go site Modern technology allows amateurs around the globe to collaborate in ways never before possible. The following is a collection of some of the research projects we find most interesting, many of which involve collaboration with professional astronomers at universities and other research organizations. These projects generally require more sophisticated equipment or technical expertise than the…. If you're a serious stargazer with good gear, a passion for observing, and some free time, a team of astronomers at Lowell Observatory hope to hear from you.
Both Pluto and the star are 14th magnitude, but observers with big telescopes and sufficient video capability should try to record this important event. If you're an amateur observer with decent equipment and an itch to do some serious observing, a team from the OSIRIS-REx mission wants to hear from you! When observers fanned out last July 19th to record a binary asteroid's passage across a distant star, they hoped to gain scientifically important new findings.
The results are in, and they've scored big-time! A nova visible in good binoculars was spotted July 7, , by observers in Japan. Join thousands of other "citizen scientists" in raising dark-sky awareness around the globe.
The book itself has a chapter about most kind of astronomical interests earth, moon, planets, sun, nebulas, galaxies, etc , and then each chapter talks about some of the best places online to learn about each topic. It has folders of pictures, animations, the book itself with clickable-links in PDF form , and software. There's nothing on it you can't find elsewhere, but some of the animations are so big, I probably would't waste time downloading 'em And, there's hundreds of Mac and PC astronomy programs to play with which I haven't yet.
Again, nothing you couldn't get online, but it sure is a timesaver to have all of them on a CD. CU Ken. The first half of this, at times overwhelming book, is essentially an introductory class on astronomy and cosmology. The sites referenced are government run scientific sources, universities, individuals, and various other useful sources. The sites provide you with additional information and images of the topic being discussed in the book. You could probably spend years just browsing all the sites mentioned in the book.
Next comes a discussion of using your computer in astronomy. Software for Macintosh and Windows, some web sites, mailing lists, newsgroups, and chat rooms are covered. Remote control of telescopes via the Internet are covered. The software provided is divided into PC and Mac. There are many fine images and movie clips as well as freeware, shareware, and demo versions of commercial software on the CD-ROM. You could probably spend weeks looking at the images and playing with all the software. This would be a handy resource, saving the reader much time in looking up the topics in the book and then typing in URLs.
However, the entire book! You can even view the images and movie clips from the PDF file. Overall I found this book an excellent introduction for those needing that into Astronomy and the addition of all the web site references and CD-ROM really added to its value. From: rodrickse mediaone.
It is a great book, very knowledgeable and up to date. A fairly inexpensive book, it is full of photos, drawings, and other visual aids. In all honesty, it greatly increased my knowledgeable of astronomy.
I'm glad I own it, however it could be read in a fairly short period of time, perhaps taken out of the library. It close to pages, about , including Appendixes, glossary, and index. All around great book. Good for the beginning astronomer, as well as someone looking to make their first serious scope purchase. Thanks Mike. Joe Rodricks, From: SMalin1 aol. Text by Ian Ridpath and sky charts by Wil Tirion. It covers all 88 constellations and does not confuse the eye with loads of details. The text lists the important doubles, Messier's and NGCs.
Drawings are the best and cover all that is in the text and then some. Extremely well bound, I take it with me wherever I go and not a page has fallen out. I bought mine from amazon. I just bought 2 more as gifts for astronomy minded friends. Selwyn Malin. From: ronmccafferty email. Davis, Cambridge University Press, If I'd bought this book first I would've bought less books. The authors' goal was to provide a book that could be just like a knowledgeable friend sitting next to you.
I think they accomplished their goal as well as a book can. The book is organized by section with a moon section, with maps of the moon at various stages, planets section, Winter, Spring, Summer, and Autumn seasonal sections, how to run a telescope section, where to go from here section, and a table of objects.
The seasonal sections, which are the majority of the book, start with an overview of guide stars that are easy to find and used to find the rest of the objects for that season. Each object has a rating, required sky condition, magnification recommendation, overview drawing, finderscope drawing, and what you'll see drawing. The finderscope view can be deceiving since they show an upside-down and mirrored image that ETX users don't have with the default finderscope. The accompanying text includes where to look, in the finderscope, in the telescope, comments, and what you're looking at. I find the author's method easy to use and understandable.
