Current Comets websites

August 11th, 2019

Current Comets

Information of the current comets in the sky are available from a number of up to date websites. The following links will provide up to date information, magnitude, charts and more.

COBS – Comet OBservation Database (current magnitude)
Weekly Information about Bright Comets
Comet Chasing  (monthly charts)
ALPO Comet Section (magnitude and current observations)
Comet-Charts (occasional charts for visual observing comet brightness)
Comets Section of Germany –  Analysis of Brighter or Interesting Comets

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.