Four Free PDF Star Atlas

January 27th, 2014

Mag 7 Star Atlas Project (version 2.0) by Andrew L Johnson

Mag 8.4 Star Atlas (Nov 24, 2005) by Toshimi Taki

Tri-Atlas (2nd. edition) by Jose R. Torres

Tri-Atlas A

Tri-Atlas B

Tri-Atlas C  is also a free iTunes download

Deep Sky Hunter Star Atlas

Deep-Sky Atlas

Deep Sky Hunter

Catagories Mag 7 Mag 8.5 Tri-Atlas A Tri-Atlas B Tri-Atlas  C DS    Atlas DS Hunter Pocket  Sky Atlas
Document type PDF PDF PDF PDF PDF PDF PDF Water Proof Book
Size 8.5 x 11 8.5 x 11 8.5 x 11 8.5 x 11 8.5 x 11 11 x 8.5 8.5 x 11 9 x 6
Mag limit (stars) 7 8.5 9.5 11 12.6 9.5 10.2 7.6
Mag limit (DSO) ~11.5 ~12.5 ~11.5 12.5 15.5 12.5 14.0 11.5
Number of chart maps 16 146 25 107 570 80 101 80
Selected Area Charts yes – 1 yes – 3 no no no no yes -21 yes – 4
Index chart included yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes
Chart Numbered no yes yes yes yes yes yes yes
Reference to adjacent maps no yes yes yes yes yes yes yes
B & W yes yes yes yes yes yes yes no
Milky Way Outline no no no no no yes no yes
Color w/ Milky Way Outline yes no no no no no no yes
Print Format scalable no no yes yes yes yes yes n/a
DSO lists no yes no no no yes yes no

Mag 7

This is a good chart to use in conjunction with a Telrad finder and naked eye view. When printed on 8.5 x 11 and compared to the S & T Pocket Sky Atlas Cygnus chart 62 there are less nebula, but more important less text per chart. The fewer amount of text make the MAG 7 chart more readable. In addition the star scale size are larger on the S & T Pocket Star Atlas and easier to read at that size. If the charts can be printer on a larger size paper it would make a good rival to the Pocket Star Atlas, however it would not be water proof or as durable. I prefer the selected area map of the Virgo Galaxy Cluster of the Mag 7 chart mainly because it covers more sky area. Be sure to get the PDF or Excel files of DSO found on to bottom of the website.

Mag 8.5

At magnitude 8.5 these maps complement the view thru your finder scope or binoculars, assuming dark skies of course. I find the map scale pleasing when printed on 8.5 x 11 paper. Not too crowed with text labels and in my opinion the lack of constellation stick figure outline aid to this. Good over lap in RA and Dec with index to adjacent maps. They contain a fairly good selection of DSO objects with complementary text and spreadsheet files. Of course to make this a fine atlas comes with the price of quantity of chart, 146 in this case. The Coma / Virgo Galaxy cluster map contains more reference stars to use when star hopping this region.

Tri-Atlas   A, B, and C

These three charts are all based upon the CNebulaX software program. They each contain an enormous wealth of stars and DSO for you to find. Printing these on normal 8.5 X 11 paper is not practicable due to the amount of detail and stars on this scale. The extended constellation stick figures add to the distraction on the page. Navigating the Coma / Virgo cluster at the C scale is difficult enough without the use of  “pointer lines” that are used to identify the object name. Best practice is printing on a very large size paper, if you have a printer that can handle this. Alternately use the Adobe Reader to enlarge the map and the Snapshot Tool to copy a portion of the map. This can be pasted into your favorite text document for printing.  The C maps may well be a DSO enthusiast alternative to S & T Millennium Star Atlas but it comes with a price when printing at large scale.

I find the amount of text printed on the Tri-Atlas C charts overwhelming in the crowded regions of the Milky Way. The enhanced symbols for the double stars add to the confused look in many cases. In order put as much useful information as possible on the charts, constellation names, reference lines, star names, object labels, object names, and map references numbers will result in a crowded look to the charts with stars down to 13 magnitude. That is the price to pay when looking to create a chart with so much useful information. This is well suited for use with GOTO telescopes, rather than a night of star hopping.

In addition to the charts many supporting files on DSO and Doubles stars are available for download on the website.

