You can send an observation about different kinds of deep sky (outside our solar system) objects by filling out this form.

Also starscape images are within this observation program.

You need to have a picture attached to qualify your observation. If you don't have a camera, also hand-drawn images are ok.

Observation start

When did you see or photograph this phenomenon?

  • *
    info

    Please enter here the date and time when you first saw the phenomenon in the sky. The date can also be chosen from the calendar icon next to this. The date and time should be given according to the local time of the observation location.

    If you are not sure of the time you saw the phenomenon, we ask you to give us the time you think is the most likely, meaning your so called best guess. In this case, we would like you to tell more about the uncertainty surrounding the time in the free-form text -field meaning the observation strory.

    If your observation is about a celestial body taken with long exposure, which may have been even been exposed on several different nights, please give us the latest time of exposure.

  • *
    Observation starts
    —  
    Observation ends
  • If the phenomenon lasted only a short while (a couple of minutes or so), giving just the start time is ok.
  • Quick selects
    Phenomenon still visible • was visible 30 min ago • was visible 1 h ago
Observation location

Where were you when you observerd the phenomenon?

  • Please choose your observation site
    by clicking the right location on the map.

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    When you click the map with your mouse, the system will automatically pick the coordinates of the place you have chosen and on land usually also the name of the place in question. 

    If your first click of the map hit the wrong place, you can move the location marker by clicking the map again. Zooming in on the map with the slider in the left-hand corner of the map or the mouse scroll wheel helps with making the placing more accurate.

    If for some reason you are not willing to give us your observation location too precisely, you can place the observation location´s icon on the map for example in the center of the nearest small populated area. Normally an accuracy of 1-3 kilometers is enough to inform about the observation place. 

  • * info

    We hope our users will first give us the observation location within 1-3 kilometers of accuracy, if possible, by clicking the right spot on the map. In this case, the observation location will automatically appear below within the accuracy of the municipality, if the observation was made on Finnish grounds.

    Google maps won´t recognize all foreign observation locations nor observations made at sea. In these cases we would like for you to type the observation location here. 

    You can also, instead of clicking the map directly, type out the observation location´s name within the municipality´s accuracy in the ""City/municipality"" -box. In that case, the system will place your observation in a random place in the center of the municipality in question. Regarding multiple observations, this is also a good enough precision.

    If you don´t know, which municipality your observation was made in, like for example, you were in a moving vehicle, we would like you to describe the location in free form. For example ""Between Kouvola and Mikkeli"" or ""In an airplane above the Baltic sea"".

    If you marked your location on the map, this information will be filled in automatically

Contact info
  • + Add an observer info

    You can also mention other observers of your observation, if they are in the same observation location, have agreed to a shared observation and you announce their real names and email addresses.Only you as the main observer have the right to edit the observation and only you hold the copyright of the possible photos or drawn illustrations.

  • info

    Please give your actual name in the form of your first and last name. Observations can´t be accepted if only initials or an incomplete name are given (e.g. K. Virtanen). If you don´t want your name to be visible on the internet in relation to your observation, you can remove the checkmark from the spot asking this. The spot is displayed on the next line.


  • info

    Your aforementioned name will not be visible on the internet in relation to your observation and possible images, if you remove the checkmark here. If you remove the checkmark, on the observation´s name -field online will read ""Anynomous"". In that case your identity will remain only in Ursa´s and the phenomenon´s researchers´ knowledge. 

    Although we hope, that as many observer as possible allows their name to be displayed in relation to their observation and possible images. This way we can abide by the tradition of scientific observation which is seen as more important.


  • info

    The email address should be in a working basic form without unnecessary texts, spaces or brackets. For example: james.t.kirk@gfail.com

    If you want to later fill in, fix something about or completely delete your observation, it is possible using the editing link. The editing link will be sent to the email address you have given us. Without a working email address the link won´t arrive to you.

  • Why do we ask for contact information?

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    Your contact information will not be publicly visible nor will it be given away for commercial purposes.

