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Astronomy Hacks

Book Description

Why use the traditional approach to study the stars when you canturn computers, handheld devices, and telescopes intoout-of-this-world stargazing tools? Whether you're a first timer oran advanced hobbyist, you'll find Astronomy Hacks both useful andfun. From upgrading your optical finder to photographing stars,this book is the perfect cosmic companion. This handy field guidecovers the basics of observing, and what you need to know abouttweaking, tuning, adjusting, and tricking out a 'scope. Expectpriceless tips and tools for using a Dobsonian Telescope, thelarge-aperture telescope you can inexpensively build in yourgarage. Get advice on protocols involved with using electronicsincluding in dark places without ruining the party. AstronomyHacks begins the space exploration by getting you set up withthe right equipment for observing and admiring the stars in anurban setting. Along for the trip are first rate tips for makingmost of observations. The hacks show you how to:

  • Dark-Adapt Your Notebook Computer

  • Choose the Best Binocular

  • Clean Your Eyepieces and Lenses Safely

  • Upgrade Your Optical Finder

  • Photograph the Stars with Basic Equipment

  • The O'Reilly Hacks series has reclaimed the term "hacking" to meaninnovating, unearthing, and creating shortcuts, gizmos, and gears.With these hacks, you don't dream it-you do it--and AstronomyHacks brings space dreams to life. The book is essential foranyone who wants to get the most out of an evening under the starsand have memorable celestial adventures.

