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Our refractors: for visual, or imaging?

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#26 Pete-LH

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Posted 24 November 2012 - 09:35 AM

Visual and seldom GOTO ... I prefer the hunt and real time observation ... Like watching a shadow transit on Jupiter.

#27 rocketsteve

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Posted 24 November 2012 - 09:43 AM

I know there are a lot of folks who love astrophotography and are very good at it, but I've never really been bitten by that bug. Afocal shots of the moon and planets is about as deep as it gets for me, while the remaining 95% of the time is spent with my eye in the EP.

#28 CounterWeight

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Posted 24 November 2012 - 10:02 AM

I enjoy my large refractor for visual and imaging.

Enjoy the 128 FS for visual.

I use my smaller refractors almost entirely for guiding or imaging.

________
Hope I'm not going off topic here, some general thoughts and experience regarding the original post...

Images are recordings of events in space-time, no different than same with sound. They provide useful talking points and measurement techniques for what can be quantified by them, and in terms of folks in geographically and culturally diverse areas can discuss the 'same thing' and bring ideas and concepts to bear is scientifically useful. Qualitative/quantitative comparison, here I'm just referring to information in general.

Emotional/intellectual response or reaction to the same information can be quite diverse, but it's the freezing of a 'metrics' and attempt at a 'ground form' of data that is useful in the exploration of ideas. IMO these recordings/images can add to our understanding (more than detract or confuse) - but it's up to the person looking to understand what they are looking at. Here I'm just talking about perception of information and not the data itself. If someone thinks that what they will see through a telescope is like some image they saw somewhere, not a problem - more to me an opportunity.

We experience one direct sense, that of sight. In a humor mode I could also add that we feel as in getting cold! ;) and hearing as in the hopeful quiet... but smell and taste?

Going to the idea of emotional response to stimulus somehow being different - I agree. You can take an image and enlarge it up on the wall, play with the data and color, print in a book or magazine - and enjoy at leasure and comfort. To look through the scope is a different activity, and to take the image through the scope is yet a different activity from that. So that's three different activities WRT something hanging in space, and I wouldn't say it's limited to that. Some folks find it all equally uninteresting. Some folks prefer to take in what they choose from an armchair or couch and the screen with folks interpreting that information for them so they don't have to really think about it too much and feel what ideas communicated and how are sufficient. I'm glad they looked at that and not something else.

I wonder if your post is a tautology (as in 'is a logical statement in which the conclusion is equivalent to the premise'). I experience the night sky in my ways... getting out of the tent at a dark site to just look naked eye at it, waking up at 3AM to see if it really did clear up...grab my binoc's or go to my scope to look through it, or me sitting at home and reading books, mags, journals, atlas... and am always very stimulated by it. At that same camp site many sleep, waiting for dawn and to jump on their 'quad' or maybe head up the trail to elsewhere - without much care or concern of the night sky other than time to sleep.

Many, and sadly by all the light pollution (and economics), are seeing and experiencing the night sky only indirectly - never having a scope but owning a TV of some type, or books, or magazines and internet media.

So I propose that for that small population of us that come to this hobby from whatever backgrounds and interests and how we go about it, levels of education, objects of interest, self perceived depth of understanding, of what it is we are seeing and doing - support one another as being part of the same community rather than create divisions based on same. As ambassadors to the hobby it is up to us to praise the virtues and dispel misunderstanding about the image and the eyepiece, not to the detriment of either - in a way that can add to the community of those interested in doing either or both. When I do outreach I always start off with "this won't be like those big beautiful images you've seen" and am always surprised at all the ooohs and aaahs anyway. I also enjoy the ooohs and aaahs from the images I take and share even when I begin with "this does NOT look like this through a telescope".

Image or eyepiece I already know why I am here, I see both as an opportunity and source for possible inspiration of others to join in the fun however suits them. You can't force anyone to be interested (or can we?), so it's how you go about it if they are interested.

In summation IMO it's not the scope that is important or even what you do with it - it's how you communicate and inspire others with it if that is what you are after. For me, I don't see any bad or better side to anything when it comes to that - it's all an opportunity. As far as an introduction to spacetime - image or eyepiece, on anything of any distance I cannot see any way either could somehow be more realistic as both are 'light travel spacetime dated' if we use that as a metric, it's possible to take the same flight of fancy with either eyeiece or image if you desire. So I don't understand the introduction of that topic and binding it to

Analogously, in your possession is a device, a "time portal" that will allow you to observe others alive still; said portal being, the refractor. When you view, say, Betelgeuse, a red supergiant, through your refractor, you see it as it appeared 640 years ago, and still alive, albeit at the point in its life where collapsing upon its core and then violently exploding outward into the void as a type II supernova is imminent, although in the distant future. However, there are those who believe that it may explode at any time during our own lives, its presence in the sunlit sky to be possibly far greater than those visible in 1054 and 1604 A.D....


