Posts Tagged With: observation

Observation Log: 1

I’ve been trying to keep a record of my observations on sheets of paper. But unfortunately, these papers sometimes go missing.
So now onwards, I’ll be recording my observation on this blog (sketching will still be on paper though ūüėČ ).
But besides my making sure they’re all in one place, you’ll get to read them too!
They’re pretty boring right now (viewing conditions from home are far from good)…but I’ll be heading off to Boston in fall, and I’m keeping my fingers crossed for some clearer skies!

Date: Monday, 13/05/2013

Location: Balcony (latitude: 3.03, longitude:101.57)

Sky conditions: Slight wind, heavy haze on the horizon, medium haze overhead, crescent moonlight.

Equipment: Skywatcher 10″ Dobsonian, 24mm and 10mm Plossl.

Time: 9.0opm

1. Saw a binary star for my first time. Location: Ursa Major.

2. Saw Saturn, which was as peachy and beautiful as ever. Location: Virgo

Time: 9.40 om

M3 on the hunting dogs (Canes Venatici), next to the herdsman (Bootes).
Used Arcturus and 3 stars of Ursa Major’s tail for reference.
Not enough visible stars to starhop to M3.

Categories: Observation Log | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

Lyrid Shooting Stars

So I’ve got the orange skies, the moon glare, and clouds – it can’t get any worse!

For all you lucky ones out there with clear skies, here goes:
NatGeo’s¬†Sky-Watchers’ Guide: How to See Lyrid Meteors This Weekend.

I’ll be keeping a lookout till the 25th though…Ohhh it’ll be great to catch something – it has been so many years since I last saw a shooting star and it a lovely sight – so speedy!

Categories: Amateur Astronomy, Observation Tips, Shooting Stars | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Astronomy gear that tempt me ohhh so bad.

After a year and a half of OptCorp and Cloudynight/Astronomyforum reviews, here’s what I’ve come up with.

My “Must Have” or rather ‘Futilely Desire” list:

1. A Barlow (would love a Televue 2″ 2x Powermate)
2. A Wide Field Eyepiece ( aVixen 1.25″ 40mm NLV seem like the best bet! – would love the 2″ 50mm, if not for the extra 100 dollars!)
3. A Devoted Planetary Eyepiece (William Optics anyone?)
4.A Stellarvue (yes you heard it!) 10x60mm Finderscope – that’d also serve as a mini portable refractor for the planets, with its 2″ focuser, and 1.25″ adapter.
5. A pair of binoculars (less than 70mm aperture, so I wouldnt need a tripod) ….or should I get a monocular? Waterproofing is great as well! Any recommendations?
6. A Baader Planetarium Moon & SkyGlow filter.

And yes, you must know my scope and viewing conditions.
I have a 10″ Dobsonian Skywatcher.
And the basic set of accessories that come with it, a 24mm and a 10mm Plossl.
Heavy light pollution and haze from my side. Viewing is mostly limited to planets.
But occasionally the skies are clear – and I get to catch the brighter nebular. Still a dream of mine to catch the Horsehead Nebula someday.
Thinking of getting a wild-field eyepiece to starhop. Do you think it’ll work? There really isn’t much point in starhopping with a finderscope, as the stars are too dim from where I’m at.

So let me know what’s your favourite pick? And if you’ve got any other suggestions, that’ll be great!

Till then, cheers!

ps. This is THE best article I’ve read on planetary eyepieces. Learnt so much from it – and it wasn’t a tad bit boring at all!
6mm Lunar/Planetary Eyepiece Comparison – by Bill Paolini

Categories: Amateur Astronomy, Observation Gear, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

And if you can’t catch DA14, here’s what you do:

Wow! That’s one speedy asteroid!

You can see it through your computer at
NASA’s JPL Streaming:

It’s passing by Australia now! —on its path to the Northern Hemisphere.

Categories: Misc, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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.


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!


A Compass


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

Becoming an Amateur Astronomer

Hey guys! Sorry for not writing in the past couple of weeks, but I’ve been so busy with university applications and my new semester at college – it’s hard to even find the hours to sleep! But I’ve finally found some free time – and can’t wait to start posting again! So here it is…

First up – on becoming an amateur astronomer.

There’s only one way.

Be inspired .

You gotta feel the excitement of looking up at a clear the night sky! Trust me, all the books and videos in the world can never match the real thing Рseeing a night sky for yourself! In my case, it happened when I really young, on a bus ride through rural Malaysia, past villages in the state of Perak. As I looked out of the windows, I was shocked to see hundreds of stars in the night sky Рand was simply mesmerized! My aunt sitting next to me (the only other person awake), who would have seen questions written all over my face, told me there were billions of these stars in the sky, each burning for billions of years. I had never heard of something so vast, immense and ancient before Р and I was hooked!

In Malaysia, you could take a drive to the islands like Pulau Perhentian or Tioman for some serious stragazing. The remote highlands or hills (last year for instance, I went stargazing atop the hills of Kuala Kubu Bharu in Pahang) are good observation sites too.. Even on the North-South highway, my sis and I caught the Big Dipper and Orion, as we travelled through the state of Johor. All you need is a clear dark sky. But beware! The monsoon seasons (the Southwest Monsoon from May to September, and the Northeast Monsoon from November to March) here¬†bring in some heavy clouds that might take days/weeks to clear. But if the haze hits Malaysia, it might take months to clear – just like the one we’re having now. But besides the climate, Malaysia is a wonderful place for stargazing.

What about your country? What’s the best spots for stargazing?

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

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