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Discover the deepsky for yourself

presented by the ASSA Deepsky Observing Section

 

Learn
the
constellations
while
discovering
the
deep-sky

Workbook 1: Naked eye and binoculars

 

This workbook is ideal for learning all the constellations visible from the southern hemisphere, and for discovering the brighter deepsky objects on your own.

Chart 1 shows the constellations around the south pole. Use the brightest stars – Pointers, Crux, Canopus and Achernar – to orient the chart properly. Charts 2 to 6 show the regions immediately surrounding Chart 1. Chart 7 shows the brighter stars around Orion, a prominent summer constellation. Charts 8 to 13 show the regions surrounding Orion. The remainder of the charts covers the rest of the sky, with generous overlap between charts for easy use. Along the borders of each chart appears the map number of neighbouring charts. For each constellation, a pronounciation guide is given, as well as the English name, genitive and abbreviation. You may want to make photocopies of the star charts, as you will be writing on them, plotting in any objects you discover as you go along. A bonus chart at the end of the workbook illustrates a few San (Bushman) star tales, unique to our African skies.

Use the tables to help plan your observing. Table 1 lists the charts visible at 21:00 for mid-month, for each month of the year. Table 2 lists the constellations depicted on each chart, as well as the months during which the charts can be used. Table 3 lists those constellations that are directly overhead at 21:00 and 02:00 at the beginning of each month.

To use this workbook, you will also need a clipboard, pencil, eraser and a very dim, red-shielded torch – you don't want to compromise your night vision. Observe from the darkest skies you can safely reach, avoiding bright lights at all costs. Give your eyes sufficient time to dark adapt (about 30 minutes) before starting to observe.

Naked-eye observers can use these charts to learn the constellations. From a dark (rural) observing site, several deepsky objects can be seen with the naked eye. From brighter (sub-urban) skies, many are visible in binoculars. While working with a particular chart, study the sky carefully and mark any non-stellar object you come across on the chart. Make a note of your discovery, describing each object in as much detail as necessary (see below for guidelines; sample observing log sheets are given at the end of this workbook).

Binocular observers already familiar with the constellations can use these maps to seek out any non-stellar objects hidden amongst the stars on the maps. Plot all discoveries, number them, and provide descriptions and sketches. A separate record sheet is provided to note the colours of the brighter stars. Once a map has been thoroughly examined, send your annotated star chart and observing notes to the ASSA Deepsky Section, Director: Auke Slotegraaf, Forelle Crescent 8, Die Boord, Stellenbosch, 7600; [ auke@psychohistorian.org ]. Your observations will be returned along with detailed feedback.

Happy hunting!
 

PS: For advanced observers, specially prepared charts, down to magnitude 11, are available, covering selected areas of the sky. Contact the Director for details.

 

 

 

use
these
maps
to seek
out any non-stellar
objects
hidden
amongst
the
stars
on the
maps

 

Free download

To download the entire workbook, which consists of 32 pages, choose the desired quality (and size):

Entire workbook, for high-quality printing, very large file ( PDF; 6.1 megabytes)
Entire workbook, for good-quality printing, large file (PDF; 3.2 megabytes)

Alternatively, you can download individual charts as PDF files by clicking on the chart numbers in the tables below.

Three special pages can be downloaded here:
A page showing San (Bushman) star tales ( 121 K )
An abbreviated observing form, for recording observations ( 123 K )
Another observing form, with space for making a sketch, and for recording star colours.( 124 K )

If you prefer, a printed & bound copy can be ordered for R 25 (postage included) from:
Auke Slotegraaf, Forelle Crescent 8, Die Boord, Stellenbosch, 7600.

 

Table 1: Which charts to use

Month  Charts that can be used (mid-month at 21:00)
Jan 
01, 04, 05, 06, 07, 08, 09, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 25
Feb 
01, 02, 04, 05, 07, 08, 09, 10, 12, 13, 14, 16, 17, 25
Mar 
01, 02, 03, 04, 05, 07, 08, 09, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17
Apr 
01, 02, 03, 04, 05, 08, 09, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18
May 
01, 02, 03, 04, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 21
Jun 
01, 02, 03, 15, 17, 18, 19, 21
Jul 
01, 02, 03, 06, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21
Aug 
01, 02, 03, 06, 20, 21, 22, 23
Sep 
01, 02, 03, 06, 20, 21, 22, 23
Oct 
01, 05, 06, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25
Nov 
01, 04, 05, 06, 08, 09, 10, 12, 23, 24, 25
Dec 
01, 04, 05, 06, 07, 08, 09, 10, 11, 12, 24, 25
 

 

 

