Starting an Online Observing Log

Thursday, May 19 2005 @ 09:33 am EDT

Contributed by: Marcus

It seems amateur astronomers who are just beginning to observe face a number of challenges, but maybe none is as monumental as the task to learn HOW to observe effectively. I decided maybe there was something I could do about that, since I have spent a great deal of time bumping my head as I cruise the stars.

Since last summer, I’ve been keeping a Messier log in my home computer using the logsheets provided on the AOAS Web site. I like those sheets, but I somehow always manage to procrastinate when it comes to logging my finds. I decided it would be easier if my logsheets were available at work and elsewhere instead of just at home. The only way to accomplish this task was to keep my observing log online.

Then I realized that the effect of this project would be twofold – first, I would have access to my observing log from any computer, but second and more importantly, other novices can read about my experiences and get help. Maybe someone else is thinking about finding Ceres. I have done it. They can read my site and find out how to accomplish this. I can also share helpful sites and lead people to the AOAS site, so my log also becomes a public relations tool.

I created a Xanga Web page – what is called a “blog” these days. It’s an online journal that you can write anything in, though you can dedicate to special topics such as your astronomical activities. My page is located at:

If you want to join me in keeping an online observing log, it’s really easy and I’ll help in any way I can. First, go to Choose a username for yourself (I suggest your first initial, your last name, and “aoas” if you can’t think of anything else) and a password. From there, just follow the directions, choosing your font, colors, and entering your personal information.

Of course, if you are uninterested in personalizing the log, you can simply choose a default template and go with that. I put a comet image on mine to give it an astronomical look.

If several AOAS members create online observing logs, we can link them all together and then link them to the AOAS site. That way, people can see that we’re a society of active astronomers and we can pass on our knowledge.

Clear skies!

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