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#1 StarTrooper

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Posted 12 January 2020 - 08:48 AM

Hello

This is not my first time posting by any means. Little over a decade ago I purchased a 10" Meade Sonotube Starfinder, Tirion's Star Map Charts both desk version and black and white field version, Burnhams three volume Celestial Handbook, Nightwatch and some other books. I never sought advise mainly because I did not know any amateur astronomers and the community of CloudyNights.

 

Recently I purchased a Meade Lightbridge Plus 12" and very satisfied with the purchase though I have not used it due to cloudy nights, no pun intended!

 

My observing will be with the dob and have no intention of ever doing astrophotography or using a motor on the dob to keep up with the earth's rotation. I find it cost prohibitive. I did manage to attend one star party in Robbins, NC and plan on doing more soon. Many there were using computers and running software. Presume this was to find and track objects. 

 

So my question is person's using manual dob's only need paper star charts and not invest in laptops and Stellarium or Sky Safari right?

 

Thanks

 


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#2 Asbytec

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Posted 12 January 2020 - 09:00 AM

I find Sky Safari a very useful tool for star hopping and planning observations. Not much of an investment for a few bucks.
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#3 sg6

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Posted 12 January 2020 - 09:03 AM

Use whatever suits you best.

Most of us will have all options:

PC with Stellarium,

Phone/Tablet with Skysafari

Books with torch and eye balls.

 

The books have the advantage they tend not to run out of power - a big plus point.

 

Stellarium is on my PC and is/was used mainly for determining what was available to look at.

 

Skysafair is in a tablet and somewhat oddly I use it more like a book. Tap an object then pull up information on it. Not used for waving in the air to see what something patch of the sky is. Plus for this is the ease of going from one to another. Good at outreach, simple way to answer the usual question of How far away is it?

 

Srellarium is free, Skysafari was about £6 (say $10), books are/were the most costly.



#4 JoshUrban

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Posted 12 January 2020 - 10:25 AM

Hey there, and what a great rig!  I've got something similar - 12.5" dob and paper charts.  Man you can see so much with that!

 

  I actually prefer paper to electronics (OK, so I'm a hipster.)  Are you used to "star hopping?"  (I define that term as observing without computers, although others may have different meanings.)  If not, I highly recommend "Turn Left at Orion" (the updated edition.)  However, the books you have are awesome, industry standard stuff.  

 

  For my dob observations, I use a chart, a telrad (or Rigel Quikfinder), and a finderscope.  My dob is a Portaball, and doesn't support digital setting circles.  No matter, I've got charts!  

 

  Have a blast!


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#5 WyattDavis

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Posted 12 January 2020 - 10:31 AM

I find Sky Safari a very useful tool for star hopping and planning observations. Not much of an investment for a few bucks.

It is easy to use paper charts and a red flashlight at the scope, especially if you don't have too much light pollution and your scope is rigged out with good finderscopes (like a TelRad + RACI finder for example). But, I do like having Sky Safari on my Mac for planning observation lists. By no means required but nice to have.


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#6 aeajr

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Posted 12 January 2020 - 10:53 AM

Hello

This is not my first time posting by any means. Little over a decade ago I purchased a 10" Meade Sonotube Starfinder, Tirion's Star Map Charts both desk version and black and white field version, Burnhams three volume Celestial Handbook, Nightwatch and some other books. I never sought advise mainly because I did not know any amateur astronomers and the community of CloudyNights.

 

Recently I purchased a Meade Lightbridge Plus 12" and very satisfied with the purchase though I have not used it due to cloudy nights, no pun intended!

 

My observing will be with the dob and have no intention of ever doing astrophotography or using a motor on the dob to keep up with the earth's rotation. I find it cost prohibitive. I did manage to attend one star party in Robbins, NC and plan on doing more soon. Many there were using computers and running software. Presume this was to find and track objects. 

 

So my question is person's using manual dob's only need paper star charts and not invest in laptops and Stellarium or Sky Safari right?

 

Thanks

The key word in your question is NEED.  

 

You don't even need paper star charts, you can just go for the naked eye visible targets.  But paper star charts can expand what you can learn about the sky.

 

Stellarium is free for your computer and laptop, $2.50 for your phone and tablet.   This is my primary star chart and planning tool.

 

In terms of finding things in the sky, I have used several methods with my Dobs.

  • Star Hopping - I don't use this much because I am in a very light polluted area and have trouble seeing the guide stars even with my 8X50 finder.  I have used it at darker locations where I can actually see the guide stars.
     
  • AltAz - This is my primary method with my Dobs.  I have put azimuth scales in the base of my Dobs and used an angle gauge on the tube.  I use Stellarium on the phone to get the real time AltAz coordinates.  
     