    Table of Contents

    1. Astronomy Hacks
    2. Copyright
    3. Credits
      1. About the Authors
      2. Contributors
      3. Acknowledgments
    4. Preface
      1. Why Astronomy Hacks?
      2. How This Book Is Organized
        1. Conventions
      3. How to Contact Us
      4. Got a Hack?
        1. Safari Enabled
    5. 1. Getting Started
      1. Hacks 1–10
      2. Don’t Give Up
      3. Join an Astronomy Club
      4. Safety First
      5. Stay Warm
        1. Avoid Alcohol
        2. Dress in Layers
        3. Keep Your Head and Neck Warm
        4. Keep Your Feet Warm
        5. Keep Your Hands Warm
        6. Drink Plenty of Warm Fluids
        7. Screen Yourself from the Wind
        8. Use Supplemental Heat Sources
      6. Don’t Violate Observing Site Etiquette
        1. Don’t Show a White Light After Dark
        2. Arrive Before Dark
        3. Plan Ahead When You Park
        4. Avoid Using Headlights After Dusk
        5. Dark Adapt Your Vehicle
        6. Don’t Crowd Others
        7. Be Careful in the Dark
        8. Ask Before You Touch
        9. Use Headphones for Music
        10. Have Consideration for Others If You Smoke
        11. Avoid Alcohol
        12. Leave Young Children and Pets at Home
        13. Don’t Be a Moocher
        14. Have Consideration for Others’ Time
        15. Don’t Criticize Others’ Equipment
        16. Police Up Your Trash Before You Leave
        17. Never Leave One Vehicle Alone
        18. Do a White-Light Check If You Are the Last to Leave
      7. Be Prepared
        1. Backpacking Kit
        2. Car Kit
        3. Airline-Portable Kit
      8. Measure Your Entrance Pupil Size
      9. Choose the Best Binocular
        1. Key Binocular Characteristics
        2. Recommended Binoculars
      10. Choose the Best General-Purpose Telescope
        1. Scope Characteristics
        2. Scope Types
          1. Refractors.
          2. Dobsonian reflectors.
          3. Equatorially mounted reflectors.
          4. Catadioptrics.
        3. Choosing a Telescope
      11. Equip Yourself for Urban Observing
        1. Excellent Choices
        2. Bad Choices
    6. 2. Observing Hacks
      1. Hacks 11–32
      2. See in the Dark
        1. Vision Modes
        2. Night Vision Fallacies
          1. Dark adaptation is all-or-nothing
          2. Pupil diameter is critical to dark adaptation
          3. A dim green light is the best choice for preserving night vision
          4. A bright red light destroys night vision
      3. Protect Your Night Vision from Local Lights
      4. Describe the Brightness of an Object
        1. Types of Magnitude
        2. Magnitude Ranges
        3. Variable Magnitudes
          1. Variable stars
          2. Solar system objects
        4. Visibility by Magnitude and Instrument
        5. Surface Brightness
      5. Identify Stars by Name
      6. Identify Stars by Catalog Designations
        1. The Bayer Catalog
        2. The Flamsteed Catalog
        3. Modern Stellar Catalogs
        4. Specialty Catalogs
      7. Know Your Constellations
      8. Understand Celestial Coordinate Systems
        1. Horizontal Coordinates
        2. Equatorial Coordinates
        3. Other Coordinate Systems
      9. Print Custom Charts
      10. Keep Your Charts at the Eyepiece
      11. Locate Objects Geometrically
      12. Learn to Star Hop
      13. Learn to See DSOs
        1. Learn Patience and Persistence
        2. Observe from a Dark Site
        3. Observe Objects When They Are High
        4. Dark Adapt Fully
        5. Use the Largest Instrument Available
        6. Use Averted Vision
        7. Keep Both Eyes Open
        8. Absorb Photons
        9. Tap the Tube
        10. Use Different Magnifications and Fields of View
        11. Focus Carefully
        12. Defocus Slightly to Locate Tiny Objects
        13. Use Nebula Filters to Increase Contrast
        14. Keep Looking
      14. Observe Shallow-Space Objects
        1. Things That Go Zip
        2. Things That Go Zoom and Phizz
        3. Things That Go DOH-DEE-DOH
      15. Slow Down, You Move Too Fast, You’ve Got to Make the Evening Last
        1. Look It Over and Under, Up and Down
        2. You’ll See More with Your Eyes
        3. New Ways of Seeing
      16. Learn Urban Observing Skills
        1. Urban Observing Targets
        2. Urban Observing Tips
      17. Sweep Constellations
      18. Maintain an Observing Notebook
        1. Creating and Using Observing Logs
      19. Develop an Organized Logging System
      20. Plan and Prepare for a Messier Marathon
        1. Planning Your Messier Marathon
          1. Choose a date
          2. Choose your observing site
          3. Develop your own sequence and schedule
        2. Preparing for Your Messier Marathon
          1. One-year lead-up
          2. One-month lead-up
          3. One-week lead-up
          4. One-day lead-up
      21. Run a Messier Marathon
        1. Final Preparations (Afternoon–19:30)
        2. Group 1: Early Evening Objects (19:30–20:30)
        3. Group 2: MidEvening Objects (20:30–21:00)
        4. Break (21:00–21:30)
        5. Group 3: Late Evening Objects (21:30–Midnight)
        6. Nap (Midnight–02:00)
        7. Group 4: Early Morning Objects (02:00–04:00)
        8. Group 5: Final Objects (04:00–Dawn)
      22. Photograph the Stars with Basic Equipment
      23. Discover and Name a New Planet
    7. 3. Scope Hacks
      1. Hacks 33–43
      2. Center-Spot Your Mirror
      3. Clean Your Primary Mirror
      4. Eliminate Astigmatism
      5. Eliminate Diffraction Spikes and Increase Contrast
      6. Build a Film Can Collimating Tool
      7. Tune Your Newtonian Reflector for Maximum Performance
      8. Collimate Your Primary Mirror Quickly and Accurately
      9. Star-Collimate Your Scope
      10. Counterweight a Dobsonian Scope
      11. Improve Dobsonian Motions with Milk Jug Washers
      12. Upgrade Your Dobsonian Bearings
    8. 4. Accessory Hacks
      1. Hacks 44–65
      2. Dark Adapt Your Notebook Computer
      3. Dark Adapt Your Vehicle
      4. Use a Barlow
      5. Determine Actual Barlow Magnification
      6. See More of the Sky
      7. Optimize Your Eyepiece Collection
        1. Eyepiece Characteristics
        2. Real-World Eyepieces
        3. Choosing an Eyepiece Set
      8. Chart Your Eyepiece Characteristics
      9. View Dim Objects in the Same Field as a Very Bright Object
      10. Clean Your Eyepieces and Lenses Safely
      11. Install a Unit-Power Finder
        1. Red-Dot Finders
        2. Bulls-Eye Finders
        3. Mounting a Unit-Power Finder
      12. Upgrade Your Optical Finder
      13. Align Your Finder
      14. Determine Your Optical Finder’s Field of View
      15. Determine Your True Field of View
        1. Drift Testing in Detail
        2. Drift Testing Your Finder
      16. Enhance Lunar and Planetary Contrast and Detail
        1. Enhancing Color Contrast
        2. Dimming the Image
      17. Enhance Nebular Contrast and Detail
        1. Dimming Background Skyglow
        2. Enhancing Nebular Contrast
        3. Blocking All But a Specified Wavelength
        4. Choosing Nebula Filters
        5. Specialty Filters
      18. Please Be Seated
      19. Stash Your Gear in a Photographer’s Vest or Fanny Pack
      20. Use a Voice Recorder for Logging
      21. Build or Buy an Equatorial Platform
      22. Make Your Computer Work for You
        1. Windows Planetarium Programs
        2. Linux and Mac OS X Planetarium Programs
      23. Astronomy Software in the Palm of Your Hand
        1. Features of Planetarium
          2. Databases.
          3. Session planning.
          4. Log entries.
        2. Locating Objects Manually with Planetarium
        3. Using Planetarium with Manual Setting Circles
        4. Other Uses
        5. Bottom Line
    9. Index
    10. About the Authors
    11. Colophon
    12. Copyright