Jump to content

  •  

CNers have asked about a donation box for Cloudy Nights over the years, so here you go. Donation is not required by any means, so please enjoy your stay.

Photo

Advice on systematic observing

  • Please log in to reply
34 replies to this topic

#1 skpark

skpark

    Vostok 1

  • -----
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 122
  • Joined: 26 Aug 2019
  • Loc: CT, USA

Posted 24 June 2024 - 08:45 AM

After a long break from visual astronomy I want to take a more deliberate systematic approach to observing sessions. I’ve never taken observing logs and I think I will start with that, along with taking the time to limit observing targets and sketching what I see. I’ll be using a non-go-to John Pratte 12.5” f5.5 dob with a ZOC mirror in the northeast. My suburban skies show 20.5 on my SQM at zenith on new moon nights, a little better to the north and worse to the south (NYC is 60 miles to my southwest as the bird flies). My local light pollution is fairly low as I’m surrounded by a nature preserve. Luckily I have no light glare from neighbors or street lights to deal with. Seeing conditions vary from 1.5” to 3” depending on time of year and time of night.

Embarrassingly enough I’ve never observed the complete Messier list. I was thinking of starting with the goal of getting this certificate, as well as perhaps the Herschel 400.

I have 3 young kids so I’ll be limited to 3 to 4 hours of observing on most clear nights. I do have access to Rockland astronomy club’s dark sky site which has a SQM of 21.6 which I can make out to once a month for longer observing sessions.

Some advice I would like:
1. Index card vs full sheet observation logs; which do you use and why?
2. How many objects do you limit yourself to per hour on typical night of observing? I want to sketch so I’m thinking of limiting myself to 1 or 2 objects per hour.
3. Do you digitize your paper logs? I’m thinking of doing it so things are searchable by keyword, ect.
4. What’s your approach to researching information on an object before observing? Do you take notes before? If yes, do you put those notes on your log to have handy while at EP?
5. Any other suggestions?

Thanks!

Sam
  • tcifani likes this

#2 12BH7

12BH7

    Soyuz

  • -----
  • Posts: 3,928
  • Joined: 05 Jan 2022
  • Loc: North of Phoenix Arizona

Posted 24 June 2024 - 09:10 AM

look at post #3

 

A good start would be to download the 500 best of the NGC. Use that as a guide to pick your targets by constellation and season as they are up.

 

Start with a basic written log. Me personally, I don't bother entering scientific information as I'm not doing research. I just log in date, conditions and generally what I saw.  If I'm using several scopes I'll indicate which one I'm using. But again, I  just describe what I see. 

 

If you start getting serious and have hundreds of objects then use something like a basic database program. I find that many of the available logging programs add too much fluff that makes more work for you. 

 

Or you can just print out the NGC list and make notes right on the sheets.


  • sevenofnine likes this

#3 RAKing

RAKing

    Voyager 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 10,522
  • Joined: 28 Dec 2007
  • Loc: Northern VA - West of the D.C. Nebula

Posted 24 June 2024 - 09:42 AM

My original logs pre-dated computers - and were lost after the third or fourth move.  I only have my handwritten notes and logs from 2007, but it's always fun to go back and review what I saw back then.

 

The Messier certificate is a great starter place!  You should review the Astro League's requirements, so you can do a proper writeup when you submit your package.  Sketching the objects is fun - I have a notebook with my bad sketches of every Messier object.  lol.gif

 

I typically have a written list of objects I plan to see each night and I scribble notes as the night goes on.  I do a lot of variable stars and I have to keep good notes on the charts and comp stars, so I can download my findings to the AAVSO database.  I keep a handwritten journal of my variable estimates - I am now on volume three or four (over 1500 estimates so far).  I have been slowed by old age (77) and medical issues, but I will keep going as best I can.

 

Give it a try.  You will soon develop a routine that works for you!

 

Cheers,

 

Ron


  • sevenofnine likes this

#4 12BH7

12BH7

    Soyuz

  • -----
  • Posts: 3,928
  • Joined: 05 Jan 2022
  • Loc: North of Phoenix Arizona

Posted 24 June 2024 - 09:53 AM

My main form of logging is a spiral bound note book. I prefer a written note as I've also had a few mishaps with computers. The database I have I've printed and have several backup copies, just in case. 