  • PushTo -  I had an Orion XT8 Intelliscope that had this built in.  Loved it!  However PushTo, in various forms, can be added to a Dob. You put the target into the handset/computer/phone and the PushTo system tells you were to point the scope to find your target, but you move it.  EZ-PushTo is an add-on kit for GSO scopes.  Nexus has their "digital setting circles" system.  There are companies that sell kits to add this to a Dob.  Some are very inexpensive and some are quite costly but very feature rich. SkEye is a free android app that has this built in, which I am learning to use.
     
  • GoTo - generally only when you buy it integrated into the scope. I have a GoTo refractor and a GoTo Mak. GoTo Dobs are available too but I am not aware of any add-on kits. 

So, the question of NEED is a personal one.  You don't NEED any of this.  You have to decide what methods will work for your in your location.  For some people the hunt is part of the fun. For some it is seeing the targets and would prefer help in finding them. 

 

I liken this to GPS in your car.  When was the last time you pulled out a paper map to plan a route? 

 

As for other accessories, there are a wide variety to enhance your observing experience.

 

Accessories to add to your Telescope
https://telescopicwa...ls-accessories/


Edited by aeajr, 12 January 2020 - 11:08 AM.

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#7 Napp

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Posted 12 January 2020 - 10:54 AM

Paper charts work great.  Sky Safari and Stellarium are very useful for planning.  However, if you decide to go for faint the charts only go so far.  A friend and I decided to go for Pluto a year or so ago.  Paper charts just do not go faint enough.  Sky Safari allowed us to go down to Magnitude 15 to be able to find 14.5 Pluto.


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#8 stoest

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Posted 12 January 2020 - 10:55 AM

I think the paper vs. electronic charts discussion is mostly one of personal taste so do whatever works for you.  I find that for me, the increased depth of the number of stars on electronic charts can be helpful when trying to identify exactly where threshold objects should appear. This is really only an issue when you're pushing the limits and I'm sure it can be done with paper too, it just works well for me.

 

I'm very careful to set my tablet to as red and as low as possible and have it still be legible to avoid as much as possible any effects on my dark adaption.  Any red light I've used that was bright enough to read a chart had some temporary effect on my adaption as well.


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#9 Michael Harris

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Posted 12 January 2020 - 05:40 PM

I am not a Dob user but my friends with big Dobs usually plan their observing ahead of time and print “star hop” charts in advance, (One friend even laminates them before heading out.)  Although I use GoTo scopes, i like having Sky Safari on my phone and tablet to “see what’s up” and read a little more about each object. My Evolution scope can connect to this app and be controlled, if I want to get fancy. I also believe that Sky Safari can display a finder scope field for reference.



#10 kevint1

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Posted 12 January 2020 - 06:01 PM

... I actually prefer paper to electronics (OK, so I'm a hipster.)  Are you used to "star hopping?"  (I define that term as observing without computers, although others may have different meanings.)  ...

I guess I’m not a hipster, whatever that is. I would define “star hopping” as manually moving the scope from an initial object to the target by sequentially going from one star to another until you reach the target. You can do it with or without a computer. I star hop with my scopes all the time and I choose to do it with a small handheld computer, called an iPad, running a program called SkySafari. Using this program, you can define a ring on the screen that shows the area of the sky visible in you finder or eyepiece. You can then move the ring and the scope sequentially from one star to another and hop, hop, hop to your target. Very easy to use.

 

I haven’t used a paper chart at a scope in 10 years. Although, I do have a very nice bound color copy of the Atlas Coli that I keep open in my den.


Edited by kevint1, 12 January 2020 - 06:01 PM.

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#11 StarTrooper

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Posted 12 January 2020 - 08:21 PM

I guess I’m not a hipster, whatever that is. I would define “star hopping” as manually moving the scope from an initial object to the target by sequentially going from one star to another until you reach the target. You can do it with or without a computer. I star hop with my scopes all the time and I choose to do it with a small handheld computer, called an iPad, running a program called SkySafari. Using this program, you can define a ring on the screen that shows the area of the sky visible in you finder or eyepiece. You can then move the ring and the scope sequentially from one star to another and hop, hop, hop to your target. Very easy to use.

 

I haven’t used a paper chart at a scope in 10 years. Although, I do have a very nice bound color copy of the Atlas Coli that I keep open in my den.

Hipster is in the dictionary. 



#12 bbbriggs

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Posted 12 January 2020 - 08:31 PM

I am a big fan of the telrad charts for M objects. I also have a Nexus dsc which I like to use to find really obscure and dim objects.



#13 Jon Isaacs

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Posted 12 January 2020 - 08:55 PM

So my question is person's using manual dob's only need paper star charts and not invest in laptops and Stellarium or Sky Safari right?

