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Sky Maps

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xmo1

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Having purchased my first scope, I'm observing (Oct 2010) with an 8" dob from Houston, TX, but the sky maps that I have (including the online apps I've found) do not seem to show the correct orientation of objects. The stars in Orion's belt, for example, are shown in many maps as being in a 45 degree line. When I look at Orion around 2AM the stars are nearly vertical. I've observed a few large star clusters, but am having a dickens of a time trying to identify them. Any recommendations for software or websites that might help me find my way around the night sky from my location?

Also, besides identifying star clusters and such, I'm interested in a map that indicates the directions things are moving, because everything is moving (as so many people point out). I would rather know than be scared of the unknown when I see something like a massive cluster galaxy out there.

Are there movies of Hubble or other space based scope observations? I've scouted the net a little, but haven't found any live scopes online. That's surprising, except for the cost of the bandwidth maybe. Thanks.
 
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adrenalynn

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Hi there,

Make sure that you enter your location and time carefully. Be especially careful with UTC/CDT/CST conversion.

StarryNight or TheSky are both very trustworthy in my experience. I use TheSky for remotely operating my larger scope, and it does just fine.

As for "everything moving" - are we talking objects in space moving? One galaxy moving in some direction isn't going to be terribly exciting since you'll be staring at it for millions of years to get anything meaningful.

If you're talking our rotation against the sky, then you're looking to learn Right Ascension/Declination';

The reason you don't see live Hubble video is because there isn't any such animal. It has to be processed, and shutter lengths aren't "live" anyway. We're talking hours/days/weeks/months of time that the shutter is open.

Congrats on your first scope!
 
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orionrider

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Try http://www.stellarium.org/
It is free, easy to use and shows everything you can see in your Dob, and more. You can also change the time speed to animate the sky, see how the sky is from various places at different dates/hours.
Stellarium is also very useful to practice finding an object.
During the real observation, a pair of simple 7x50 binoculars is a great help to identify sky objects before pointing the telescope.

Ah, and remember that everything you see in your mirror telescope is inverted. ;)

No Hubble webcam, but this link is the next best thing: http://space.jpl.nasa.gov/
 
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xmo1

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adrenalynn":1l1ns5m3 said:
Hi there,

Starry Night : As for "everything moving" - are we talking objects in space moving? One galaxy moving in some direction isn't going to be terribly exciting since you'll be staring at it for millions of years to get anything meaningful.

The reason you don't see live Hubble video is because there isn't any such animal. It has to be processed, and shutter lengths aren't "live" anyway. We're talking hours/days/weeks/months of time that the shutter is open.

Congrats on your first scope!
What, no webcams? How hard would it be to attach some cams to a satellite, and send the images back with the other telemetry? Not very I'm guessing: -probably give a boost to the interest in Astronomy. I'm imagining a subscription channel _oops. Just say thank you Comcast: Like that's going to happen. Oh, oh, back to the post!

The night sky has weather in my view. Orion's clouds move. Maybe not much, but they move. Stars are the raindrops of space. When I look at a weather map - I like more information rather than less. It took me a while to find wind direction indicators, and a little more time to find ocean weather (as most reported weather is land based). So I think the same could be done with the sky. I know the data exists, but it isn't being mapped to the public forum (I can't find it).

What is with this edit box jumping up and down. Please fix it SDC.

Thanks Adrenalynn.
 
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xmo1

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orionrider":3pllz0yb said:
Try http://www.stellarium.org/
You can also change the time speed to animate the sky, see how the sky is from various places at different dates/hours.
Stellarium is also very useful to practice finding an object. During the real observation, a pair of simple 7x50 binoculars is a great help to identify sky objects before pointing the telescope.

No Hubble webcam, but this link is the next best thing: http://space.jpl.nasa.gov/
I had Stellarium already installed. - went back and did some configuration and wa la. Nice, and it 'does' work. Orion and the Pleiades, just as they appear in my sky. Wonderful, and thanks for the space.jpl link too. That looks great.
 
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adrenalynn

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xmo1":cut7zpj9 said:
What, no webcams? How hard would it be to attach some cams to a satellite, and send the images back with the other telemetry?
Infinitely, since it doesn't work that way, as I mentioned.

Take a shot at astrophotography yourself and you'll understand.
 
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xmo1

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adrenalynn":2oembs5h said:
xmo1":2oembs5h said:
What, no webcams? How hard would it be to attach some cams to a satellite, and send the images back with the other telemetry?
Infinitely, since it doesn't work that way, as I mentioned.