 

One thing that I do like is to read a few of my notes from WAY back in the early 90's. Little things like skunks checking me out or something interesting that happened while I was out. Or something about buddies that are no longer with us. And for some reason I have a few leaves taped into my log book from decades ago. I wouldn't trade those for anything in the world.


  • izar187, RAKing and PNW like this

#5 revans

revans

    Fly Me to the Moon

  • ****-
  • Moderators
  • Posts: 6,469
  • Joined: 26 Sep 2005
  • Loc: Fitchburg, MA

Posted 24 June 2024 - 09:59 AM

I bought a book on the Caldwell objects and worked my way through that after finishing the Messier objects. 

 

Rick



#6 skpark

skpark

    Vostok 1

  • -----
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 122
  • Joined: 26 Aug 2019
  • Loc: CT, USA

Posted 24 June 2024 - 10:08 AM

look at post #3

A good start would be to download the 500 best of the NGC. Use that as a guide to pick your targets by constellation and season as they are up.

Start with a basic written log. Me personally, I don't bother entering scientific information as I'm not doing research. I just log in date, conditions and generally what I saw. If I'm using several scopes I'll indicate which one I'm using. But again, I just describe what I see.

If you start getting serious and have hundreds of objects then use something like a basic database program. I find that many of the available logging programs add too much fluff that makes more work for you.

Or you can just print out the NGC list and make notes right on the sheets.


Is that Starman1’s list? I just downloaded it and it looks great. Awesome ppl take the time to give back like that.
  • kfiscus likes this

#7 skpark

skpark

    Vostok 1

  • -----
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 122
  • Joined: 26 Aug 2019
  • Loc: CT, USA

Posted 24 June 2024 - 10:13 AM

My original logs pre-dated computers - and were lost after the third or fourth move. I only have my handwritten notes and logs from 2007, but it's always fun to go back and review what I saw back then.

The Messier certificate is a great starter place! You should review the Astro League's requirements, so you can do a proper writeup when you submit your package. Sketching the objects is fun - I have a notebook with my bad sketches of every Messier object. lol.gif

I typically have a written list of objects I plan to see each night and I scribble notes as the night goes on. I do a lot of variable stars and I have to keep good notes on the charts and comp stars, so I can download my findings to the AAVSO database. I keep a handwritten journal of my variable estimates - I am now on volume three or four (over 1500 estimates so far). I have been slowed by old age (77) and medical issues, but I will keep going as best I can.

Give it a try. You will soon develop a routine that works for you!

Cheers,

Ron


Yes, lol i have that exact problem of losing paper files after years. I either scan or take a picture of all paper stuff now and its stored in cloud now. Keeping everything digital organized is another matter 😂

My sketches will be horrible for a while but i found in my limited experience it’s a good way to keep myself honest and not as prone to averted imagination.
  • RAKing likes this

#8 weis14

weis14

    Mercury-Atlas

  • *****
  • Posts: 2,902
  • Joined: 26 Oct 2007
  • Loc: Midland, MI

Posted 24 June 2024 - 10:15 AM

I started a more systemic observing program a few years ago.  I'm in a similar position to you where I have two young kids, so I have mostly short sessions at home.  I can also go to a dark site once or twice a month.  Here are my thoughts on your questions.

 

1. Index card vs full sheet observation logs; which do you use and why?

 

I use small notebooks in the field that are basically impossible to read and get transferred to digital logs within a day or two of observing.  Format doesn't matter and they are typically the notebooks you get for free at a conference or trade show.  I don't sketch, but I've thought about it and would use a separate sketch pad for that purpose.

 

2. How many objects do you limit yourself to per hour on typical night of observing? I want to sketch so I’m thinking of limiting myself to 1 or 2 objects per hour.

 

This depends greatly on what the object is and how I plan to find it.  Except for lunar/planetary observing, I rarely spend more than 10-15 minutes on an object once it is in the FOV, unless I have a specific reason to do so. 

