Greetings fellow astrophiles!
In preparation for upcoming 2013 lecture and observing sessions, we have put together instructional brochures to help introduce the Night Sky to attendees. The first of these, entitled “A Guide For New Observers,” is provided below in PDF format. This brochure will be available at our combined lecture/observing sessions, but feel free to bring your own copy (or the PDF on a tablet with a good red acetate cover!).
NOTE: These brochures are made better by your input. If you find a problem, have a question, or have a suggestion (bearing in mind these are being kept to one two-sided piece of paper), please contact CNYO at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Guide For New Observers
The Importance Of The Constellations
“For modern amateur astronomers, constellations are the ‘coarse adjustment’ by which we find our way around the Night Sky, using these star groupings as guides to planets, star clusters, nebulae, comets & galaxies.”
The Importance Of Dark Adaption
“A camera flash or smart phone will set your dark adaption back MINUTES, SO AVOID BRIGHT LIGHTS!”
Sky Too Confusing? Start In The City
“Light Pollution is the bane of astronomers, but it does simplify the search for constellations by making your eyes less sensitive to light from dim and distant stars.”
Distances In The Sky – Hand’s Up!
“With some ‘digital’ calibration (as in, your fingers), a walk between constellations becomes a matter of letting your fingers gauge how far you need to look based on any sky charts you may be using.”
Why Polaris Doesn’t (Seem To) Move
“Like the Sun, the Night Sky appears to rise in the East and set in the West (which is a result of the Earth spinning from West to East).”
The Zodiac And The Ecliptic
The Zodiacal Constellations mark the ecliptic – the path the Sun and planets appear to take over the course of the year.
The Circumpolar & Seasonal Constellations
The circumpolar constellations are the best places to start for the new amateur astronomer because they are always visible from your latitude (even if you have to turn your head a bit to see them all).