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What's your preferred method for finding objects?

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#26 Adun



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Posted 21 November 2017 - 02:43 PM

For me the answer is simple: I need to be able to do both.


Of course, I built my own DSC which is an obvious tell, but:


I don't necessarily rely on it for 100% everything. I do a one star alignment with skysafari, and then use it like a finder to get in the area, be certain of where I am, and then be free to explore. The DSC actually gives me more freedom to explore because I know that if I get lost I'll be back to a known place in seconds (which was more time consuming when star-hopping alone).


The weather in my area makes most sessions short lived, so I really appreciate how the DSC helps me get started faster (specially since I use skysafari + one star alignment instead of the typical complex hand controller alignment), and how it allows me to explore an area, without fear of getting too lost and "wasting time". With a push-to like that, it's really not about one vs the other, its about enjoying both.


My Goto scope mount I only use it for EAA. Time is at a premium when I do that, so goto is useful, but it just doesn't lend itself so much for exploration.

Edited by Adun, 21 November 2017 - 03:02 PM.

#27 starlogborg



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Posted 21 November 2017 - 03:19 PM

I will use the Telrad to get into the general vicinity, or to get to a recognizable star to begin starhopping from.  Then I look through my RACI and starhop to the location, then I look through a medium-low power eyepiece and hopefully the object is there staring back at me. lol.gif


I feel that GoTo is somehow "cheating" myself out of half the experience... although I do like them for their tracking ability.

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#28 Feidb



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Posted 21 November 2017 - 03:37 PM

First it was star charts and a 50mm straight through finder. Then a green laser pointer and the 50mm straight through finder along with the star charts. That kept me banned from some events I never went to anyway.


Finally, it got to the point where I'd found over 2,000 objects and it was getting so what I was looking for was fainter and more obscure and not as near key stars, or whatever, as before. I'd end up spending more time searching that observing.


I finally broke down and got a push-to system called Sky Commander.


However, I earned it. I DO NOT recommend it for a beginner. I learned the sky first, so that if that thing breaks, I can still fall back on my green laser pointer and star charts.


Today, my preferred method of finding objects is star charts and my Sky Commander, followed by star charts and my green laser pointer.


By the way, I still have no interest in attending events that ban green laser pointers, just on principle alone.

#29 NEOhio



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Posted 21 November 2017 - 04:19 PM

Really wish I could go to a green laser/RACI combo, easier than bending down to look through a Telrad or RDF and lasers are just cool.


But I live less than 10 miles from a major airport so I think it would be a bad idea for me...

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#30 rowdy388



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Posted 21 November 2017 - 10:12 PM

Low tech dob and star hopping for me. The only power I use to is battery

power on my red flashlight and sometimes a fan. I plan to start experimenting

with Star Safari Pro for giggles. 

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#31 Scott Beith

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Posted 19 September 2019 - 05:14 PM

Unless I am simply sweeping the night sky with my 85mm G&G setup I am a dedicated GOTO guy.  CG-5 ASGT mount for my 4" and a CGEM for my 5".


I barely ever look at DSO's anyway, but when I do - you can be sure a computer pointed me in the right direction.  wink.gif waytogo.gif

#32 PlanetNamek


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Posted 19 September 2019 - 05:24 PM

Make the telescope find it, too much LP.

#33 bbqediguana



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Posted 19 September 2019 - 05:31 PM

I used to use GOTO (had an ETX/90 EC and an LXD-75) but I found that I became an astro-tourist - flitting from object to object. I am not saying GOTO caused that - that's just how I behaved when I used GOTO. So, in my constant effort for self-improvement, I ditched my GOTO mounts and have gone back to mounts that are still driven, just no GOTO. Therefore I am back to star hopping and I love it! I find I remember where the objects I visit are, and I tend to stumble upon other gems during the trek. Finally, for whatever reason, I find it much easier to stay on an object and really observe it. Perhaps its because it takes me more effort and time to get the target in my eyepiece?


And like any skill, the more I star hop, the better I get at it. I'm pretty good now at acquiring targets quickly and using my paper (!) star atlases as my maps.


One of the best nights I ever had was in the early 2000's using my Meade Starfinder 10" Dob and some paper maps to do a Messier Marathon. No computers, no noise... just me and the stars. 

#34 Inkswitch


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Posted 20 September 2019 - 03:00 PM

From near the beginning (circa 2003) I used Uranometria 2000.0 to star hop.  I recently purchased Interstellarium and now use it to star hop.  Interstellarium seems more of a "the object is approximately here" type of atlas.  I have observed somewhere in the neighborhood of 15 objects that were not precisely plotted in Interstellarium but I found them anyway.  Uranometria seems more of a "the object is exactly here" type of atlas.  Uranometria holds up well in the field but isn't really intended for the field, Interstellarium field version is intended for the field.  You have to take care to let the dew dry or the pages of Interstellarium will stick and that is bad.  Note that my comments on the two atlas' cartography differences may be completely due to my ignorance of the field of cartography.


I like star hopping because there is almost always a double star or some dim PGC or MGC along the way and not too far off the path of your hop.  I really get a jolt out of "one more field to the east and the object will be there" when it is there.

