Pocket Sky Atlas Challenges for July

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 July - 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.

The July Sky

With half the year gone, we now look forward 6 months of reunions with our old celestial friends. July is a good time to pull out the lawn chairs and do a little sit down binocular work. Hey, it’s astronomy-to-go, instead of go-to astronomy!

Star party season is also in full swing. It is an interesting exercise to work through a list of objects at your usual observing site, and then compare the views to those you may find at your star party site. It also gives you a starting place to look under unfamiliar skies.

For those in more northern latitudes, waiting for darkness allows a bit of time to check out your equipment before starlight appears. Take a little extra time to get comfortable and set thing up to have them in easy reach.

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

Naked Eye

Eltanin and Rastaban, Page 52.

Rasalgethi and Rasalhague page 54. Two stars apparently close in the sky but are very different.

Kaus Borealis, Kaus Media and Kaus Australis, Page 67

Small Scopes and binoculars:

Cebalrai, Page 54.

Marfik and Sabik Page56.

Epsilon Lyra, Page 63 (this will be nice in larger scopes as well).

Sulafat and Sheliak, Page 65.

Larger Scopes

M13, page 52.

NGC 6210, page 54.

NGC 5962 Page 55.

Blaze Star (T Coronae Borealis), Page 55.

Harvard 20, Page 64.

Bonus Objects

NGC 6543, Page 51.

UGC 10822, Page 52.

IC 4665, Page 54.

Yed Prior and Yed Posterior, Page 56.

Remember: Bug spray and optics do not blend well together.

Always spray well away from your ( or anyone else’s) equipment.


Happy Hunting!

John Kulczycki