Now is the Time to Observe (updated w/Pleiades occultation)
Dr. Bob's recent post makes one thing perfectly clear: Now is the time to start observing! The eclipse can start any day now and you'll want to get your baseline data in now. Epsilon Aurigae rises around 1am. Most so-called "normal" people will be sleeping, so that makes your observation even more valuable since we will have such little data. You wanted to be a real astronomer, here is your chance. You gotta sacrifice some Zzzz's like all astronomers,but just this once. Stay up late or get up early - either will work. Here is what to do:
- Use the 10 Star Tutorial chart to find the star and learn how to estimate its brightness.
- Write down your estimate and go back to sleep.
- Tomorrow, when your boss is gone to lunch, login to the Citizen Sky web site.
- Click the Submit button beneath the Data tab to submit your observation.
- If your boss is taking a long lunch, login to our forums to share your first observing experience with us.
A Citizen Sky photometric submission tool is in development. Photometric observers should submit data through the AAVSO's BlueGold system in the meantime. It goes to the same database.
Epsilon Aurigae will be in the northeast sky near Mars and Pleiades. Here is a Sky and Telescope chart. It will rise earlier and earlier as the season progresses so it won't always be so hard. But this is a chance to make some quality data. If you absolutely cannot get out at that time then consider observing one of the other stars in the 10 Star Tutorial. Beta and R Lyrae (stars 5 and 6) are easy to find stars right now. They are almost directly overhead near the extremely bright star Vega.
For background, read these two Getting Started Guides:
April 11 Update: Chris Stephan has posted a message in the forum reminding us that epsilon Aurigae will be very close to the occultation of the Pleiades by the Moon on August 14!