Tom's Astronomy Web: An Astronomy page for the Observer, the Scientist, the Educator--to provide a content-rich resource for those of us interested in Astronomy. I try to select pages with information that give you access to the work of skilled-amateurs and professionals .. to help them give you materials for your own investigations . - Tom (eMail)
|BASICS||TIME||LAT/LONG||CHARTS .. SETI||TABLES||VISUAL|
|Setting up a
Basics of Observing .. to top .. index
Your home computer and the Internet will help you locate most Astronomical objects in the sky. This section will help you set up your home computer so that you can access Astronomical resources on the Internet. The first step is to insure that your computer's clock is always set correctly .. so ..
- .. Check your computer's "Date-Time" configuration:
- Go to .. your desktop .. click on "My Computer" .. then .. "Control Panel, " .. then .. "Date/Time"
- Then ... set the correct Date and approximate Time (using a wall clock)
- Then ... select the correct Time Zone and make sure that the "daylight savings time" box is checked "on"
- Then .. download and install a small software program which will automatically set your computer clock to the correct time standard .. such as:
- Time RC/3.0 at : http://www.geocities.com/SiliconValley/Lakes/7206/TimeRC.html
- NISTat: http://www.bldrdoc.gov/timefreq/service/nts.htm .. (PC or MAC)
- Next .. you will need to know your local longitude and latitude (see Lat/Long below)
- If you are interested in Satellites Observations .. see here .. you must determine your Latitude-Longitude .. upon entry. First select your .. country .. then city .. in that order. This will set your Latitude/Longitude for the current session, only. After this you will have many options and can obtain satellite predictions and path-charts (against the stars) for your location.
One option presents a current summary of Planet parameters useful to set up an observing schedule.
The star charts (i.e. visible pass charts) are excellent and can be used as a star finder. In addition, you can step the current chart to other regions of the sky by placing the cursor anywhere (e.g. at the edge) of the current chart .. and this will become the new center of the next chart. The chart resolution can also be changed.
(note: If you save any object-page .. after your local Latitude-Longitude has been set properly .. then you can click directly to that page, later, without having to (re)enter your country-city set up parameters)
Starting Out .. #1
Time Resources .. to top .. index
Normally, you will find two "time systems" used by various Astronomical web pages .. UTC and local time .. make sure that you know which time is being displayed on any given page.
Warning .. It is important that your computer clock time always reads, correctly !
Examples of time problem-solution might be:
a) UTC Vs local-clock-time: where UTC time may be different from local-clock-time by several hours (e.g. - 7 hours in Taos, NM)
b) local-clock-time Vs daylight-saving-time: Your computer clock time can be off by one hour (If so reset your computer configuration)
c) If your computer clock is correct but prediction times are always wrong check to make sure that you have determined your local Latitude/Longitude, correctly.
d) Your computer clock gradually looses time and needs to be adjusted using the software, below
e) Is the time given as AM or PM or 24-hr clock time?
Other Astronomical times systems that you might see are:
a) "sidereal time" is the current R.A. on your local meridian. This is used to correlate object positions with (current) time-sky configuration. (Determine your local Sidereal Time)
b) Julian Date a continuing sequential day-counter .. often used to determine the number of days between event-dates or to specify the date of an event .. without having to worry about leap-years, number of days per month etc.
b) Time Zones are *roughly* every 15-deg of longitude East (+) or West (-) of Greenwich. However, local preferences can alter this nominal rule substantially and you will probably need to look here to determine a time zone elsewhere in the world. (e.g. Taos is -7 hrs west of Greenwich, at -105-deg longitude)
to Hear .. the UTC Time Announcer (w/Real Audio-requires sound card and speakers)
Local Sidereal Time .. "Sidereal Time" is the current R.A. on your Local Meridian
Enter your City and State to get local Longitude .. (Taos is 105.57 West)
where "Julian Date" is the sequential number of days since -4713 B.C
Latitude - Longitude .. to top .. index
a) It is important to specify whether you are at a longitude West (-) or East (+) of the Greenwich meridian.
for example: European countries are East (+) of Greenwich while the Americas are West (-).
b) Time Zones are *roughly* every 15-deg of longitude East(+) or West(-) of Greenwich. However, local preferences can alter this nominal rule substantially and you will probably need to look here to determine a time zone, elsewhere in the world.
- What is your Longitude .. Latitude ? .. e.g. enter: Taos, NM .. USA ..