Take a shot at astrophotography yourself and you'll understand.
So, space based Internet web cams are not the way to go for astronomy?
There you go NASA. Can I be the project admin?
 
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adrenalynn

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xmo1":1jq6x8xr said:
Can I be the project admin?
Absolutely. Just explain how you're going to get streaming video when you have to leave the shutter open for a month. Just explain that and you're all set.

Oh - well - that and how you're going to stack terabytes of data in realtime on a spacecraft.


Just for fun, go point your cell phone video camera at the sky and show us what you get. Now leave it going for a month and then stack the frames - now what do you get? Wow, look at that!

Even if you weren't breaking every law of imaging and optical physics - you're going to need to let those researchers spending millions of dollars to gather their research data know that you're releasing that data to the public before they have a chance to publish. So they're all out on their ear - every other researcher on the planet will just sit back and wait for them to spend the money and then take their data. So now the Hubble has just plummeted back to earth. Woot!

Or it could be that neither NASA nor anyone else on the planet has never considered the notion - entirely possible that they're all that stupid.
 
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xmo1

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adrenalynn":3ii6fw6l said:
xmo1":3ii6fw6l said:
Can I be the project admin?
Absolutely. Just explain how you're going to get streaming video when you have to leave the shutter open for a month. Just explain that and you're all set.

Oh - well - that and how you're going to stack terabytes of data in realtime on a spacecraft.
People attach web cams to their telescopes here on planet Earth. The difference between generic web cams and astrophotography cameras is the size of the ccd in the camera, and there is no shutter in a webcam, but that is about it. Both are digital devices.

Movies are made by streaming the (digital) image to a hard drive, which can then be processed and broadcast. Webcam software allows for the streaming of multiple cameras to multiple viewports (screens). It affords the capabilities of real time color processing, recording video, and taking still shots (screen captures), among other things.

Web servers (a simple software device attached to a hard drive) have the ability to stream audio and video. High res (1080i, for example), only requires a relatively small memory buffer, and the processing power less than that of a video card at the client (user) end. Webcam output can be stacked, because they use the same technologies as professional astronomical observatories. They are just smaller, which is good for space based operations.
 
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adrenalynn

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Yeah, sorry, I don't know anything about digital video or streaming video. [tongue firmly in cheek]

When you put a webcam on a telescope, you see a big fat nothing. Until you stack hundreds or thousands of frames. And even then, they're worthless for anything outside of planetary and lunar observing.

You will generally find that even with cameras costing hundreds of thousands of dollars that most DSO images are the result of many hours to many weeks of exposure time.

Oh, and incidentally: Webcams _DO_ have a shutter, of course. Every last one of them.
 
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3488

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adrenalynn":21o4wupy said:
Yeah, sorry, I don't know anything about digital video or streaming video. [tongue firmly in cheek]

When you put a webcam on a telescope, you see a big fat nothing. Until you stack hundreds or thousands of frames. And even then, they're worthless for anythin........
Hi adrenalynn,

Of course & also the telescope would have to be tracked precisely & / or aimed precisely every time so that if you are using a webcam & saving individual frames seperately, so they can be stacked precisely. Any drift, the images will not stack properly & you'll still end up with either a big fat nothing or something so fuzzy that it is worse than useless.

The procedure is made to look a lot easier than it really is. Also with the likes of Jupiter, which rotates once every 9 hours & 55', the stacking will be quite pointless as Jupiter's cloud features will rotate noticeably within minutes.

That's my take on it.

Andrew.
 
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MeteorWayne

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xmo1":39ynzb9j said:
Orion's clouds move. Maybe not much, but they move. .
Yes over periods of a hundred years or so, you might be able to detect it. Do you think you will live that long?

No motion has been detected in the Orion nebula in the period of recorded photographic history.
 
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adrenalynn

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Andrew -

Agreed, Jupiter is a worthy target. The trick there is getting a LOT of frames as slow as workable as fast as you can. :) That's where a slow-shutter-mod or a webcam with a "night mode" (which is a DSS - Digital Slow Shutter) comes into play. If you can get continuous 3 second shutter video for five minutes on Jupiter, good stacking software (registax or MaxIM) can match up the features and get you a good stack. Still no replacement for aperture and dark skies though. But it helps!

Still no way to get a live stream from that since you're going to be stacking all night even before you get into image processing.
 
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MeteorWayne

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If you drill down in the Astrophotography forum a page or three, there was some fantastic work done on Jupiter.

Great time lapse animations!
 
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adrenalynn

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Yeah, Orionrider was doing some wonderful imaging of Jupiter with a very modest setup.
 
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