 

Jeshea:

 

One can certainly use only paper charts to navigate the night sky.  People did it before the advent of computers and they're still doing it.  

 

Myself, I use electronic chart in the field and have been doing it for at least 20 years. These days it's Sky Safari 6 Pro running on an Nexus 7 tablet. That's all I do with it. To find the objects, I use a Telrad, a 50mm RACI finder and the main telescope to "star hop." 

 

From a cost standpoint, Sky Safari Plus is about $15 and runs quite nicely on any Android 7 inch tablet.  I even have it on a 7 inch ONN tablet that was $28 on Black Friday at Walmart.  It's probably cheaper than paper charts and certainly cheaper than paper charts that include as many objects, as many stars.  

 

There are several advantages of an app like Sky Safari that you might find useful.  The sky chart is correctly oriented to the time and your location, you look at the chart, no twisting to orient it. It's easy to figure out which constellations are visible or when an object is best viewed.  Zooming in an out, choosing the magnitude of the stars visible to match the sky, these are done easily. 

 

Part of the reason I use Sky Safari is that the databases are deep. The Pro version has stars to 15 th magnitude, galaxies beyond that.  Paper charts are just not that complete.  

 

With a tablet, stray light control is critical. Unless you have an expensive tablet or phone with an AMOLED screen, the pixels leak white light so a red screen filter made of film is needed in addition anything done with the tablets controls.  

 

Using a tablet is very similar to using paper charts but it has some added capabilities. 

 

One can certainly use paper charts, atlas's, maps, charts printed from a computer by freeware programs like Cartes du Ciel.  Lots of fancy electronics is not necessary. 

 

Jon


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#14 StarTrooper

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Posted 13 January 2020 - 09:16 AM

Jeshea:

 

One can certainly use only paper charts to navigate the night sky.  People did it before the advent of computers and they're still doing it.  

 

Myself, I use electronic chart in the field and have been doing it for at least 20 years. These days it's Sky Safari 6 Pro running on an Nexus 7 tablet. That's all I do with it. To find the objects, I use a Telrad, a 50mm RACI finder and the main telescope to "star hop." 

 

From a cost standpoint, Sky Safari Plus is about $15 and runs quite nicely on any Android 7 inch tablet.  I even have it on a 7 inch ONN tablet that was $28 on Black Friday at Walmart.  It's probably cheaper than paper charts and certainly cheaper than paper charts that include as many objects, as many stars.  

 

There are several advantages of an app like Sky Safari that you might find useful.  The sky chart is correctly oriented to the time and your location, you look at the chart, no twisting to orient it. It's easy to figure out which constellations are visible or when an object is best viewed.  Zooming in an out, choosing the magnitude of the stars visible to match the sky, these are done easily. 

 

Part of the reason I use Sky Safari is that the databases are deep. The Pro version has stars to 15 th magnitude, galaxies beyond that.  Paper charts are just not that complete.  

 

With a tablet, stray light control is critical. Unless you have an expensive tablet or phone with an AMOLED screen, the pixels leak white light so a red screen filter made of film is needed in addition anything done with the tablets controls.  

 

Using a tablet is very similar to using paper charts but it has some added capabilities. 

 

One can certainly use paper charts, atlas's, maps, charts printed from a computer by freeware programs like Cartes du Ciel.  Lots of fancy electronics is not necessary. 

 

Jon

Interesting stuff there Jon. Thanks. Is there a problem with dew using a tablet. I have an Apple iPad but it is limited to programs available from THEIR App Store. They do offer Sky Safari. But the Apple iPad is a very expensive item and concerned with the condensation accumulation leaking into the circuitry.


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#15 aeajr

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Posted 13 January 2020 - 09:34 AM

Dew can be a concern for any electronics.  I don't know how moisture sensitive an iPAD would be.

 

Try putting it inside a plastic bag and see if you can operate the touch screen.

 

See if there is a waterproof case available for it.

 

I can say that I have never had a problem with dew with my android phone even when the scope is getting wet.  It may be that these devices generate enough heat to keep the dew off.

 

The other alternative would be a case, a folder where you can keep the phone.   Open it to use the iPAD and close it to protect it while you are observing. 



#16 aeajr

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Posted 13 January 2020 - 09:48 AM

Some things that may help you pick and find targets.

 

 

Create a list of targets sorted by constellation using Tonight's Sky -
http://www.cloudynig...ights-sky-free/

 

 

Star hopping 101 – Video play list
https://www.youtube....6B0AD5D29A76981

 

Messier Telrad Charts

http://avila.star-sh...ssierTelrad.htm
http://www.custerobs...cs/messier2.pdf

 

 

If you are in a very light polluted location you might find these helpful.