    For research purposes: in case of especially valuable observations, it is important, that researchers or Ursa can contact the observer to ask more details or pictures or to thank the observer for the valuable input.

    You can later search for your observations using your own email address in system´s search bar. It is easier to search for observations by using your email address instead of you name, because some observers may share the same name with you.   

    Many observers have wished for an option to later modify their observations. This is possible only by using the editing link sent to the email address you gave us. Without a working email address the link won´t reach you. 

Description
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    What is the target of the observation? There are different kind of astronomical and nocturnal target in this pulldown menu.

    Starry sky image is a photograph on starry sky, eg. one or more constellations. Any single target, eg. a planet or deep sky object, is not in a leading role in the image.

    Starscape image is like a starry sky image, but the landcape have also an important role in the image. 

    Deep sky objects are nebulae, galaxies, open and globular cluster etc., which are tradional photographic or sketching targets of the amateurs of this field. If you going to make a deep sky observation, remind to open the "Addiotional information" field in the bottom the form. There is a large observing program of deep sky objects.  You can fill in those parts you fell to be meaningful.

    Choose a nova, supernova, gamma-ray burst, variable star or exoplanet if you observed one of these targets.


  • info

    If you want, you can specify the identification of the object with the name or designation, if you know that. Eg. deep sky objects have official letter and number coded designations, and on the other hand, proper names.

    Prefer the official abbreviations, Messier objects without space (eg. M47) and NGC objects with spaces (eg. NGC 1543).

  • *
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    We ask that you evaluate the phenomenon you have observed.

    Was the phenomenon weak or very faintly visible in the sky? Or was it clear or even very bright?

    If the most relevant content of the observation is a photograph, we hope that you will use the classification as follows:

    I: The subject is difficult to distinguish from the image.

    II: The subject is dimmed and / or small in the image.

    III: The subject is moderately visible in the image.

    IV: The subject is relatively extensively and / or brightly displayed in the image.



  • info

    Here you can type the name of the astronomical association which you are a member of. If you belong to more than one association, we ask you to give us the name of the association which is the most important to you havaintotoiminnassa.  

    The largest astronomical association in Finland, The astronomical association Ursa ry with its good 15 000 members is divided into area specific teams here. The teams are ""Ursa (Southern Finland)"", ""Ursa (Helsinki)"", ""Ursa (Eastern Finland)"", ""Ursa (Western Finland)"" and ""Ursa (Northern Finland)"". The Oulu and Lapland provinces belong to the Northern Finland team´s area. All municipalities in the metropolitan area, except Helsinki, are also part of the Southern Finland team´s area.      


  • We hope that you will tell about seeing the phenomenon in free form. If you are busy, even a one or two sentence long description of the phenomenon will help to understand, what you saw. (In case you want to input technical information, they have their own place)

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    Here you can tell in free form about the phenomenon and seeing it. You have a room of 1200 characters for that. For example how you spotted the phenomenon? How did it look like? (etc).

    If you are not already familiar with celestial bodies/atmospheric phenomena, please try to describe the phenomenon diversely.  

    In case you are a specialist in the field we hope you will write in a way that the observation story is at least for the most part comprehensible to new people interested about the subject. It is recommended to avoid terms, slang and abbreviations that only few can understand.  

    If you decide to write an observation story with at least a few sentences of length here and attach at least one image to your observation, the observation will be published on the observation system´s Images and stories page.

    characters left

  • You can attach 1-8 images or videos of the phenomenon (jpg, gif, png or mp4). The system will not receive files containing more than 50 megabytes. We hope, that you favor images or videos with no more than 15 Mb.

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    You can attach at most 8 images. We hope you will attach several images only if they showcase the different sides or stages of the phenomenon or otherwise fulfill eachother. If your images are practically fully identical, we ask you to only attach the best photo to your observation.

    The system automatically shows large images in a size where the longest side of the image (either horizontal or vertical) is 1000 pixels long.  

    The size limit of files is 50 megabytes. Taivaanvahti will not accept larger images. It is recommended to favor pictures that are at most the size of 15 Mb.

