Arun Waves

September 25, 2012

Star charts

Filed under: Astronomy — Arun @ 11:36 pm

You can either give your own names to the stars and spin a story about a group of apparently nearby ones or use the star charts to find out the names that the ancestors gave them!! With the laptops/tablets/smart phones becoming ubiquitous, here are two electronic star charts that I use;

  1. – needs internet connection for the free version and sometimes the button under “Interactive night sky map” (top left) does not show up since it needs JAVA to be enabled, otherwise it is my favorite tool. Allows you to choose location and time/date. You can click your way into the past of future, on a minute by minute basis or even on a year by year basis. You can turn things on or off, like constellation names, outlines, grid etc. You can search using star/galaxy/cluster names, simply amazing 🙂
  2. – When being online (on a laptop or tablet) is not feasible then I use Stellarium that can be downloaded for free. Its graphics and interface is different from the AstroViewer but does its job. Caution: someone not comfortable with computers/websites/apps may find it a little challenging in the beginning.

And when all the fancy electronics fails because of low battery, a red light and a paper chart or book will save the day!! I use ‘Skywatching’ by David H. Levy – simple but provides lot of relevant information in an intuitive manner. It has general info chapters, sky charts, and individual constellation descriptions with hints on what can be seen with naked eye, binoculars, and telescopes.



July 15, 2011

Encyclopedia of Astronomy by SAO – COSMOS

Filed under: Astronomy — Arun @ 6:21 pm
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COSMOS – The SAO Encyclopedia of Astronomy” is a great collection of definitions and explanations of astronomy related terms. Wait, it gets better, it is written by research astronomers!! so you get information “directly from the horse’s mouth” which is always the most authentic source.

June 1, 2011

Dark Sky viewpoint around Phoenix

Filed under: Astronomy — Arun @ 5:46 pm
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You may scream ARE YOU CRAZY? or more appropriately ARE YOU BLIND? Dark sky in Phoenix, one of the most light polluted cities in continental US!!!!!!!!

Yup I am talking of THE Phoenix in Arizona 🙂 granted it is not the best dark sky location but hey give it some credit for being just 40miles from the city center and you can still see the Andromeda galaxy (M31)

Where to find it ………. head out in a North-Eastern direction on highway 87 (Beeline Hwy), keep going and cross Fort McDowell Road and then Bush Highway, watch for a big green sign saying “Four Peaks *something*” on your right leading to a dirt road; just drive in couple minutes and ta-da you are there.

Dark spot 2








Here is the board you would see after which you will make a right turn into the dirt road; there will be a cattle guard also.

Dark spot





Don’t believe me!? check out these pics that I took there, see the little light smudge at 2 o’clock position (click the image to go to Flickr and see the notes) …………..
Milky Way and Andromeda Galaxy (M31)

Hey I even took a shot of Perseid meteor shower (click the image to go to Flickr and see the notes) …………..
Perseids meteor shower

NOTE: This spot is lonely (depending on the day of the year) and very dark AND you will hear animals that howl, so use common sense and be alert.

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