Topic outline

  • Deciding What to Observe

    Whether you are just starting to learn how to use the Liverpool Telescope, or are a regular user, sometimes you just need some help deciding what to observe.

    Chances of Observing

  • Go Observing and Other Resources

    The Go Observing interface is very good at helping you out with decision making. For each type of object (e.g. planets, galaxies, stars etc...) it can show you when they are available for observing, and even lists them with the object most likely to be observed at the top of a list.

    However, a little bit of help on understanding the "chance of observing" coloured bars might be useful.  You can even turn this in to a classroom activity where students have to explain why some objects can be observed almost immediately, and for others you need to wait.  You can use other NSO pages to help work out what is going on in the sky.

    Moon Phase Calculator

    Electric Orrery

    You could also use websites such as Heavens Above and Sky View Café to find out about what is in the sky.  Stellarium is a good piece of planetarium software that you can download for free.

  • Understanding the Colour Bars

    If you look at the image below, you will see that there is a list of galaxies on the left, and a corresponding coloured bar for each one on the right.

    Galaxy Chance of Observing

    It would seem that all of the galaxies are currently not available for observing, and then all of them suddenly become available around the 1st October.  This is perhaps a bit strange, but upon further investigation we would have found out that there is a full Moon on the 23rd September.  The telescope will not try to observe galaxies around the full Moon as the Moon causes the sky to be light and images of galaxies would look "washed out".  You need a dark sky to get good images of galaxies.  Go Observing takes this in to account and shows you that the chance of observing the galaxies around full Moon is poor.

    If we now look at the availability of planets for the same time period, we can see a very different set of results.

    Planets Chance of Observing

    It seems in this case Jupiter, Uranus and Neptune are all available for observing during the same time period.  Planets are much brighter than galaxies and the full Moon doesn't interfere with observing them.

    If you want to observe something and get your images quickly, make sure you choose something where the change of observing is high on the day you submit your observation.

  • Suggested Things To Do Next

    Now that you know some more about how Go Observing can help you choose what to observe, you might want to learn more about the topics below.