All the drawings are in black and white and are indispensable. They let you know if you're looking in the right place. Under dark skies I was able to find M4 and know that is was M4. I do most of my viewing from my light polluted front sidewalk. I've discovered that I need to find a darker site. Now that I know where M4 is I know it isn't visible from my sidewalk.
So the book eased my mind about not being able to find objects. I'm looking forward to getting out again under dark skies and finding other objects. There are enough double stars and other objects to make the book worth while from my front sidewalk. The book doesn't include star maps, which I think could be helpful. I think with a planisphere sp? I highly recommend this book.
This book provides excellent advice. Part one recommends starting with Camera and tripod pictures to get a feel for taking nighttime pictures. It leads you through taking pictures of the various nighttime objects with assistance on camera settings. Part two talks about taking pictures using your telescope as a piggyback mount and building a barn door mount.
Looks like JMI will be getting an order from me soon. Part three discusses taking pictures through the telescope. Part four is an excellent discussion on CCD cameras. A must is a camera that allows you to take time exposures of 30 seconds or longer. An easy way to tell is if your camera has a B setting on the shutter speed dial. This book is an excellent starting point for someone who wants to take nighttime pictures.
It would take a lot of time and money to learn this on your own through trial and error. This book is for a person with an advanced interest in the science of Astronomy with a knack for woodworking. The book basically builds scientific tools with the idea of learning and teaching about the science of Astronomy. I was also troubled by an inability to imagine the plane of the ecliptic or just how the earth's revolution and rotation could be understood from seeing how the sky moved. When I looked at standard star maps as in Sky and Telescope almost everything appeared unfamiliar and confusing.
Two books, in particular, have helped me see more of the big moving picture and more of what's up in the sky. This book helped enormously with the big picture. These chapters cover various coordinate systems, seasonal variation, and measures of time among other necessary topics. The book was not a quick read for me. I would not by any stretch call it "easy. It still serves as a valuable reference book and refresher. I don't know if it is out in paperback. If it were, I'd buy another copy to keep one at home and the other at work.
Pennington, Willmann-Bell, Inc. You can read about this book on the Willmann-Bell page in each month's issue of Sky and Telescope or Astronomy magazines. Given that the ETX is not the Messier aficionado's scope of choice, it just might be that we ETX owners would not give this book a second look because it appears to be too specialized. I have never regretted owning my copy. This book has served me well as I began to learn more about constellations and their seasonal movements.
There are also "signpost stars" which one ought to learn. I think this book did more than any other for helping the monthly sky charts in the magazines take on the reality they deserved. The "Finder Charts" provide very detailed "one-power" views of the heavens - assisting in the learning of the constellations as well as in the learning of the skill of "star hopping" which I am still a novice at. These charts deal with particular constellations presented in alphabetical order in great detail, and include 8X50 finder views both right angle and straight through for locating M-objects.
The descriptions and eyepiece drawings are excellent. Oh yes, you can see many of these Messier objects with your ETX some with the naked eye at dark sites as many observers have noted in the user feedback section of this site. But I'm recommending it for the detailed charts of the constellations. In addition there are very helpful sections on calibrating a finder scope, calibrating an eyepiece, and determining "which way is 'up'. And, I am also finding that I really do enjoy finding Messier objects. Google Sky is another tool useful for this and it doesn't require a download , but I believe Stellarium is better.
I'm not familiar with it myself, but looking over the website, it looks pretty cool! If you're into podcasts or audiobooks, definitely check out the excellent Astronomycast. The hosts, Fraser Cain and Dr. Pamela Gay will spend half an hour or so talking about a specific astronomical subject, or just answering listener questions.
It makes for great mp3 player material while you're spending time looking up at the stars! The daysofastronomy podcast is also great, though much less focused. I also like to read a couple of blogs to keep up to date on astronomical issues. I really like Phil Plait's Bad Astronomy blog at discovery, he's fun and knowledgeable and clearly holds a deep wonder about the universe.
Also, and this may or may not be up your alley, he got his start in blogging debunking the idiots who think we never went to the moon, so he often tackles other scientific issues of a skeptical nature rather than just astronomy. My other favorite is Universe Today , where you will find a wealth of excellent and interesting articles about all things astronomical--the publisher is Fraser Cain, the same guy who co-hosts Astronomycast.
