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General Astronomy >> General Observing and Astronomy

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aa6ww
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Reged: 10/23/11

Loc: Sacramento, Calif.
Do you create an observing list before Observing?
      #5651450 - 01/30/13 12:22 AM

Hi Folks,

I have a question regarding how astronomers out here address the night sky. More often than not, I create some type of a game plan I take out with me, even if I'm just out for a few hrs. It usually includes a few objects I'm interested in seeing, or a full blown observing list I want to address throughout the night.
If nothing else, I sometimes just pick a few constellations I know are up in the sky, and focus on everything I can see in them, from double stars, globulars, nebulars, galaxies, and sometimes just the colors of the individual starts that make up the constellations.
I look at individual objects in depth, trying out a variety of eyepieces and filters, even over extending magnifications to see if there is anything out there that high power could bring out. At the other extreme, I go as wide as I can on whatever I'm looking at, just to see how it looks among beside its nearby neighbors.
On outings where I go away from home for several days, I could spend months putting together an entire observing list of new objects Ive never seen before, so I'm never just gazing into space and wondering what am I going to look at during the night. If Jupiters in the sky, I check to see if the GRS will transit during my time out, and I always check to see if the ISS or Hubble is going by overhead, and set my cell phone alarm to alert me a few minutes before it happens.
No one I observe with, prepares like this, so they more often than not, wait for me to find something in the sky, or just wander to objects they have seen a hundred times again and again.

On new moon weekends, I generally begin creating some type of observing list very early in the week, and keep notes of objects I either read about, or think about, on a piece of paper I carry around with me through out the week. Toward the end of the week I start looking at photos of these objects, and learn more about them, so I know what to expect once I get out side.

I just purchased The Complete Guide to the Herschel Objects, so this helps tremendously in helping me deceide what I want to look at for my time outside.

Do other astronomers observe like this, by creating observing lists they want to address, or do you mostly just get out and point your scope up, and see what you can find?

I'm just asking because I'm realizing there are many similarities in how I observe, compared to the many good people out here in these forums.

Thanks for chiming in...

Ralph in Sacramento...


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MikeRatcliff
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Re: Do you create an observing list before Observing? new [Re: aa6ww]
      #5651491 - 01/30/13 12:55 AM

You're definitely more organized than I am. I do make lists but often stray away or ignore. Sometimes that is because I made a mistake in having the list objects too far into a light dome.

I do like to revisit a few old favorites if the night is good, to judge the conditions and see if more details come up. I also like to look at a page in a chart that is well placed in the sky and see new objects.

Recently I bought the Night Sky Observers Guide. I should have done that a long time ago. I then focus on a constellation and use the 5-star rating system in the NSOG, and see if there are any 3* or better objects that I haven't seen before. That has worked really well.

One thing I'm bad about is keeping track of what I've seen before (beyond the Messier list). I seem to be ADHD on observing programs, pretty good for a couple of months and then forget them. I've seen most of the "Best 100 beyond the Messier" type objects, have seen a lot of the H400, and a fair number of challenge objects, but don't ask me to prove it!

Mike


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rinalmj
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Re: Do you create an observing list before Observing? new [Re: MikeRatcliff]
      #5651807 - 01/30/13 08:46 AM

I always make a list before observing. I use a combination of Sky Safari, the Pocket Sky Atlas, Burham's, Sky & Telescope, and my previous observing notes, which I record by hand and then transfer to an Excel spreadsheet. I have several observing lists in the spreadsheet, and I typically consult it to identify objects that I haven't seen, or have marked for revisiting. I haven't been in the habit of looking at photographs but having heard you and some others mention this, I may start doing that as well.

The list gets made in my observing notebook. I group objects by constellation, noting the corresponding page from my charts, and I generally order everything by right ascension. I typically don't stray from the list much, except to view a few favorite objects throughout the night.


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MikeBOKC
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Re: Do you create an observing list before Observing? new [Re: rinalmj]
      #5651819 - 01/30/13 08:54 AM

A year or so ago I sat down and drafted a list of observable objects by season . . . spring, summer, fall and winter. I then printed those four lists and slid them into plastic sheet protectors and they travel with me on a clipboard in my equipment case. I just hang the clipboard on a hook under my tripod spreader and have the current season's pages on top. It's a handy reference that often encourages me to hunt down some obscure targets, especially on a dark sky outing. I would guess there are about 80-100 objects on each season's list. Of course I also check observing lists published in S&T and Astronomy, and if something particularly impressive is on tap (say a new supernova or comet) that goes on a yellow stickum on the front of the clipboard for that evening.

