When you are planning an observing session there are a variety of way to proceed.
* You can set up your scope and just wander around the sky. I sometimes do that.
* You can scan with binoculars or the finder scope and when you see something interesting, zero in on it with the telescope.
* You can start to organize you observation sessions with a target list using "Tonight's Sky", a free web site that will allow you to run a report of what is in your sky tonight. It will let you select the difficulty of the targets and will provide a printed, PDF or HTML report that you can use when you are at your telescope.
The default sort is by difficulty, from brightest to dimmest. That is great but you could end up all over the sky trying to work the list. I normally sort it by constellation. Then I can mark the constellations that are in my best part of the sky and focus on them. You could spend an entire evening working on small part of the sky finding all sorts of cool stuff.
Aside from making it easier to observe, you get to know a specific region of the sky. You can focus on Orion, for example. See all that is in Orion up to the capability of your telescope. Then move on to Taurus or Cassiopeia or whatever constellations are in the best areas for you to observe.
Not sure which constellations are in your best viewing area? I use Stellarium to help me see which constellations are in my best viewing area. For me that is East and directly overhead. But you could use a Planisphere, a star chart, "Turn Left at Orion, or an app on your phone or tablet.
Here is how you do it.
Tonight's Sky Web site
Put in your location and time settings and click the box to remember them
Select the difficulty level - If you are using binoculars then select that. If you are in a highly light polluted area work naked eye and binoculars first, maybe small telescope. If you can find all of those then on the next report raise the difficulty level. I attached a screen shot of the settings I used to create the sample report I attached.
Select what types of targets you want to see - Planets, clusters, whatever you want.
Run the report - standard sort that will be displayed is by increasing magnitude number, that is to say brightest to dimmest
Choose which ones you want in the printed report, or select all.
Select Print or right click and select print. If you want a PDF select "save as"
Change default print out sort to "by constellation"
Run the report and it will be sorted by constellation. This is how I normally sort it.
You can print it or save it as a PDF or a web page. If you save it as a web page there are live links to resources for each item.
I have the settings that were used to generate the report. This site will not let me upload the .PDF file but you can do that for yourself.
Just another resource.
Edited by aeajr, 01 December 2015 - 01:08 AM.