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    Re: hiding stars
    From: Frank Reed
    Date: 2010 Oct 29, 16:19 -0700

    Alan, you wrote:
    "Couldn't find Antares at all."

    Half an hour after sunset I think it's already less than ten degrees high this time of year in your latitude. That makes it rather difficult to find, especially if there's any haze at all towards the southwest. Try Nunki, Rasalhague, Altair, Vega, Markab, and also Fomalhaut and Jupiter, which you're already using. Altair and Vega are not difficult to identify. To locate Nunki, learn the "teapot" of Sagittarius. For Markab, learn the "Great Square" of Pegasus. Rasalhague has no obvious patterns near or around it, but it's one of the few bright stars in that part of the sky.

    Regarding the 2102-D star finder, while this device has its place, especially if you're interested in re-creating the historical conditions of mid/late 20th century celestial navigation, there are far easier ways to learn the stars and find their altitudes and azimuths today. For a popular computer solution, try "Stellarium". It's a nice "planetarium" program and it has the very big advantage of being free. You can download it at www.stellarium.org or just google it (stellarium.org is the top result). Once you set it up for your location, you can click on a star and it will display the name, a bunch of other details, and also the altitude and azimuth which is what you'll want for identifying stars for cel nav practice. There are also software "apps" where you can point a cell phone or a tablet computer, like an iPad, up at the sky and they will show you the stars more or less as they appear in the sky in the direction you're pointing the device. You face north, tilt it up until it's inclined at an angle equal to your latitude (which the device knows already from GPS or cell tower data), and, bang, there's Polaris in the middle of the display. But that's probably making things TOO easy! ;-)

    As for your observations, it's hard to guess where you're going wrong. I do agree that you can expect better results. It would help if you could post your raw observations: the exact time and the exact altitudes as observed (with the index correction or already corrected for index error).


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