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coutleef
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Re: Do you create an observing list before Observing? new [Re: MikeBOKC]
      #5651852 - 01/30/13 09:15 AM

i wrote in the margins of my pocket skyatlas the objects in the 400 Herschell list and carry photocopies of J OMeara's book by month with me. going through that list is interesting and optimized for each month.

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GlennLeDrew
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Re: Do you create an observing list before Observing? new [Re: coutleef]
      #5651968 - 01/30/13 10:18 AM

I virtually never prepare with lists; not since about 1990-ish, anyway.

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Madratter
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Re: Do you create an observing list before Observing? new [Re: GlennLeDrew]
      #5651995 - 01/30/13 10:34 AM

I do use lists. I used to work through the list in "1000+". Now days, I use SkyTools 3. That said, I'm far from a slave to them. If I get the urge to check out M41 and it isn't on the list, M41 gets looked at. I own the list. It doesn't own me.

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drbyyz
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Re: Do you create an observing list before Observing? new [Re: GlennLeDrew]
      #5652038 - 01/30/13 10:57 AM

I do something similar to what MikeBOKC does except by constellation. I have a sheet for each constellation that is currently in a good spot in my sky for observing with various objects I want to observe on it along with some notes about each one so I know whether or not it's a good night to go for that object. I've made them primarily based of AL observing programs that I'm working on and then whenever I come across an object while reading/browsing this site, I add it to the appropriate list. The sheets are in plastic page protectors that I have a little hook to attach to the scope. When I'm out I see what constellation is in a good part of the sky, go to that page and start working from there.

I've tried making a list for one night but I always mess it up or get off track. I do have a dark sky list as well of objects that I haven't been able to see in my yard, or feel will look significantly better at a dark sky site.


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Jon Isaacs
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Re: Do you create an observing list before Observing? new [Re: GlennLeDrew]
      #5652045 - 01/30/13 10:59 AM

Quote:

I virtually never prepare with lists; not since about 1990-ish, anyway.






I often have a few new objects to check out but I never write anything down. My favorite objects are those that I have serendipitously "discovered" in my wanderings about the night sky.

Jon


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MawkHawk
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Re: Do you create an observing list before Observing? new [Re: Jon Isaacs]
      #5652063 - 01/30/13 11:08 AM

If I'm gonna be observing alone then I'll create a plan. I work by constellation starting in the west and work toward the east. This is because I've found that it is faster and more accurate with goto to stick to one area of the sky at a time.
If I'm gonna be with a group then I'll write down a few things that I'd like to see here and there. This is because I've found that when I'm in a group that whatever plan I have quickly goes out the window as people want you to look all over the place.


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csrlice12
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Re: Do you create an observing list before Observing? new [Re: Jon Isaacs]
      #5652074 - 01/30/13 11:14 AM

Sometimes will use the "Tour" funtion if a quick nite out and I'm observing from in-town (White zone). I sometimes use SkyMaps, I'll look at the back and see whats available and check it out. Sometimes though, I'll just pick a patch of sky, put the eyeball to eyepiece and see what I can see. I do visit old friends like the Lagoon Nebula too.

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NeilMac
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Re: Do you create an observing list before Observing? new [Re: csrlice12]
      #5652086 - 01/30/13 11:24 AM

i go by whats popular and available for the night. moon would be a priority if its available. time has been an issue so summer probably be different since it wont be rushed.

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csa/montana
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Re: Do you create an observing list before Observing? new [Re: aa6ww]
      #5652091 - 01/30/13 11:27 AM

Ralph, I do indeed create an observing list prior to observing. I sometimes veer off track, when I find something else to view, however.

Sometimes I will simply take one or two Constellations & try to observe every target I can see in them; using one of my charts, books, etc.

When I first began observing; I didn't know enough to make a list, and just skipped all over the sky, not really seeing much of anything; as there's simply way too much to view!

BTW; great post & question!


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Madratter
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Re: Do you create an observing list before Observing? new [Re: csa/montana]
      #5652149 - 01/30/13 11:51 AM

I should add that I almost always mix in some old favorites along with targets that I haven't seen before. Those aren't necessarily on the list.

Objects like NGC 457, the ET cluster, are old friends that I come back to time and again.

BTW, I do sometimes just sweep the sky and see what I can find. I especially like objects that are near each other. If you just use a goto scope, you can sometimes lose that context. That was brought home to me when I observed a star cluster (NGC 133), went to another one on my list (King 14), and realized, wait a second, I was just here! NGC 146 was in the same field as well. (All of them were pretty unimpressive in the scope I was using so I did not immediately notice them when I was looking at NGC 133).