Deep Sky Hunter Star Atlas

At slightly larger scale than the Tri-Atlas C these charts present a less clutter appearance of the stars are maped to 10.2 magnitude. Coordinate lines are drawn every 30 minutes in RA and 5 minutes in DEC when compared to bold lines every 5 minutes in RA and 1 minute in DEC for the same area of the sky of the Tri-Start Atlas C charts. It does not cover the depth of magnitude range of deep sky catalogs of the Tri-Star Atlas C charts nor include all of the catalogs, for instance double stars are not labeled.

The larger scale and less clutter is more pleasing to the eye and easier to read and still offering many deep sky object to find in a telescope of modest aperture. There are more deep sky objects plotted than on the Star Atlas 2000. I find these charts very easy to use. For a observer of faint fuzzies and larger aperture may prefer Tri-Star Atlas C over this one, but it is a good alternative between Sky Atlas 200 and Tri-Star Atlas C.

Under the DSO Guide on the website are many supporting file list and illustrated guides in PDF format.

These are my own personal opinions and will differ from your own depending upon your preference.

John D Sabia

Lackawanna Astronomical Society celebrates its 55th Anniversary

September 11th, 2013

The Lackawanna Astronomical Society recently celebrated its 55th anniversary,
with a dinner at the Inne of the Abingtons. The LAS began in 1958 as a class,
then became a club, at the Everhart Museum in Scranton, PA, and since the mid
1970s, has been associated with Keystone College’s T G Cupillari Observatory
in Fleetville, PA, with its own observatory at that site.
Guest speaker, astrophotographer, supernova hunter, and eclipse chaser, Mike
Peoples, gave a presentation about his recent experience in Alaska as part of
the University of North Texas 1012 Venus Transit Team 1.

The 2013 Lackawanna Astronomical Society officers and board members in attendance
at the 55th Anniversary Dinner.
L to R, Rev. George Matthew and Tom Mills, board members, Jo-Ann Kamichitis, vicepresident,
Carol Leola, president, Diane Musewicz, secretary, Joe Kamichitis, treasurer.
Absent when photo was taken, Mary Sinkovich, board member.

LAS president Carol Leola, center, is amid the LAS members who have been in society
for over 40 years. They are, L to R, Jo-Ann Kamichitis, 42 years, John D Sabia, 45
years, Diane Musewicz, 42 years, Joe Mazzarella II, 40 years.

LAS members for over 50 years, left, Bill Speare, former science curator at the Everhart Museum, and Don Murray, a
founding member of the LAS, at right.

Don Murray, left, founding member of the LAS, and guest speaker, Mike Peoples, right,
look through the LAS historical scrapbooks.

A Solar “Wow!”

April 18th, 2012

The weather was perfect, and the solar telescope was set up in my driveway.  I was playing around with the settings on my new Point Grey Research Chameleon camera.  My eyes were fixed on the laptop screen and I was just trying to get the exposure right so that I could image some surface details.  Then I saw something odd.  It looked like a huge prominence, almost as large as half the solar disc; but I didn’t think they got that big.  I am a solar newbie, but I’ve never even seen a picture of such a large prominence.  There must be some other explanation, but just in case, I decided to capture some images.

At about the same time, Tucker, my son, woke up from his nap and I ran upstairs and got him.  We both came back downstairs and decided to check the Internet to see if anyone else was seeing this.  Sure enough, a post on cloudy nights confirmed it.  Something is going on and it’s big!  With Tucker in my arms, I went outside and continued to fiddle with the settings until I was happy with the image.  Then I set it up to do some recording.  I brought Tucker back inside and sat him in front of a bowl of cereal, then ran back out to see the flare dissipating.  As quickly as it started, it ended; maybe 20 minutes total.

Meanwhile, a few others were posting on Cloudy Nights and I felt it was my responsibility to get my initial images out.  I did a very quick process job, and posted the first image just as some of the others rolled in.  No more then five to ten amateurs had recorded it, and I was one of them.  Yes.  I was excited.  The next day, I woke up early and checked space weather.  It turns out it was an M1.8 solar flare with an associated Coronal Mass Ejection.  Many of the solar experts claimed it was the largest they’ve ever seen.  I was just lucky enough to have caught it on camera.


My Life as a LASer, or Becoming a Star Geezer by Jo-Ann Kamichitis

May 28th, 2011

Back in my 20’s, I used to tell my pals that I planned to become an eccentric old lady, so I needed to develop some quirks. Some of said pals would quickly point out to me that I was well on my way and I merely had to choose which one or two of my existing quirks I should concentrate on.

