Author Topic: What is a good way to star hop ?  (Read 805 times)

incojukam

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What is a good way to star hop ?
« on: December 27, 2017, 12:33:48 PM »
I know that studying my Sky Atlas before a viewing observation is a good idea, and I use DSO Browser to find potential targets. So I know there are a number of resources for me to check out. That said, when using my Meade 90mm refractor (in my sig), is there a technique or some other thing to keep in mind to star hop to particular targets that would help me do it easier? To clarify some, I usually use my 24mm 68* EP to find targets such as the Orion Nebula in Orion's Sword. That one was easy for me to locate, but usually for other things I get pretty lost.

Also, is there a difference in the ways images are supplied to my eye between the Newtonian reflector I have (also in my sig) and the aforementioned refractor? I know star hopping takes time and practice, but I find it rather difficult to do, properly anyway.

I'll give an example. All last fall and into the this winter I sought out M31. I know it is about 2 degrees in magnitude (correct term there?). I know in fairly light polluted skies like mine (orange zone) that the best I can hope for is the core of M31. I also know if I find Mirach and star hope two stars I can find M31. But it alluded me completely, and I tried this with both the reflector and the refractor.

The reflector is collimated pretty well in my opion. I checked it with a Cheshire eyepiece and done star tests and it appears A-OK. So after all that long-windedness, what else can I do to improve my skills and what things should I keep in mind when switching between the reflector and the refractor?

Thanks in advance !



Kenneth Brown

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Re: What is a good way to star hop ?
« Reply #1 on: December 28, 2017, 11:13:28 PM »
I use the Telrad to get me to the nearest point then use the Skysafari app on my Nexus 7.
On the app I set the field of view to match my finder eyepiece which is the ES 28mm. 
From there I can see which stars are in the eyepiece and can see the next recognizable star or stars (bright star, double star or triangle formation) to hop to next.
I just have to remember to flip the Nexus upside down to match the view in the eyepiece or else I'd be hopping in the wrong direction!

monsresiwor

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Re: What is a good way to star hop ?
« Reply #2 on: December 30, 2017, 05:33:24 AM »
Are you using the main telescope or the finderscope to star hop? The finder has a much wider field of view and makes starhopping easier.

acbrawexel

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Re: What is a good way to star hop ?
« Reply #3 on: December 31, 2017, 04:03:32 AM »
Quote
I use the Telrad to get me to the nearest point then use the Skysafari app on my Nexus 7.
On the app I set the field of view to match my finder eyepiece which is the ES 28mm.
From there I can see which stars are in the eyepiece and can see the next recognizable star or stars (bright star, double star or triangle formation) to hop to next.
I just have to remember to flip the Nexus upside down to match the view in the eyepiece or else I'd be hopping in the wrong direction!

That sounds like a great idea, thanks bleep !

Dave Jones

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Re: What is a good way to star hop ?
« Reply #4 on: December 31, 2017, 08:59:51 AM »
Quote
Are you using the main telescope or the finderscope to star hop? The finder has a much wider field of view and makes starhopping easier.

I've gone back and forth between the finderscope and the main scope. I have a red dot finder on the 90mm refractor, but honestly I haven't used it that much.

Philip Price

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Re: What is a good way to star hop ?
« Reply #5 on: January 01, 2018, 08:42:56 AM »
Quote
Quote

Are you using the main telescope or the finderscope to star hop? The finder has a much wider field of view and makes starhopping easier.

I've gone back and forth between the finderscope and the main scope. I have a red dot finder on the 90mm refractor, but honestly I haven't used it that much.
Bleep has the right idea, you have to make sure you are moving in the right direction, not always easy at first, depending on the scope and mount.

compjiggrehols

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Re: What is a good way to star hop ?
« Reply #6 on: January 01, 2018, 10:42:14 AM »
I notice that you have a pair of binoculars so, one sugestion would be to use them to familiarize yourself with the area or constellation where the object you are looking for is located. Then, you can find the specific area of your object of interest and locate some brighter stars or star patterns that you can find in your finderscope. Next move your finderscope to the stars that are nearest your object of interest so you can see them in your low power eyepiece and from there move to your object using your atlas or planetarium software to identify closer and dimmer stars near the object. It takes practice. When I was young, I was in a similar situation in finding any Messier objects. My brother showed me how to find Arcturus and line it up with the brightest star in Corona Borealis which then points to the lower right star of the Keystone of Hercules. Using my star chart I knew that M13 was in between the two stars on the right (west) side of the Keystone. I then looked through the finderscope to aim 2/3 up from the bottom star and through the finderscope I could see two dimmer stars with a fuzzy ball between them and lo and behold M13 in the eyepiece! All of that with a 60mm refractor and a pretty minimal finder. Be patient and enjoy the process.

memeforvi

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Re: What is a good way to star hop ?
« Reply #7 on: January 03, 2018, 11:09:11 AM »
A Telrad works great for an object like M57, for example, since it is situated between two easily visible stars. For more difficult oblects, the Telrad gets you close but here's where an RACI finder is worth it's cost. Since the view through the RACI finder will match your orientation of your charts, it makes starhopping a breeze.

frosperloacatch

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Re: What is a good way to star hop ?
« Reply #8 on: January 03, 2018, 01:02:45 PM »
+1 for using a RACI finder.

pelotwollgar

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Re: What is a good way to star hop ?
« Reply #9 on: January 04, 2018, 05:58:06 PM »
Thanks, guys. Great tips and encouragement.

Question about the RACI and Telrad finders...