Edited by Madratter (01/30/13 10:10 PM)


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Greyhaven
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Re: Do you create an observing list before Observing? new [Re: aa6ww]
      #5652190 - 01/30/13 12:13 PM

Ralph
I promise myself every year that I'll become a more organized observer. I rarely carry more than a few objects on a list to the scope and find myself picking other objects of opportunity and when weather suddenly ends a session I've lost my goal. This year will be better planned ... unless something really interesting catches my eye, after all who knows when the opportunity might present itself again.
Be Well
Grey


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Feidb
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Reged: 10/09/09

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Re: Do you create an observing list before Observing? new [Re: Greyhaven]
      #5652578 - 01/30/13 03:42 PM

I absolutely prepare ahead of time and plan out my evening viewing. I use Megastar and always print star charts with the specific objects I want to find for that night. I have lists I'm trying to complete including the Herschel 2, the Herschel 2500, the Collinder list and the Skiff & Luginbuhl list (from the back of their book). Those are the main ones but there are a few more. I have all of these lists (including the others I haven't mentioned) already saved in Megastar. I pull each of them up and print them out based on what's up during that time I'll be out.

Whenever I observe one of these objects, I eliminate it from each of the lists in Megastar so they don't show up again. That way, I don't duplicate objects I've already seen.

Sometimes, like when the objects are extremely faint or are in a very crowded area, I'll go ahead and also print a real-time chart with everything on it down to such-and-such a magnitude (depending on projected sky conditions) so I can get my bearings and know I'm on the correct object.

I go through lots of paper but it's worth it.

I also have my handy dandy Tirion along for the big picture if needed.


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GeneT
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Re: Do you create an observing list before Observing? new [Re: aa6ww]
      #5652914 - 01/30/13 06:13 PM

Quote:

I create some type of a game plan I take out with me, even if I'm just out for a few hrs. It usually includes a few objects I'm interested in seeing, or a full blown observing list I want to address throughout the night.




I look the Sky and Telescope monthly sky chart, and compare it to my Sky Atlas 2000. I make note of a variety of deep sky objects I want to view. I like to do in-depth viewing of objects in one constellation, then do some random viewing of other objects in other constellations. I always view planets and the moon if available.


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JimMo
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Re: Do you create an observing list before Observing? new [Re: MikeRatcliff]
      #5653003 - 01/30/13 06:50 PM

Quote:

You're definitely more organized than I am. I do make lists but often stray away or ignore. Sometimes that is because I made a mistake in having the list objects too far into a light dome.

I do like to revisit a few old favorites if the night is good, to judge the conditions and see if more details come up. I also like to look at a page in a chart that is well placed in the sky and see new objects.

Recently I bought the Night Sky Observers Guide. I should have done that a long time ago. I then focus on a constellation and use the 5-star rating system in the NSOG, and see if there are any 3* or better objects that I haven't seen before. That has worked really well.

One thing I'm bad about is keeping track of what I've seen before (beyond the Messier list). I seem to be ADHD on observing programs, pretty good for a couple of months and then forget them. I've seen most of the "Best 100 beyond the Messier" type objects, have seen a lot of the H400, and a fair number of challenge objects, but don't ask me to prove it!

Mike




I could have wrote that, Mike, as it's exactly how I observe. The Night Sky Observing Guides and a pocket star atlas are all I usually need for a night of observing. So many constellations-so little time.


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Scott in NC
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Re: Do you create an observing list before Observing? new [Re: Greyhaven]
      #5653010 - 01/30/13 06:53 PM

Quote:


I promise myself every year that I'll become a more organized observer. I rarely carry more than a few objects on a list to the scope...




That pretty much describes the way I do it too.


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mountain monk
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Reged: 11/06/09

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Re: Do you create an observing list before Observing? new [Re: Scott in NC]
      #5653055 - 01/30/13 07:23 PM

Nah. At home I have a fairly limited slice of sky from Polaris down to, say, the bottom of Scorpius. I choose whatever constellations are within that slice, consult Objects in the Heavens, and wander about. At my dark sites I'm a bit more organized, barely. There are list people and non-list people. I never kept track of all the mountains I climbed or the birds I've seen, it never occurred to me to do so. To each his own.

Dark skies.

Jack


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Tony Flanders
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Re: Do you create an observing list before Observing? new [Re: aa6ww]
      #5653135 - 01/30/13 08:13 PM

I tend to find observing rather frustrating unless I have some clear objectives. Mind you, I don't always stick to those objectives. It would be counterproductive not to follow down a line of enquiry that springs up spontaneously. However, without some kind of list to fall back on, I tend to fall into observing ruts.

