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STAR HOPPING....

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#51 firemachine69

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Posted 22 November 2021 - 08:37 AM

Hi Ray,

 I am sure that a computer had something to do with the creation of my Millenium Star Atlas set. 

LOL ( how ironic ).

 Mark

 

I will NEVER part with my MILLENIUM STAR ATLAS or my INTERSTELLARUM !

 

 

If ever you want to part with that millennium star Atlas, send me a PM...

 

whistling.gif chair.gif roflmao.gif


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#52 firemachine69

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Posted 22 November 2021 - 08:45 AM

I have been 100% star hopping from the start.  I have used equatorial mounts at times to help with the hop, but not push-to or go-to.  I supposedly have/had a push-to system, but it never had any usable accuracy so I quickly abandoned it (efforts to rehabilitate it in later years proved similarly unsuccessful.)

 

I won't pretend I can find most things quicker than someone else's go-to, certainly not "new to me" stuff.  However, I can turn to many bright objects using my own memory and eyes quicker than a go-to.  But I would like a go-to to speed up the initial step of many hops...when I am trying to find some 4 to 6 magnitude star in a constellation I haven't looked at in the past several months or year.  I spend a lot of time on such hops...particularly when I miss on the first try.

 

The difference is that I know when I have something centered.  The go-to/push-to folks frequently ask me if they have some object in the FOV.  (Often I correctly guess what they are pointed at just by looking at the scope/where it seems to be pointing and guessing what the bright object will be that they might target.)  Usually when I check they do have the target, but often it is not centered if it isn't an obvious one, so I will dial it in for them.  I ask for some sort of catalog number or RA/Dec and check against my scope for confirmation, particularly for comets.   

 

Low surface brightness stuff requires more experience from the observer.  I can and have seen NGC 5053 in a 50mm finder in very dark sky, but it is subtle and easy to miss in a large scope if a person doesn't know what to look for.   On the other hand, knowing what to look for I can resolve individual stars in it and identify it with a 20" in the suburbs of a substantial city.  

 

Images are critical for objects closer to threshold.  It is amazing what one can detect with some hints about where to look, filling in other objects in the field.  Some would like to ascribe this to "averted imagination" but it isn't.  There is nothing quite like the thrill of getting repeated faint locks on some very difficult object.  You know when it is certain/real, vs. just suspected.

 

Coordinates can be pretty far off, and this can carry over to atlases.  Checking in something like Wikisky ahead of time can reveal such errors.  For tough targets, including some that have not been visually reported before per my knowledge (e.g. some "anonymous" SNe galaxies), I will use a printed negative image as a finder chart.   The star chart fields will prove whether or not the perceived position is real or not.

 

 

You are correct about low surface. *ahem, M74*.

 

I'm a huge tech nerd but I find myself almost exclusively back with my manual alt-az mount. I may eventually build an observatory with an AZ-EQ6, but primarily for high power, alt-az tracking.

 

I will say, the "slop" in average consumer grade goto is easy to account for and reposition the eyepiece when the computer "finds" an object. You just need to be sure of your left/right /up/down. 



#53 GGK

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Posted 22 November 2021 - 05:41 PM

 

If fast and easy it your goal, the electric motor gets you there.. 

 

If getting stronger, developing your legs, developing your cardio-vascular system, enjoying the physical exertion, pushing your limits and growing.. developing yourself both physically and mentally, then forget the motor.  A big part of the reason I am I alive and reasonably healthy at 73 is for most of the 27 years of my adult life when I wasn't doing physical labor, I rode my bicycle to work. I didn't take it easy, I rode hard and during the summer months would often take the long way home, sometimes putting in 40 or even 50 miles on the way home from work.  I sought out the steepest, most difficult climbs.. On weekends, I would go for a ride in the back country, sometimes putting in 100 miles.  A few times I climbed to the top of Palomar Mountain, that ride involved over 8000 feet of vertical climbing. 

 

When you get the top of the hill, you might not be tired but your legs haven't developed so the next time you get to the top, you aren't any stronger. When I got to the top of the hill, yes, I was tired but I would have gauged my effort based on my heart rate and I would quickly recover and be off with strength developed over the years. 