Table 2: Contents of the charts

Chart  Visibility (21:00)   Constellations
01   Jan – Dec   Apus, Carina, Chamaeleon, Crux, Dorado, Hydrus,
     Mensa, Musca, Octans, Pavo, Reticulum,
     Triangulum Australe, Tucana, Volans
02   Feb – Sep   Centaurus, Circinus, Crux, Musca, Triangulum Australe
03   Mar – Sep   Ara, Circinus, Lupus, Norma, Triangulum Australe
04   Nov – May   Antlia, Carina, Pictor, Puppis, Pyxis, Vela, Volans
05   Oct – Apr   Caelum, Dorado, Horologium, Pictor, Reticulum
06   Jul – Jan   Grus, Indus, Microscopium, Pavo, Phoenix, Piscis
     Austrinus, Tucana
07   Dec – Mah   Auriga, Canis Major, Canis Minor, Columba, Gemini, Lepus,
     Orion, Perseus, Taurus
08   Nov – Apr   Orion
09   Nov – Apr   Canis Major, Columba, Lepus
10   Nov – Feb   Taurus
11   Dec – Jan   Auriga, Perseus
12   Nov – Mar   Eridanus
13   Jan – Apr   Canis Minor, Gemini, Monoceros
14   Jan – Apr   Cancer, Lynx
15   Mar – Jun   Coma Berenices, Leo, Leo Minor
16   Feb – May   Hydra, Sextans
17   Feb – Jul   Corvus, Crater, Hydra
18   Apl – Jul   Virgo
19   May – Jul   Boötes, Corona Borealis
20   Jul – Sep   Hercules, Ophiuchus, Serpens
21   May – Oct   Corona Australis, Libra, Sagittarius, Scorpius, Scutum,
     Telescopium
22   Aug – Oct   Aquila, Cygnus, Delphinus, Equuleus, Lyra, Sagitta,
     Scutum, Vulpecula
23   Aug – Nov   Aquarius, Capricornus, Piscis Austrinus
24   Oct –Dec  Andromeda, Aries, Pegasus, Pisces, Triangulum
25   Oct – Feb   Cetus, Fornax, Sculptor
 

 

 

Table 3: Constellations overhead at 21:00 and 02:00

Month    Overhead at 21:00
Jan    Cae, Eri, For, Hor, Phe, Ret, Scl
Feb    Cae, CMa, Col, Dor, Hor, Lep, Pic, Ret
Mar    Cae, Car, CMa, Col, Lep, Pic, Pup, Pyx
Apr    Ant, Car, Hya, Pup, Pyx, Vel
May    Ant, Cen, Crt, Crv, Hya, Pyx, Vel
Jun    Cen, Crt, Cru, Crv, Hya, Lup, Vir
Jul    Cen, Lib, Lup, Nor, Sco
Aug    Ara, CrA, Lib, Lup, Nor, Sco, Sgr, Tel
Sep    Ara, Cap, CrA, Mic, Sco, Sct, Sgr, Tel
Oct    Cap, CrA, Gru, Mic, PsA, Sgr, Tel
Nov    Aqr, Gru, Ind, Mic, Phe, PsA, Scl
Dec    Cet, For, Gru, Phe, Scl

Month    Overhead at 02:00
Jan    Ant, Car, CMa, Col, Pic, Pup, Pyx, Vel
Feb    Ant, Crt, Hya, Pyx, Sex, Vel
Mar    Ant, Cen, Crt, Cru, Crv, Hya
Apr    Cen, Cru, Crv, Hya, Lib, Lup, Nor
May    Ara, Lib, Lup, Nor, Sco
Jun    Ara, CrA, Nor, Sco, Sct, Ser, Sgr, Tel
Jul    Cap, CrA, Mic, Sct, Sgr, Tel
Aug    Aqr, Cap, Gru, Ind, Mic, PsA
Sep    Aqr, Cet, Scl, Phe, Gru, PsA
Oct    Cet, Eri, For, Hor, Phe, Scl
Nov    Cae, Col, Eri, For, Hor, Lep, Pic, Ret
Dec    Cae, CMa, Col, Dor, Hor, Lep, Pic, Pup

 

 

Recording your observations & making descriptions

For each object you discover, record the date and time of the observation, from where you observed, with what instrument, the sky conditions, and the quality of the observation. When describing the object, keep the following in mind:

1. first impressions
2. visibility (e.g. obvious/easy/reasonably easy/difficult/challenge)
3. size (in arcminutes; either estimated or compared to stars in the field)
4. shape (irregular/round/elongated). If elongated, specify the direction of elongation (eg north-west) and the degree of elongation (ratio of width to height)
5. prominent stars in the vicinity (specify direction, distance and brightness)

 

 

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(c) ASSA 2003-2005 •  updated 2005 june 29