Pocket Sky Atlas Challenges for November
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.
Frost and dew: along with cold, they are our observing companions during these longer nights. While some can stand the cold better than others, most of us can bundle up enough to grab binoculars and steal some time under the stars. If you venture out to your backyard, tell someone, just in case: few situations are as frustrating as being locked out in the cold night by a spouse who later claims to have had no idea you were outside. Dress warm and bring some food and a hot drink. Wandering any distance also requires a blanket/sleeping bag and a back-up plan.
As for those who travel any distance to a dark sky site, it is a good time to review and replenish your cold weather gear and supplies for observing. It’s also a good time to have your vehicle’s battery tested to insure there are no chilling surprises when you turn the key to get home after a long night in the cold. If you can, observe with an observing buddy; if this is not possible, let someone know where you are going and check in with that person when you get back. Make sure your cell phone is charged up at all times.
I’ve indexed the objects of this month's challenges to their star chart pages.
Matar, page 72.
Alpheratz page 74.
Equuleus page 75.
Sadalsuud, page 75.
Small Scopes and Binoculars:
M 36,37,38, Page 12.
M15, Page 75.
M2, Page 77.
IC 2149, Page 12.
AG Pegasi, Page 75.
NGC 7606, Page 76.
NGC 7009, Page 77.
NGC 1778, Page 12.
NGC 1444, Page 13.
NGC 7331, Page 72.
NGC 7686, Page 72.
NGC 7160, Page 73.
NGC 7448, Page 74.
Jupiter is well positioned all night long during November, and makes a great object for showing off to the neighbourhood kids.
PPS. NGC 7448 has been moved to the Bonus Objects from the Small Telescopes and Binoculars section. My bad!