... possibilities and probabilities being what they are - it is our mind that makes that or similar journey if desired, and this again a different activity.

#29 FirstSight

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Posted 24 November 2012 - 10:13 AM

NP101 for visual only. If I ever did get into AP, I'd still always do it in parallel with a visual-only rig.

#30 BigC

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Posted 24 November 2012 - 11:09 AM

Visual to enjoy the view NOW;photography to show others and for a tangible momemto just as in many other facets of life where people take pictures.Admittedly I really do very little photography but the reasoning is still valid.

#31 csrlice12

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Posted 24 November 2012 - 11:43 AM

Neither....they're finderscopes for reflectors.... :lol:

Let the argument begin.....

#32 teelgul

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Posted 24 November 2012 - 12:58 PM

Long live visual ! NO chips ,chargers ,cords,or cards.
Why trouble ourselves with AP ?
hubble and VLBT can do that better. :grin:

#33 jrbarnett

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Posted 24 November 2012 - 04:40 PM

Actually, when placed on a reflector, the refractor is not a finder. It's a reference scope. It lets the reflector owner know what he should be able to see with respect to the target, if his scope were well-figured, smooth, clean, collimated and cooled. :whistle:

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#34 RAKing

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Posted 24 November 2012 - 05:05 PM

"Considered as a collector of rare and precious things, the amateur astronomer has a great advantage over amateurs in other fields ... the amateur astronomer has access at all times to the original objects of his study; the masterworks of the heavens belong to him as much as to the great observatories of the world. And there is no privilege like that of being allowed to stand in the presence of the original." -- Robert Burnham Jr, Burnham's Celestial Handbook


+1 on this quote. :bow: :bow:

Years ago, I spent way too much of my college time doing astrophotography with my 35mm Nikons. I would spend the whole observing session exposing a few rolls of film, then spend a few hours every day developing and printing the results. When I finally realized it wasn't any fun it was too late --- I ruined TWO hobbies. :bawling:

I came back to astronomy about ten years ago and swore I would stick to visual observing only. I dabbled a bit with digital imaging, but I have mainly stayed the course and enjoy it so much more than ever before.

Some of the objects I've seen are better than any photograph - they are indelibly etched in my memory. :)

Cheers,

Ron

#35 City Kid

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Posted 24 November 2012 - 06:51 PM

My refractors, like my reflectors, are for visual only. I suppose that could change one day but I doubt it. Back when I still had my G11 to put my NP101 on it used to cross my mind that all I was lacking was a camera but I'm not interested in navigating the learning curve. Still, I'm not going to say never.

#36 Jan Owen

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Posted 24 November 2012 - 07:38 PM

One can do both. I did astrophotography for several years.

I now only do visual astronomy...

I find I FAR prefer the *presence* of looking AT the stars, and not an image thereof.

But that's just me.

#37 Sky Muse

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Posted 24 November 2012 - 10:47 PM

"I can totally relate to the feeling that visual observing has a certain je ne sais quoi that looking at astrophotos lacks."

Yes, so can I, and how.

"I don't buy the idea that looking through a telescope eyepiece is more "real" than looking at photo."

"If you really want some kind of direct experience of the stars, look at them with your naked eye."

No doubt, that in and of itself can be rewarding, particularly when observing from a dark location, the more primeval the better.

However, when one sees, a litter of puppies, for instance, do they not crave a closer inspection? Or, when one sees a cluster, an array of telescopes in a shop?

The visual refractor...hug a star tonight!

Alan

#38 Doug D.

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Posted 25 November 2012 - 12:24 AM

As I've gotten older and my eyes have deteriorated some I've worried more and more about my ability to resolve things through my scopes as well as I could when I was young (or perhaps would have if only I could have afforded the scopes I own now when I was younger - one of those strange ironies of life). I dislike looking through eyepieces with glasses on and find binoviewing by far the most comfortable in part because I can keep both eyes open and adjust focus for each eye separately. In any event, I bring this up because I feel there may come a time when I'll want to switch to imaging simply because my skills at the eyepiece will be diminished (i.e., decreased sensitivity, increases in floaters, lower acuity, and who knows what else?). I'm thinking maybe imaging will help keep me in the game longer.... I'm just taking the long view here, doesn't hurt to plan ahead.

For now I remain a visual observer and I am quite pleased with that. I have started imaging with an Astrotrac, small refractors (e.g., TV60is, TV76) and digital cameras and I must admit that I've enjoyed it. It is very simple relative to CCD imaging with its steep learning curve, guided multi-hour exposures - not to mention lots of time invested in processing images rather than observing.

It is now almost cliche of course but as a visual observer I like knowing photons originating from long ago are striking my retinas as opposed to a CCD array. Either way, I guess I'll always remain a refractor guy.