 

3. Do you digitize your paper logs? I’m thinking of doing it so things are searchable by keyword, ect.

 

Yes!  This is one of the best things I've done.  I start by transcribing my field notes into a Word document that is basically in the style of a blog post.  I usually post those here in the Observing Log thread (example).  I later use these blog posts to update a comprehensive Excel spreadsheet that is sortable by date, object, object type, scope, eyepiece, description, constellation, location, mount, seeing, transparency, moon phase and SQM-L.  This sounds difficult, but it is actually pretty easy as a lot of the fields are the same for an entire session.  Using this approach allows me to sort to find previous observations of an object and test my observations over similar sessions in the past.

 

4. What’s your approach to researching information on an object before observing? Do you take notes before? If yes, do you put those notes on your log to have handy while at EP?

 

I will often make observing lists with targets for the evening.  If I put notes in, it is either to make the object easier to star hop to or to remind me to look for a specific feature.  I get the information on the objects from various sources.

 

5. Any other suggestions?

 

I've recently started planning by picking a constellation and making a list focused on it.  I find that this really minimizes the jumping around the sky that a less disciplined approach using "best objects tonight" lists typically devolve into.  I have print resources that make this pretty easy, including Deep Sky Wonders, by Sue French and the in depth analyses of constellations found in the Night Sky Observers Guide or in Annals of the Deep Sky (at least up to where they have covered currently). 

 

I also have used some observing lists from the Astronomical League to help guide my observing.  I don't obsess over them, but I've found that the Urban Observing Program in particular is helpful for selecting good targets in light pollution.

 

Finally, don't get frustrated by some of the other members here that have fewer commitments due to retirements, grown children, etc.  This is a hobby, not a job.  Some years I have 50+ observing sessions.  Some I have 15.  A few members on CN have 15 sessions per month.  I make do with what I can.


  • Migwan likes this

#9 skpark

skpark

    Vostok 1

  • -----
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 122
  • Joined: 26 Aug 2019
  • Loc: CT, USA

Posted 24 June 2024 - 10:20 AM

My main form of logging is a spiral bound note book. I prefer a written note as I've also had a few mishaps with computers. The database I have I've printed and have several backup copies, just in case.

One thing that I do like is to read a few of my notes from WAY back in the early 90's. Little things like skunks checking me out or something interesting that happened while I was out. Or something about buddies that are no longer with us. And for some reason I have a few leaves taped into my log book from decades ago. I wouldn't trade those for anything in the world.


I love the idea of having a few keepsakes like leaves. Kinda like a scrapbook. I’m not a diarist but putting non-astronomy tidbits in the log could be a cool thing to do. Maybe some taped polaroid type photos when observing with friends or at dark sites. Amazing idea. Thanks!
  • 12BH7 likes this

#10 Tenacious

Tenacious

    Viking 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 898
  • Joined: 19 Oct 2015
  • Loc: South of Cincinnati

Posted 24 June 2024 - 11:58 AM

  skpark asked:

 

  Some advice I would like:
  1. Index card vs full sheet observation logs; which do you use and why?

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

As I mentioned in another thread, I started collecting George Kepple's Astrocards (here and here) a few years back.  I haven't done much with them at the EP yet, but I love the flexible 3" x 5" format.  They inspire me to personalize and expand the set.  I have notes about reference additions I want to make: diagrams of the Moon, Mars, Jupiter, & Saturn, calculated EP data in combination with my various telescopes, include other objects like carbon stars, etc, a card with conversions, constants and formula I don't keep in my head, zoomed in details of say the trapezium & others, the H-R diagram of star cycle, and whatever else is useful, maybe even historical information..

 

..And of course, an observing log.    If I didn't already have some of the Astrocards, I'd still be tempted to pursue this.



#11 BrentKnight

BrentKnight

    Cosmos

  • *****
  • Moderators
  • Posts: 8,632
  • Joined: 29 Dec 2014
  • Loc: Foley, Alabama

Posted 24 June 2024 - 12:00 PM

I use SkySafari for taking my initial notes (and for the electronic charts).  I then transfer them over to SkyTools 4 Visual.  SkyTools is an excellent way to track the AL observing programs.  When completed, you can just export all your logs for the project and submit.  SkyTools is a full-featured application, but you can start small - just using the observing log feature and maybe simple planning - but it will grow with you when you want to do more with it.



