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Thread: Star hopping

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    Default Star hopping



    Hi All,

    After just viewing a wonderful report from UTM(Uri) on his exploits with the messier objects, I now have a crazy question.
    Star hopping sounds easy in principal. So finding your 'starting star' is pretty straight forward, then a look in the EP reveals the target star,keep in mind I only have a red dot finder scope, then I need to go say a bit left and lower to the next star. To the naked eye the next star may not be visible(LP) so I need to do so throught the EP, However with the naked eye the first star is visible and is the only star in that location visible with the naked eye, but in the EP there are 20 or more other stars visible, so moving to the next star becomes confusing! wich one is it? Sometimes this drives me crazy! And I dont end up finding what I'm looking for! I realize a dark sky sight will help, but one does not always get what one wants!
    Does this make sense! The sky looks empty to the eye but in the EP there are many stars visible! Even my starry night software shows far more stars than I could ever see from my location!
    I am going to try a idea I got from Uri's post and make a small map with lines/triangles etc drawn up and see how that goes!
    Any other ideas guys? We have some blue sky today so lets hope it stays for tonight!(thumbs crossed)

    Thanks in advance
    Cheers
    .

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Star hopping

    Hey KC,
    In a nutshell, you describe what makes star-hopping a challenge. If it was easy, GOTO mounts wouldn't sell so well.
    I think of it like this: GOTO is you asleep in the car as someone else drives you to your destination using the highway.
    Star-hopping is you behind the wheel taking the back roads in the bush with nothing to guide you but a large scale map that only shows the major towns and paved roads. It can be long and frustrating, but it also has advantages. Sometimes your wrong turns can lead to unexpected finds.

    When I first set out to find the Andromeda galaxy, I started from Schedar in Cassiopea, but everything being inverted, I slewed the wrong way.
    So instead of hitting M31, I "discovered" the double cluster in Perseus!.
    The upshot is that I now know the patch of sky around M31 pretty well.
    (Well, a lot better than anyone using only a GOTO, anyway).

    My advice?
    Get yourself a big EP. I have an inexpensive Celestron 40mm that is no great shakes by any means, but it's a real help in star-hopping.
    That EP (and a 50mm finderscope) are a great help.

    So it's really two schools of thought: GOTO people say they'd rather spend their time observing a target instead of "wasting" time finding it.
    But they take longer to set up.
    Star-hoppers take a bit longer to find their targets, but they get to see a lot more of the "countryside" along the way.
    And while Mr GOTO is still doing a polar alignment, your Alt-Az set-up has allowed you to enjoy the sky right away.

    So just have patience, and enjoy the trip!

    PS David Levy can do a whole Messier marathon in one night...and only star-hopping!
    Last edited by Voyager3; 12-17-2012 at 11:29 AM.
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    Default Re: Star hopping

    Thanks Voyager3,

    I already know that I am going to be a push to person for life! So taking the country road is always going to be a challenge, but the reward is so much more satisfying! And at this early stage the inversion does get me caught going in the wrong direction at first, but it's all a learning curve! Sometimes trying to sort one star from many is not always so simple! But thanks for the encouragment! After my first look at the Orion nebula it now sticks out clear as a bell in the sky! I can see that I will learn a lot of new patches in the sky!
    Cheers bud!
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    Default Re: Star hopping

    On a more technical note:
    I do wish the people ay Starry Night (and other star atlas makers) would indicate the colours of stars to help us star-hoppers.
    How many time have I come accross a yellow, blue or red star that I could have easily used as a way-point, but that is only another white star lost in a field of other white stars on Starry Night!
    Now that is frustrating, especially knowing it would be so easy for them to do...
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    Default Re: Star hopping

    Is there a way to reduce the number of stars visible in starry night? so only the more prominent stars remain in the view?
    Thanks again
    .

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    Default Re: Star hopping

    Kingclinton,

    Find the exact field of view of one of your eyepieces. For example I have a 32mm 2" eyepiece which gives me a 1.6 degree fov.

    I did my Messier 30 challenge before I had a GoTo scope, so I would get the co-ordinates of the starting star and the messier from Stellarium, and work out the difference between the two. So if my target was 3 degrees difference in az and 0.9 in alt I would move the starting star to the extreme edge of the eyepiece then move it to the opposite edge and know I was already getting close. Another half an eyepiece worth in the same direction and half an eyepiece down and the target was going to be pretty close to the centre. It worked for me.
    Later on I treated myself to a star atlas so I didn't have to rely on my own little sketches from Stellarium and bought a Rigel Quickfinder. The Rigel was like the dawning of a new age in astronomy for me. A two degree and a half degree pulsing red circles on the sky made finding things a hundred times easier. The Telrad also has a 4 degree circle. You can buy star maps with Telrad circles drawn on them, great!
    I still prefer the star map and Rigel combi to find things than letting a computer do it for me.

    Alec.
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    Default Re: Star hopping

    Hi Alec, unless Santa(AKA first wife) brings me some more EP's I am stuck with the single 25mm EP that came with the scope(AKA second wife). So it may be some time before I can attempt your info! But it is all stored on the memory card and is going to be an invaluable treasure trove of information later! Thanks for the advice and clear skies my man!

    Cheers
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    Default Re: Star hopping

    Hi Alec, also just checked your location on google! What a stunning place!!! Your night sky must be amazing!
    Way Jealous!!
    .

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    Default Re: Star hopping

    Hi Alec, also just checked your location on google! What a stunning place!!! Your night sky must be amazing!
    Way Jealous!!
    .

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    Default Re: Star hopping

    Quote Originally Posted by kingclinton View Post
    Hi Alec, also just checked your location on google! What a stunning place!!! Your night sky must be amazing!
    Way Jealous!!
    When the skies here are good, they are VERY good (edge of a blue/grey Bortle zone). I also have 360 degrees view here too. I have two places in the yard to set up my scopes (one on each side of the house). So I am lucky in that respect. Its a rural location and there are very few artificial lights. The curse is a regular visitor here too though!

    I thought you guys in SA had good skies? Or are you too near the city centre?

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