I plan to get at least an 8" dob that comes with (I think) a 9 x 50 finderscope. Was thinking of a Z8, but might go with a Sky Watcher to get the discount from being a member of the forum. Anyway, is that finderscope adequate for me for now, or should I plan to go to a Telrad or RACI right away ? I know there are different opinions on this, but I am open to all of them of course.

Jason Pederes

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Re: What is a good way to star hop ?
« Reply #10 on: January 08, 2018, 09:07:53 AM »
It is hard to encapsulate "How to Star Hop" into a forum post.

I will be doing an hour daytime followed by an evening night-time session on star hopping at the RTMC this May, and I do not think I will capture all that is needed to pass on how to do it.

I would suggest two books that have stood the test of time: Star Hopping for Backyard Astronomers, and Turn Left at Orion (both available new and used). Just Google them. Both contain good instructions.

>>>>>I know that studying my Sky Atlas before a viewing observation is a good idea,

Always a good idea>>>>>>I use DSO Browser to find potential targets.
I would suggest the two books I mentioned first as better guides, especially Star Hopping for Backyard Astronomers. DSO Browser may have lots of targets that may be harder to find.

>>>>>>That said, when using my Meade 90mm refractor (in my sig), is there a technique or some other thing to keep in mind to star hop to particular targets that would help me do it easier? To clarify some, I usually use my 24mm 68* EP to find targets such as the Orion Nebula in Orion's Sword. That one was easy for me to locate, but usually for other things I get pretty lost.

The first step in star hopping has little to do with type of scope, aperture, or whatever. You need to see big patterns in constellations, and know where your quarry is in relation to naked-eye stars. As suggested, a Tel-rad or similar is a first step.

After that, when you go to a finder scope or eyepiece, just keep in mind how your optics reverse, invert, or otherwise change the field so that the stars in the eyepiece may be different from what the charts say.

>>>>>>Also, is there a difference in the ways images are supplied to my eye between the Newtonian reflector I have (also in my sig) and the aforementioned refractor?

Yes, as in my previous comment.

>>>>>>>M31. I know it is about 2 degrees in magnitude (correct term there?).
Actually, magnitude is brightness. You meant 2 degrees in size. But, that "size" thing depends a lot on how much of the object you can actually see in your light polluted skies.

>>>>>>I know in fairly light polluted skies like mine (orange zone) that the best I can hope for is the core of M31. I also know if I find Mirach and star hope two stars I can find M31. But it alluded me completely, and I tried this with both the reflector and the refractor.

It eluded you not because of light pollution (although that did not help). You probably should have still been concentrating on the "pointer" stars. Finding Andromeda, in particular, depends less on what you can see through the eyepiece as what you can see in the general pattern of Pegasus, Andromeda, and Cassiopeia--all of which have stars essential to finding M31.

>>>>>>The reflector is collimated pretty well in my opion.
It is always good to be collimated, but it has little to do with finding the object. You should, of course make sure your finder scope or telrad is pointed to the same place in the sky as your main tube (this is also called "Collimmation).

>>>>>>what else can I do to improve my skills and what things should I keep in mind when switching between the reflector and the refractor?
Practice, Practice, Practice.Alex

consurflola

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Re: What is a good way to star hop ?
« Reply #11 on: January 11, 2018, 05:00:05 AM »
Quote
Thanks, guys. Great tips and encouragement.

Question about the RACI and Telrad finders...

I plan to get at least an 8" dob that comes with (I think) a 9 x 50 finderscope. Was thinking of a Z8, but might go with a Sky Watcher to get the discount from being a member of the forum. Anyway, is that finderscope adequate for me for now, or should I plan to go to a Telrad or RACI right away ? I know there are different opinions on this, but I am open to all of them of course.

When I bought my Zhumell/GSO dobs (had a 12 then a 10), they both came with RACI finders. Orions/SkyWatchers (Synta) do not, IIRC. (They're Right Angle, but not Correct Image.)

holdfontrosci

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Re: What is a good way to star hop ?
« Reply #12 on: January 11, 2018, 07:50:17 AM »
Thanks, Alex for breaking that all down for me. I guess I know what I need to do now. Check out a new finderscope, buy the book you mentioned (Star Hopping one), use my binos, practice, practice, practice !  I appreciate the help everyone !

mellidonde

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Re: What is a good way to star hop ?
« Reply #13 on: January 11, 2018, 08:07:31 AM »
Quote
Quote

Thanks, guys. Great tips and encouragement.

Question about the RACI and Telrad finders...

I plan to get at least an 8" dob that comes with (I think) a 9 x 50 finderscope. Was thinking of a Z8, but might go with a Sky Watcher to get the discount from being a member of the forum. Anyway, is that finderscope adequate for me for now, or should I plan to go to a Telrad or RACI right away ? I know there are different opinions on this, but I am open to all of them of course.

When I bought my Zhumell/GSO dobs (had a 12 then a 10), they both came with RACI finders. Orions/SkyWatchers (Synta) do not, IIRC. (They're Right Angle, but not Correct Image.)
Is there a particular RACI finder that would be a good choice for me?

labulichar

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Re: What is a good way to star hop ?
« Reply #14 on: January 11, 2018, 10:28:38 AM »
Finally, I'd like to add that if you are using paper star atlases like the S&T Pocket Sky atlas, it helps to have a reference for the angle of the field of view to put on the page. This can be a circular template, a loop of wire, or even a coin that that closely matches your Telrad, or finder, or low power eyepiece field of view.
On the original PSA the 4ยบ Telrad circle is the same size as a penny on the charts. For the new "Jumbo Shrimp" as many are calling the Jumbo Pocket Sky Atlas, a quarter works. Even loops of wire that look like magnifying glasses (without a lens) can help you with your sense of scale of the field of view your equipment.