    The allowed image file formats are jpg, jpeg, gif ja png. The system will not accept for example tif images or pdf files.

  • Main image









  • info

    By crossing this off you´re asking the administration´s experts to inspect the observation´s phenomenon identifications particularly carefully and/or critically before the observation is published.

    In case something problematic is detected regarding the identifications, the observation won´t be published before the administration has fixed the identifications and/or you have been contacted.   

Additional information

  • If you know in which constellation the target belongs is located, or which constellation is best visible in the image?

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    Choosing the constellation helps the search of the objects by constellation. This is of particular important, when you have observed a deep sky object, but you can also report the constellation for other objects of the space, if you like.

    Also if you have taken an asthetic starscape image or an astroimage with no particular object of the space visible, it may be a good idea to report to the database which constellation is best visible in the image.

    Also with the search "starscape" and "Orion" it may be possible to find images relevant for publication in magazines and books, regarding the according constellation. In these cases, those interested can contact you using the contect form of the press in order to ask for a permission to publish the image.

    If the constellation is not relevant for your observation or no single constellation is well visible in the image, you can leave the field blank as unnecessary. 



  • Estimate the brightness, if it is meaningful to this target.

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    The brightness estimation is essential, especially for targets with varying brightness.  But if you do not see the brightness estimation meaningful, it is not necessary to do it.

    The brightness is given as a magnitude value. You can compare the brightness of the target to the magnitudes of the known stars.

    Note, that the brightness of surface object can not be compared to the point source, but comparison star have to defocus as a spot sized of surface target.


  • Number

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    Field of view diameter is essential only in the observing program of the deep sky objects. In the other programs it is usually not meaninful.

    If the field of view of your eyepiece is eg. 35 arc minutes, enter "35" into the first field and choose "arc minutes" for the measurement unit from the menu in right.


    Measurement unit

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    Choose the unit, which used in estimation, from the pulldown menu. It can be degrees, arc minutes or ac seconds.


  • info

    If you like, you can fill in the magnification of your telescope used in the observation.


You can describe your observation equipment or other technical details here.

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If you want to, you can specify the observation equipmet or  phototechnical/processing information here. For that, you have 1200 characters at your disposal.

A telescope description can be stated for example like this: 127 mm reflecting telescope of 1300 mm focal length.

The photo information can be stated for example like this: Camera brand, 50 mm, f/2,8, ISO 100.



If you like, you can shortly descripe the weather and observation conditions.

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If you like, you can shortly descripe the weather and observation conditions.



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Estimation of darkness level of the background sky is necessary only in the observing program of the deep sky objects, eg. if you have observed a spiral galaxy with the telescope and made a sketch of it. 

The scale 1–5 is used in the estimation, where1 is the best and 5 is the worst. To help the usage, tradional numeric values are written by words in the pulldown menu.

 


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Seeing is a unit describing the stability of the atmosphere. As sharper the target is visible as better is the seeing. Estimation of the seeing is necessary only with deep sky or solar system object, eg, if you observed a galaxy or a planet with a telescope and made a sketch. 

The scale of estimation is 1-5, where 1 is the best and 5 is the worst. In pulldown menu the tradional numeric values are described with words for helping their use.


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Limiting magnitude is the brightness of the faintest object visible with the unaided eye at the moment of the observation.


If these phenomena are unfamiliar to you, study the instructions via info buttons. Taivaanvahti specialists can fix the identifications if needed.

Galaxies
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Spiral galaxy is a stellar system where there are outwards arched spiral arms from roundish (spiral galaxies) or bar-shaped (barred spiral galaxies) central condensation.

The apparent shape of spiral galaxied depends on out observation direction. From above they are quite round. From the side they lens-shaped with a bulge in the middle.

Generally a rather large instrument, good weather conditions and observational expereince are needed to see spiral arms. Usually spiral galaxies look like a fuzzy spots.

Spiral galaxy M33 in Triangulum. Image Tero Turunen.