I finally decided on becoming a star geezer (AKA a long-time observer).

Geezer (geezerette?) or not, I have tried to avoid being too firmly entrenched in my observing style and opinions about equipment. This has been a struggle since I now own telescopes that are older than some of my observing buddies! What can they possibly tell me that I don’t already know? Plenty, as it turns out.

I bought my first scope in 1967. Although I craved one of those Unitron equatorial refractors you’d always see on the back cover of “Sky and Telescope” (especially tantalizing at Christmas when they’d always show it in front of a Christmas tree, with a huge pink bow tied around the tube), I bought instead a Criterian RV-6, 6″ f/8 Newtonian on an electrically driven German equatorial mount, with a 9X30 finder scope. I spent months reading catalogs and ads, trying to get the perfect combo of features, price and aperture. At a cost of $194.95, it was the first thing I ever bought on time payments. No credit cards yet, I got a coupon book to mail back my payments over 6 months,. I just couldn’t squeeze out another $90 to buy the RV-8 I lusted after.

Well it turned out that I want the thrills of observing not all the fussing around with equipment. I never polar-aligned the scope (OK maybe I did twice in the 25 years before Joe redid the scope as a Dobsonian for me) and when I sold the mount I wasn’t even sure the drive even worked, since I’d never plugged it in.

Luckily, my interest astronomy was lifelong so I persisted with the hobby even with that dinky finder scope, those teeny field lenses in the oculars that came with the scope and the neighbors who would turn on their porch lights or call my dad when they heard Diane and me prowling out there in the yard. “It’s only the girls”, Pop would say to those who feared Peeping Toms in the neighborhood. My sister and I were old enough to not be embarrassed out of using our scope, the way our baby brother had been for a few of his early teen years.

Diane and I joined the LAS in December 1970, with the idea that we’d actually participate in the activities. We’ve “paid” for that plan over the years by each of us holding every office at one time or another, except for Junior Vice President. We’ve been repaid for that plan by getting to see some great things that we might have missed otherwise and meeting a slew of interesting and nice people. Other benefits to me have been getting a nice part time job at Keystone College’s observatory and meeting my husband Joe, at the January 1980 meeting.

What I’ve enjoyed most is observing in groups. For one thing, the howls of coyotes aren’t nearly as nerve wracking when you’re in a clump of people. Neither are the sounds of other things going bump in the night. Beyond the cameraderie though, you get to try out other equipment before you buy anything. (Hmmm, maybe a GO-TO system isn’t “all” bad.) (Hmmm, maybe spending big bucks on eyepieces is a good idea!) Ethos eyepieces though? (Hmmm maybe I’ll just look through Orlando Gonzales’s). Just watch out for competitive observers like Jim Waltich.

Even better you get to pick people’s brains about observing tricks.It’s only since say 1995, that I’ve started to use higher power on deep sky objects, although the combined efforts of Cindy Krott, Dave Barrett, and Wendy Kazmierski still haven’t gotten me stacking Barlow lenses. Jim Spangler has managed to get me using my ZOOM eyepiece on things other than the moon and planets. Now I seek just the right combo of magnification and field-of-view for the most pleasing and detailed image.

Although I still MUCH prefer my 13 inch and 18 inch scopes, I have actually been using my smaller scopes to try for things. Cindy and her Televue Pronto convinced me that even the smallest scopes can show a lot more than I had thought. So I try using them on objects now that I never would have thought of before. Which no doubt is why the best view of the North American Nebula I ever had was on a great night using my 22 mmm Panoptic in my Astroscan. The best view of the California nebula I ever had was on another great night using my 8 inch. (Hmm great skies in both cases … no wonder I loved Cherry Springs State Park so much … and Stellafane).

From Mark Thomas, I learned that I have to somewhat control my thrill seeking and actually spend time looking carefully at such things as M61, using various powers. Mark also instigated the 15 minute rule, to curb some some of the socializing among some of us on truly good nights. You can’t spend more than 15 minutes between looks into an eyepiece on a good night. I think we have to reinstate that rule since good clear nights have been so rare these past several months. If Jim Waltich ever gets the time to observe again, we will really need that rule.

