Sky & Telescope - January 2021 - 33

consists of a small rechargeable electronics box and a serial or USB cable to
connect to the telescope hand control.
I used a Celestron SkyPortal WiFi
module with an Advanced VX mount.
The strength of this gadget is that it
doesn't connect to the mount's hand
paddle - it completely replaces it.
Connecting via the SkyPortal Link
is simple. It appeared in my iPhone's
list of networks, I selected it, brought
up SkySafari Pro, and touched Connect And Align in the Telescope menu
display. The app instructed me to place
the scope in its home position pointing north, and then had me center two
stars in the east and two stars in the
west in my finderscope followed by fine
adjustments in the main scope using
onscreen direction buttons.
The resulting Go To alignment was
every bit as good as one done with the
mount's hand control. I'd touch GoTo
in the telescope menu or the Object info
page, and the scope would immediately
slew to the chosen target. Objects were
nearly perfectly centered in the eyepiece
from one side of the sky to the other.
The one thing I found slightly difficult
was using onscreen direction keys with
no tactile feedback. Nevertheless, it
wasn't difficult to center objects.
The only problem I experienced was
the time, about 20 seconds, for SkySafari to reconnect to the mount when I
let my iPhone go into
sleep mode. Other than
that, I was thrilled with
how well scope control
worked. I felt like I'd
finally got what I'd
wished for so long ago:
a Go To hand control
with a full color, interactive star map.

Observing Lists
and Logs
One thing I've found
is that without a list of
X Slew the telescope to
targets by selecting the
object onscreen, touching
the Scope menu option,
and then hitting GoTo.

S Outlines of nebulae, sometimes referred to as isophotes, can be a big help when observing dim
gas clouds, and SkySafari does a good job of rendering them.

interesting deep-sky objects to observe,
I won't see much of anything. Another
great feature in SkySafari Pro 6 is its
Observe section in the ribbon menu.
Selecting it brings up a context menu
with several options for observers. Want
to build an observing list? You might
not need to start from scratch. Choosing Observing Lists gives the options of
creating a custom list or importing one
from an online repository. While there
are not a huge number of lists online,
those available are quite good and
include large numbers of objects to keep
you busy observing for hours.
If you don't find a list that appeals to
you, just select Create
New Observing List to
make your own. Once
you've named the list,
you can add objects
by selecting them
onscreen and choosing
Add to Observing List
in the Selection menu.
Alternatively, you can
search for an object
and use the More
menu on the search
results page to add it to
the observing list.
While observing, I try to log all
my observations. My
logbooks from the
past are not just use-

ful but are a pleasure to browse years
later. With SkySafari Pro 6, I can have
them in my pocket at all times. The
app contains this handy section in the
Selection menu. Simply touch Create
New Observation, and a log opens with
a large comments section, and allows
you to input other pertinent details, like
the instrument used, atmospheric seeing conditions, limiting magnitude, and
sky-quality-meter values.
If you'd prefer to keep your log in the
cloud, choose Live Sky from the ribbon
menu, log onto this Simulation Curriculum website, and save your log entries
there. You can even share them with
other users. All of this is just a sampling
of what the app can do for observers.
I can sum up SkySafari Pro 6 simply:
This powerful app is on a par with or
better than most desktop planetarium
programs and more convenient to use
than any of them. The older I get, the
more I tend to simplify the astronomical side of my life and now prefer putting my phone in my pocket to lugging
a laptop into the backyard or observing
field. Especially since using SkySafari
doesn't mean giving up any of its power
and features. It gives renewed meaning
to the phrase "putting the universe in
the palm of my hand."
■ Contributing Editor ROD MOLLISE can
often be found scanning the skies from
his backyard in rural Alabama.
sk yandtelescope.org * JANUARY 2 021

33


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Sky & Telescope - January 2021

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Sky & Telescope - January 2021

Contents
Sky & Telescope - January 2021 - Cover1
Sky & Telescope - January 2021 - Cover2
Sky & Telescope - January 2021 - 1
Sky & Telescope - January 2021 - Contents
Sky & Telescope - January 2021 - 3
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Sky & Telescope - January 2021 - Cover3
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