Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Tracking the Stars



    I have been writing a fair bit about astrophotography and have neglected to mention a particular favorite tool I have. Best of all this tool is available to all, free to use, and has limitless foresight. Sounds like a pretty smart idea huh?

      Its actually a website.  Thank you internet for having absolutely everything available that anyone could ever possibly need. In this case, I have found a website that will show what you can see in the sky, from any direction at your exact location.
     Its taking the star charts to the next level. The website is created and maintained by John Walker, and can be found at www.fourmilab.ch/yoursky/ I find the Horizon View most useful. Simply check out a google map and get your latitude and longitude. With that, plug the coordinates in on John Walker's website, and then choose your azimuth - or the direction you are facing.  In my case, the balcony looks south, so anything in that direction I can enjoy from the comfort of my own home.
 You will find lots of adjustments you can make to the display. Mainly I like the view angle a little larger, (like 80 degrees) a larger image, (around 900 pixels) and turning off some of the unnecessary names depending on what I am looking for that night.   You can also view the sky for a future date, for instance, and see if Jupiter will still be visible by the time you finish working that night.
      Just a quick post for anyone who has picked up an astronomy bug from reading the few posts I have here on the subject. Hope Mr. Walker's website serves you well.