(Taos Long=105.57715 W, Lat=+36.38622 N Zone=-7 West of Greenwich)
- Geographic Information by US (only) Place Name .. e.g. enter: Taos and New Mexico
- Find you Location .. Country .. USA-City (and nearby communities)
Observing Params .. to top .. index
- Planetary Summary (real time page .. this site also has satellite observing resources-see set up params)
- Small Body Search Program .. use this to set up an observing program for the night
- US Naval Observatory Data .. sun/moon .. rise/set .. azimuths
- Occultation's of Stars by Asteroids .. Lowell's Asteroid Observing Services
- JPL's Ephemeris Generator .. help
- Solar System Simulator - to see what the Planets look like .. e.g. Jupiter .. Mars .. Saturn
- Calculate Distance between two locations (longitude .. latitude)
Weather Conditions .. to top .. index
Note: In theory .. if the jet stream is within 200 miles of you location, the "seeing" will start to deteriorate
- Jet Steam
- Air turbulence .. Surface winds .. Wind chill .. Temp
- Weather .. Taos (doppler, satellite) .. (by zipcode) .. USA #2
- Solar Activity .. Forecast
Charts . .. to top .. index
(also see Satellite observing star charts)
- Celestial Coordinates
- SETI Charts (Ready made by Constellation) .. Home
- Digital Images .. Index (by Constellation .. recommended)
- Constellations and their Stars .. Labeled
- Constellations (current) by Walker .. (construct your own)
- LPL Constellations (Walker) .. w/photos and descriptions objects)
- SEDS (LPL) .. with photos and descriptions
- Stars Grouped by Spectral Class (w/text)
- Stars with Orbiting Planets .. (text)
- Constellations by Hawaii Astro. Soc. .. w/myth, maps, objects and photos (make a map by month)
- Dibon Smith (poor charts .. good Star tables, Messier objects, Binary Orbits, Visual Binaries
- Peoria Constellations (poor charts) w/details of Stars, Objects etc
- Constellation Photos
- Comet Finder Charts .. using XEphem (UNIX)
- Munich Constellations .. w/stars, photos, tables etc by families
- by Constellation .. by groups .. w/Info Sheet .. Nice Charts .. more!
- Sky Charts .. w/Information page .. be sure to click on "Sky Chart" option for detailed chart
- Interactive (Java) Sky Charts .. (hold button down to get R.A, and Dec)
- Binocular Observing .. #2 .. #3
Details .. to top .. index
- Current Star Chart (a tutorial .. also see Ephemeris definitions)
learn how to set up a Sky Chart to find objects and other purposes.
you will need your longitude/latitude (above)
- by Object .. (click on Catalogues of Objects)
use to build a local Star Chart for selected objects .. such as ..
planets, constellations, meteor showers, comets, asteroids, stars by name, navigating stars, deep sky objects, and messier objects
- by Horizontal View - enter your longitude-latitude or chose nearest city
- Detailed Star Chart .. USNO/Flagstaff .. Other Options
- by Photographic Atlas .. (using Sloan Digital Sky Survey .. like "RealSky")
download photographs from STSci's collection of plates (down to 19th mag.)
Plates can be selected by object name or R.A./Dec.
Notes: be sure to set image type to ".gif"
Satellite Observing .. to top .. index
- On Line Satellite Predictions (Taos: 36.4070 N, 105.5730 W)
- Star-Charts and Predictions for Satellite Observing .. Taos
you must define your location :
select .. 1)country .. 2)city .. then choose an 3)object ..and 4)star chart (and resolution)
note: the star charts (i.e. visible pass charts) are excellent
- Locate Bright Satellites .. by Name
you must define your location :
select .. 1)country .. 2)city .. 3)object
also use the clickables: [passes] and [orbits] in upper-right corner of page
- How to Observe Satellites
- see Satellite Section
- (Near) Real time Weather Satellite Pictures (POES)
- Satellite Experiments
Tables .. to top .. index
- Brightest Stars .. 25 brightest
- Closest Stars .. 30 Closest
- Brightest Variable Stars .. AAVSO Charts !
- Brightest Double Stars .. 100 widest .. Orbits of .. Types .. How to Observe
- Stars w/Highest Proper Motion .. description
- Bright Globular Clusters
Visual .. to top .. index
- Magnitude Scale .. Vs required instrument
- How to Find Venus in Daylight
- Seeing .. ALPO .. #2 .. some scales
Telescopes .. to top .. index
- First Telescope
- The Basics .. Performance Testing .. Ref Book
- Telescope Reviews
- The EyePiece
- How to clean Mirrors and Lenses
- Polar Axis Alignment .. #2
- Use of Setting Circles
Topics .. to top .. index
- Current Planet Data .. e.g. oppositions, distance, magnitudes, conjunctions etc
- Solar System Chart
- Solar .. Moon params (for Taos)
- About Variable Stars (w/finder charts)
- Backyard Astronomy
- Suitable for the testing of small telescopes (ie separation from 0.13" to 1.60")
Software Aids .. to top .. index
- MPC format
- SkyMap (SkyMap Software)
- Guide (Project Pluto)
- xephem (E. Downey)
- Home Planet (J. Walker)
- MyStars! (Relative Data Products)
- TheSky (Software Bisque)
- Starry Night (Sienna Software)
- Deep Space (D. S. Chandler)
- PC-TCS (D. Harvey)
- Earth Centered Universe (Nova Astronomics)
- Dance of the Planets (ARC)
- MegaStar V4.x (E.L.B. Software)
- SkyChart III (Southern Stars Software)
- Voyager II (Carina Software)
- SkyTools (CapellaSoft)
- Autostar (Meade Instruments)
- XEphem (Unix) .. construct Star Charts
- World Time Zone Map .. also can select by region
- Earth and Moon viewer .. allows the user to displays images of the Earth and Sun in time from either the Sun, Earth or Moon. (approx. 7+ meg zip file) (to use: see "Earth view" and "Moon view," above). This is truly a marvelous program
- The Sky Screen Saver is a program which displays a star chart showing real-time positions of the planets, constellations, stars.
- Home Planet
- Star Calc (Russian) Star Map Maker
- Sky Chart
- SkyView (Internet) .. What is ? .. News
- Get Latest Orbital Elements of .. Comets, Asteroids .. for many software pkgs.
- Downloadable Sky Map Software
Links .. to top .. index