Finding Objects By Star Hopping

Author: Robert Geake
Subject: Finding Objects By Star Hopping
Date: 2003-10-21
Rev: 0.1


Telescopes and Mounts:
Skywatcher Evostar 150
Konus MotorMax 90
Orion(UK) Europa 250
Skywatcher EQ-6
Meade DS2114
Orion(UK) OMC 140
Meade ETX-90EC
Skywatcher Startravel 80
Synta Skywatcher EQ-6 EQ6
TAL 100R Refractor
Film Astrophotography
Minolta SRT100X
Canon IXUS 330
Other Stuff:
Baader Fringe Killer
My Latest Astro Picture
Star Hopping Guide
Stacking images
Bits and bobs


This guide is for those of you who have just bough a telescope with out the luxury of GOTO. I purchased a GOTO scope(Meade DS2114) and found it usefull for going directly to the objects i wanted to observe. What i did find frustrating was the fact that it was awkward to simply point the scope to an object that i already knew the position of. This guide will teach you how to "Star Hop".


There are a few requirements that you will need before engaging in a star hopping session, see the list below for details.

  1. Binoculars (10X50 are best if you have a steady hand).
  2. Star maps, planesphere or a starmap program on your pc.
  3. A telescope, the bigger the better.
  4. An accuratley set up finder scope.
  5. A flask of your favourite hot tincture.

You will also need a good deal of patience, dark adaption and lots of warm clothes!

Handy Note:
A note on angular distances in the sky and basic ways to measure them! These natural measurement tools should go a long way to estimating angular distances on the sky

First Step

My normal first step is to draw up a list of objects in a single constellation. By picking objects in a single constellation you will find yourself becomming familiar with star names and locations in that constellation quite rapidly. Plus if you use a star map program you can set it to show you all the interesting objects in the given constallation and print it off. Using a "disposable" star map give me the advantage that i can mark a bunch of 8 degree rings across the map(8 degrees is the field of view of both my bins and finder scope, very handy).

Armed with a star map of some description and a pair of binoculars start with the brightest star in the constellation and jump from the brightest one to the second brightest and so on untill you have done them all. While doing this try to imprint the names of the stars upon your memory by using mnemonics i use an up, left down, right system. Then, take the binoculars away from your eyes and look away from the contstellation and start again but this time start with the dimmest star. After you have done this a couple of times you will beable to name most if not all of the stars in that consellation.

Whilst you are in the process of hopping from star to star try to get a good idea of the relationship between the angular distances between stars and the distance between stars in your instruments field of view. Learning how to measure angles with your instruments is paramount to finding DSO's. Somtimes the only way to find objects is to guess the distance from a local star to the object. Most binoculars have a field of view of about 7->8 degrees. This also can also be said about most view finders.

Author: Robert Geake
Subject: Finding Objects By Star Hopping
Date: 2003-10-21
Rev: 0.1
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