At the moment, that's less of an issue simply because I have so many other commitments that I don't get much time to observe. So repeating old observations feels more like reinforcement than routine. I still enjoy chasing down all the season's available Messier objects. Maybe once I can find them all by memory in every instrument I own I won't feel that way. But I'm still a ways off from that goal.

In the past, I have worked on observing lists such as the Herschel 400, which I found very rewarding. I still have a few such lists in the background, and of course there's always the NGC/IC -- a list that will keep anybody busy for a lifetime.

However, since I'm an editor at Sky & Telescope, I use it as my primary source of observing targets these days. I try to track down all the objects in the columns that I edit regularly (Deep-Sky Wonders and Going Deep). A few of those are simply beyond my particular combination of equipment, skill, and sky conditions; however, these articles are written by true masters (mistresses?), and the objects are incredibly imaginatively selected. Then there's the double stars and variable stars, and the events of the month. What with one thing and another, I never run out of things to see.

Tony Flanders
Associate Editor, Sky & Telescope


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CelestronDaddy
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Re: Do you create an observing list before Observing? new [Re: aa6ww]
      #5653149 - 01/30/13 08:24 PM

Ralph - I like to prepare beforehand what I plan to observe. I use AstroPlanner V2, various books / atlases and usually Sky&Telescope. I'll print out a list in the order of what I want to observe. I find this works best for me. 73's .... Tony

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ensign
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Re: Do you create an observing list before Observing? new [Re: Tony Flanders]
      #5653154 - 01/30/13 08:30 PM

I like to make a list of interesting or challenging objects to observe in any given session, generally using the Night
Sky Observer's Guide and skyAtlas 2000.

This leads to a more enjoyable observing session.

But since this isn't a competitive sport, I don't always stick strictly to the list and like to observe "old friends" as well.


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Dennis_S253
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Re: Do you create an observing list before Observing? new [Re: ensign]
      #5653217 - 01/30/13 09:08 PM

Right now I'm working on the Messier's and Globulars and I definitely use a list and charts. This is the first year that I'm actually keeping a viewing log also.

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Happy Birthday JayinUT
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Re: Do you create an observing list before Observing? new [Re: ensign]
      #5653320 - 01/30/13 10:09 PM

Let's see. I do work a list, and I work that list by constellation by season. So, yes, I work a list. Right now it is the Herschel 400 II and then I add some of the hard to find objects that are in that constellation or objects that appeal to me personally. I like to know what I am observing and then to learn in detail afterwards. Some times though, to take a break, I'll pop after the eye candy in the area my memory just to ensure I can still find and remember the eye candy items. Each to their own devices or lists on this.

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fvandrog
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Re: Do you create an observing list before Observing? new [Re: Jon Isaacs]
      #5653601 - 01/31/13 04:38 AM

Quote:


I often have a few new objects to check out but I never write anything down. My favorite objects are those that I have serendipitously "discovered" in my wanderings about the night sky.





That's the way I tend to do it as well. While looking for one of the couple of objects I have in mind coming over something 'curious' and then figuring out what it is.


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CounterWeight
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Re: Do you create an observing list before Observing? new [Re: fvandrog]
      #5653845 - 01/31/13 08:54 AM

Lists and logs... love 'em. Not that I always follow the list - it's more a suggestion, seeing (and temps/comfort)can have a huge say in what actually works for the night, how long I stay on a particular object.

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REC
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Re: Do you create an observing list before Observing? new [Re: mountain monk]
      #5653894 - 01/31/13 09:25 AM

I have "tonight's best" tours in my scope and then go to search stuff in a constellation. I do take notes as to what others are viewing in CN and keep a running list of interesting objects that I want to follow up with. That's the beauty of this forum:)

Bob


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Tom Clark
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Re: Do you create an observing list before Observing? new [Re: aa6ww]
      #5659649 - 02/03/13 10:07 AM

No lists, no logs! Some of my friends may consider me to be the worst astronomer they know. Ok by me. After 30 years of observing I have yet to log the Messiers, let alone the Hershels, or any other observing list. Why? Just read many of the posts above.

"I am WORKING on this list or that list." Sorry, for way to many years I worked in a stressful career. After work, I just want to relax, and astronomy is one way to do that. A night under the stars can be a beautiful, relaxing experience, or you can turn it into another job. I prefer to enjoy myself as a beach bum does on the beach, except I prefer to be a star bum…

When away from home, attending star parties with our travel scopes, or doing sidewalk astronomy under the wonderful skies of many of our national parks, we enjoy showing strangers what the night sky looks like in large amateur telescopes. Sure, we occasionally get out the star charts and look up some new things to observe when we have some time to kill, but most of the time we do not plan ahead. When going to a strange sky, we first learn where the best part of the sky is, and stay in that area. No use spending time in the light polluted part…

At star parties we enjoy spending time with our scopes, but also enjoy walking around the observing fields, meeting other astronomers and sharing views with them. To me, it seems sad to see someone spending all their time 'working' on their observing list or programs. Each to their own.