 

 
 
The caption is joke, the photo was taken during a time trial, but I would do practice laps around the island on my way home from work.. While I was in my early 60's, I could still average nearly 25 mph for 30 minutes.  Miles and miles, base miles, thousands, tens of thousands.. It's personal development, growth, and pure joy.. 
 
============
 
The comparison here is relevant. When you use goto, you do not develop your navigating skills, you're dependent on the goto. When one is star hopping, one is continually growing, developing new techniques, learning, it's like climbing the hill on the bicycle, each and every mile, you get stronger.  
 
In your first post, you said you were confident in your goto.. Myself, I am confident in my star hopping skills, in my charts, in the images I am using.  I am exercising my brain, it's not just looking in the eyepiece, it's looking in the eyepiece at exactly the right spot, pointing my averted my vision to the exact location because I know exactly where in the star field that object is.  
 
My eyes are certainly not the best, my skills are what they are.  I was never the fastest rider but I was the best rider I could be.  And that's my goal as an observer, developing my skills, being the best observer I can be.  
 
Eddy Merckx, the most successful competitive cyclist ever was once asked, for training tips.  His answer:
 
Ride Lots
 
That's my attitude when I comes to amateur astronomy.. 
 
Observe lots.. 
 
And have fun doing it.
 
Jon

 

Jon,

 

When it comes to cycling these days, flexibility is my goal.  I ride for transportation, exercise and entertainment. When a big downhill is coming up, I'm definitely into entertainment mode because hills are hard to come by in Southwest Florida.  I've been an avid cyclist my whole life - road bikes, then to mountain bikes, then trail riding, then hybrid on/off road stuff, and now to E-Bikes on the ~27 miles of bike paths we have around our town.  My E-Bike weighs over 60 pounds.  It has fat tires that waste power and it only has 8 speeds.  I can sustain 18 mph and peak at about 25 on flat ground.  I do 25 minute sprints with no power assist every trip to or from the gym. Peddling that 60+ pounds is a great cardio and leg workout and I'm in great shape because of it. But sometimes I just don't feel like working hard and want the option to go the easy route. Or I have a 25 mph headwind here on the Gulf Coast and need all the help I can get! 

 

It's the same with my GoTo mount.  I can power on if I just want to get there easily, or I can leave the power off and practice other skills.  I'm not worried about exercising my brain.  I get enough of that at work.  I'm out at night for the fun and the thrill of viewing what we all agree is both fantastic and amazing.   Also, my star hopping skills using charts, etc. are far less than good, but I can't blame GoTo for that.  Finding objects all these years with my manual GEM was easy enough that I never needed to learn the sky that well and I never made it a priority.      

 

We might be getting there a different way, but I couldn't agree with you more when it comes to Ride Lots (from Eddy Merckx), Observe Lots, and Have Fun Doing It!

 

Nice bike, by the way!  

 

Gary



#54 stevereecy

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Posted 23 November 2021 - 11:26 PM

90+% of my observing is starhopping. Lot of trees in our suburban neighborhood and I move from spot to spot to get the best view. Mostly my quick-peek scopes are an XT6 and a Starblast4.5. When the transparency is bad I set up my MAK and use setting circles to find and track carbon and doubles. When I’m at a dark sky star party I set up my big dob with all its bells and whistles… and its aperture. Dobsonian.gif sct.png

 

There’s no wrong way :-)

 

Fred

This! Our local astronomy club has a dark sky site, but it has lots of trees so if I want to see targets near the horizon sometimes I have to walk my telescope across the field to another location. Never thought of this as a feature until I read this post.  My set up is a 6 inch F5 reflector which uses hose clamps and a dovetail to cut weight so it can perch on a light weight alt az mount. I rigged up a dumbbell bar and weights through the eyepiece holder to make it less tippy.  And the bar slides perfectly through the eyepiece holder and clamps the weight against the Eyepiece tray with no vibration at all.  I would share a picture but this stupid iphone will not allow me to reduce the size of pictures.  Anyway, this allows me to load and unload my car in five minutes with ease, but I have a 6 inch aperture at my disposal. With my iPhone, I can locate all of the messier objects faster than a goto system.  
 

I usually leave my 4 inch Mak sitting on my mount without the counter weight for planets until I’m ready to go to the field for deep sky. The net result is, I can carry my telescope outside to look out the planets in one minute. Or I can load a deep sky rig into my car and be at my dark sky site and be looking at a messier object within 30 minutes with fairly dark skies. 6 inches of aperture is enough for me to see the best and the brightest and my rig doesn’t hurt my back.