From Larry Peoples I actually got to see the charm of a GoTo system; from Dave Barrett, I’ve gotten back into marking the really good objects on my star charts (although I’ll never adopt his constellation figures). Don Murray has shown me the beauty of a good double star, while Joe Dukantas illustrates the value of a red observing hat and has sold us some of our favorite scopes.

John Sabia, much as I make mock of his gushing over every little meteor and faint comet, has gotten me to train my eye to really see detail on the moon and the planets and has helped me keep my observing enthusiasm high. I still can hear him yelling “Don’t unpack your car just get over here!” the night we got to see the 3 biggest impact spots on Jupiter. Not to mention the night, he and I dashed from the car into the classroom building trying to hustle a college class out to see the really great red auroral streaks that we had been looking at on the drive up. I can still see them looking at us dubiously and glancing at Tom Cupillari, to see if he thought we were just a couple of kooks, before they followed us outside. The aurora, by the time they got outside, had subsided to just some pulsating patches. Too bad their mothers had trained them so well not trust strange strangers.

Bill Speare may still gripe that it’s not worth owning a scope in NE Pennsylvania but I wouldn’t have ever tried a solar eclipse expedition without his experiences as inspiration. My success rate is 2 out of 4, and holding. I would never have seen Winnepeg in February, or Hawaii or Australia or New Zealand  without the excuse of an eclipse. Now I also get to vicariously travel to eclipses with the spectacular powerpoint shows that John Mudrian does after each one he tries to see. Finally someone who takes as many travel photos as I did (maybe even a lot more)!

I’ve been able to watch TGC Observatory develop from the beginning. What a break it was that Tom Cupillari wanted to get that 9 inch Clark refractor and dome from Dave Garroway, and he had the ambition and the skills to get the money and support for the observatory. Now that my back yard is so useless for observing the facility really means a lot. What with digital cameras and the bigger newer scopes (20 inch dob, 20 inch RC, easy to use go to 10) even I get some decent shots of the moon and lesser shots of the planets. So much better than the no shots I had with film cameras.

There have been some really memorable observing nights at TGC Observatory. A short (and way incomplete) list would include: the Leonid meteor storm of 2001; the 2004 transit of Venus; Comet Hyakutake stretching way across the sky; Comet Hale-Bopp the next year putting on a grand show; watching Saturn occult a star one year, then years later watching the moon occult Saturn; seeing M51 look all fluffy in Dave’s 24 inch scope; seeing NGC 7331 surrounded by a batch of smaller galaxies in the RC 20; Mars at it’s closest approach in 2003, with the 4 clear night full of mobs of public; in 1985, the state police coming in with bull horn telling folks (who had waited in lines for hours to see Halley’s Comet) to move their cars off the state road  … well you get the picture.

Thanks a lot Tom.

I’ve also had a lot of fun at the State Park Star Parties that we started under Joe Kamichitis’  first LAS administration. You even find that you even have regulars at the parks and at public nights at TGC Observatory.  John Nallin has been a great assistant … watching the scopes and reminding me to start with M13 or M27. My sister wasn’t quite as good at that although she and her kids used to be really good at blocking out car headlights, campfire lights, and the moon from the eyes of the observing public.

In addition there are many varieties of star geezer you can become. Get to know your personal limits. Just show the constellations to kids (only equipment needed is free star maps from online and a laser pointer just for you, the astro jedi adult). Be more technical if you want. Here are my limits. Serious astrophotography? After looking at what Steve Walters does, I know I am out of my depth.  I’ll just stick to tripod mounted camera astrophotography and casual through the telescope photography with my point and shoot hand held camera. Do serious research? Mike Peoples’ work with Tim Pucket on supernova searches in other galaxies, sounds like too much work. Just remember that the hobby of Amateur Astronomy can encompass every level of interest and expertise. Feel free to be an armchair or WW astronomer. Specialize in cosmology and string theory! There is room for everyone!

Near as I can figure out becoming a Star Geezer is easy , and it keeps you from becoming a crabby geezer!  In fact I’m usually on one of my astronomy highs, whether at the observatory, at state park star parties, and now the First Fridays in downtown Scranton. Astronomy keeps you young in mind so you don’t give off an actual standard geezer vibe. You want to show kids the moon and planets in your telescope, instead of chasing them off your lawn. Being “odd” saves you from becoming that cliche crank.