At home in our observatory, Jeannie and I occasionally spend a night alone, exploring new places, but far more often we enjoy having friends over and sharing the universe with our big scope. Most astronomers never get a chance to objects in large telescopes, and we find it far more fun than looking at tiny dim smudges just so we can cross it off a list. Just not our thing.

Oh well! Each to their own. Enjoy the sky your way - just make sure you are relaxing and having a good time, not working your tail off. We have met way to many frustrated astronomers who are busy working…


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FirstSight
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Re: Do you create an observing list before Observing? new [Re: Tom Clark]
      #5659686 - 02/03/13 10:32 AM

Quote:

"I am WORKING on this list or that list." Sorry, for way to many years I worked in a stressful career. After work, I just want to relax, and astronomy is one way to do that. A night under the stars can be a beautiful, relaxing experience, or you can turn it into another job. I prefer to enjoy myself as a beach bum does on the beach, except I prefer to be a star bum…




One of the stragest often-heard terms in amateur astronomy is "planetary work", e.g. someone will say "when I'm doing planetary work...". Whenever I hear another amateur stay that, I have to stifle the urge to make a snide reply: "You getting paid a dollar a minute for that?"


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FirstSight
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Re: Do you create an observing list before Observing? new [Re: FirstSight]
      #5659701 - 02/03/13 10:42 AM

I'll often go out with a list in mind, sometimes even a thoughtfully prepared list compiled by scanning e.g. "Night Sky Observer's Guide", "Deep Sky Wonders" etc. for well-placed areas of the sky. However, like many of you, I'll often wander off-reservation long before I get halfway through my list, and start hunting and pecking for whatever's in the nearby region of where I'm already at, peeking at "Pocket Sky Atlas", and if I'm observing at home by myself, sometimes compromising night vision in one eye for the benefit of enough light I can actually see the chart well with. Or, I might get distracted by realizing some "shiny object" I hadn't thought of is well-placed, and go way over there from wherever I had just been. Now...um...where was I again? Dunno, well ok, let's lookee here at what might be nearby...

Anyhow, though I've sometimes gone out with earnest, disciplined intentions, I have never, ever actually finished a pre-compiled observing list, and not just because some of the objects turn out to not be visible under the given night's sky conditions. Call it astro-ADD, or whatever, but I'm easily distracted into looking at whatever strikes me at the moment might be an interesting idea.


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JimMo
I'd Rather Do It Myself


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Re: Do you create an observing list before Observing? new [Re: FirstSight]
      #5659967 - 02/03/13 01:09 PM

I feel the same way as Tom and Chris when I get a rare chance to go out to a dark site. Astronomy is an avocation, not an occupation.

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Madratter
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Re: Do you create an observing list before Observing? new [Re: FirstSight]
      #5660030 - 02/03/13 01:50 PM

Quote:


One of the stragest often-heard terms in amateur astronomy is "planetary work", e.g. someone will say "when I'm doing planetary work...". Whenever I hear another amateur stay that, I have to stifle the urge to make a snide reply: "You getting paid a dollar a minute for that?"




I guess you don't work on the house either. Work does not necessarily imply paid. Check the dictionary.

For example at http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/work


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FirstSight
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Re: Do you create an observing list before Observing? new [Re: Madratter]
      #5660044 - 02/03/13 01:59 PM

Quote:

Quote:


One of the stragest often-heard terms in amateur astronomy is "planetary work", e.g. someone will say "when I'm doing planetary work...". Whenever I hear another amateur stay that, I have to stifle the urge to make a snide reply: "You getting paid a dollar a minute for that?"




I guess you don't work on the house either. Work does not necessarily imply paid. Check the dictionary.

For example at http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/work




I don't do recreational work on the house. And amateur astronomers aren't doing any "maintenance" work on planets.

Nevertheless, I'm merely commenting on a curious bit of wording here. Amateur golfers "working" at their swing is a similar curious construction.


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Tony Flanders
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Re: Do you create an observing list before Observing? new [Re: FirstSight]
      #5660339 - 02/03/13 04:54 PM

Quote:

One of the stragest often-heard terms in amateur astronomy is "planetary work", e.g. someone will say "when I'm doing planetary work...". Whenever I hear another amateur stay that, I have to stifle the urge to make a snide reply: "You getting paid a dollar a minute for that?"




