How do I maximise my time while observing?

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Most people observe from their back garden and save up trips to the dark-sky sites for the moonless weekends. My friends and I do the same thing. This below is going to provide some information that will help you avoid wasting any of those cherished hours under dark skies.

Be Weather-Wise
Becoming a deep-sky observer will also make you become a weather watcher.

Keep Warm

  • First, be comfortable.
  • Take plenty of warm clothes.
  • A full ski suit will provide complete body coverage and don’t have gaps, which let your back or neck get cold.
  • Use a muffler, balaclava mask, and/or ski hat to keep your head warm.
  • Warm socks and moon boots help a lot to keep your feet warm ~ remember you will be standing in them for some hours when you’re at the telescope.
  • Take a jacket, a pair of thick pants and a hat even it is warm evening.
  • By the time it gets good and dark you will be glad you have some warm clothes to slip into ~ many folks have stopped observing while under a sparking clear sky because they were too cold to continue.
  • Gloves, the ends of the fingers are cut out, are needed, they cannot be too thick ~ being used to change an eyepiece or take notes.
  • Put on the warm clothes before you get really cold ~ the best technique is to wear several layers.

Take a break

  • Try and take a break every couple of hours and get off your feet.
  • I like to put my feet up on the chair, to help relieve the strain of several hours standing at the eyepiece.
  • If you can be seated while observing that is a more relaxing.
  • During the break you can chat, look for meteors, satellites, or try and find the constellations.

Snack & hot drink
A snack & hot drink helps keep you awake and will give you energy to fight off the cold.

A nap is a good for observing
Yes, it certainly makes it a lot easier to stay up all night ~ a really sleepy observer is not having fun and is not making good observations.

Make a good observing list
It will make for a much more enjoyable evening.

Get there early
Arrive before sunset or the Sun disappears below the horizon. This gives you over an hour of twilight to set up and get ready to observe.

There are two reasons to set up early:-

  1. First, it gives the telescope some time to “air-out” before being used.
  2. The second reasons to arrive early in the evening is that you can avoid using white light to get up also make certain that your telescope is ready to perform well.

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