Recently I've made an effort to get out and do some observing of variable stars. I'm new to this kind of observing so its a fairly slow process for me as I want to make sure I'm as accurate as possible.
Last night I had planned to continue working on the 10 star tutorial. I first started looking for the variable star delta Cephei. Using Polaris I scanned eastwards and found the constellation Cepheus. I live in the city and with the sun only having set about 1 an hour ago I started to make out the constellation brightest stars. A little later I was able to see the variable star and was able to make an estimate based on the comparison stars suggested on the chart.
Next I scanned round in a southerly direction and found what I thought was the constellation Aquila and started to look for the variable star eta Aquilae. I could make out the two upright triangles back-to-back but had difficulty finding eta Aquilae. After a while and using the suggested comparison stars, scanning back and forth I was able to satisfy myself that I was looking at the right variable. However something wasn’t right, one of the stars I was comparing with seemed dimmer than it should be. After some further looking I was convinced it was just my new observing skills and made an estimate. I then proceeded to look for R Cyg. I moved over to my telescope and looked at the sky and then it dawned on me - I had been looking in the wrong area for the constellation Aquilae. I had been looking too far south and too high up in the sky. Part of my view had been obscured by buildings. Now I was standing I could Aquilae clearly with the bright star Atlair. Making the estimate now was easy and coincidently came up with the same estimate for the variable as before.
This was a learning experience for me in that you have to question thoughly when something does not add up. I wonder what stories others have that added to the learning experience?