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This is a bit last minute. I'm leaving shortly to go camping and expect to have dark skies. I watched NASA What's Up June 2020 which suggested checking out M13 (for which it gave pretty good directions) and also mentioned the Ring Nebula but gave no directions at all. I have some small binoculars and an Astromaster telescope 114. I will have my phone with me, but no internet. Can anyone suggest a good star map I can print? Or give some specific advice about locating these objects?

Or, alternatively, if there's some other nebula visible thru binoculars or this small telescope, I'd be most grateful for suggestions, tips, and printable star maps.

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  • $\begingroup$ Download an offline planetarium for your phone like Stellarium or Sky Safari. It helps to have someone show it to you first so you know what you're looking for. But those two are probably the easier ones to find right after sunset. $\endgroup$ Jul 6, 2022 at 19:07
  • $\begingroup$ skymaps.com's monthly evening sky map shows a few deep-sky objects and lists which ones are visible in binoculars. $\endgroup$
    – Mike G
    Jul 7, 2022 at 17:00

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The ring nebula (also called M57) is quite beautiful and relatively easy to find! It is located in the constellation Lyra---which will be easy to find since it has one of the brightest stars in the sky, Vega. Vega is a bright blue star which is part of the summer triangle. What else you see will depend on how dark the skies are. I find that even in relatively light polluted areas, however, you can still see $\beta$-Lyrae and $\gamma$-Lyrae. Those two stars, with Vega, make a distinct isosceles triangle. The ring nebula hangs very near the midpoint between $\beta$ and $\gamma$ as shown in the star chart below (which I took from the Wikipedia page for Lyra). If you are using a star hopping method, I'd start on Vega, hop to $\beta$, then if you have a wide enough FOV try to get both $\beta$ and $\gamma$ in your view. At those scales the ring nebula is a small (similar in size to a planet), but distinct circle directly in the center.

Star Chart of Lyra

I would recommend using the telescope for any deep sky objects. In truly dark conditions you can get a good view of large objects like the Andromeda Galaxy with binoculars, but most of the fun stuff is both too small and too faint to see without a proper telescope. Binoculars do provide a spectacular view of open star clusters like the Pleiades, as well as any constellation along the galactic plane where the density of stars is the highest.

I hope this helps, and happy stargazing! :-)

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  • $\begingroup$ thank you! That's a good answer. $\endgroup$
    – S. Imp
    Jul 8, 2022 at 20:57

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