 

Magnitude vs. Surface Brightness - very important if you are in a light  polluted area
https://www.cloudyni...cant-see-stuff/
https://tonyflanders...ace-brightness/

 

Using an angle gauge to help find targets
https://www.cloudyni...y/#entry8120838

 

 

Astronomy sketches. What is wonderful about this is this is very close to what we will see in

the eyepieces.They also include what kind of scope was used, what magnification.  These
are observing reports.  These will better set our expectations and help us
recognize things when we find them.

 

 

Graphite Galaxy - astronomy sketches
He notes what scope was used.
http://graphitegalaxy.com/

 

 

DSO Sketches – Mostly 8-10” Newtonian’s  and 80 mm refractor used
http://www.deepskywa...y-sketches.html

Planet Sketches
http://www.shallowsk...anetsketch.html
http://www.graphiteg....cgi?lib=databo


Edited by aeajr, 13 January 2020 - 09:50 AM.


#17 brentknight

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Posted 15 January 2020 - 12:18 AM

Interesting stuff there Jon. Thanks. Is there a problem with dew using a tablet. I have an Apple iPad but it is limited to programs available from THEIR App Store. They do offer Sky Safari. But the Apple iPad is a very expensive item and concerned with the condensation accumulation leaking into the circuitry.

I use an iPad as well, but I keep it in one of those folding cases and it's usually standing up at an angle.  Here in Alabama we live in dew and humidity, and my tablet has gotten pretty wet.  No problems so far though...

 

Most newer Android devices are able to resist water, even if dropped into the tub - which I have NOT tested...



#18 Napp

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Posted 15 January 2020 - 12:37 AM

There are waterproof cases available for the iPad.  However, mine isn't waterproof.  I just close the cover when not looking at the screen.  I mostly observe at remote sites set up behind my pickup.  I leave the tailgate down and the tonneau cover in place.  When I am not actively using my iPad I just put it under the tonneau cover.  In fact I leave my eyepiece cases and anything I don't want getting wet under the tonneau to prevent condensation forming on them.  



#19 Eddgie

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Posted 15 January 2020 - 10:02 AM

Sky Safari 6 Plus or Pro over charts.

 

Charts are great to have around as a reference, but in the field, as compared to a chart on even a cell phone, they just don't stand up well and here are a host of reasons I say that.

 

  • First is that while some atlases have Telrad Overalys, you can turn those on in Sky Safari and you can even create a circle that shows the low power field of view in your own telescope with maybe three different size eyepieces (low, medium and high, though if you have the Telrad circles on too, it gets busy,)
  • Dew. If one uses a chart, eliminated is better because dew will swell paper charts over time. This is not an issue with Sky Safari
  • Locating objects.   In paper charts, sometimes you have to flip through different pages to try to find an object.  With Sky Safari, you do a search to find the object, then hit the Center button and the object is centered in the field.
  • The ability to set density.  This feature lets you set how faint an object will appear in the view.  For example, if you live under city skies, you can lower the density to better represent the way the sky looks to you for your conditions.  Now as you zoom in, fainter objects will start to show, but they don't clutter you up with things that would be to dim for your observing conditions
  • Bright Star Location with built in Compass.  If you are not positive what star you are seeing (maybe it is a planet) you can use the Compass feature to pan around the sky.
  • The Compass feature is also useful for seeing if a desired target is blocked behind an obstruction! As one gets to know the sky, this is not so necessary, but desirable for less experienced observers
  • Observing Lists.  You can plan your session over lunch and store your target list right in your phone or tablet, so not additional piece of paper to carry out with you.  Few people will remember to take their chart to the office
  • Nothing new store because we all have cell phones.  Even 8 year olds have cell phones today
  • Azimuth and altitude readouts! It is easy to outfit dobs with printed azimuth circles and with a $25 digital inclinometer, you can use the altitude and azimuth readouts on Sky Safari for an object and then use the printed azimuth and digital readout on the angle finder to position your scope.  It may not be totally accurate but between the Telrad and the Az and Alt data, locating things can be made much easier.  

 

I could go on and on, but I have been observing for 35 years now, and of all of the observing tools I have ever owned, nothing has come close to the utility of Sky Safari Pro.

 

I now even control my telescope with my phone.  My IOptrion Az Pro has built in WiFi, and now I can tap an object on my phone, hit the Go2 button, wait for the scope to stop, look in, and see my target. 

 

XQE_0016.jpg

 

Yeah, baby, life in the 21st Century is great!

 

Sky Safari is a fantastic tool.  I love the nostalgia of charts and sometimes still use them for reference, but mostly they gather dust.  

 


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