You are here

February 2013

Sky and Telescope Magazine's "Pocket Sky Atlas" has found a place in the tool kit of many amateur astronomers. The convenient size makes it easy to use at the telescope without requiring a separate chart table. For urban astronomers, the charts are sufficient for the brighter stars visible under urban skies; the charts offer enough detail for star hops with telescopes or binoculars. When taking advantage of a dark sky location, the details of the charts allow for hours of wanderings per page depending on the size of the telescope and the skill of the operator.
These challenge objects are indexed to the star chart pages containing those objects. The idea is to have fun and perhaps expand your observing past the "usual suspects" that can be found because of past experiences. Seeing conditions may not allow finding these objects every night, but they should be visible at some point during the month.
February Sky
It is the riot of stars that draws February’s astronomer away from the warm hearth into bluster and cold nights. Gemini and Orion are full of pleasures and there are dogs and dog stars to look for as well. Somehow, the clear night don’t seem so cold with these old friends around.
This month we start the march of the “M’s”. These Messier Objects creep up slowly from the eastern horizon and soon the will be calling to astronomers, night after night, with their delights. As enticing as those Messier objects may be, try to spend some time on the other weird and wonderful stars and objects that hint at warmer days of spring. Even a quick venture with binoculars can soon turn into a full viewing session with just a little more planning. Get comfortable with them now so you can get the most out of your observing sessions when the weather warms up.
I’ve indexed the object to its star chart page.
Naked Eye
Wasat and Mebsuta, Page 23.
68, 74, 81 and, 85 Geminorum , Pages 24, 25.
Adhara, Page 27.
Small Scopes and Binoculars
M44, M67 Page 24.
30, 31Xi and 32 Geminorum, Page 25 (30 is listed, the other two are just
below it on the same “leg”).
M41, Page 27.
M44, Page 35.
Larger Scopes
IC 2149 page 23.
NGC 2266, Page 23.
NGC 2359, Page 27.
NGC 3640 page 34.
NGC 2683, Page 35.
Bonus objects
Cr 121, Cr 132 and Cr 140, Page 27 (These are all Collinder objects )
Lorenzin Tau LEO, Page 34 ( you’ll have to do some homework on this one!)
Groombridge 1830, Page 32
Happy hunting.
Please remember that there is nothing to stop you from using a smaller telescope and try to capture objects set out for larger apertures ( this holds true for all the monthly Pocket Sky Atlas Challenges). The viewing classifications set out here are merely suggestions for good success from average viewing locations. There is nothing to stop you from finding the limits of you own sky and your own telescope/binocular.