What I've seen is really good, I just don't sit down to watch video all that often. Can anyone recommend a really good internet show about astronomy? If you're more interested in physical media, definitely make a trip to the library. I have particularly enjoyed The Urban Astronomer , it has been helpful for me, living in a very light polluted area. Also, don't be embarrassed to peruse the kid's section! There are a lot of great books there to help out beginners! At this point, you still don't want to buy a telescope, but binoculars might be a good investment.
Binoculars are nice because you can use them for other things than just astronomy, as it's always nice to have a pair around when you're out in the wilderness. They aren't steady like a telescope, but with some practice they are great for getting a bit of detail on the moon, the planets, or even the Orion nebula. I've spent a few evenings just lying in the back yard and exploring the sky, nothing really on the agenda, just looking up through the binoculars. Binoculars are particularly good at teasing more detail out of naked eye objects such as the Moon and the planets, or at splitting easy binaries like Mizar and Alcor in the handle of the Big Dipper.
I've recently posted an 'ible about how to build a simple solar projection rig. This is a great way to use your binoculars to observe our closest stellar neighbor! So far, I've used them to take a look at a solar eclipse , and once the clouds clear up here, I'll hopefully be able to take a look at some sunspots , and one June 5 , I'll use this setup to observe the last transit of Venus until !
There are a lot of resources for how to locate something in the night sky--but I tend to glaze over when a source starts going on about "Right Ascension" or "Declination". I honestly haven't taken the time to learn about this method of celestial navigation. I'm going to do so eventually, but at this point I have been successful with less precise ways of determining location.
What I do like is degrees above the horizon, as most resources for amateur astronomers will give you a rough direction to look for your target and let you know how far above the horizon it can be found. Therefore, if you stack one fist on another, it takes about 9 to get to directly over head, which is 90 degrees. One finger makes about 2 degrees.
Therefore, if something is described as being about 24 degrees above the horizon, that means it is two fists and two fingers above the horizon. The neat thing is that this works for anyone, no matter how big they are, as someone with small hands will tend to have short arms, and therefore their hand is closer to their eyes and still takes up about 10 degrees. This is the point at which you move on to the next level. Getting involved in an astronomy club was a big step for me, as I'm really shy in person and have a very hard time interacting with people I don't know.
Still, it was a very beneficial experience, and though I've stayed away for a while due to time constraints on the evening they do meetings, I am planning on getting back into it. The Eugene Astronomical Society has a web page, but they aren't listed on several of the aggregators. I didn't even realize we had an astronomy club until quite a while after I'd been doing astronomy in my back yard.
It turned out that not only do they have a monthly meeting where they talk about astronomy, have guest speakers, do telescope workshops, etc, they also have monthly star parties! Each friday nearest the new moon, the EAS brings a bunch of telescopes up to college hill here in town and point them at the sky. In fact, last weekend was the annual Dark Sky Party, outside of town at a state park, where we got to see some really great things in a really dark sky--it was amazing! Being involved in an astronomy club has a lot of benefits. You get to go to the meetings and the parties, but many clubs also offer help with your telescope and even lend telescopes from their collection.
Perhaps most importantly, you'll be joining a group of people who are enthusiastic about the same subject you are interested in and more than willing to "talk shop" with you. My local club also has an email mailing list that has more than once given me a heads up about some interesting thing coming up in the night sky.
I just reread this section, and realized that the way I've worded things makes it seem like you have to be an active member to attend, but the monthly star parties are more for public outreach than for members. Find out when and where they are, and just stop on by! At this point, you are probalby considering investing in a telescope. Definitely attend the star parties, and try out different scopes that the members bring.
They will be happy to talk to you about their setup and its advantages and disadvantages. This way, if you do decide to invest in a telescope eventually, you will have a feel for the kind you will most enjoy using. If your club has a lending library, take advantage of that before you start throwing money around! Talk to the folks in your club. Chances are they've all got extra scopes gathering dust, and may want to part with one for a pittance.