 

Andromeda Galaxy M31. There are also galaxies M110 (upper right corner) and M32 (lower left corner) in this image. Image Pekka Peura.

M101 aka Pinwheel Galaxy in Ursa Major. Image Samuli Vuorinen.

 

Spiral galaxy IC 342 aka Hidden Galaxy in Camelopardalis. Image Timo Inkinen.

A sketch of spiral galaxy NGC 7331 in Pegasus. Image Juha Ojanperä.


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Elliptic galaxy is an oval or roundish shaped distant stellar system, which have no spiral arms. These galaxies look as fuzzy spots with telescopes.

 

The elliptic galaxy Centaurus A aka NGC 5128 in the middle of image is splitted by a dust lane. Image Toni Veikkolainen.


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Irregular galaxy is a stellar system without clear organized structure.

Irregular galaxy IC 10 in Cassiopeia. Image Rauno Päivinen.

Large Magellanic Cloud is the third nearest galaxy. Image Toni Veikkolainen.


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The active galaxy OJ 287 in Cancer. This active galaxy includes the biggest known black hole. Image Arto Oksanen.


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In a galaxy cluster there are tens or hundreds of galaxies. Typically a moderate big instrument is needed to see galaxy clusters.

 

The galaxy cluster Hickson 44 in Leo in composed of four galaxies. Image Timo Inkinen.


Nebulae
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In an emission nebula the hot stars nearby cause the gas glow. This should not mix with reflection nebula, where the gas is only lit up by nearby stars.

The appearance of a gas nebula is irregular, and the fainter parts of it need bigger instruments to be visible.

 

Emssion nebulae in Cepheus. The bigger part is composed of the nebulae Cederblad 214 (Ced214) and NGC 7822. The lower round nebula is called Sharpless 170 (Sh2-170). Image J-P Metsävainio.

 

The Orion nebula. Image Samuli Vuorinen.

 

In this 4-degree-field there are emission nebulae Sh2-157, Sh2-158, Sh2-159, Sh2-161 and Sh2-162 (or NGC 7635 aka Bubble Nebula) and open clusters M52 and NGC 7510. Image Juha Kepsu.

 

NGC 281 aka Pacman Nebula. The object is in Cassiopeia. Image J-P Metsävainio.

 

NGC 896 in Cassiopeia is the tip of Heart Nebula (IC 1805). Image Timo Inkinen.


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Reflection nebula is gas only lit up by nearby stars. It should not be mix up with emission nebula, where hot stars nearby cause the gas glow. But then reflection nebulae are visible in the same areas with emission nebulae. The appearance of reflection nebulae is irregular, and many of them need bigger instruments to be visible.

 

Reflection nebulae are glowing blue around the stars of Pleyades. Image Juha Parvio.

 

The blue glowing reflection nebula NGC 1333 around the bright star is in Perseus. Image Timo Inkinen.

 

The bluish reflection nebula NGC 2023 is located lower left from the Horsehead Nebula. The Horsehead Nebula itself is a dark nebula in the front of red emission nebula IC 434. In the left side there is NGC 2024 aka Flame Nebula. Image Samuli Vuorinen.

 

NGC 7538 in Cepheus is a combination of reflection and emission nebula. Image Timo Inkinen.

 

Rflection nebulae (LBN 550, 552 and 555) and dark nebulae (LDN 1228) in Cepheus. Image Juha Kepsu.

 

Reclection nebula vdB 141 in Cepheus. Image Tero Turunen.


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Planetary nebula is the remnant of a death star. It could be ring-shaped, disc-like or spread out rather irregularly.

With the exception of some nearest objects planetary nebulae have a small apparent diameter and they need a rather big instrument to be visible.

 

Planetary nebula M27 aka The Dumbbell Nebula in Vulpecula. Image Juha Parvio.

 

M76 aka The Little Dumbbell Nebula in Perseus. Image Rauno Päivinen.


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Supernova remnant is the remnant of the big star died in supernova explosion. The supernova remnants are quite irregularly shaped. Rather many of them ring-like strusture.

