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The NexStar User's Guide - Excerpt from Chapter 6

Observation Programs

If deciding what to seek out on your own sounds like too much work, there are alternatives. Start by checking with your local astronomy club to see what observation programs they offer. Most clubs have planetary, lunar, double star, variable star, and deep sky observation programs to keep their members busy. Each is generally a list of objects or objectives for the observer to complete. Such programs can keep you busy for years and provide concrete goals to keep your interest peaked.

If you do not have a convenient local club, check into the Astronomical League observing programs at their web site - Here you will find observing programs ranging from naked-eye observation of the Moon to advanced deep sky projects. All are well thought out and provide good suggestions to get you started. Upon completion, members of the League receive a certificate. Be forewarned that for many of these programs certificates are not awarded if a computerized telescope is used.

One Internet-based club that will award certificates when a computerized telescope is used is the NexStar 50 Club ( In fact, it is a requirement that a NexStar telescope is used to observe all objects! The club was an idea generated by the Yahoo NexStar Group ( and is administered by Hank Williams and myself. Membership is granted to anyone using a NexStar telescope to view at least 40 of the 50 objects in the NexStar 50 List. The 50 objects are various solar system and deep sky objects voted as favorites by members of the NexStar Group. Visit the site and see which objects you have already logged, maybe you will be the next person I send a certificate to!

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Michael Swanson
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