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Observing


This section will contain useful information on how to observe astronomical objects...





Distance measurements


It is quite often for people to have lots of trouble when it comes to describing distances in the sky. The easiest way to do this is by measuring everything as an angular measure as the sky can not be expressed in a linear manner (e.g. metres). So in Astronomy the angular measure is taken and so an Astronomer might say that tow stars are 15 degrees apart, meaning if you draw a line from your eye to each star then the two lines would form an angle of 15 degrees at your eye. Useful ways to measure angular distance are:

If you hold your arm out at full length and look past it with one eye then this covers approximately 10 degrees of the sky.
A fingertip at arms length is approximately 1 degree.
The Sun and the moon are approximately half a degree across.
The Plough is approximately 25 degrees across.
There is smaller divisions of angular distance. One degree is made up of 60 arc minutes (60') which is in turn made up of 60 arc seconds (60'').



Astronomical Drawings


Venus is a good object to start with as it is not too complicated to draw and is quite easy to find.

To help you out Emma Robinson has created a Venus phase page which you can print out and then just fill in the circles (this can also be used for the Moon) - [Venus Phase]

Further info: How to make astronomical drawings by Emma Robinson [.pdf]



Telescopes


A basic introduction to Astrosoc's telecopes (2003 by Samuel George - out of date but the telescope principles are still correct!) - [pdf]



Binocular Astronomy

A basic introduction to using binoculars for astronomy - a very powerful and quick way to observe the Universe - [pdf]