#12 Napp

Napp

    Fly Me to the Moon

  • *****
  • Moderators
  • Posts: 6,065
  • Joined: 26 Jul 2015
  • Loc: Northeast Florida, USA

Posted 24 June 2024 - 12:34 PM

If you intend to submit your observations for the AL observing program certificates/pins there are specific requirements for data logged. Some programs can use a generic log sheet while others require specific type/format sheets. Some programs like the Herschey 400 use an Excel spreadsheet. The Messier list just needs a generic sheet. I have one that works for it. PM me if you want it.

Generally you submit your observations electronically. For most programs this means scanning your logs. For some you submit spreadsheets. Pay particular attention to the requirements section of each program’s guide document. Some programs have a separate detailed requirements document but the guide document contains links to all associated documents.

#13 Sebastian_Sajaroff

Sebastian_Sajaroff

    Vanguard

  • -----
  • Posts: 2,183
  • Joined: 27 Jan 2023
  • Loc: Montreal, Quebec, Canada

Posted 24 June 2024 - 12:51 PM

Don’t impose artificial limits to your observing sessions.
Some nights you will focus on 10 or 20 objects, others will be spent on 1 or 2. Go with the flow !
  • izar187, kfiscus, sevenofnine and 2 others like this

#14 zleonis

zleonis

    Messenger

  • *****
  • Posts: 460
  • Joined: 27 Mar 2018
  • Loc: Richmond, VA

Posted 24 June 2024 - 01:30 PM

First of all, I'm impressed with your energy and dedication to observe 3-4 hours per night with three young children!

 

For logging observations, I use sky safari plus or pro's observing tools. It can take a few sessions to get fluent, but you can plan a session and log observing conditions, equipment, observations, etc pretty seamlessly. The voice-to-text feature of my tablet generally works tolerably well, although I sometimes take the trouble to clean it up when I'm at a computer with a keyboard. Sky Safari also has decent information about objects, but I don't use it for research or planning (I'll often create a list of objects to observe in Sky Safari, but do planning/research based on paper sources). I should note, I use Sky Safari primarily for its charts - the logging functions are a nice side benefit, but I probably wouldn't use its observation logging functions if it weren't such a great help for star hopping. 

 

My favorite sources for learning about things to observe are the Night Sky Observers' Guide (especially for selecting targets), Annals of the Deep Sky (if the object is covered in one of the volumes I have), Burnham's Celestial Handbook, or Sky and Telescope observing columns. 

 

My usual cadence is around 4-6 objects per hour, but I rarely sketch. That's not necessarily a pace I target, just what emerges from my observing. I am personally not of a disposition to spend much more time than that on most objects, but it would all be a blur if I went significantly faster than that, and while I enjoy star hopping, it'd be tiring on my eyes to spend a significantly larger portion of a session doing that. 



#15 sevenofnine

sevenofnine

    Fly Me to the Moon

  • *****
  • Posts: 6,812
  • Joined: 16 Apr 2016
  • Loc: Santa Rosa, California 38*N., 122*W.

Posted 24 June 2024 - 02:33 PM

You are asking the right questions and getting great answers from our most experienced members. Very impressive! With your work and family obligations, I suggest starting off easy with a good astronomy guide book and get some success under your belt. If completing a Messier list is a goal then "The Year-Round Messier Marathon Field Guide" by Harvard Pennington is a good start and easy to follow. It's out of print now but used copies are available. Sue French's "Deep-Sky Wonders" is excellent and gives a very detailed explanation of what's up on a month by month basis. Last but not least, do get a copy of Sky&Telescope's "Pocket Sky Atlas" it's a classic. Good luck! borg.gif 

 

https://www.amazon.c...e/dp/0943396549.



#16 skpark

skpark

    Vostok 1

  • -----
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 122
  • Joined: 26 Aug 2019
  • Loc: CT, USA

Posted 24 June 2024 - 03:23 PM

Wow, some really great advice. Thanks so much! I have Sky Safari Pro and i didnt even know i can use it for logs. Although I have horrible penmanship i do favor pen/pencil to paper. I do love using digital resources when planning an observing session. I’ll make sure to look at the requirements for the Herschel 400 - i did already for Messier. I’m picking up my scope from Florida this weekend and driving up to CT so I’m excited to get back into it. I am going to be investigating all the resources listed. Between work, family, kids, poker nights and mountain biking with friends i guess its good we dont have that many clear nights here in the northeast - i would be a zombie if i stayed up most nights lol. Thanks again everyone!
  • BrentKnight and 12BH7 like this