The moderate big instruments and possibly special filters are needed to see supernova remnants.

 

The Crab Nebula was born in a star explosion in  1054. This is the easiest supernova remnant in the sky to observe. Image Tero Hirvikoski.

 

The supernova remnant Simesis 147 is in Taurs and Auriga. Image J-P Metsävainio.

 

The Veil Nebula in Cygnus is wide-area supernova remnant in the sky. There is a detailed image of the boxed area. Image J-P Metsävainio.

 

This detail of Veil Nebula is known as Pickering's Triangle. Image J-P metsävainio.

 

A strip of Veil Nebula. Image Rauno Päivinen.


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Dark nebulae are dust in space. It obsruct the visibility of background star and bright nebulae. Thus, the dark nebulae are seen as dark clouds in space.

 

The Horsehead Nebula is a dark nebula. Image Arto Murtovaara.

 

The dark nebula LDN 1235 in Cepheus. Image Juha Kepsu.

 

The dark nebula LDN 1302. Image Tero Turunen.

 

The NGC 1333 is a reflection nebula, which includes also dark nebulae. Image Samuli Vuorinen.


Star clusters and asterisms
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Open cluster is an irregular group of tens or hundreds of stars. It can be visible as separate stars or a bit fuzzy spot with small instrument.

There is the open cluster M52 on the right edge of the image. The red emission nebula is the Bubble Nebula. Image Jyrki Grönroos.

 

The open cluster M45 aka Pleyades. Image Juha Parvio.

 

The pair of the open clusters NGC 869 and NGC 884 aka the Double Cluster in Perseus. Image Lauri Kangas.

 

M34 is also an open cluster in Perseus. Image Teppo Laitinen.

 

The Wild Duck Cluster M11 is an exceptional dense open cluster. Image Jaakko Asikainen.

 

 

The Ptolemy's Cluster M7 is located in a rich-star area of The Milky Way in Sagittarius. Image Toni Veikkolainen.


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Globular cluster is a ball-shaped group of thousand of stars. Typically it looks like a round fuzzy spot. With bigger instruments a part of the stars in the cluster can be seen as sepaterated.

 

The globular cluster 47 Tucanae is located in Tucana. Image Arto Oksanen.

 

The globular cluster M13 is in Hercules. Image Rauno Päivinen.

 

The globular cluster M2 in Aquarius. Image Timo Inkinen.


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An asterism is  a group or a pattern of stars, where the stars are apparently close each other, but in reality there are located far each other

The star of the asterism are not gravitionally connected, such as in the open and globular cluster.  They only seem to be close each, because they are in the same direction looked from the Earth.

 

Orionin vyön kolme tähteä muodostavat yhdenlaisen asterismin. Kuva Voitto Pitkänen.


Stars
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Binary stars are star systems, where there are two stars close each other. Binary stars are classified to optical or physical binaries.

In optical binary star systems two stars are apparently close each other, but in reality they are located far each other in different distacies.

In physical binary systems the stars are bound up with gravity and they are orbiting each other. Stellar systems with more than two stars are called multiple star systems.

Binary star Albireo in Cygnus in composed of blue and yellow star. It is unknown if this of a physical binary. Image Mauri Korpi.

 

M40 eli Winnecke 4 on Messierin luetteloon virheellisesti päätynyt tähtipari. Kyseessä on optinen kaksoistähti. Tähdet eivät siis ole fyysisesti lähekkäin. Kuva Tero Hiekkalinna.

M40 aka Winnecke 4 is stellar pair incorrectly taken into The Messier catalog. It is an optical binary. Image Tero Hiekkalinna.


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Moninkertainen tähtijärjestelmä on sellainen, jossa kolme tai useampi tähteä on painovoiman vuoksi sidoksissa toisiinsa. Tähdet kiertävät yhteistä massakeskipistettä. 

Jos tähtiä, jotka kiertävät toisiaan, on vain kaksi kappaletta, tällaista järjestelmää kutsutaan kaksoistähdeksi. 

 


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