Posted by David Mottershead at 19:56 on 2010 Apr 15
Hello PaulI too use ‘GOTO’ scopes now, primarily because from the heavily light polluted site in Manchester that I observe from I really can’t see enough stars to star hop to all that I would want to see.However, when I first started out in astronomy I used undriven Alt Az and equatorial mounted scopes, and learnt how to navigate around the night sky and to star hop. Although having a laptop even back then, and having Skymap 2 (yes, it’s that long ago!!) on it, my prefered ‘weapons’ of choice were a northern hemisphere planishere and a copy of ‘Turn Left At Orion’. Armed with these I was able to succesfully navigate around the night sky and locate DSOs, doubles etc. As with anything, it really is a case of practise makes perfect, learning (or more likely in this case, relearning), the constellations and stars that make them up, and where, in relation to certain constellations/stars a given object is. I think I generally used to start with one or other of the main circumpolar constellations (as they are always visible to us here in the northern hemishpere), and then star hop across via other constellations to my target. The decsriptions and route paths provided in ‘Turn Left At orion’ were invaluable as well. So my advice, for what its worth, is refamiliarise yourself with the constellations and stars that make them up, draw up an evenings targets prior to your session, use a plainshere (doesn’t run out of batteries and let you down at a critical moment) and get a copy of ‘Turn Of Left At Orion’ as that, in conjunction with your planisphere and knowledge of the constellations, will provide a descriptive route to many worthwhile targets.Hope this is of some use.