Also, since they are real and current enthusiasts, their telescopes are probably in pretty good condition. The first place to check after that is craigslist. Astronomy is a hobby that, much like homebrewing, people fall in and out of and involves a lot of expensive equipment that takes up a lot of space. People are often reluctant to give it up, but secretly want it out of their garage. I got my current telescope by placing a want ad on CL that basically said I would be interested in renting someones' telescope for a month or two before potentially buying it--this was before I knew there was an astronomy club here to lend me a scope.
Within 12 hours of posting the ad, I had two people call me asking if I would take their scopes away with only the promise that I would use them rather than let them gather more dust. I took one of them up on the offer and drove away with a 10" Newtonian reflector with a clock drive equatorial mount. I later discovered that this set up cost around fifteen hundred dollars when he bought it in the seventies, and would have cost even more today.
It took a lot of careful cleaning and some help from the astronomy club to get things set up, but it is now in great working order, parked in my back yard in the hopes that it will eventually not be cloudy here. If craigslist fails you, try astromart. It's kind of a craigslist just for astronomy stuff. I am a cheapskate and not rolling in the cash, so I will always do my best to do something like this as cheaply as possible. That means I don't mind doing a little extra work to avoid buying new. I know however that a lot of, perhaps most, people would prefer to have a new item, especially something delicate and tricky to repair like this.
If you want to go that route, first talk to the people in the astronomy club to get ideas about where to buy your specific scope. As far as I know, Oregon only has one business that specializes in telescopes. It would have meant a drive over the mountains to Bend if I wanted to examine something before I bought it, otherwise I would have to buy sight unseen from the internet.
Having not purchased from any online markets for telescopes, I don't have one I can recommend. Does anyone have a suggestion?
Amateur Astronomers Guide to Wood Working Projects contains 24 woodworking project for the amateur astronomer, from guide rings, and dampening pads to. How to Get Started in Amateur Astronomy: Astronomy is the study of the stars, in the form of a step by step guide for someone who just isn't sure where to begin. A lot of people think that a telescope is required to be an astronomer, and they .. There are a variety of projects you can help out with here, from studying how.
Now we're beginning to tread on unfamiliar territory for me, so we're drawing near to the end of this instructable. Here are a number of ways you can help professional astronomers, and make real discoveries of your own. First and foremost, just by observing the sky and watching out for anything unusual you can help a great deal.
There have been many amateur astronomers who have been the first to spot new comets , asteroids , supernova , and even impacts on Jupiter.
Variable stars, as the name suggests, change in brightness over time, and the AAVSO needs citizen scientists to help keep tabs on these changes. The International Dark Sky Association also needs your help. Simply by helping them to catalog sky glow in your area, you can help them work to understand how light pollution has affected our view of the night skies, and also help the affect change in the future.
Finally, you might help the fine folks over at Galaxy Zoo try to classify galaxies. Human brains work better at certain things such as galaxy classification than our robot overlords computers. This can be a fun game that you play by yourself, or even get your kids involved! I recommend looking up the story of Hanny and the Mystery of the Voorwerp to read a fascinating tale of a schoolteacher who discovered an entirely new class of cosmic objects simply by checking out pictures on Galaxy Zoo.
There are a variety of projects you can help out with here, from studying how galaxies merge, to helping to find more targets for the probe that'll be shooting by Pluto in I've covered most of these resources on previous steps, but here they all are plus a few extras to help you on your quest to become an amateur astronomer. Special thanks to google and wikipedia for most of the sources I used in writing this instructable! Thanks as always for reading! I hope I have inspired you to consider taking up astronomy as a hobby, or a the very least, look up and better understand what you see.
Please take a moment to rate, subscribe, comment and vote! I love reader feedback and would be quite interested to know what you think of this one. All the photos, including the moonshots, were taken with my cheapy kodak, which is going to be an instructable in its own right one day. When I finish it. Remember, if you can think of anything I should add to this guide, leave a comment below--if I use it, I'll send you a DIY patch.
If I think it requires a major overhaul or rewrite, I'll also send you a coupon for a three month pro membership. Since I'm from the northern hemisphere and only see the northern sky, if you're reading this from a southern hemisphere perspective, I encourage you to write a supplementary southern hemisphere version of this instructable.