Edited by stevereecy, 24 November 2021 - 08:55 AM.


#55 Cygnus0629

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Posted 24 November 2021 - 01:44 AM

Hello everyone

I get the sense that I’m younger than most who posted in this topic (born in 87) ,and, I’m still pretty new at owning a telescope, although I’ve been fascinated with the stars my entire life. I’ve been teaching myself to star hop and I love it. I’m actually quite good at it! For me, it’s about learning the night sky. I get a great sense of pride when I find a target manually. It’s kinda like going on a trip….when I was young my dad hated to fly and he used to always say “half the fun is getting there”. So we would go on road trips. Alot of my fondest memories from early in life took place on the way to a destination. I think the same applies in astronomy as well.
I don’t own a GOTO and I don’t plan to purchase one going forward. My wife makes fun of me because I spend a lot of time studying the Cambridge star atlas in my free time lol. I have a manual mount and a red dot. My scope came with a finder scope that I haven’t used yet so I may use that in the future. A lot of times I will be star hopping, searching for a particular target, and I will get distracted by a double star or a rich star field that I end up observing for awhile and I end up not even viewing the intended target in the first place. I would’ve missed that with a GOTO.

I think the most gratifying thing about this hobby is that we learn new things. We better ourselves. We accomplish something when we finally find that target that we’ve been searching for. Or maybe we don’t find it that time but we keep trying. It’s the constant drive to learn. To try to understand. The view in the eyepiece after all of it is just icing on the cake.

Half the fun is getting there.

Edited by Cygnus0629, 24 November 2021 - 02:29 AM.

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#56 Jon Isaacs

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Posted 24 November 2021 - 03:47 PM

I think the most gratifying thing about this hobby is that we learn new things. We better ourselves. We accomplish something when we finally find that target that we’ve been searching for. Or maybe we don’t find it that time but we keep trying. It’s the constant drive to learn. To try to understand. The view in the eyepiece after all of it is just icing on the cake.

 

Half the fun is getting there.

 

 

:waytogo:

 

I think you have a lot of rewarding years ahead as an amateur astronomer.  

 

"(Those) not busy being born are busy dying.." 

 

Jon


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#57 Jehujones

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Posted 24 November 2021 - 06:21 PM

"...A lot of times I will be star hopping, searching for a particular target, and I will get distracted by a double star or a rich star field that I end up observing for awhile and I end up not even viewing the intended target in the first place. I would’ve missed that with a GOTO..."
 

Well said, I too have pulled off the road many times just to look around.


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#58 Voyager 3

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Posted 25 November 2021 - 09:55 AM

waytogo.gif

 

I think you have a lot of rewarding years ahead as an amateur astronomer.  

 

"(Those) not busy being born are busy dying.." 

 

Jon

Love that and hits hard bow.gif .


Edited by Voyager 3, 25 November 2021 - 09:55 AM.


#59 Keith Rivich

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Posted 25 November 2021 - 10:44 AM

Then your charts aren't good enough. Star hopping is the most precise method to accurately get to a very specific place in the sky, if your charts are sufficiently deep. I use photographic negatives to star hop from, when I want to find extremely faint objects, because they tell me exactly where the object I'm looking for is, relative to the field stars. This means I know exactly where to look for the object with averted vision, and that can easily gain you two magnitudes. Just knowing it's near the center of the field isn't enough, when you're working at the threshold limit, and the position in the GOTO catalogue could very easily be wrong, too. I'm not sure how well it's corrected now, but not many years ago, 10-15% of all objects in the NGC catalogue were either nonexistent or had incorrect positions... This included single-digit magnitude open clusters and the like! 

 

 

Clear skies!

Thomas, Denmark

Yep. The pointing accuracy of star hopping is only limited by your charts. In my 25" I can star hop using stars down to around 17th magnitude.  Megastar charts with USNO-A turned on gets me there. With this I can say for certain the target DSO is in the FOV. Whether I can see it or not, that's a different story!


Edited by Keith Rivich, 25 November 2021 - 10:55 AM.

