- The Chicago Astronomer -
Copyright 2004-2014 All rights reserved by Joseph Guzman Administrator/Founder/Chief Astronomer.
All text and images are the property of the original authors/artists and shall
not be used without permission.
I'm from India and I moved to Chicago in the fall and live a little south of downtown. BUT it feels like it has been forever since I've seen the stars. Any suggestions as to where I could go where I would be able to see a reasonable amount of stars? I'm limited by public transportation.
Post by Chicago Astronomer Joe on Mar 17, 2007 0:29:09 GMT -6
Thanks for registering as a member of the Chicago Astronomer Family and for your first post.
In regards to seeing stars in Chicago...
My recommendation is to start off right where you are, smack in the middle of the city and with the light pollution. Even with the obstacles we urban astronomers deal with, there is still plenty to see within the glare of the city skyline.
Starting out under city skies is not a bad thing. You will learn the brighter stars in our skies, and this will help you navigate the seasonal skies. Right now you can pick out plenty of brighter stars and constellations without having to go to a dark site.
I encourage you to pick up a current astronomy magazine and look at the sky chart in the middle. Study it and apply what you see on the chart to your sky. The majority of what's printed is all there for you to discover...even in the city. Later on, when you know your way around, you will start to find nebulas, galaxies, star clusters and more right off your front door!
If you go to a dark right away, you might get lost with all the great number of of fainter stars, making it difficult to isolate constellations and stars. I know being raised in Chicago, when I go to a darker site, I often need to adjust to all the new objects and get disoriented for a bit until I locate familiar guideposts.
Don't worry too much now about finding a dark sky right away. First learn the brighter objects and they will lead you to the fainter ones. You can even use inexpensive binoculars to assist your study.
If you have any questions, please do ask us here. We will be happy to assist.
Chicago Astronomer Joe Founder, Administrator and Chief Astronomer
Telescope/Observatory Docent Facilitator Adler Planetarium & Astronomy Museum
Astronomy Instructor Instituto Del Progresso/IHSCA
Astronomy Program Instructor British International School of Chicago /Lincoln Park Campus
Resident Astronomer Chicago Park District Nature Oasis/Night Out in the Parks/ 606 Trail
Initially, I was a little disappointed by your answer, but after giving it some thought, I think you're right! I will start off tonight (if it stays clear!) and try to see what I can. Patience is something I need to learn. It's the staying out long enough for my eyes to adjust to the darkness, while the rest of my brain is saying "it's cold, wait for summer" that I have to battle more than the glow of the city lights.
I don't actually own a pair of binoculars yet. I've heard that 7 x 50 are good starters. What do you think? Should I post this question in another forum?
If you want to get the best of the city's skies, a good set of binos would be a great start. If you have the budget for it, I would suggest a good pair of astronomical binoculars. Something that has a good size to it, so you can get the most out of it. It's also a good idea to get a star chart, or some astro software for the computer, so you can learn the night sky. If you can find the easier stars visually, then navigating to some dimmer objects will be easier if you know which directoin to go.
There is quite a bit of light pollution closer to the city, but you should at least be able to see some objects without a problem. Planets like Jupiter and Saturn will be easy targets, and some deep sky stuff, like the Pleiades and the Orion Nebula (M42) can be easy targets.
And never discount the Moon. It's still amazing me after all these years. And once you get farther along in your experiences, and you advance to better and bigger equipment, these things will astound you, too.
My number one advice would be: Don't give up and don't be discouraged by the light pollution. Start out small, and pretty soon you'll be cruising the heavens like an old pro. ;D
12" Celestron Starhopper Canon 10D : Sigma APO 150-500mm F5-6.3 DG OS HSM : Sigma 18-200mm f3.5-6.3 DC OS : Canon EF 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 DO IS USM Dynatran AT-858BL : Dynatran AM-101KB
Post by Chicago Astronomer Joe on Mar 18, 2007 1:30:36 GMT -6
I had contemplated the way to answer your inquiry carefully. I could have easily told you to hop on the metra train and head out to Woodstock Illinois where another Chicago Astronomer and friend lives or down to Barry Illinois way in Southern Illinois where yet another Chicago Astronomer and friend lives. Skies are plenty dark down there and stars just litter the skies by the thousands.
But making such trips are the exception and not very often. You need to plan it out in advance, make trip arrangements and then....hope for clear skies. Whereas studying the Chicago skies right from your doorstep can be a nightly event and at your convenience. You can stay out as long or little as you want or even break it up into short periods thruout the evening. New objects come into view with just a couple of hours time.
There are still enough bright stars to get you acquainted with the night sky right in the heart of the city. The big dipper is up now and a good starting point. With that asterism, (A group of stars that are part of a constellation, but not one itself), you can start to make out others and use it as a guide. The two outer most stars of the Dippers bowl for example, point to the pole star Polaris.
7 x 50 binoculars are a great starting pair. They provide a wide field and low power, yet magnify enough to show fainter stars. Most astronomers use 10x50, (myself included).
Now is a good time to start. As the cold night sky makes for clear viewing and the brighter winter stars and constellations are out now. The summer has less interesting and dimmer stars to entertain us, and the heat of the season also degrades the viewing quality for the observer. The air is mucky, full of pollution and quite turbulent. Starting now is the best.
Let us know on your progress, regardless of how little or how frustrated you might get. I have been at the since the early 1970's, and still learning... We all anticipate your start into amateur astronomy with new eyes.
You can better post your observation sessions on the "Observation Sessions" board here at the Chicago Astronomer.
You are welcomed to join us at the Adler Planetarium on the first Friday of each month where we bring out various telescopes and share views with Adler visitors. Here you can get an idea of what different types of telescopes can do. We start at around 6:30 pm till 10:00 pm. If you decide to attend, let me know and I'll expect you.
Hey Joe Im glad you remembered me down here so far away from Chicago.
Yes my skies are just littered with stars and Im still adjusting to them. I have invited the whole CA forum to the farm this summer and so far have not heard anything from anyone. I would like to plan something for the summer with ya'll.
But to answer the new question starting out in the city is good fopr finding your way in darker skies. Down here I see more then just two or three stars in all the constellations. I haver found things I never saw in Chicago. 7x50 bino's are a real good start. Im waiting for mine to come back from Orion. Had to send them in to be fixed. Cant wait to see what they are supose to really be like. I started out with 7x35's and found alot. NOw I have 20x70's. Learn to star hop and that will help you in darker skies.
Joe are you going to answer my PM i sent you about a month ago???
[glow=blue,2,300]Stargazer's Departing Nightly on a beam of light searching for the Ultimate Wisdom of the Universe [/glow]