Sky and Telescope's "Pocket Sky-Atlas" is a wonderful resource for all amateur astronomers. These challenges are designed for spicing up your observing.
Sky and Telescope Magazine's "Pocket Sky Atlas" has found a place in the tool kit of many amateur astronomers. The convenient size makes it easy to use at the telescope without requiring a separate chart table.
These challenge objects are indexed to the star chart pages containing those objects. The idea is to have fun and perhaps expand your observing past the "usual suspects" that can be found because of past experiences. Seeing conditions may not allow finding these objects every night, but they should be visible at some point during the month.
The December Sky
The Hunter is well placed in the night sky this month. Any observing session will usually start or end with a look at M42, and why not? Observing instruments from the naked eye to the largest telescope will yield some level of detail on these cold crisp nights. So for those brave enough to venture away from the fireside, drink it in and imagine just what might be going on there now.
With all the hubbub and commitments of the holiday season, it’s hard to find a half hour or so to just pop outside and have a look at the night sky. When you need a break from all the confusion, the night sky is always there, as constant as ever, and as tranquil as any oasis. Dress warmly for any outing as you may find yourself spending more time than anticipated, but it will be time well spent, nonetheless.
I’ve indexed the object to its star chart page.
Capella, page 12.
Bellatrix, Betelgeuse, Meissa, Page 14.
Aldebaran, page 15.
M45, page 15.
Saiph, Rigel, Cursa, Alnitak, Alnilam, Mintaka, Page 16.
NGC 7814, page 5.
NGC 988, page 6.
NGC 1360, page 17.
NGC 7741, page 74.
Small Scopes and Binoculars
TV (AKA SAO 91910, Hip, 2219), page 5.
M34, page 13.
R Leporis (Hind’s Crimson Star), page 16.
Markab page 74.
NGC 1662, page 15.
NGC 2204, Page 16.
NGC 7006, Page 75.
NGC 7606, page 76.
Clear skies and cold temperature greeted 36 visitors to the Cronyn Observatory Public Night, Saturday, December 6th, 2014, 7:00 p.m. Graduate student Tony Martinez made his digital slide presentation “Calendars and the Measurement of Time” and answered questions. Graduate students Parshati Patel and Jeff Vankerkhove operated the big refractor in the dome.Read more...
Cloudy skies greeted 39 visitors (23 children and 16 adults) from the Watford Beavers, including both Beavers and Cubs, for Exploring the Stars at the Cronyn Observatory, Wednesday, November 26th, 2014, 6:00 p.m. Graduate student Parshati Patel made the digital slide presentation “The Earth Moon System” and fielded questions. She followed this with the activity “Constellations,” distributing 26 “Star Finder” planispheres, including 23 to the children in the audience plus 3 more for children unable to be there. Parshati showed everybody how to assemble and use the planispheres, using a slide of a “Star Finder” planisphere and slides of constellations.Read more...
Mostly cloudy skies greeted 8 visitors (7 children and 1 adult) from a Brownie group for Exploring the Stars at the Cronyn Observatory, Tuesday, November 25th, 2014, 6:30 p.m. Graduate student Shannon Hicks made the digital slide presentation “Extra Solar Planets” and fielded questions. Shannon followed this with the activity “Kitchen Comet,” asking the children if they knew what a comet was and showing a picture of comets on the projection screen. A little boy in the group answered and said that comets were made of ice. Shannon then invited everybody to the table at the front of the lecture room where she made a comet with dry ice, chocolate powder and other ingredients.Read more...