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#35 RedshiftRob


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Posted 20 September 2019 - 10:45 PM

Star Hopper here..  13"dob, no laptop,no phone, just paper.   I'm in the camp that the hunt is half the fun.   I use PSA or NightSkyObseversGuide to get me in the area, and then Ura2k if needed for more details.  Used to be dedicated Sky2k user, but have moved away from it as I'm looking at more and more things that are on it... 



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#36 IVM


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Posted 21 September 2019 - 05:14 PM

I don't particularly care. If the go-to (database or coordinates) does not put me on the object (or perhaps it does, but it is so faint I can't recognize it in the field), I use Uranometria and photographic charts. Since my new objects now tend to be quite faint, at least the latter step is required most of the time, and often both (Uranometria and photos), to confirm that I am looking at the right fuzzy. Having found probably in excess of 1000 objects on purely manual scopes (with Uranometria), I don't regard it as fun per se any more but, as I said, I am cool with either method. I don't stop to fuss with it if the scope alignment is not sufficiently accurate, I just go on observing with charts. Lately, though, it is insanely accurate for me after just two stars (~5 arcmin error across the entire sky, the kind of accuracy that makes go-to useful even for the faintest of objects). Still, sometimes you just can't see a thing when staring directly at the target, and then it is best to find some Uranometria stars around of orient yourself.

#37 j.gardavsky


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Posted 22 September 2019 - 09:24 AM

Star hopping according to IDSA or STAR-Guide, innocent sweeping, random walk.


As easy as it is,


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#38 dhawn


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Posted 22 September 2019 - 11:53 AM

I like star hopping because there is almost always a double star or some dim PGC or MGC along the way and not too far off the path of your hop.  I really get a jolt out of "one more field to the east and the object will be there" when it is there.

This touches on an important point. The method used should be the one that best accomplishes your goal. If your goal is simply to see specific targets, then a system that gets the target in view as fast and hassle free as possible makes sense.


If, however, the goal is to understand and see and appreciate the entirety of the sky, then the journey is as important as the destination. (A little zen and a little personal bias thrown in for free.)


Star hopping allows a better appreciation of the journey. 


Think of it this way, the kid in the back of the car that always asks "Are we there yet?" is the one who'll most likely appreciate the go-to system. The one staring out the window enjoying the world pass by is the star-hopper.


And of course the answer is never black and white and combinations of both work in different scenarios.

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#39 whizbang


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Posted 10 October 2019 - 09:10 PM



I enjoy star hopping, but have had much better luck with GOTO under heavy light pollution, and, with objects near zenith.

#40 esd726



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Posted 17 October 2019 - 12:02 AM

100% star hopping. Been doing it since I got my first scope in the mid 80’s and LOVE it.
I honestly don’t know if I would still enjoy going out, the rare times I get to anymore, if I had something find stuff for me. I just find something so “relaxing” or something doing it.
Now that I think about it, sometimes, I treat being out there more like a scavenger hunt. I find something the. Go in to the next thing I want to find and so on. Other times I’ll spend time looking longer I what I found though too.
Boy I wish I was out right now

Edited by esd726, 17 October 2019 - 12:03 AM.

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#41 sg6


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Posted 17 October 2019 - 02:23 PM

I tend to use a goto. Likely just impatient, also use small scopes often at outreach and more then the goto (I suppose) I find the tracking an essential aspect. Objects drift across by the time 2 people have looked without tracking. And as tracking sort of comes with goto, the goto option is most common for me.


Have manually aimed scopes on non-goto mounts and so far no problem, things came into view, were observed and had a rotten habit of running for one edge or another.


Big problem of manually doing it seems mainly identifing a finder of some sort that I can work with.


Suppose I like looking at objects, not so much the looking for objects. Even when I find my own I do not spend a great deal of time "absorbing" the view. When I was looking at Saturn, manual mount, I was more interested in the performance of the scope then Saturn grin.gif .

#42 Spartinix



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Posted 17 October 2019 - 03:23 PM

Most of the time I just go out and scan. I love finding objects , checking afterwards what I had seen, and revisiting them with that knowledge. If I don't stumble upon an object there's not much to look at anyway. I scan at high power also of course. Other times I check for interesting objects, read a bit on them, try to remember the approximate location, and go 'hunt' for it.

#43 KidOrion


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Posted 17 October 2019 - 07:40 PM

Sky Atlas 2000 or iDSA --> Telrad --> SkySafari/TriAtlas app --> 14mm eyepiece.


The TriAtlas app is highly underrated as a method of star hopping.

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#44 bbqediguana



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Posted 17 October 2019 - 08:46 PM

Sky Atlas 2000 or iDSA --> Telrad --> SkySafari/TriAtlas app --> 14mm eyepiece.


The TriAtlas app is highly underrated as a method of star hopping.

I use SkySafari on my iPhone sometimes - I had never heard of the TriAtlas app (however, I have the TriAtlas pdf on my computer). It is VERY good! Thank you for sharing that! smile.gif

#45 goodricke1


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Posted 18 October 2019 - 06:18 AM

A lot of people here clearly have nice, long clear skies where they can while away the time by starhopping. Where I am, every clear hour has to be maximized before the next cloud bank, so Goto is an essential.

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