Posts Tagged With: Chart

A Brief Observing Guide for Asteroid DA14

The best pic I’ve seen thus far, for catching asteroid DA14.
All times are in GMT, on Feb the 15th. The asteroid begins from the bottom of Leo and moves to the Plough.

You’d need a pair binoculars (50mm aperture is the minimum, I believe) to see it. It’s too faint for the naked eye, about 250 times fainter than the stars of Ursa Major (the Plough). If you’ve got a telescope, all the better!

Sadly, I can’t be catching it today…Ohh why (said in anguish!)
The clouds are too heavy down here. I can’t see a single star – so there’s no way I could navigate the constellations.

And if you’re from the Americas, you won’t be able to catch it too, as its daytime. But, if you’re at the Eastern Hemisphere, keep a lookout.

This is the view from home. Not the best pic, but the skies are entirely void of stars today – and it’s all just an orange blur (though the sky looks black in the pic).
Oh well…

…guess I’ve gotta wait  40 more years before I see you. Till 2046 then!20130216-021604.jpg

Good luck hunting guys!

And yes, don’t forget to check out these links:
1. How to spot Asteroid 2012 DA14 – by The Guardian
2. NASA’s Guide

My bed’s calling 😉

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Categories: Amateur Astronomy, Misc, Observation Tips | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

StarHopping – Old Skool Style

So, if you don’t have a PushTo, GoTo or a Telrad (like myself), this is whatcha gonna need for some old-skool style star-hopping.

Gear

Star Chart

Here’s a link to a free downloadable version which I’ve used for my observation nights with my club: SFA Star Chart. Star Charts map constellations, nebulae and galaxies, and they sometimes even indicate brightness! So, before you start observing, you’ll need a star chart to know what’s up in the sky tonight, decide which object to hunt for and use the pattern of stars to guide you there. Without star-hopping, locating an object is like looking for a needle in a haystack – especially if your eyepiece has a narrow field of view and a short focal length – talk about tunnel vision!

Hands

A Compass

Instructions

The trick is to imagine your star chart as a sphere encapsulating Earth.

From the Equatorial Region

Check your Star Chart and lookout for today’s date (its on the horizontal axis). If you imagine a vertical line through the point which marks the date, that would be the view of the skies at the Celestial Meridien at 8 pm. Then on, just minus or add the time of your viewing to the Meridien (at 8 pm) and shift your focus (the imaginary vertical line) on the map – basically, aligning the Celestial Meridien to the current time. So, if you’re observing at 11pm, you would need to add 3 hours (11-8=3) to the 8pm Meridien, which means, looking 3 hours to the left of the imaginary 8pm Meridien line on the map. if you’re observing at say 7 pm, look an hour (8-7=1) to the right of the 8pm Meridien. Once you’ve approximated your vertical axis, look up to the skies and align it with what you see.

Now if you wanna see the Eastern sky, align yourself to face East – here’s where the compass comes in. Look at the left of the vertical line which matches your time of viewing and date. And if you want to see the Western sky, face West and look at the right of the imaginary line. You see, as Earth rotates, you’ll see new stars emerging on your East and other stars falling under the Western horizon.

It all may sound quite confusing. So, back to basics, imagine your chart as a sphere wrapped around Earth, and remember how Earth’s rotation makes the sky look like its moving. Check out: Why Stars Move

Next up, is using your hands. Once, you’ve located what you see on the chart, to hop to the right star, you’ll need to measure. On the chart, are “latitude lines” 10 degrees apart. How on earth would you know what’s 10 degrees apart in the sky. Well, make a fist and point it up to the sky, the length of a fist measures 10 degrees in the sky. The thumb, about 5 degrees. And if you open you hand as wide as possible, from the tip of the little finger to the thumb’s tip, 25 degrees.

Now, you’re all set!

Zoomed in Star Chart

ps. What’s the Celestial Meridien?It’s a circle the passes through the north and south celestial poles, the zenith and nadir. Read: Measuring the Sky to find out more.

Categories: Amateur Astronomy, Observation Gear, Observation Tips, Stars | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

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