I'm starting this topic as a beginner who is trying to learn the night sky and to write down my observations as I progress hopefully.
I also hope that more experienced members (if they are reading this) will jump to help me with my dilemmas and doubts, to give some insights and advices.
I'm also hoping that other beginners will join to share their observation and findings.
As a real beginner, I have issues with finding targets other than Jupiter and Saturn through my Dobson finderscope.
I have read many forum posts on how to look for some targets, how to recognize asterism and patterns but whenever I look through the finderscope or even binoculars I was lost. With the naked eye, I know a few constellations and asterisms.
After I finish my Jupiter session I usually try to point the telescope at some familiar star like Vega or Deneb but
I just can't identify them through the finderscope. So many bright stars around and they all look the same.
So lately, I switched from Dobson to my binoculars. The idea was to easier locate targets in the wider FOV.
But I still have issues. Even the low power binoculars as my Leupold BX-1 8x42 show thousands of stars when I'm able to see just a few of them naked eye.
But I started noticing some progress as I started from scratch.
I dedicated a few nights just to get familiar with the constellations, looked at them naked eye trying to figure out shapes and relative positions of stars.
I'm using Star Walk 2, Sky Safari and some other apps on my phone and Stellarium on my laptop to get familiar with constellation positions.
I'm using my southern balcony with a not obstructed view to the south, fair view to the east and limited view to the west.
I'm also not able to look at the Zenith due to house roof. My west balcony has a nice view to the west but not high up the sky ( around 40°-45° up) and part of the northeast. From my northern side of the house, there are plenty of streetlights obstructing the view to the North.
I should be under Bortle 4 or 5 sky. I'm also searching for a nearby location I could use with no streetlights.
Last night, (20th August 2019) I went to my southern balcony, the sky was very clear, with no Moon so far, great visibility.
My goal for the night was modest, to split up Albireo in Cygnus and that's it.
So, I'm on the balcony, looking at the sky naked eye, there is Jupiter, there is Saturn. Took a look up the sky, there is Altair,
had to lean over the fence to see Deneb and Vega.
So, back to safety, Sadr is visible without leaning over, I'm going toward the ''head'' and there is Albireo. I grab my binoculars but I can't find Albireo now, millions of stars out there in bino view. This is not good.
Tried to point spotting scope there but the weird angle of the spotting scope makes it much more complicated to aim.
I played with Celestron for 15-20 minutes and then I left it. No use.
Albireo was very high in the sky. Even with binos, my neck started to hurt so I give up on Albireo.
I put some blankets over the fence to cover up some light from my neighbour's house and I just lied down, put a pillow under my head and started to watch that available part of the sky with the naked eye. After a while, more and more stars appeared. Now I can see whole Aquila easily, Delphinus also. I think I can even see Sagitta.
More to the west are some bright stars, couldn't recognize what is it. So, I started Star Walk 2 app and I found that's Ophiuchus.
Found some stars right to it, checked phone app and that is Serpens Caput. Very clear and visible stars.
I was impressed by how many stars I can see with the naked eye. No Moon yet.
Now I'm zooming more around some major stars in asterism on Star Walk app, some small stars appeared.
I'm trying to find some easily recognizable shape at a zoom level in Star Walk that will match my binoculars zoom level, I memorized relative positions and I'm looking for that in the binoculars. I'm also trying to make use of my binoculars FOV as a tool to measure distance.
My Leupold has 6.1° field of view (FOV). When I'm, watching at the three stars in the head of Aquila ( Alshain, Altair and Tarazed) they almost filled up all my binocular view.
So I assume they are like 5°- 5.5° in length. Then I'm trying to estimate distance between Altair and middle star in Aquila, the delta Aquila, and let's say it is double the distance from Alshain and Tarazed, some 10°, then I'm going to almost twice the distance of my binocular view and then searching for a familiar shape that I found on Star Walk app.
And then it worked.
I tried that to every major star in Aquila and it worked. Not so fast in the beginning but better and better as I get used to it.
Every time I tried to identify the star I was checking phone app to be sure that nearby star pattern match.
Then I looked away with binoculars and tried to go back to identify target star. It worked. That makes me smile.
Then I use that to identify Ras Alhague, Ras Algheti, Cebalrai, Sabik, Yed Posterior in Ophiuchus even they were surrounded by so many stars. I randomly look at a completely different part of the sky with binos then I tried to go back slowly and find where I am and it worked, I recognize Cebalrai. Then I went back again on Aquila and I repeated knowledge on Tarazed, Alshain, δAquila, both Deneb el Okab, λAquila, 12 Aquila. I was elated it is working.
Then Sagitta and Delphinus. Check !
I found very interesting star formation some 5 degres right from Sagitta and some 7-8 stars above Deneb el Okab.
It was shaped like FC Arsenal logo, old canon on wheels. ( Vulpecula 4,5 and 7 ).
I was doing this for almost two hours, lying on my back, going for new stars and shapes then going back to Aquila, Sagita, Ophiuchus, Serpens Caput and Delphinus with my Leupold.
It worked like a charm. I was so happy.
Then I noticed that the bottom three stars in Ophiuchus disappeared together with some other stars.
I looked over the fence to the East and Moon was up there and washed pretty much a big part of the night sky.
I also noticed one bright star on the East, checked StarWalk, that was Enif, part of Pegasus. Checked Pegasus asterism stars and one star name pop up, Alpheratz.
I recognized that name Alpheratz from a research a few nights ago when I was trying to remember all the stars from Andromeda asterism.
Because Moon was very bright I wanted to call it a night and go to bed but....
Andromeda was very bright even the Moon was bright and close. I decided to take one last look at the stars, I went up from Mirach to the miAndromeda and then to the vAndromeda AND THEN BAM!
I'm looking at the M31 Andromeda galaxy for the first time ever !!
My heart is pounding! So excited!
It looks like grey smudge. My Leupold FOV is 6.1 and M31 was like 1/10th to 1/6th of my view so I think that 's something from 0.5 to 1° in size. I know that it should be around 3° but that's probably due to Moon and poor visibility. I'm not sure.
Tried again to see it through Celestron Ultima but can't point it there.
Grab Leupold again and in 10 seconds there it was again in my view.
So excited !
This is promising.
Once the Moon is out, I'll try to look at it with my Dobson.
This is my best observing night so far.
Edited by Hellingen, 21 August 2019 - 11:26 AM.