One of the most unfortunate things about our culture is that the word "work" has negative connotations. In fact, nothing is more pleasurable or gratifying than working in a way that you enjoy toward a goal that you value.

You're welcome to substitute the word "play" for "work," if you prefer. To my mind, they're virtually synonymous, especially at the highest levels.

Consider gardening. It's recreational by definition; when it's done for money it's called agriculture. And if gardening isn't work, I'd like to know what is!


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Dennis_S253
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Re: Do you create an observing list before Observing? new [Re: Tony Flanders]
      #5660670 - 02/03/13 08:23 PM

So yes, I said I was working on the Messier's and Globulars. Maybe I should have said "something else". No I don't concider it work and I'm not in a hurry to get it done. It's something I wanted to do in 2013. I think I can set a goal for myself and still have fun doing it. I don't think whatever word was used, someone will have a negitive comment.
Tony, that gardening comment was very good. Yes it's hard work, but the reward of fresh vegetables. yum yum...Eating a fresh vine ripe tomato. There's nothing like it.


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Undermidnight
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Re: Do you create an observing list before Observing? new [Re: Dennis_S253]
      #5663070 - 02/05/13 08:42 AM

Usually for me, I tend to pick a page in my pocket sky atlas and work down the page. Other times I just visit my favorite objects.

Jason


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csa/montana
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Re: Do you create an observing list before Observing? new [Re: FirstSight]
      #5663385 - 02/05/13 11:16 AM

Quote:

Quote:

"I am WORKING on this list or that list." Sorry, for way to many years I worked in a stressful career. After work, I just want to relax, and astronomy is one way to do that. A night under the stars can be a beautiful, relaxing experience, or you can turn it into another job. I prefer to enjoy myself as a beach bum does on the beach, except I prefer to be a star bum…




One of the stragest often-heard terms in amateur astronomy is "planetary work", e.g. someone will say "when I'm doing planetary work...". Whenever I hear another amateur stay that, I have to stifle the urge to make a snide reply: "You getting paid a dollar a minute for that?"




I think we all use terms that may not be precise, according to the official meaning. Also, all of us do a lot of "work" in our everyday lives; some includes a paycheck; some necessary evils (cleaning, yard chores, etc.); and many are simply pleasure. We tag the pleasure ( inc. astronomy) as "work", when compared to sleeping on the couch. I'm very tolerant of phrases or words others use; as I hope they are also tolerant of my mis-used words or terms.


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payner
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Re: Do you create an observing list before Observing? new [Re: csa/montana]
      #5665233 - 02/06/13 01:13 PM

Well put Carol. Many (most) of us live in a crucible of activity in order to earn a living. At that time every i is dotted and t crossed. It is nice to come in here to Cloudy Nights and take the shoes off!

Best,
Randy


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MessierScott
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Re: Do you create an observing list before Observing? new [Re: aa6ww]
      #5667182 - 02/07/13 02:22 PM

I always have an observing list. I'd hate to go out and have a perfect conditions night and by midnight be saying "What's next?"

I am usually working on a few Astronomical League programs or other personal projects.

And I make it a goal that every time I am out, I see at least 1 new object every night.


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Old Rookie
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Re: Do you create an observing list before Observing? new [Re: MessierScott]
      #5672023 - 02/10/13 09:35 AM

I've used an observing list since I started this hobby. Early on I found that I needed the focus that a list provides. Most nights, I'll work from one or two Astronomical League lists and a list for whatever NGC/IC's are in the particular constellation that I'm observing in. I do save some time for "eye candy" throughout the night!!

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leviathan
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Re: Do you create an observing list before Observing? new [Re: MessierScott]
      #5672510 - 02/10/13 02:48 PM

Definitely. Don’t even know what I would do last time under dark sky in grey zone of light pollution without one. But with it I managed to view quite a good number of planetary nebulas.

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lamplight
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Re: Do you create an observing list before Observing? new [Re: leviathan]
      #5672561 - 02/10/13 03:28 PM

Glad somebody posted this as I've been thinking about it. I'm very disorganized. I'm working on the Messiers just because. Probably why its a common beginners list: its teaching me about starhopping, reading charts and seeing. Other than that I really only document so that i can later learn moreinfo about what I've seen , so that's the only point of my lists. Im also curious to see how subsequent sitings will compare to other times. I only have certain views from my house (east some south), so its slow going through the constellations but that in itself is a nice speed to learn. Recently had a point were no other M's were available and I realized I'm wasting a seasons constellations!..so ill write down a couple items from the magazine or here but usually only a couple. Sometimes ill just go off of a couple pages of pocket sky atlas as someone else mentioned. I take my time . It's enjoyable. I mostly use sky safari as my chart and after I've seen an object I add it to a sky safari observing list just to keep track and then transfer/write notes elsewhere. I'm using the sky safari observing list kind of backwards, but due to my priorities it works perfectly that way, to keep track of what I've seen.