#17 tcifani

tcifani

    Viking 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 511
  • Joined: 11 May 2017
  • Loc: North Carolina

Posted 24 June 2024 - 06:11 PM

Some advice I would like:
1. Index card vs full sheet observation logs; which do you use and why?
2. How many objects do you limit yourself to per hour on typical night of observing? I want to sketch so I’m thinking of limiting myself to 1 or 2 objects per hour.
3. Do you digitize your paper logs? I’m thinking of doing it so things are searchable by keyword, ect.
4. What’s your approach to researching information on an object before observing? Do you take notes before? If yes, do you put those notes on your log to have handy while at EP?
5. Any other suggestions?

Thanks!

Sam

Hi Sam,

Welcome back! 

 

1. I created my own log book that I print out on regular printer paper and fold into a small staple bound book. I like this method because I can look back over time and see what's worked and what hasn't.

2. This depends largely on where I'm viewing from, at home in the bright city or driving to dark site. Since I don't make it to dark sites as much as I'd like, I tend to go crazy when I do typically spend a lot more time there. At home, I've looked at the moon, and sketched, for a couple of hours at a time. Dark sites, I tend to move more quickly because I'm hungry to see more faint objects.

3. No, but this is a good idea. My handwriting is horrible, so I'd need to type in my notes.

4. This depends on what kind of objects I'm planning on viewing. If I'm at a dark site and seeking out difficult faint objects that I've never seen, or only seen maybe a few times, I plan them out on paper first and then use iPhone apps to help locate. I put all notes in log book usually after I get home or the next day. Also, I only log objects that are new to me or when an evening of viewing was extraordinary. I don't log things over and over again like the planets or showpiece DSOs unless something really great happened, like a perfect night of seeing and transparency.

5. I took a very long break from visual astronomy, from about 1984 when I was a teenager until just a few years ago in my late forties. This hobby is much more exciting the second time around!

 

Clear skies!

Tony

Attached Thumbnails

  • IMG_2614.jpg


#18 N3p

N3p

    Vanguard

  • *****
  • Posts: 2,154
  • Joined: 25 Jun 2018

Posted 24 June 2024 - 06:34 PM

Embarrassingly enough I’ve never observed the complete Messier list.


Some advice I would like:
1. Index card vs full sheet observation logs; which do you use and why?
2. How many objects do you limit yourself to per hour on typical night of observing? I want to sketch so I’m thinking of limiting myself to 1 or 2 objects per hour.
3. Do you digitize your paper logs? I’m thinking of doing it so things are searchable by keyword, ect.
4. What’s your approach to researching information on an object before observing? Do you take notes before? If yes, do you put those notes on your log to have handy while at EP?
5. Any other suggestions?

Thanks!

Sam

 

I am planning an observation right now, in front of Stellarium, I am picking the newly available constellations placed at the right elevation. Tonight it's going to be the sector between Ophiuchus and Aquila,, maybe I'll check out a bit of  Sagitta and Velpecula. This is my choice #1 for DSOs.

 

Choice #2 is the upper part of Virgo and Coma Berenices, for the galaxies.

 

There is so much stuff in these 2 sectors. I'll just pick a starting point star and follow a star path towards some bright DSOs, i'll make a couple of sketches on paper along the way and take a few notes. I'll be good after maybe 2.5 or 3 hours max.

 

Usually I pick specific DSOs I want to look at and write their names down on a post-it, this is my program, takes about 10 - 15 minutes to prepare.



#19 WillR

WillR

    Mercury-Atlas

  • ****-
  • Posts: 2,874
  • Joined: 20 Mar 2021
  • Loc: Stroudsburg, PA

Posted 24 June 2024 - 08:48 PM

“I must create a system, or be enslaved by another man’s.”  William Blake (and the title of an art piece I did many years ago)

 

But astronomy.

 

My system is to concentrate on one area of the sky that happens to be near the meridian. This is more or less forced on me because I do all most all my observing from home, and my only clear views are north and south. 
 

