CLEAR SKIES OBSERVING GUIDES
Posted: 31 October 2012
Victor van Wulfen provided a review copy of one of his Clear Skies Observing Guides, the "8-10" All sky edition". This guide (as with all of them) is a series of PDF files (vs. a single ebook) and was a 7.2 GB download. I was hoping the book would be readable on my iPad, and while the individual PDFs can be viewed on the iPad (or ereaders), the multiple, unlinked files are not conducive to being used on such devices. There are "Table of Contents" index files at each level, but since they are not linked, nor identify file names where each object listed can be found, using the indices are of somewhat limited value. The content is organized by constellation, so once you know which constellation(s) has the object(s) you are interested in, you just navigate in your file browser to that folder. Once you get used to finding objects, the actual content is very useful.
First, lets view the top level PDF. For the 8-10" CSOG, the first page is seen at the above right. In this document is an index table, a portion of which is seen here:
The Index has no column header to identify what the columns mean. While the second (and fifth) column are obviously constellation name abbreviations, there is no legend defining the third (and sixth) column abbreviations. A little detective work will let you see that these abbreviations are for the object types as seen in the lower righthand corner of the title page:
This is a small portion of the top index file showing objects in the constellation of Cassiopeia:
Once you navigate manually to the index.pdf file in the Cassiopeia folder:
you will see content like this:
Now what?, you might ask. See the first line in Index above showing "Hubble 12" and "PN"? From that you know that the object is a Planetary Nebula (PN). Navigate to the Cassiopeia folder and you will see a file called "Cas - PN (8-10)_MH.pdf". The "PN" in the file name identifies the object type in that file. When you open that file, you will find very nice descriptive panes for all the objects of that type in that constellation. This is Hubble 12:
This information is excellent and will be useful when at the telescope. Of course, you need to have the file accessible at the telescope, either from the PDF itself (on a computer, iOS, or Android device) or you need to print it in advance. However, there are two other methods of using the CSOG content at the telescope. One is with Paul Rodman's excellent AstroPlanner software (for Mac OS X and Windows). CSOG provides AstroPlanner data files (i.e., "Cassiopeia (8-10).apd"), as seen here for the constellation of Cassiopeia:
And, as seen in the file listing screen shot for the Cassiopeia folder, there are tours for the AutoStar, EQ mounts, and the NexStar. These tours can really make using the CSOG content easy and enjoyable if you have a compatible telescope and the capability of importing the tours. Since importing tours into the AutoStar requires Windows (which I don't use), I printed the Planetary Nebula tour file and used that manually at one of my telescopes:
/ V1.0 / [8-10] Clear Skies Observing Guides / J2000.0 / / (c)V.A. van Wulfen - www.clearskies.eu - firstname.lastname@example.org / TITLE "Cas - PN" AUTO SELECT TEXT "Cassiopeia" """Planetary Nebulae"" Press MODE to start." USER 00:40:30 +56d32m00s "SHEDIR" "SYNCHRONIZE: GOTO the star. Center the star
in the eyepiece and hold down ENTER for more than two seconds.
Release ENTER, verify the star is centered in the eyepiece, then press ENTER again." USER 23:26:18 +58d11m00s "Hubble 12" "" USER 00:18:42 +53d53m00s "Vyssotsky 1-1" "" USER 00:28:18 +55d58m00s "Humason 1-1" "" USER 01:57:36 +63d19m18s "IC1747" "" USER 03:10:19 +61d19m01s "IC289" "" AUTO SELECT TEXT "Cassiopeia" """Planetary Nebulae"" The end of this Tour!" #END
Due to the nearly Full Moon and the 8" aperture telescope used, I could not see any of the very faint and small planetary nebulae in the tour. I did confirm the RA/Dec of the IC objects using the AutoStar database. While errors can always occur in any tour file, that should not deter you from trying out the CSOG tours.
Prices for the various versions of the CSOGs range from 1.95 to 94.95 (prices with VAT) as seen on the CSOG Purchase web page. Credit cards and PayPal are accepted for your purchase. You can select CSOGs specific to your telescope aperture and all sky, or northern or southern hemisphere, or you can purchase CSOGs for specific object types. When purchasing you will be asked to select an orientation for the images:
True: North up, east to the left
Mirrored horizontally - MH : North up, west to the left
Mirrored vertically - MV : South up, east to the left
Mirrored horizontally & vertically - MHV : South up, west to the left
If you can deal with the manual search to locate the excellent content, the CSOG can be a valuable addition to your astronomical toolset, whether or not you use AstroPlanner or have a tour compatible telescope. I have recommended to the author that he link the files to make navigation of the PDF files a little simpler. However, that would be a major task considering all the content and files. It would also be nice to see an eBook version for use on compatible devices. There is a "user guide" available with a lot of helpful information, although this review has provided you with the information you need to use a CSOG.
Now that you have read the review, if you decide that one of the CSOGs would be useful to you, the author has provided 10 codes for a 25% discount on a first come, first serve basis, and are redeemable at the CSOG web site. The discount will be applied to the total amount of any purchase. The code, which can be entered at the end of the purchase proces is:
Go to the ETX site.
Go to the Cassiopeia Observatory site.