#39 Andy Taylor

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Posted 25 November 2012 - 10:26 AM

With the Carton F13 I have to say visual, but as a planetary imager with my other scopes I just had to stick in the webcam and see what's going on... :lol:

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#40 SAL

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Posted 25 November 2012 - 10:59 AM

I prefer refractors over my Newt and I am strictly a visual observer. Though I must admit I am becoming more interested in trying astrophotography at some point.

#41 Sky Muse

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Posted 25 November 2012 - 11:28 AM

I think I'd like bino-viewing, and alot, however it not only requires the viewer itself but pairs of matched oculars to boot, the finer, and more expensive, the better the view. I just might pursue that in the near future. Presently, I wear a Flents eye patch over my left eye and observe with the right, enabling me to keep both eyes open, in addition to removing my glasses, having perceived that their removal is more than compensated by the lensed optical train.

#42 WarrenS

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Posted 25 November 2012 - 11:36 AM

The ONLY reason I got back into astronomy was to do imaging, and the ONLY reason I bought a refractor was to do imaging.

#43 Jared

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Posted 25 November 2012 - 12:29 PM

<snip>I am solely a visual observer, preferring live, dynamic views with my own eyes in the here and now. Besides, one could never duplicate here on Earth the photographs taken by the Hubble, or in future perhaps, those by the James Webb, if successful; the futility being just that.

We've all enjoyed on occasion viewing photographs of family and friends gone by, but they're only reflections and representations of who and what they were. Wouldn't you rather a "time portal" for observing them in their day-to-day lives, hearing their voices and watching them in motion, alive? Of course you would, especially the ones, during your own life, you had come to know and love. Home movies, photographs in motion, approximate the experience, but they wouldn't be the same, if said portal were in existence.<snip>


While it is not possible to duplicate the views taken by the Hubble with amateur equipment here on Earth, it definitely is possible to produce technical art using an amateur telescope that is not and can not be created using professional equipment. For example, widefield astrophotography is almost the exclusive realm of the amateur now, and a look through a month's worth of APOD's will show that professional equipment definitely does NOT dominate. Even in terms of image depth on extended objects, the advantage often lies with the amateur since professional telescopes are almost never used on a single object across multiple hours or even several nights. Time on an object can make up for lack of aperture. Of course, the main use of professional equipment is collecting scientific data rather than producing art, so it's not exactly a surprise that professionals don't dominate.

As far as as the argument that there is no reason to take astrophotographs since it has all been done before and the subjects are fundamentally static, I think that's missing the point. The object, at least for me, is to put my own stamp of creativity on what may be a familiar object, or to find aspects and details of an object that I have never seen before. Perhaps it is getting a little more resolution and depth than I have ever achieved on a distant galaxy, or perhaps it is finding a way to show an even wider dynamic range on M42. The thrill is in finding ways to continuously improve on my technical art. Should weekend painters give up because they have no hope of ever surpassing the Mona Lisa? Should tourists stop taking pictures of the Grand Canyon because professional photographers have already done it? You can just buy a postcard, can't you?

Frankly, you could make the same argument about visual observing. Once you've had a good view of the Orion Nebula, do you stop looking at it, or do you go back to it time after time? I suspect you go back to it because each experience is a little different, and because the reality is always stronger than the memory. Likewise, astrophotography allows me to experience the moment over and over again in a way that is stronger than just my memory alone.

As far as your analogy goes, I don't feel it is a good one. You ask whether one would rather have the experience of interacting with friends and family rather than keeping a photograph of them, but I'd suggest that it's the astrophotographer rather than the visual observer who has the benefit of additional senses and depth of experience. Have you ever seen color in M31 as a visual astronomer? Spiral arms on M51? The central white dwarf in the Ring Nebula? All of these are possible through just an 80mm scope if only you add a camera. That feels more alive and real to me than the faint, white cotton balls and smoke rings I can see visually. Color, detail, and depth versus pale ghosts and glimpses with averted vision.

#44 Sky Muse

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Posted 26 November 2012 - 04:59 AM

I don't doubt it...

http://www.google.co...l=en&sa=N&tb...

Cheers,

Alan

#45 Stellarfire

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Posted 26 November 2012 - 05:25 AM

Same here: Visual only, with binoviewer 99,9% of the time (changing from single to binoviewed sight was one of the most intelligent decisions in my entire life).

Stephan

#46 Sky Muse

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Posted 26 November 2012 - 06:07 AM

"Should weekend painters give up because they have no hope of ever surpassing the Mona Lisa?"

Of course not, for such is reminding of sketchings one might undertake while at the eyepiece, and then to take it further by painting the vision in either acrylics or oils, in their respective colours, or gray even, depending on the aperture, rather than pressing a button...<click>...