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#60 John Fitzgerald

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Posted 25 November 2021 - 11:08 AM

I am a star hopper from way back. Forty some years ago, I was a human GoTo for a great many objects.  In the past 17 years, I have become a hybrid star hopper, and user of both DSC and Dob circles/angle finder.  For example,, with the push to Nexus DSC and my 6 inch apo on my manual G11 mount, I have access to the entire WDS catalog.   If I'm going to view something familiar,  I more quickly point the scope without the aid of circles.  With the DSC, I can thoroughly view 15 double stars in one session, rather than star hopping to maybe 6 or 7.


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#61 stevereecy

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Posted 25 November 2021 - 01:15 PM

This! Our local astronomy club has a dark sky site, but it has lots of trees so if I want to see targets near the horizon sometimes I have to walk my telescope across the field to another location. Never thought of this as a feature until I read this post.  My set up is a 6 inch F5 reflector which uses hose clamps and a dovetail to cut weight so it can perch on a light weight alt az mount. I rigged up a dumbbell bar and weights through the eyepiece holder to make it less tippy.  And the bar slides perfectly through the eyepiece holder and clamps the weight against the Eyepiece tray with no vibration at all.  I would share a picture but this stupid iphone will not allow me to reduce the size of pictures.  Anyway, this allows me to load and unload my car in five minutes with ease, but I have a 6 inch aperture at my disposal. With my iPhone, I can locate all of the messier objects faster than a goto system.  
 

 

Thanks to the suggestion of a forum member, I learned it’s possible to email myself pictures first, which gives me the option of downsizing them.   So here is my rig.  The dumbbell slides through the eyepiece tray to keep the center of gravity centered.  There is a clamp on both sides of the weight disks.  The rest of the mount can handle the weight of the OTA with duct clamps and a Rigel quick finder used to save weight.  Tolerable vibration at high power but I use this scope for DSOs only.  The Fanny pack holds my eyepieces in custom fitted foam and I usually rotate it around to the opposite side of the OTA as additional tip-over security. 

Attached Thumbnails

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Edited by stevereecy, 25 November 2021 - 01:19 PM.

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#62 Dobs O Fun

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Posted 25 November 2021 - 03:17 PM

I'm very new at this hobby. My struggle in finding objects is estimating how much between objects. A few days ago while at work the moon was rising, to the right were three prominent stars one on top the other. I pulled up Stellarium and could not find the stars.

Remembering a page from NIGHTWATCH, you can estimate the angle between the two using your extended hand with fist open, 25°, the with the remaining distance with hand closed. Looking at Stellarium about 35 to 50 degrees there they were! I visually found them and who they were.

I'm finally learning angles that will point me to the object using other objects.

That was a breakthrough for me. It changed a lot of star hopping estimating process for me.

Edited by Dobs O Fun, 25 November 2021 - 03:17 PM.

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#63 bumm

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Posted 25 November 2021 - 04:40 PM

I'm very new at this hobby. My struggle in finding objects is estimating how much between objects. A few days ago while at work the moon was rising, to the right were three prominent stars one on top the other. I pulled up Stellarium and could not find the stars.

Remembering a page from NIGHTWATCH, you can estimate the angle between the two using your extended hand with fist open, 25°, the with the remaining distance with hand closed. Looking at Stellarium about 35 to 50 degrees there they were! I visually found them and who they were.

I'm finally learning angles that will point me to the object using other objects.

That was a breakthrough for me. It changed a lot of star hopping estimating process for me.

Knowing just how far you're hopping is hugely important.   I use little FOV circles on acetate to measure off distances on my charts.  This way, I know just how far I'm going, and also just what the star pattern should look like in my eyepiece.  Here are my circles on the Skalnate Pleso atlas and the Uranometria 2000.  The Uranometria is large enough I can also have one for my lowest power eyepiece.

                                                      Marty

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#64 stevereecy

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Posted 25 November 2021 - 04:55 PM

I just find stuff using SkySafari. It shows the messier objects, which a lot of the phone applications don’t do.  Then I just zoom in or zoom out to get the stars on the screen to be in a one to one ratio with the stars in the sky.  Then I use ratios to get me there…like “Hey, that Messier object is about 2/3 of the way from one of those stars to the other”.    I could even match the limiting magnitude of the sky to the magnitude on my phone, but I just leave it set at 8.0. 



