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If the PSA floats your boat, why go bigger?

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#1 chapleau

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Posted 10 November 2012 - 08:36 PM

Gotta say that the Pocket Sky Atlas I bought a few months ago has been a revelation to me. I seem to enjoy star hopping now. I have much fancier stuff over the last several years, but an 8" dob and that PSA just seems to be a great match.

That said, what benefit would come from buying one of the larger atlases out there?

Richard

#2 FirstSight

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Posted 10 November 2012 - 08:46 PM

Rather than an additional atlas, I would suggest first getting the 2-volume "Night Sky Observer's Guide", plus Sue French's "Deep-Sky Wonders", which together contain enough objects to keep you busy a lifetime. I also have SkyAtlas 2000, but find that I use just the "Pocket Sky Atlas" for actual field sessions. SA 2000 is helpful, though when planning sessions in conjunction with "Night Sky Observer's Guide" or "Deep Sky Wonders", because the format and included clear acrylic grid overlay (including a Telrad circle overlay) make session navigation planning much easier .

#3 wky46

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Posted 11 November 2012 - 12:00 AM

There's plenty enough in the PSA to keep me busy for a lifetime. In addition to it, I even go simpler and use a Planetarium. My lifes complicated enough :)

#4 rocketsteve

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Posted 11 November 2012 - 12:04 AM

Gotta say that the Pocket Sky Atlas I bought a few months ago has been a revelation to me. I seem to enjoy star hopping now. I have much fancier stuff over the last several years, but an 8" dob and that PSA just seems to be a great match.

That said, what benefit would come from buying one of the larger atlases out there?

Richard


I also have the Pocket Sky Atlas and I think it's a great resource, but when I go to a dark site, I also like to use my SkyAtlas 2000 and SA Companion for a little more sky detail, i.e. fainter DSOs that the PSA may not contain. I like to challenge myself and the limits of my equipment...

#5 David Knisely

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Posted 11 November 2012 - 01:11 AM

Gotta say that the Pocket Sky Atlas I bought a few months ago has been a revelation to me. I seem to enjoy star hopping now. I have much fancier stuff over the last several years, but an 8" dob and that PSA just seems to be a great match.

That said, what benefit would come from buying one of the larger atlases out there?

Richard


The main benefit is the larger atlases generally go deeper and cover more objects. This is especially important when using larger apertures under dark sky conditions. I too like using the Pocket Sky Atlas with my 14 inch Newtonian for just some casual deep-sky observing, but there are many times when it just isn't adequate. One night on a whim with the Pocket Sky Atlas in my hand, I thought I would observe the little galaxy NGC 5676, but ended up getting temporarily lost, as in the area were eight total galaxies visible in the field. I had to pull out my copy of Uranometria Volume 1 to ID all of them and to determine which one was the one I was going after. The other problem comes when hunting down an object in a star field that is not well covered by the magnitude 7.6 limit of the Pocket Sky Atlas. Sky Atlas 2000.0 goes to 8.5 and Uranometria goes to magnitude 9.75 on some of its charts, which can be very helpful when navigating a field in a finderscope. In addition, where objects or stars are somewhat crowded, the larger physical size of the atlases often means they enlarge smaller areas of sky to make it a bit easier to identify objects from each other. The Pocket Sky Atlas is a great little atlas that I can highly recommend, but once you decide to "go deep", a bigger and deeper atlas is often needed. Clear skies to you.

#6 Tony Flanders

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Posted 11 November 2012 - 08:53 AM

Gotta say that the Pocket Sky Atlas I bought a few months ago has been a revelation to me. I seem to enjoy star hopping now. I have much fancier stuff over the last several years, but an 8" dob and that PSA just seems to be a great match.

That said, what benefit would come from buying one of the larger atlases out there?


I love the Pocket Sky Atlas, but I find it distinctly limiting. The problem isn't so much that it shows a limited number of deep-sky objects -- though that's true -- as that it shows a limited number of stars. That definitely limits its usefulness.

Put it this way -- anything that I can recognize immediately in a low-power eyepiece as soon as it enters the field of view, the Pocket Sky Atlas is fine for. But more challenging targets, like planetary nebulae that might be too small to identify at low power or galaxies that might be too faint, it's hard to get a sufficiently accurate fix with the Pocket Sky Atlas.

I find that Sky Atlas 2000.0 is just about right for scanning the sky with 10x50 binoculars or getting a really pinpoint location through a finderscope. Sky Atlas 2000.0 happens to be a particularly good fit for these instruments, because it shows all the stars that are readily visible through them under fair-to-good conditions.

