Preparing for a night's observations, Mel Bartels

I start by selecting objects:
Recently I was studying the region near the double star Albireo in Cygnus using the Milky Way panorama at Photopic Sky Survey. I noticed intriguing bright and dark nebulae jutting from Albireo a couple of degrees to a complex. I decided to observe this area.

Preparing the list of objects
  1. I lookup various material (online, offline and printed) including images and text, gathering it in the form of pdfs and textfiles, rarely printed material
  2. I review others' observations and images
  3. I think about the best time in the evening to view the object in relation to other objects that I want to see
  4. I consider nearby objects out of curiosity
  5. I consider how I am going to star hop
I searched for digital images, checked SkyTools and SkySafari and the Barnard atlas as well as the Lynds catalog.

Later at the eyepiece
  1. I loosely follow my star hopping strategy
  2. I record notes and draw incomplete sketches as I study the objects
  3. I also record environmental conditions (transparency, seeing, location) and telescope conditions (aperture, magnification, apparent field of view, filters)
I observed the region over several hours on a couple of nights.

  1. I draw a cleaned-up sketch, post results online 

Improvements (missing compelling features) and frustrations: