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4/18/2013

Excel Observing Log Book


Well, I got out with my friend Mat one night and the forecast didn't call for clouds until around 12:00a.m. Sure enough, at 10:30a.m. the clouds arrived.  Oh well, perhaps a new moon in the future will be good. I do have a theory that with the new moon phase moving to the first part of the month it seems to hit a pattern where in Utah we get more storms during that cycle so that means less observing. That and its been a rough year. I'll be glad to see the summer high pressure move in and block all the storms soon.

I have also spent time developing an Observing Log using Excel for the observing programs I've done and am doing. I haven't finished putting it together but thought I would post it for those who would like to use it.  So here is the link so my Google Docs so you can get it.  Hope it helps someone.  I use a digital recorder with a laminated 3x5 card with the key information I want recorded from the observation. I have most of it memorized but still look at the card from time to time to ensure I capture everything. Here is some of the key parts I try to record:  I tried to send a photo of the card but it didn't come through.  So here is the info so I know I covered the information on my digital recorder and I add it later. I also tend to write some of this on the back of the objects I sketch so I have it there also.

Date:    Time:     Activity/Program:     Location:   Conditions (Time, Temp. Humidity, Cloud Cover):    Antoniadi Scale:     Limiting Visual Magnitude or SQM Reading:         Constellation:       R.A.       Dec.    DSO Type:            Visual Magnitude:               Size:                   Filter:                     Instrument/Scope:         Eyepiece(s):                                Observing Notes:

I record this information into my digital recorder.  Some items if your new that you may want to focus on are depending on DSO type of object are:


Open Cluster: What is its shape? Is there more star concentration in a specific part of the cluster? Is it fully resolved into its component stars, or are there any unresolved stars causing the cluster to appear nebulous? How many stars can you see (only if reasonable to count them)? Are there any bright stars within the cluster? What is your estimated size of the cluster (based on the field of view of your particular eyepieces)? Is there a variety of colors seen in the stars of the cluster?

Globular Cluster: What is the degree of the cluster star concentration ie the number of stars visible in the glob (high, medium, low)? How many of the stars can be resolved in its component stars (none, outer edges, middle, down to the core)? What is your estimated size of the cluster (based on the field of view of your particular eyepieces)?

Galaxy: What is the shape of the galaxy? Does it have a bright nucleus (the area around the core)? Does the galaxy have the same brightness (uniform) across it? Is the core diffused (looks like a nebula) or is it stellar (like a star)?  Can any details like spiral structure, arms, dust lanes or mottling be observed? Can these items  be seen with direct vision or is averted vision required? Are parts seen with direct vision and other parts only seen with averted vision (looking just off the object to see more)?

Emission or Reflection Nebula: What is the shape of the nebula? Is the brightness of the nebula even or are there brighter/darker areas? Are the edges of the nebula well defined (sharp edges) or are they faded? Are there any stars within the nebula?

Planetary Nebula: What is the shape of the nebula? Is color visible? Is it stellar (star like)  in appearance or can a disk be seen? Are the edges well defined or diffuse? Are there any brighter/darker areas? Can a central star be seen?

One you are done with the Messier Catalogue and well into the Herschel 400, the New General Catalog items or NGC or several other lists, you will reach a point where the vast majority of the objects you view will be near to or at the limit of your telescopes light grasp ability. At this point most deep sky objects begin to look like they have poor detail and are just a faint fuzzy.  At this point don't quite recording, press forward, use all the skill you have developed and you'll pull detail out of even the most faintest objects, or you should be able to. That is the challenge of this hobby and for me, makes it so enjoyable.

If after looking at the Google Docs you would like me to email you the actual Excel file just email me at Jay dot Eads at Yahoo dot com and I'll email you a copy.  I only check that email a couple of times a week so please be patient.  That and I have had health issues the last two weeks (better now) and am in the middle of finals until next Tuesday.




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