I use the Pocket Sky Atlas to star hop and the Night Sky Observer’s Guide to research targets on the fly at the eyepiece. I include double stars. I make up general lists of targets by season, but increasingly I just wing it.
 

I record notes on my phone. The next day I transpose these into my journal along with brief comments about the rest of my day. I may or may not do a few drawings, which also are taped into the journal. I fill. up a journal about every 3-4 months. 

 

Eventually I enter all observations into a spread sheet (4000 in 3 years so far) that can be sorted by date, location, telescope, catalogue number, name, constellation, type, size, magnitudes, etc.

 

Every now and them, I refer to an observing list like the Messier, Caldwell, Herschel 500, or various AL lists and check off what I have seen, making lists of those I missed. I finished the Messier list in my 2nd year.

 

This is my current system.


Edited by WillR, 25 June 2024 - 04:09 AM.

  • tcifani likes this

#20 Sketcher

Sketcher

    Mercury-Atlas

  • *****
  • Posts: 2,722
  • Joined: 29 Jun 2017
  • Loc: Under Earth's Sky

Posted 24 June 2024 - 09:11 PM

Some advice I would like:
1. Index card vs full sheet observation logs; which do you use and why?
2. How many objects do you limit yourself to per hour on typical night of observing? I want to sketch so I’m thinking of limiting myself to 1 or 2 objects per hour.
3. Do you digitize your paper logs? I’m thinking of doing it so things are searchable by keyword, ect.
4. What’s your approach to researching information on an object before observing? Do you take notes before? If yes, do you put those notes on your log to have handy while at EP?
5. Any other suggestions?

1. I prefer using full sheets.  It provides more room for a sketch along with whatever notes (and the space to put the notes where they "belong") and arrows pointing out things for clarification, etc.  I've done something similar to index cards (brief notes, no sketches) at times past when my priorities were different -- for example, when I worked on a sky survey as an aid for comet-hunting long ago.  Different methods for different purposes . . .

 

2, I place no limits on objects per hour.  I devote whatever amount of time seems to be necessary for a particular object/observation.  Some observations can be completed in a minute, more or less.  Others can take more than one night.  Most will be somewhere between those extremes.  It depends on the object(s) and the level of visual detail.

 

3. I haven't been digitizing my observations.  I probably should at least photograph each of them -- just in case, but that seems to be too much work at this point in time (for me).

 

4. I don't research an object prior to making my observations, though I'll sometimes look up an object after I've made my observation.  Doing things in the other direction, it's too easy for what you've researched to influence what you think you see.

 

5. Methods and their details should be chosen based on why you're making the observations and what it is that you're wanting to accomplish.  Go with whatever best fits in with your situation, your goals, etc

 

A couple of my more recent formats:

 

Comet C 2017 K2 PanSTARRS Negative July 7  2022
 
Comet NEOWISE 5.30 20 July 2020 UT
 
The top one is a "negative" reproduction with some details left out either for privacy or for other reasons.  The bottom one is more in line with my current preferences, but I still have blank forms like the one above it, and other forms that I've never photographed and uploaded to CloudyNights.  In my experience, if forms are used, different forms tend to work better for different situations.  I would find it awkward (a poor fit) at times to use a single form for all of my observational needs.
 
I've tried many methods, and I currently have more than one option that I can choose between depending on the specific object, etc.   But all of my current methods involve the use of full sheets of paper.

  • izar187 likes this

#21 Nankins

Nankins

    Apollo

  • *****
  • Posts: 1,134
  • Joined: 07 Aug 2022
  • Loc: rural Warren County, Indiana

Posted 24 June 2024 - 10:05 PM

I'm purely a visual observer, but my logging is really mostly just remembering what I saw and writing it down in a notebook and/or here on CN afterwards.  I have a pretty good memory and so I can remember details in most objects until nearly a day or two later.  This doesn't happen so well if I observe dozens of objects per night.  As for number of objects per hour, being purely visual I usually do anywhere from 5 to 10 or so (5 on a normal night when I'm trying to find new objects, observing details, and enjoying the view on familiar objects; 10 if I'm attempting to find a bunch of new objects in a single session and/or just want to quickly revisit old friends).  I also take my phone out with me to use Stellarium while observing so I don't have to step away from the eyepiece.  This results in me doing no research beforehand and in me reading Stellarium's object information as I'm observing.  The pictures really help.  When using the plain old star chart, I just figure out the surrounding asterisms and the object type based on star chart symbols and if it's a galaxy, etc, fine, I usually see it for what it is.  If it's an open cluster, I often don't see the cluster however there are exceptions such as Steph 1 in Lyra.  

