Observing & Planning Software / URLs

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Subject: Palomar Sky Survey Data URLs   Top

Bill Arnett <billa_tnineplanets.org>

You can get high resolution data for free online from:

        <http://archive.stsci.edu/cgi-bin/dss_form>    The STScI Digitized Sky Survey
           (Should open new window over this one)


        <http://skyview.gsfc.nasa.gov/>   SkyView--Internet's Virtual Telescope
           (Should open new window over this one)


Other sites for observing info:  Top

        <http://www.ngcic.org/> NGC & IC Observing List Generator (Should open new window over this one)

        <http://www.astrosociety.org/resources/linkimages.html> Astro Catalog Images on the Net
        <http://www.astrosociety.org/resources/linkobserve.html> Observing Resource Links
         (Should open new windows over this one)

        <http://cadcwww.dao.nrc.ca/> Digitized Sky Survey (Should open new browser window over this one)


Subject: Astro Data Calculator for Specific Locations     Top

From: Ed Stewart <stargazera_tskymtn.com>

Note: clicking these links should open new windows over this one.

U.S. Naval Observatory web site to calculate a year table of Moon Rise/Set times; Sun Rise/Set times; and Civil, Nautical, or Astronomical twilight Start/End times at URL:


Phases of the Moon 1990-2005 at:


Table of Moon Illumination for an Entire Year:


Eclipses of the Sun and Moon:


Lunar Eclipse Computer:


Data for Major Solar System Bodies and Bright Stars including Positions, Rise/Set/Transit, Physical Ephemerides - plus Sidereal Time & Julian Dates-- Multi-Year Interactive Computer Almanac:


Occultations of Stars by Asteroids:



Subject: Target List Generator -- Part 1 of 2 Top

From: E. Dutton <eduttona_tinfi.net> Date: Oct 2002

Have a look at:
   <http://www.messier45.com/> under "List Generator"

Featured in S&T a couple years ago. Has a massive set of lists to chose from.


Subject: Target List Generator -- Part 2 of 2

From: Joe T

What I think of as the best:


Subject: NGC View--Observation Planning Software     Top

From: David Abrams <jcabramsa_tmail.utexas.edu>

I use both NGC View 5.04 and TheSky. I have these loaded on my notebook, and link up to my LX200 with an RS232 cable.

NGC View is a very useful program that allows you to select objects using criteria filters, sort them into a logical observing order, help you locate them with simplified finder charts, and keep an observing log. You specify your location and the times of your observing session. You then select your objects based on filters. For example, the Position filter will allow you to remove objects that do not meet your minimum and maximum altitude requirements during your observing session. The program also uses filters based on Dreyer's visual descriptions of brightness, size and shape; object type; object name (e.g. Messier, NGC, IC, Herschel 400, etc.).

An example of how this might be useful would be if you wanted to limit your observing to bright extended galaxies (such as edge-ons). I would set the filters this way: Position "30 to 90 degrees altitude", Brightness "Bright or better", Shape "Much Extended or more", Type "Galaxy", and do not use the other filters. When I did this for tonight in Austin between 9 pm and midnight, it produced 12 "hits": NGC 7541, 1097, 205, M31, 891, 1023, M82, 2976, 3079, 2841, 3448, and 2683.

This list can then be exported to TheSky where it can be imported as a separate database. Each object can then be found sequentially, and I can slew the telescope to all the objects one after the other. This combination has proven to be very productive for me, and it has introduced me to many objects I never knew existed. It also makes for very efficient use of observing time.

NGC View is made by Rainman Software. You can download a 30-day demo from their web site at:
< http://www.rainman-soft.com/>  (Should open new window over this one)

The full program is only $50, money very well-spent.


Subject: Star Charts Recommendations   Top

From: Thomas Wideman <twidemana_tearthlink.net>



I and many others have been happy with Wil Tirion's Sky Atlas 2000. There are two considerations when looking at this chart: version and lamination.

Version: Sky Atlas 2000 comes in a Desk edition (black stars on white background), Field edition (white stars on black background), and Deluxe edition (black stars and colored deep sky objects on a white background, and in a larger scale). While some like the Field edition, most I've talked to like the white background for readability (either the Desk or Deluxe edition).

Lamination: Sky Atlas 2000 can be purchased either laminated or unlaminated. To prevent damage by dew, lamination (on both sides) is almost a necessity. You can purchase it already laminated (and bound neatly in the case of the Deluxe), or you can laminate it yourself or have it done. An advantage to this is that many folks like to draw the lines between the stars to form the constellations for ease of use before laminating, so the lines are permanent.

I like the larger size and the colored objects on the Deluxe, so I bought a laminated Deluxe edition. I think it's a work of art and have been happy with it. Unfortunately, the Deluxe is out of print right now; Sky Publishing advises it will be available in the middle of the year, if I remember correctly. I found mine at Pocono Mountain Optics after Sky Publishing had already run out -- they or other suppliers may have it still available, but I can't say for sure.


Burnham's is not a star chart; rather, it is a reference book designed to be used with a good star chart. It provides information about thousands of stars and deep sky objects. It also has a lot of information about the sky lore behind constellations and objects, has poetry, quotes from literature about the sky, and a little of everything else one can imagine. It is an outstanding reference and I recommend it highly as an accompaniment to your star charts.

Information about these and many other charts and publications can be found at Sky Publishing's catalog web site:
  <http://skyandtelescope.com> and select "Books".


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