An observing list can be compiled with RA, Dec, etc in a format that can easily be pasted into a spreadsheet. The plot shows the whole of the celestial equator and a band 45 degrees north and the same south of it.
It is plotted in such a way that the Sun is always at both ends. The vertical scale divisions are 10 degrees of declination.
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The top scale shows right ascension RA and the bottom scale shows elongation in degrees eastwards from the Sun. Any planet on the meridian is at opposition.
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Objects to the right of it are evening objects, those to the left are for observing in the morning. Initial letters are used for identifying the planets. The two M's are distinguished by Mercury having a small letter and its dot being cyan, whereas Mars is orange. The sizes of the Sun and the Moon are exaggerated, so it means nothing if planets appear in front of them Sun and Moon are always plotted before planets. The short green lines through the Sun are tangents to the horizon at sunrise and sunset for the given latitude. The parallel grey lines indicate the astronomical twilight zone: objects between the grey and green lines will only be seen in twilight the Sun is not yet 18 degrees below the horizon.
In summer at higher latitudes, such as in the UK, astronomical twilight never ends and then the grey twilight lines do not appear on the plot. The horizon tangents indicate whether objects close to the Sun are likely to be observable at all.
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Consider sunset on April The leftmost of these images is the view as seen from latitude It cannot possibly be seen from this latitude because it is below the horizon at sunset. A southern observer would probably use the southern view, with sunset on the left, as in the third image here.
Topocentric Geocentric These controls are for switching between topocentric coordinates from the observer's location or geocentric coordinates from the centre of the Earth.
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You can make comparisons by putting details in the observing list for the same object in both topocentric or geocentric mode. Moving the mouse cursor over the plot highlights the nearest object and displays its name in full. Clicking the mouse when a name of interest is shown causes the area below the right side of the plot to show summary data for the object including its position RA and Dec , rising and setting times, etc.
Data for the Sun also include local mean times for the start and end of the various levels of twilight. Russell Gonzalez, Choice, Vol. The book is nicely illustrated … and is well researched and accurate throughout comprising a collection of 15 chapters, each of which is a good read in itself.
The joy of comet hunting and comet chasing springs from every page. Sensible practical advice and useful clues abound. But what I liked especially was the underlying aim of the endeavour. There is more to it than just fun.
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