#65 firemachine69

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Posted 25 November 2021 - 05:13 PM

I am a star hopper from way back. Forty some years ago, I was a human GoTo for a great many objects.  In the past 17 years, I have become a hybrid star hopper, and user of both DSC and Dob circles/angle finder.  For example,, with the push to Nexus DSC and my 6 inch apo on my manual G11 mount, I have access to the entire WDS catalog.   If I'm going to view something familiar,  I more quickly point the scope without the aid of circles.  With the DSC, I can thoroughly view 15 double stars in one session, rather than star hopping to maybe 6 or 7.

 

 

My goal is to eventually be able to do a Messier marathon with an hour of sleep in between. 



#66 tdfwds

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Posted 25 November 2021 - 07:41 PM

...the Skalnate Pleso atlas...

I always wanted one of those!  Although light pollution and other circumstances wouldn't make it worthwhile to have one (as in it'd be overkill compared to what I could do) I'd probably still love to have one even now, just to look through it every now and again!  Probably couldn't afford a second hand one in good nick, or at least to be able to justify the cost relative to the utility.  Just after I got Uranometria 2000.0 I started using Guide in earnest (had a version since 2, and upgraded all the way to 8 in base CD terms and 9 in just the software terms), and always printed bespoke charts out for targets that were going to be tricky.

 

Otherwise I'd just use the charts in Pascachoff's (spelling?) field Guide, which is good enough to finderscope yourself to many an object.  I'd taught myself all them years ago on Donald Menzel's original edition of that (Pasaschoff was one of his students btw), as I'd never been able to follow star charts in those days, Norton's was average, hard to follow, didn't go deep and had no deepsky worth mentioning, whilst many other commonly and readily available charts were abysmal.  Without Menzel's negative photographs painstakingly labelled I'd have never learnt to starhop and never seen one tenth or even that much of what I have.

 

Of course when trying to show folk how to starhop the smug party piece was to look down their medium sized reflector 'scope's body, not even using any finder, using a low magnification, and them being amazed that M13 or M57 were in the field of view of the eyepiece.  I can't remember when I last saw M13 naked eye, even M31 and the fuzz of the Sword Handle near Zenith are getting tricky nowadays, skies have got that poor with the growth of the town's outskirts.



#67 John Fitzgerald

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Posted 25 November 2021 - 07:59 PM

I started my star hopping back about 1966, with one of the "Golden Guides" called "The Sky Observer's Guide" by Mayall.  I soon graduated to "Norton's Star Atlas" epoch 1950, until the Tirion Atlas 2000 came out.  I started using that about 1984.  Now, any star hopping I do is with the aid of Sky Safari 6 Pro, on my AMOLED tablet, in dark red mode.  No red light necessary for chart reading.



#68 bumm

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Posted 25 November 2021 - 08:42 PM

I always wanted one of those!  Although light pollution and other circumstances wouldn't make it worthwhile to have one (as in it'd be overkill compared to what I could do) I'd probably still love to have one even now, just to look through it every now and again!  Probably couldn't afford a second hand one in good nick, or at least to be able to justify the cost relative to the utility.  Just after I got Uranometria 2000.0 I started using Guide in earnest (had a version since 2, and upgraded all the way to 8 in base CD terms and 9 in just the software terms), and always printed bespoke charts out for targets that were going to be tricky.

 

Otherwise I'd just use the charts in Pascachoff's (spelling?) field Guide, which is good enough to finderscope yourself to many an object.  I'd taught myself all them years ago on Donald Menzel's original edition of that (Pasaschoff was one of his students btw), as I'd never been able to follow star charts in those days, Norton's was average, hard to follow, didn't go deep and had no deepsky worth mentioning, whilst many other commonly and readily available charts were abysmal.  Without Menzel's negative photographs painstakingly labelled I'd have never learnt to starhop and never seen one tenth or even that much of what I have.

 

Of course when trying to show folk how to starhop the smug party piece was to look down their medium sized reflector 'scope's body, not even using any finder, using a low magnification, and them being amazed that M13 or M57 were in the field of view of the eyepiece.  I can't remember when I last saw M13 naked eye, even M31 and the fuzz of the Sword Handle near Zenith are getting tricky nowadays, skies have got that poor with the growth of the town's outskirts.

