Pocket Sky Atlas Challenges for December

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. For urban astronomers, the charts are sufficient for the brighter stars visible under urban skies; the charts offer enough detail for star hops with telescopes or binoculars. When taking advantage of a dark sky location, the details of the charts allow for hours of wanderings per page depending on the size of the telescope and the skill of the operator.

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.

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.

Naked Eye:

Capella, page 12.

Bellatrix, Betelgeuse, Meissa, Page 14.

Aldebaran, page 15.

M45, page 15.

Saiph, Rigel, Cursa, Alnitak, Alnilam, Mintaka, Page 16.

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

Larger Scopes:

NGC 7814, page 5.

NGC 988, page 6.

NGC 1360, page 17.

NGC 7741, page 74.

Bonus objects:

NGC 1662, page 15.

NGC 2204, Page 16.

NGC 7006, Page 75.

NGC 7606, page 76.

Happy hunting.