As for putting my "paper logs" (really just my notes from afterwards) in the computer, I literally just use CN most of the time, but have an observing log document that lists all of my observing logs ever.  I update it when I remember to or when I have the time to sit for hours and format it.  

 

Other advice:  Have patience and time on your hands.  Also dim red light to help you see.  I use a headlight when using my books and slide it over to the side of my head so I can use it but it doesn't get in the way of the eyepiece.  I use a Meade headlamp that has white and red settings.  Obviously you don't want to use the white setting unless you need to see to get back inside or to check out something on the ground that's more than a few yards away.  



#22 DSO Viewer AZ

DSO Viewer AZ

    Ranger 4

  • -----
  • Posts: 301
  • Joined: 05 Jan 2020
  • Loc: Central Arizona

Posted 25 June 2024 - 07:47 AM

Congrats on moving forward on these programs. Great advice so far. I use Sky safari in the field with my I pad, then transfer to books for Messier and Hershel at a time of my choosing later when I get home. I love to have a written copy for planning next trips out. Also, I put small stars next to my favorites to make sure at a glance I can go back and visit again and again. I find trying to write my observations in the field very difficult. But I can use Sky Safari and the voice to text to enter what I see. Often while my eye is at the eyepiece! This approach does require some translation afterwards, as speech to text does not always know what I am saying. These are the books I used to keep my observations. I made photocopies and sent them in. I know I can submit my digital copies, but I just really like paper. Each to there own…
http://www.astromax.com/astromax.htm

Clear skies, and good luck!  waytogo.gif



#23 symbiosis

symbiosis

    Viking 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 693
  • Joined: 07 Jun 2016
  • Loc: Maryland

Posted 25 June 2024 - 08:54 AM

My original logs pre-dated computers - and were lost after the third or fourth move.  I only have my handwritten notes and logs from 2007, but it's always fun to go back and review what I saw back then.

 

The Messier certificate is a great starter place!  You should review the Astro League's requirements, so you can do a proper writeup when you submit your package.  Sketching the objects is fun - I have a notebook with my bad sketches of every Messier object.  lol.gif

 

I typically have a written list of objects I plan to see each night and I scribble notes as the night goes on.  I do a lot of variable stars and I have to keep good notes on the charts and comp stars, so I can download my findings to the AAVSO database.  I keep a handwritten journal of my variable estimates - I am now on volume three or four (over 1500 estimates so far).  I have been slowed by old age (77) and medical issues, but I will keep going as best I can.

 

Give it a try.  You will soon develop a routine that works for you!

 

Cheers,

 

Ron

I am not currently a member of the AL, but this post prompted me to check out requirements for the Messier certificate. Unfortunately, I wouldn't qualify. While I have 70 M objects (just!), they have been recorded over a period of two decades (including from light-polluted skies in New York and Hong Kong and all manual, no go-to or even electronic aids). While I have kept the dates, I had not bothered with the times. I suppose I could always reproduce those observations, but that will take time.


Edited by symbiosis, 25 June 2024 - 09:04 AM.


#24 The Ardent

The Ardent

    Fly Me to the Moon

  • *****
  • Posts: 6,435
  • Joined: 24 Oct 2008
  • Loc: Virginia

Posted 25 June 2024 - 09:14 AM

Write in a time when the sun is below the horizon . Close is better than nothing.

#25 The Ardent

The Ardent

    Fly Me to the Moon

  • *****
  • Posts: 6,435
  • Joined: 24 Oct 2008
  • Loc: Virginia

Posted 25 June 2024 - 09:15 AM

Here is an example of my attempt at systematic observing instead of random.

https://www.cloudyni...in-canis-minor/


CNers have asked about a donation box for Cloudy Nights over the years, so here you go. Donation is not required by any means, so please enjoy your stay.


Recent Topics






Cloudy Nights LLC
Cloudy Nights Sponsor: Astronomics