The last night out I did something very enjoyable: I started with a typical short goal list of two things : 119 tauri and vesta. Once I found the red star I saw some Messiers I'd seen before and was enjoying those clusters.. I setup the scope and a chair and then just started going through skysafari for objects right next to the last one I'd seen.. I spent a relatively comfortable 3 hours not moving the scope more than an inch or two.. In the cold this turned out to be a great benefit to getting and staying as comfortable as possible. In a couple more weeks Leo will be in a better position for me to knock off those faint messier galaxies and then see what else is visible through my LP. In the meantime ill be hitting the zenith more often and get this.. With that TWO object list of objects to see I forgot about vesta. Like I said, disorganized.

I do need a better way to keep notes though.. Typing bare fingered is no good in the cold so I write less notes.. I tried bringing out a Bluetooth keyboard for this once and while that was fine things were getting cluttered, decided for now at least, just noting the object and only writing observing notes if something significant or not too cold!


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toolmaker
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Loc: north carolina
Re: Do you create an observing list before Observing? new [Re: leviathan]
      #5672562 - 02/10/13 03:28 PM

No list, just an objective. Generally, there will be a cookout or meal in, a few beers, maybe sit around the fireplace. Then I set up the scope, we all gather around and take a peek at whatever's peeked the interest (such as: comets, bright planets, venus eclipse, solar or lunar eclipse). Thats how I like to do it...you may all now label me as an event hack.

Cool things can happen. Recently,at my annual view jupiter and watch football gathering, I noticed a young girl kept going back for more time at the eye piece. She had a lot of questions, so I set up the binos and tripod and let her rip. She proceded to find the orion nebula and m31. Thats when she took over, started her own star party and proceded to show everyone the galaxy she'd discovered. Nights like that make my list.


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Dave74
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Re: Do you create an observing list before Observing? new [Re: lamplight]
      #5672916 - 02/10/13 07:31 PM

Quote:

Typing bare fingered is no good in the cold so I write less notes.




Hey Matt, Wow! You've seen a lot! What about Dragon naturally speaking on your laptop or whatever?


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lamplight
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Re: Do you create an observing list before Observing? new [Re: Dave74]
      #5673005 - 02/10/13 08:32 PM

Hi.well, I guess, since I started.. Theres more from the fall before i started documenting. I go out a lot , but im acctually slow at finding things still. yes good idea . actually a voice recorder is something I've been toying with trying.. Or paper will keep trying stuff.

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CharlesW
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Reged: 11/02/12

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Re: Do you create an observing list before Observing? new [Re: lamplight]
      #5673167 - 02/10/13 10:05 PM

I spent a little while with Stellarium today to make an obseving list for the next week. It was really quite easy and will probably save me some time at the scope. This was my first time doing it.

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leviathan
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Re: Do you create an observing list before Observing? new [Re: CharlesW]
      #5673340 - 02/11/13 12:07 AM

Yeah, Stellarium is quite easy for this. You have different group of objects that you can filter and write down for yourself. I also write approx. time when given object can be viewed, instead of waiting for it for all night.

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bryguy27007
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Re: Do you create an observing list before Observing? new [Re: toolmaker]
      #5692028 - 02/21/13 12:05 AM

Quote:

Cool things can happen. Recently,at my annual view jupiter and watch football gathering, I noticed a young girl kept going back for more time at the eye piece. She had a lot of questions, so I set up the binos and tripod and let her rip. She proceded to find the orion nebula and m31. Thats when she took over, started her own star party and proceded to show everyone the galaxy she'd discovered. Nights like that make my list.




That's a very beautiful thing.

When I observe I never had a list or even an idea of what I would be looking for (besides Saturn). It can get a little stale/frustrating. Next time I go out I am going to have a list for sure. Great thread.


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Sorny
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Re: Do you create an observing list before Observing? new [Re: bryguy27007]
      #5710686 - 03/03/13 01:46 PM

No lists for me... I get enough lists of stuff to do at work, I have no time for such shenanigans during "me" time.

I'll usually hit some of the "best of" in SkySafari, and wander from there. I've seen much of the Messier list and a good chunk of the H400, but I couldn't tell you which ones I have not seen. It doesn't matter to me one bit.

