Visual Astronomy 101

Mike Hotka

Talk outline

  • Introduction
  • Who am I?
  • Setting Intentions and Goals

  • Use of an Astronomical Database

  • Preparing your Observing Outing

  • Where to Go Observing

  • Achieving Better Contrast in the Field of View

  • Star Hopping Tutorial

  • What to Record While Observing

  • Post Observing Activities

  • Astronomical League Observing Program Discussion

  • How to Complete Southern Hemisphere Observing Programs

  • Summary Wrapup

  • Questions


Mike Hotka has been an amateur astronomer for almost 50 years. It all started when he was 11 and Santa brought a small, Tasco refracting telescope. Being cold in Iowa that time of year, he poked his new telescope out an upstairs bathroom window and first looked at Polaris. Mike became a member of the Astronomical League in 1984 and made his first Astronomical League certificate observation on July 12, 1986, when he recorded observing M57 for the Messier Observing Program. Many observations later, he has completed 51 of the Astronomical League’s Observing Programs, receiving 70 certificates in the process. Mike’s presentation will share his experiences in observing, how he prepares and records a night of observations, touch on the 3 telescopes he built, share tips on how to complete some of the Observing Programs and much more useful information to help make your personal observing more fun and rewarding. For more information about Mike and his observing, visit his website, Mike Hotka's Astronomy Page at
Mike Hotka


Thursday, August 17, 2017 - 11:15