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Star Hopping in the Big City

by David Nakamoto

Star hopping is an old method for finding objects that only requires a star chart and some planning.  But doing it from the city can be challenging since you rarely can see stars brighter than 3rd or even 2nd mag with the unaided eye, and even through a 50mm finder it's a challenge.

In this article I'll describe the general equipment requirements and techniques for star hopping using the few stars available to city dwellers.  I'll illustrate those techniques with actual star hops I used with the 8-inch f/12 refractor at Garvey Ranch park observatory on the night of Nov 2nd.

David Nakamoto has been star hopping for nearly 50 years, mostly from suburban skies, and while lately he prefers the swiftness of GOTO mounts, even with those he finds that a little star hopping is involved.  He's been an LAAS member since 1989, although he's been "hanging around" the LAAS for longer than that.

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