I prefer leisure activity to be unstructured and unimpeded by artificial limitations such as lists. This time of year, my main objectives are to check out the Orion Nebula, and after that, whatever else is around.


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rdandrea
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Re: Do you create an observing list before Observing? new [Re: Sorny]
      #5710688 - 03/03/13 01:48 PM

Sometimes, especially if someone is coming over. But other times when I'm lazy, I just put my hand controller in "Tour" mode.

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REC
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Re: Do you create an observing list before Observing? new [Re: Sorny]
      #5710696 - 03/03/13 01:54 PM

How do you get to "best of" in Sky Safari, I don't see this menu on it, still learning?

Bob


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Sorny
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Re: Do you create an observing list before Observing? new [Re: REC]
      #5710828 - 03/03/13 03:12 PM

Quote:

How do you get to "best of" in Sky Safari, I don't see this menu on it, still learning?

Bob




Search, then "Tonight's Best".


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azure1961p
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Re: Do you create an observing list before Observing? new [Re: Sorny]
      #5710979 - 03/03/13 04:47 PM

In my pursuits its not needed for lunar or planetary but clearly benefits an evening of doubles or deepsky. A list with a mission or objective always helps. Following the list, a logbook is equally a good idea. On both counts it makes u a better observer.

Pete


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JIMZ7
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Re: Do you create an observing list before Observing? new [Re: azure1961p]
      #5711010 - 03/03/13 05:06 PM

Very rarely do I need to have a list or fall back on star charts for a night of observations. This Winter I'm happy to see anything with clouds hanging overhead most nights. When I find something I haven't seen in a long time or not at all is the time I must seek with a star chart/atlas.

Jim


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thetortoise
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Re: Do you create an observing list before Observing? new [Re: JIMZ7]
      #5711078 - 03/03/13 05:37 PM

Another SkySafari feature - you can actually highlight the "Tonight's Best" list which is a great feature I just discovered the other night after using the program for a year (oops). It puts a blue circle around anything on the best list which makes it easier to look for those items already in the area your scope is pointed. The button is at the top of the Tonight's Best list to highlight.

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izar187
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Re: Do you create an observing list before Observing? new [Re: aa6ww]
      #5712404 - 03/04/13 12:16 PM

Quote:


Do other astronomers observe like this, by creating observing lists they want to address, or do you mostly just get out and point your scope up, and see what you can find?







Both.
Lists require a timetable. But hobbies often get pre-empted by the rest of life.
When lists become work, due to timetable constraints, I set the lists aside.

I've had better results with very short lists, combined with detailed whole sky charting with me in the field.
Such that the whole sky is available, in depth, at any available hour of the night.
This has opened up far more of the sky for me.


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csrlice12
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Re: Do you create an observing list before Observing? new [Re: izar187]
      #5712547 - 03/04/13 01:36 PM

Sure, Nimbus, Cumulous, Cirrus.......

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Widespread
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Re: Do you create an observing list before Observing? new [Re: csrlice12]
      #5712766 - 03/04/13 03:42 PM

If I'm just viewing Messiers, I can usually remember the numbers. I have more trouble remembering NGCs, so I usually add them to my observing list in Sky Safari.

As an aside, In Sky Safari you can Select the items in your list, which makes them more visible. This helps me find them in the dark when I have the screen in Night Mode.

Best,
David


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obin robinson
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Re: Do you create an observing list before Observing? new [Re: aa6ww]
      #5712851 - 03/04/13 04:27 PM

I make a list. I usually print out the flyover paths from heavens-above.com for the satellites I want to see. The best night was when I caught 4 separate sattelites within 1 minute of each other. I felt like I hit the game winning home run at the World Series.

obin


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Red Shift
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Reged: 11/09/11

Loc: Bloomfield, New Jersey, USA
Re: Do you create an observing list before Observing? new [Re: obin robinson]
      #5716965 - 03/06/13 06:01 PM

I didn't used to create lists.

New resolutions...

I just bought and am currently reading Stephen J O'Meara's book "Hidden Treasures" ( I like it because its specifically geared to 4" refractor scopes. I lost my right leg last year, and have just donated my 8" DOB to Bloomfield NJ College's Physics Dept and bought a 4" refractor since it's more transportable ), and Sue French's Deep Sky Wonders to provide alternative suggestions to standard lists - Messier, Caldwell, and Herschel.

I plan to concentrate on the objects within specific Constellations - a list of the interesting things in each constellation to see.

That ought to occupy my viewing time for the forseeable future.

So many choices.......


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