But when it comes to star-hopping through the main eyepiece of the scope, Uranometria is a bare minimum, and the Millennium Star Atlas is much better. You really need something that shows many stars per square degree, even in the sparser parts of the sky.

In addition, an 8-inch Dob under dark skies can easily show many deep-sky objects that are fainter than the Pocket Sky Atlas's limit.

#7 chapleau

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Posted 11 November 2012 - 09:52 AM


But when it comes to star-hopping through the main eyepiece of the scope, Uranometria is a bare minimum, and the Millennium Star Atlas is much better. You really need something that shows many stars per square degree, even in the sparser parts of the sky.

In addition, an 8-inch Dob under dark skies can easily show many deep-sky objects that are fainter than the Pocket Sky Atlas's limit.


Aha. My mindset so far is that I use the PSA very effectively with the finderscope. The 8X50 on my dob seems to show the PSA stars just right in terms of magnitude. What I see is almost always Goldilocks: not too many, not too few, just what is on that PSA page. Interestingly enough, the 9X50 on my 120ST isn't as good for me.

Then, I go over to the eyepiece on the main scope. It sounds like many of you are saying that starhopping is also a lot of fun and a lot of challenge at the eyepiece as well, and for that, a more detailed atlas is appropriate. Work out new FOV guides depending on the ep's you normally use.

I normally plan my evenings by using Starry Night Pro, then when in the field, use the PSA for guidance.

Thanks for all the GREAT replies here.

#8 C_Moon

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Posted 11 November 2012 - 11:01 AM



But when it comes to star-hopping through the main eyepiece of the scope, Uranometria is a bare minimum, and the Millennium Star Atlas is much better. You really need something that shows many stars per square degree, even in the sparser parts of the sky.

In addition, an 8-inch Dob under dark skies can easily show many deep-sky objects that are fainter than the Pocket Sky Atlas's limit.


Aha. My mindset so far is that I use the PSA very effectively with the finderscope. The 8X50 on my dob seems to show the PSA stars just right in terms of magnitude. What I see is almost always Goldilocks: not too many, not too few, just what is on that PSA page. Interestingly enough, the 9X50 on my 120ST isn't as good for me.

Then, I go over to the eyepiece on the main scope. It sounds like many of you are saying that starhopping is also a lot of fun and a lot of challenge at the eyepiece as well, and for that, a more detailed atlas is appropriate. Work out new FOV guides depending on the ep's you normally use.

I normally plan my evenings by using Starry Night Pro, then when in the field, use the PSA for guidance.

Thanks for all the GREAT replies here.


Unfortunately, the Millenium Sky Atlas is not really an option for anyone entering the hobby in recent years unless you have an extra $800 laying around :o

I don't like computers -- too bright for me. I have taken to printing charts from SkyTools3 to give me the ability to starhop through my eyepiece. This capability is essential for anyone wanting to advance to fainter objects.

Sometimes it is even comical when trying to find certain objects with PSA when you see just how little you have to go on (in terms of reference stars). I just had this experience the other night with the Gemini Nebula. I didn't have a Skytools chart and figured I just use PSA. Easier said than done, I had to hunt around quite a bit until I found it. Of course, this is just not a viable option for fainter objects, especially ones you haven't seen before.

None of this is meant to criticize PSA. I love it, use it more often than anything else, and would buy it again. Still, good to understand its limitations.

#9 JimMo

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Posted 11 November 2012 - 11:38 AM

+1 on the recommendation of the "Night Skies Observing Guides". Some nights I'll just pick a well placed constellation and use the book to choose objects. I like the descriptions in different aperture scopes and the finder charts do work quite well.

#10 bherv

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Posted 11 November 2012 - 11:43 AM

I use the PSA when I observe with my 16" or the club's 17.5". I also have volumes 1 and 2 of the Night Sky Observers Guide to plan observing certain objects. If I need to find something not in the PSA, I use the Sky Safari Program on my i-phone. It is a great tool to have at the scope.
Barry

#11 GeneT

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Posted 11 November 2012 - 03:33 PM

Rather than an additional atlas, I would suggest first getting the 2-volume "Night Sky Observer's Guide", plus Sue French's "Deep-Sky Wonders", which together contain enough objects to keep you busy a lifetime. I also have SkyAtlas 2000, but find that I use just the "Pocket Sky Atlas" for actual field sessions. SA 2000 is helpful, though when planning sessions in conjunction with "Night Sky Observer's Guide" or "Deep Sky Wonders", because the format and included clear acrylic grid overlay (including a Telrad circle overlay) make session navigation planning much easier .