Skalnate Plesos turn up on ebay quite a bit.  They're very similar to the Jumbo Pocket Sky Atlas, but sometimes I'll pull it out to plan a session on account of the larger charts.  I bought my color version in 1975, and just because I love old star atlases I picked up the old black on white 1949 version a little while back.  (Actually, it had two "title pages," one from Sky Publishing, and also a 1948 Czech one, so I'm not sure just what their business arrangement was back then.)

 

I too sort of learned the stars out of Menzel's old Field Guide.  I'd never known that Pasachoff was a student of Menzel's.  I remember buying it because it actually had a full sky photographic atlas, but the size and printing quality sort of limited it's real usefulness.  I still love my old copy though, and pull it out every once in awhile just to reminisce.

                                                                                                                        Marty
 

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#69 clearwaterdave

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Posted 25 November 2021 - 11:35 PM

I picked up these cheap magnifying glasses to use for fov templates.,With this chart the full glass is 5° and the circle is 2°.,I like that they can magnify.,but the best feature is they stay put on the page.,helping to keep your place. 

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#70 Dobs O Fun

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Posted 26 November 2021 - 01:04 AM

Knowing just how far you're hopping is hugely important. I use little FOV circles on acetate to measure off distances on my charts. This way, I know just how far I'm going, and also just what the star pattern should look like in my eyepiece. Here are my circles on the Skalnate Pleso atlas and the Uranometria 2000. The Uranometria is large enough I can also have one for my lowest power eyepiece.
Marty


Funny how you had Pleiades in the photo. I've been trying to study it. Between weather and working evenings I'm having a hard time getting scope time.

My observation I spoke about was with the naked eye. To me all I wanted was a bit more time and perhaps a pair of binos. After getting the distance correct I felt like my star hopping will get easier.

Between knowing my FoV and angular distance my object finding will be faster.

One thing I'm interested in is knowing the magnitude of what I am looking at. I live in a place with high LP. Knowing magnitude allows what I can see and what I can't. Stellarium allows me to adjust what magnitude to display. My goal is to find what I can't see, if that makes sense.
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#71 Jon Isaacs

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Posted 26 November 2021 - 01:34 AM

My goal is to find what I can't see, if that makes sense.

 

 

:waytogo:

 

In general, what you are looking for will usually not be visible in the finders and quite possibly the main scope at low magnifications.  

 

Jon


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#72 Cygnus0629

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Posted 26 November 2021 - 10:49 AM

This thread is making me want to try out the RACI that came with my scope.  After reading some of ya'lls comments I can see how a wide field finder scope would be beneficial for star hopping. Especially for those more difficult targets.  I guess I haven't used one yet is because I thought it would be difficult to orient the scope without the red dot, and I thought I would spend more time looking through the finder than the actual OTA....maybe I will get the RACI out tonight if the seeing is good and try it out



#73 Asbytec

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Posted 26 November 2021 - 10:59 AM

Yea, I use an RACI finder to get me close, then a low power eyepiece to get on it. I have to change the orientation in Sky Safari and even rotate my phone a little. But, it works great. 


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#74 Jon Isaacs

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Posted 26 November 2021 - 11:59 AM

This thread is making me want to try out the RACI that came with my scope.  After reading some of ya'lls comments I can see how a wide field finder scope would be beneficial for star hopping. Especially for those more difficult targets.  I guess I haven't used one yet is because I thought it would be difficult to orient the scope without the red dot, and I thought I would spend more time looking through the finder than the actual OTA....maybe I will get the RACI out tonight if the seeing is good and try it out

 

I believe the finder that came with your Evostar 120 ED is a Right-Angle finder rather than a Right-Angle-Correct-Image finder.

 

This complicates things because the image is flipped left-right about the focuser axis. It's not too bad if the finder is vertically aligned but if the finder is at an angle, then the image is f.ipped at that angle which is quite confusing, or at least can be.

 

Jon


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#75 Cygnus0629

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Posted 26 November 2021 - 12:09 PM

I believe the finder that came with your Evostar 120 ED is a Right-Angle finder rather than a Right-Angle-Correct-Image finder.

 

This complicates things because the image is flipped left-right about the focuser axis. It's not too bad if the finder is vertically aligned but if the finder is at an angle, then the image is f.ipped at that angle which is quite confusing, or at least can be.

 

Jon

I did not realize this and thank you for informing me.  Would have confused me even more if I didnt know smile.gif


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