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Constellations in the Night Sky

  1. Mar 29, 2007 #1
    Im living in India, and I've just got a telescope, what constellations could I see? And how do I go about checking them out?
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 29, 2007 #2
    Congrats on the new purchase, but I'm surprised that you've jumped to a telescope even before familiarising yourself with the sky.

    Where in India are you from? Check if there are any active clubs around your place, or maybe even a planetarium.
    http://www.astronomyclubs.com/1/80/0/0/club.aspx

    The first book in star-gazing I got was 'Joy of Skywatching' by Biman Basu (National Book Trust). It helped quite a bit in finding all the major constellations, and it is also a more Indo-centric. There are others also, like NightWatch, which is quite popular in the US, or the Peterson's Field Guide.

    There are places online and many programs where you can print out charts but that won't be useful till you learn the constellations. If you have a fast computer with good graphics capabilities, you can try Stellarium.

    Just so you know, telescopes don't help in finding constellations. Good luck! :smile:
     
  4. Mar 29, 2007 #3

    russ_watters

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    For starters you'll really need to start learning about the night sky: you don't look at constellations with a telescope, you use your naked eye. The telescope is for things like planets, galaxies, nebulae, clusters, etc...

    As neutrino said, it is amazing you've bought a telescope without even knowing what they are for!
     
  5. Mar 29, 2007 #4
    I didnt buy it. I just came onto it. Im in Delhi.
     
  6. Mar 29, 2007 #5
    Take a look at the AAAD's (Amateur Astronomers Association of Delhi) website.
    http://www.aaadelhi.org/
     
  7. Mar 29, 2007 #6

    BobG

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    Sky and Telescope provides some info, but is more focused on American observers. Sky and Telescope - Sky Tonight

    Weather Underground might be a better choice for international use, although I'm certain you could find something better that was focused on your region. After selecting your location, you'll get a star chart for the current date and a time right after sunset. You can adjust the time to get a star chart for later during the night, etc.

    You don't specify whether you're talking aobut Delhi, California, Iowa, Ohio, or Ontario, or whether you're talking about New Delhi, India. Regardless, you should be able to get a good view of Venus right after sunset (brightest 'star' in the sky). You can notice the different phases of Venus over the course of its orbit, which is kind of cool. You should also be able to see Saturn and its rings (brightest 'star' most of the night). You could possibly see Jupiter and its moons, as well (Jupiter is brighter than Saturn).
     
  8. Mar 29, 2007 #7

    Moonbear

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    Considering he said in his first post that he lives in India, I think we can narrow that list down considerably. :wink:

    And, Chaos, don't fret about not knowing what you can and can't see with the telescope even though folks here are all expressing surprise. You'll just learn as you use it. I think it's a good suggestion you were given to see if there are any local clubs or groups you can join where you can learn along with others about what you can see from your local area.
     
  9. Mar 30, 2007 #8
    I agree that you should learn the constellations first. In the reading that comes with doing that, you will learn interesting things about various stars and will come to appreciate that they are not all the same. If you have a very dark sky, away from city lights, you can see things other than stars and planets. The night sky is far more beautiful when you've become familiar with it. It's worth learning for that reason alone.

    In the meantime, turn your telescope on the moon. You might be disappointed in what you can see of the planets, but the moon is impressive even in ordinary binoculars.
     
  10. Mar 30, 2007 #9
    I did not know that there were so many Delhi's in the US!
     
  11. Mar 30, 2007 #10

    George Jones

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    Last edited: Mar 30, 2007
  12. Mar 30, 2007 #11
    How would you recognise the common constellations? Like cassiopea or the dippers. I know what orion looks like. And I can point out one of the dippers though I dont know which one it is that Im pointing out.

    I thought you could see Mars as well (red non twinkling star), and that any "star" that doesnt twinkle is a planet. Wrt the moon, where would I have to look to find the planets?
     
  13. Mar 30, 2007 #12

    George Jones

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    You should look at some star charts; try here.

    Right now, Saturn and Venus are visible in the evening, and Jupiter is visible in the Morning. Mars is not well placed for viewing right now, wait a few months.

    Your telescope will show the rings of Saturn and the phases (like the Moon) of Venus.
     