"Should tourists stop taking pictures of the Grand Canyon because professional photographers have already done it? You can just buy a postcard, can't you?"

The most endearing of said photographs would include family or friends in the foreground. Now, if one might accomplish the same within astrophotography...

"Look, Ma! No gravity!", and with the description, "On vacation near the perimeter of M31, July 2, 8045."

Now, that would be worthwhile.

"...astrophotography allows me to experience the moment over and over again in a way that is stronger than just my memory alone."

Yes, and just as people pour over the photographs of their loved ones gone by, but the hosts are still with us, in the here and now.

"You ask whether one would rather have the experience of interacting with friends and family..."

...observing them, rather.

"Have you ever seen color in M31 as a visual astronomer? Spiral arms on M51? The central white dwarf in the Ring Nebula?"

No, I have not, as I haven't the aperture necessary, and most likely never will...but I can wait...

"...pale ghosts and glimpses with averted vision."

Ahhh, yes! To me, a single observance by said method is worth a thousand pictures, ad infinitum...

Cheers,

Alan

#47 Jared

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Posted 26 November 2012 - 08:16 PM

"...pale ghosts and glimpses with averted vision."

Ahhh, yes! To me, a single observance by said method is worth a thousand pictures, ad infinitum...

Cheers,

Alan


Just curious... Why? Because it feels more "real?" Because it's in the moment?

Obviously, I have no problem with visual observing and would never suggest one give up visual astronomy if it gives one pleasure, but I prefer the experience I can get with a camera--watching the image build up on the monitor, drawing out subtle details, whether it's in the field or back home the next day. To me, this experience is just as real as putting my eye to the eyepiece.

Whenever this discussion comes up it reminds me of Robert Ballard--the Oceanographer who found the wrecks of the Titanic, the Bismarck, the Yorktown, etc. He started out, of course, going down to the bottom of the ocean in submersibles looking for wrecks through portholes. Somewhere along the way, though, he realized that even if you went down in your submersible, you still couldn't touch the objects you were researching. You still couldn't get out of the submarine and wander around. Then, during one particular dive, he noticed that everyone on the sub was watching the computer screens rather than the porthole. The views were better, so that's what everyone was looking at. Why absorb the effort, time, risk, and cost of sending people down in submersibles if the views were already better on the computer screen? He decided to work with the Navy to develop the capabilities of remote submersibles and broadcast the images back up through fiber optics. That way, not only could a crew of a few people experience the event, but also students and team members on the surface and even people back on shore. He's been working ever since to improve the quality of the images and data--through fiber optics, better remotes, and more sophisticated manipulators and elevators--so that the remote experience can be every bit as real and engrossing as making the dive. Ever since that first time he saw everyone watching the computer screens rather than looking out the window he realized how silly it is to put people in submersibles.

I feel like astrophotography is an even more extreme version of Ballard's experience. For me, it's the one situation where the photographic experience is even better than the physical one. If you ask me whether I'd rather look at Yosemite or a picture of Yosemite, I'll take the real thing. But that's not true for most astronomical objects. Colors, wisps of gas, faint details, fainter stars. They are all available to me through the camera, and to me they are more real on a computer screen than in the imagination I am forced to rely on at the eyepiece.

#48 Sky Muse

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Posted 26 November 2012 - 09:37 PM

"...he realized how silly it is to put people in submersibles."

Now, you good and well that that was for safety's sake. I am not nearly as endangered as a solely visual amateur astronomer as I would be in a submersible more than a mile under the ocean's surface.

Similarly, if I were in a spacesuit near Cassini's Division...

Cheers,

Alan

#49 Jared

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Posted 27 November 2012 - 01:40 AM

Still curious... Why do you prefer visual? I have explained why I prefer astrophotography--the fact that I can "see" more and create my own art in the process. Your musings don't tell me what you like better about the visual experience. Is it more visceral for you? More true? Simpler? More challenging? What's the draw for you? I like to hear how others enjoy the hobby.

#50 RAKing

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Posted 27 November 2012 - 06:55 AM

Still curious... Why do you prefer visual? I have explained why I prefer astrophotography--the fact that I can "see" more and create my own art in the process. Your musings don't tell me what you like better about the visual experience. Is it more visceral for you? More true? Simpler? More challenging? What's the draw for you? I like to hear how others enjoy the hobby.


I appreciate your love of imaging and I spent a few years trying to capture what I saw at the eyepiece with my camera. It was a challenge back then and I never really succeeded. Now of course, I could spend a few more hours at the computer and create an image that is probably better than the one I saw at the eyepiece.

But that is not why I prefer visual astronomy. For me, it is living in the moment and enjoying the best that the universe can give at that particular instant. I don't need to spend hours taking the image then processing it -- I am actually watching it as it happens. It is like your analogy of Yosimite - I simply prefer to see it now.

Cheers,

Ron






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