Pocket Sky Atlas Challenges for January

Sky and Telescope's "Pocket Sky Atlas" is a wonderful resource for all amateur astronomers. These challenges are designed for spicing up your observing.

Pocket Sky Atlas Challenges for January - John Kulczycki

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.

January Sky

With the New Year starts another orbit around the Sun. There are 366 potential stargazing nights, and if we make an effort to plan ahead, maybe we can be more successful this year than last.

On those cloudy nights, take some time to draw up observing plans for a few weeks or even a month or two in the future. When you plan ahead, you can take full advantage of a clear night by already having an observing plan ready. Planning also lets you dig a little deeper into the atlas, past the usual 110 suspects and any wanderers that may be in the celestial neighbourhood.

But let's face it, going out to observe on a January night comes down to just one thing: motivation.

For some, a whole truckload of motivation (or more) will be needed before they wander out into bone-chilling cold, clear January nights.

If you are one of these types, you can still do a little “Winter Training Camp” from time to time just to keep keen. If you have astronomy programs, use them and figure out all the features they have, make sure you know how to print off charts when the next new comet comes around during warmer months. You can also go to the library and go through some of those books you didn’t have time to look at during busy months. This time of year is also a good time to set out some goals for objects you’d like to see during the year and make plans on how you would do that.

Or, you could just get a new parka and some warm boots so you can get out there and observe.

I’ve indexed the object to its star chart page.

Naked Eye

Propus, page 14.

Aldebaran ,age 15;

Mirzam, page 16.

Arneb' page 16.

Nihal' page 16, can you make out the Throne of Jawz?'?'

Menkar, page 17.

Procyon, page 25.

Sirius, page 27.

Small Scopes and Binoculars

NGC 2215, page 16.

NGC 1582, page 12.

M 67, page 24.

NGC 2182, page 25.

Larger Scopes

vdB-26, page 15.

Ced 34 (Cederblad catalogue object), page 15.

NGC 1535, page 17.

Lower’s Nebula, page 25.

Bonus Objects

NGC 1817 and NGC 1807, page 14;

NGC 1554, page 15.

NGC 1407 and NGC 1400, page 17.

NGC 2403, page 21.

For Those Heading South this Winter

Fornax Dwarf, Page 6.

NGC 2210, Page 20.

Happy Hunting

John Kulczycki