  14. Mar 30, 2007 #13
    Charts are a good reference, but you'll some tips to identify other constellations. And to get those tips, rule-of-thumb measurements in the sky, the way sky "moves" each day, etc., you probably need a book or something like a bunch of articles. The Sky and Telescope website mentioned earlier will have some of those. http://skytonight.com/howto/basics

    If you can identify Orion, the brightest star below Orion is Sirius - it is the brightest star in the night sky. It forms the head/neck/collar of Canis Major. Some degrees below that you have Canopus, the second brightest. I can see it from my house, but it may difficult to view from Delhi, because it will be too low in the sky.

    You will need to remember that the moon does not stay in the same position with respect to the stars. It moves roughly 13 degrees a day. So, at the start of a lunation (new moon), you may see a crescent near Venus, but as days pass by it'll move about 13 degrees east every day, with respect to the stars. So to answer your question, giving the locations of planets with respect to the moon is not that useful. Of course, there may be days when some planet or the other is particularly close to the moon.

    But for most of the year, most of the planets, barring Mercury and Venus, move very little (again, with respect to the stars). They more or less stay in one constellation. Today, Venus is in Aries, Jupiter in Ophiuchus, while Saturn and the Moon are in Leo. Moon and Saturn will be seperated by about 20 degrees. This article should help you measure angles in the sky.
     
    Last edited: Mar 30, 2007
  15. Mar 30, 2007 #14

    russ_watters

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    The only dipper you can actually see unless you live far from a city is the big one. Some people mistake the Pleiades for the little dipper because few ever actually see the little dipper.

    Sky and Telescope's planetarium applet is outstanding and will provide you with a view from New Delhi. Also, as its latitude is 28 N, any info geared toward the US will work fine for you.

    -The Moon is up right now, obviously...
    -Immediately after sunset, Venus will be extremely bright to the southwest. You'll see it has phases like the moon, but you won't see any detail (partly due to its altitude and partly due to it not having much detail).
    -Saturn, unfortunately, is only around the fifth brigtest objects in the sky at that time and because it is a planet may seem dimmer than it actually is. It is very high in the southeast - almost directly overhead. You can see the rings and at least one moon (Titan) in any telescope.
    -Later in the evening, Jupiter rises in the Southeast. You can see the cloud banding, the Great Red Spot, and four moons in any telescope.

    Your first deep-sky challenge should be M-42: it is in the middle of Orion's sword and shouldn't be difficult to find (you can typically see it naked-eye in even moderately bright skies).

    Your second deep-sky challenge is a little bit of a challenge: it is the globular cluster M-13 in Hercules. Herculese is a trapezoid of stars that rises in the northeast in the middle of the evening. M13 will appear as a fuzzy patch in binoculars or a small telescope (you didn't say anything about your telescope...), to the left of center between the top-two stars.

    For planets and the moon, star with low power (big eyepieces) to find them, then gradually switch to higher power (small eyepieces). You'll find there is a magnification limit, though, and often a little less than your max is optimal.

    For deep-sky, use the biggest eyepiece you have.
     
    Last edited: Mar 30, 2007
  16. Apr 1, 2007 #15
    I went up last night and tried to place the constellations. I downloaded a star map and tried to figure it out, but I didnt get most of it. Only the direction and the timings. The declination/etc, just went above me.

    The biggest hurdle was, that the moon is too bright. I think its the full moon or quite near to it, so I could barely make out anything else. Usually, I can find Orion easily, but because the moon was so bright, I had trouble finding that too. I guess I'll try again in a couple days.
     
  17. Apr 1, 2007 #16
    Don't bother yourself with RA and Dec for now. As I've said a couple of times before, get a book with descriptions of how the stars are placed and what patters you can use to identify them. For example, something known as the 'Summer Triangle' will help you in identifying three different constellations, viz. Cygnus, Lyra and Aquilla. The book I mentioned by Biman Basu also contains limericks and rhymes that help you hop from one constellation to the other.

    Yes, a big city and a (near)fullmoon can spoil your chances of viewing stars brighter than magnitude 3 or 4. In the meantime, have you spotted Venus? It's the first thing you will see in the evening twilight sky, towards the west-southwest. In fact, it can be so bright, that whenever it is high and bright, many astronomy forums fill up with questions regarding "the bright object in the sky," and these would be from people who are least interested in astronomy.
     
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