculars I can see stars to about magnitude 6. I assume a RACI would be about the same.

    Don
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  9. #8
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    Default Re: Star Hopping

    See if your software has a setting to reduce the number of stars shown.
    In Stellarium you can do so by adjusting the LP level slider.
    Skysafari(that I prefer) also has similar setting.

    Once the on screen display mimics what you see in the eyepiece it os much easier to navigate the skies and star hop with much more success.
    See if you can find the settings, it will dramatically improve your sessions.
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    Default Re: Star Hopping

    I proceed by finding the nearest naked-eye star to the object, locate the area I am interested in with the Telrad, and then pinpoint the location by carefully studying my charts, either IDSA or Pocket Sky Atlas, and then I sweep until I find the object, this is the procedure that I follow with my 18" scope. With my 10" I start with the nearest naked eye star, switch to the Quickfinder, and then on to the 8x50 mm RACI, followed by sweeping. I have no RACI on my 18" scope and rely on the telrad. Luckily the images are bright enough in this scope so that I can usually find what I am looking for. Having six years of practice helps a lot too.
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