These all are good. I recommend Sky Atlas 2000. It is no more difficult to use than the Pocket Sky Atlas, but provides a much more detailed view, and in my opinion, is actually easier to use. The Pocket Sky Atlas is handy in some situations--like if you are on a ladder 10 feet above the ground. :grin:

#12 bherv

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Posted 11 November 2012 - 06:26 PM

I also have the Sky Atlas 2000 but not having the lines outlining the figures of the constellations makes it harder to use. Especially when I have to go back and forth between finder and star chart.
Barry

#13 mountain monk

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Posted 11 November 2012 - 06:56 PM

I drew in the constellations in SA 2000.0 with green ink. That plus Sky Safari on an iPad works for me. I like the size of SA 2000.0 because it provides context, more so than PSA, and I don't like looking at the iPad screen all the time no matter how dark I make it. But zooming in with Sky Safari--that's magic.

Dark skies.

Jack

#14 bherv

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Posted 11 November 2012 - 07:48 PM

A friend of mine did that. Came out pretty good. Maybe I will try doing that as well.
Barry

#15 Tony Flanders

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Posted 12 November 2012 - 06:42 AM

I also have the Sky Atlas 2000 but not having the lines outlining the figures of the constellations makes it harder to use.


It's easy to draw in the constellation lines. The main disadvantage of SA2K is its physical size. That makes it hard to use unless you have a table -- a big help for observing but also a huge encumbrance. Moreover, the Pocket Sky Atlas is easy to hold with one hand right next to your eyepiece or finderscope. That's a lot harder with SA2K.

#16 csa/montana

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Posted 12 November 2012 - 09:39 AM

I also have the Sky Atlas 2000 but not having the lines outlining the figures of the constellations makes it harder to use. Especially when I have to go back and forth between finder and star chart.
Barry


During a long winter, I also drew in the constellations on my Sky Atlas 2000; as well as the Telrad Circles using a washer, on my PSA. :whistle:

#17 Bill Weir

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Posted 12 November 2012 - 09:41 PM

I also have the Sky Atlas 2000 but not having the lines outlining the figures of the constellations makes it harder to use. Especially when I have to go back and forth between finder and star chart.
Barry


I keep hearing this about the lines on charts. A friend of mine also has drawn in lines between stars on his charts. Forgive my ignorance but I don't get how this helps. There are no lines in the sky. I know it's real that this helps many but I have never had a problem matching patterns of dots on a page to dots in the sky. I think people just need to practice it a bit and they will get it rather quickly.

Bill

#18 csa/montana

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Posted 12 November 2012 - 10:13 PM

Hi Bill, I've had lots of practice; but I still find it easier to "see" the constellations when my charts have them drawn in. In very dark skies, many times it's difficult to pick out the constellations among all the multitude of stars. I think it's just a matter of personal preference.

#19 Tony Flanders

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Posted 13 November 2012 - 05:04 AM

I keep hearing this about the lines on charts. A friend of mine also has drawn in lines between stars on his charts. Forgive my ignorance but I don't get how this helps. There are no lines in the sky.


What do you mean there are no lines in the sky. :question:

I have never had a problem matching patterns of dots on a page to dots in the sky. I think people just need to practice it a bit and they will get it rather quickly.


This is probably one of those fundamental perceptual differences. I spent years trying to use Sky Atlas 2000.0 without constellation lines, but finally broke down and drew them in.

#20 wky46

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Posted 13 November 2012 - 09:19 AM

Bill, you have gift :D ! I've been observing for many years and it would take another lifetime of unlearning to see anything without reference lines.

#21 CounterWeight

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Posted 13 November 2012 - 10:49 AM

If the PSA floats you boat that is great (and it really is a great little reference IMO). Why go bigger? Lots of potential reasons as stated above. Another plug for the NSOG set (Night Sky Observers Guide) if only as a planning tool or at the scope or 'what was that?'. In the end it's just about information if needed, the what and why more the observer part of it.

Nice thing about paper, no batteries to wear out, no net conx required, no OS to consider, you can make notes and not worry if they got saved, no hardware to get corrupted or otherwise go bad on you... I just really like books... the original what you see is what you get, and keep getting for years to come. :jump:

#22 bassplayer142

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Posted 14 November 2012 - 01:08 PM

Psa is good but i mostly use sky safari. The fact that you can filter dsos and stars at any magnitude means you can tune in what can be seen at any skies with any aperture. Both are valuable tools that I do use who psa being more casual.






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