Deciding What to Observe

Introduction

Chances of Observing Bar

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. 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" colour bar might be useful.  

You can use other NSO pages to help work out what is going on in the sky:

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, you will see that there is a list of galaxies on the left, and a Galaxy Chance of Observingcorresponding colour bar for each one on the right.

It would seem that the first three galaxies are not observable at the moment, there will be times when all of the listed galaxies say they are not observable. This may seem a bit strange, but often this "downtime" coincides with a full Moon.  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.

When looking at the availability of planets for the same time period, we often see a very different set of results. There will be times when, even with a bright sky, planets like Jupiter, Uranus and Neptune are all available for observing. 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.