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I may have been happier before Cloudy Nights

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#1 cheapersleeper

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Posted 15 November 2012 - 06:02 AM

In the mid seventies I had a little Sears refractor and I enjoyed using it. In the mid eighties, I had a 6" f5 reflector that I put together using commercial mirrors. My pocketful of Erfles brought me great joy. Late nineties I had the ubiquitous 8" f6 dob, scraped together money to buy a few plossls and in the limited time I had to observe, was fairly satisfied.

Then came Cloudy Nights. I joined my local astro club, sold the 8" dob, got a 10" dob, started ATMing again, built a this and that and a 12" dob and now have a couple of cases of collimation tools and eyepieces. I recently wandered into the Solar system imaging forum and have poked my nose into that a little bit.

So what's the problem?

I am no longer ever satisfied with the equipment that I have now after decades of enjoying whatever equipment that I had. Reading planetary observers rave about seeing "much more detail than I could take in" and endless descriptions of "minute pinpricks on a background of black velvet," not to mention dust lanes, faint planetaries, solar flares, Airy discs and the moons of Jupiter as perfect discs.

I am now painfully aware of the limitations of my equipment and of myself as an observer. Reading the forums, it would appear that the gear is out there to do what I want. Of course, it is an order of magnitude more expensive than what I already have. Still, I seriously consider throwing money at this hobby in hopes of enjoying it more. The nagging doubt remains, though, as to whether I had more fun when my own scope, whatever it was, was the best scope in the universe.

Regards,
Brad

#2 Jon Isaacs

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Posted 15 November 2012 - 06:16 AM

Still, I seriously consider throwing money at this hobby in hopes of enjoying it more. The nagging doubt remains, though, as to whether I had more fun when my own scope, whatever it was, was the best scope in the universe.

Regards,
Brad



Brad:

In my experience, better equipment can lead to better views but probably not more enjoyment. Throwing money at the problem doesn't make it any more satisfying...

I know my equipment isn't the best, no Zambuto mirrors around here. But I am happy with it because I know that together we see some amazing things and I know that there are plenty more to be seen.

The most precious commodity is not equipment, it's time, time at the eyepiece... Maximize your time at the eyepiece and you will maximize your enjoyment...

Jon

#3 Astrojensen

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Posted 15 November 2012 - 06:25 AM

Reading planetary observers rave about seeing "much more detail than I could take in" and endless descriptions of "minute pinpricks on a background of black velvet," not to mention dust lanes, faint planetaries, solar flares, Airy discs and the moons of Jupiter as perfect discs.

I am now painfully aware of the limitations of my equipment and of myself as an observer. Reading the forums, it would appear that the gear is out there to do what I want. Of course, it is an order of magnitude more expensive than what I already have.


That was, more or less, the situation I faced when I began in this hobby, around twenty years ago. I had no money, just a tiny telescope, and I wanted to see all kinds of stuff. What to do? There was only one option: Become a better observer! I did this through reading a lot about observing techniques and practicing them. It took several years, but suddenly, I was able to see those dust lanes, faint planetary nebulae, resolve doubles to the very limit of my telescope, etc, etc.

You already have equipment orders of magnitude more powerful than I had. Now optimize the rest of the chain, from skies to observer, and the subtle details and faint objects will come to you, too.


Clear skies!
Thomas, Denmark

#4 FarrOut

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Posted 15 November 2012 - 06:57 AM

And now you know the full meaning of the phrase:
"How you gonna keep them down on the farm after they have been to Paris"

#5 TexasRed

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Posted 15 November 2012 - 08:21 AM

Reread Jon's post.

Telescopes have been defined as instruments that promise their owners astounding view if they just spend more money on them. Alternately, you can spend more time with them and achieve the same thing.

#6 JasonBurry

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Posted 15 November 2012 - 09:04 AM

Astrojensen has it, I think. I've observed with only a trio of scopes over the past dozen years, starting with a very cheap 70mm shorty refractor, then my 8" F6 dob and occasionally an EQ 4.5" newt.

Each season, I take out my 8" and revisit old friends, attempt more and more challenging objects (G1/Mayall II this fall). Each season, I see my old friends in more detail than I'd thought possible the previous year. Indeed, my 8" scope routinely (and by routinely, I mean about 4x a year) shows me more planetary detail than I can really absorb.

This weekend past, I observed M42 for the first time this season. It was less than 45deg up, but I saw detail in the nebulosity that had escaped my eyes in previous seasons, startlingly obvious to me this time. I'll blame a summer of faint galaxy hunting for that!

In the 8 or 9 years I've had that 8" newt, I've been able to improve my observing skills by a margin that seems to exceed the difference between that instrument and my old 70mm.

Whatever scope you have, as long as it's optically decent, can be a forever scope. I doubt I'll ever go bigger myself. I also doubt I'll ever stop seeing new detail, new limits, at least until my eyes grow old and dim.

Anyone can spend money on equipment. Training ourselves to use our equipment to its utmost limits is, to me, far more satisfying.

J

#7 killdabuddha

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Posted 15 November 2012 - 09:43 AM

What Jon said, and said so well. The phrase, "If yer not havin fun at this, yer not doin it rite," has nowhere in it anything about the equipment. We're gonna build again, but smaller, for the car. As for the stuff we're usin these days, I apologize to Galileo and Newton every day. Besides, "Suffice to say, what we behold is censored by our eyes..." (Really like that line.)

#8 droid

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Posted 15 November 2012 - 09:48 AM

Brad; I cant imagine not finding cloudy nights.
Yes my equipment has changed, but at 56 Im well beyond
giving in to peer pressure.
Yes I recently purchased a 16 inch reflector ,thanks to Cloudy Nights, but that was a childhood dream concluded.
I also have a 8 incf/6 being rebuilt by a fantastic friend I met her here on Cloudy Nights first ,then met in person later.But I had the 8 inch dob before Cloudy nights.

I primarily stay away from the equipment forums, yes I read them, but I spend 90 percent of my time reading observing reports, posting questions about whats the best objects, and making myself a better observer, hopefully,.
By the way my most used telescope is still a 60mm with a handful of motley eye pieces.
The other side of Cloudy Nights are the people, Ive met hundreds of them in person at cloudy night gatherings all are phenomenal folks, good people. And Im honored to have met them and created such friends.

I guess it is what we make of it, lol.

#9 droid

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Posted 15 November 2012 - 09:51 AM

are you kidding, Galileo and Newton would be ecstatic to see what they're discovery wrought.

ever deliberately try to recreate , Galileo's view, Christmas junk scopes give better views, hehehehehehehehehehe

#10 csa/montana

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Posted 15 November 2012 - 10:06 AM

I know my equipment isn't the best, no Zambuto mirrors around here. But I am happy with it because I know that together we see some amazing things and I know that there are plenty more to be seen.



Couldn't agree more! I'm very content with my equipment, especially my scope. It shows me amazing things, and I look forward to each view thru it, like it is my first view.

There's always the wishful thinking, about how much better the views might be thru higher cost equipment; however, the limiting factor is the viewer him/herself. If you use your current equipment to it's fullest, the sky's the limit (pun intended!) :)

On CN, I absolutely love reading all the member's reports on their new bigger, better equipment, it's very interesting, but doesn't make me want it. :)

#11 GOLGO13

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Posted 15 November 2012 - 10:22 AM

This is a bit how I felt when I was going to dark sky sites. I'd come back to my terribly light polluted skies and think...man, why even bother. Now when I'm in LP I try to focus on targets which are just as good in LP.

I also found that I was getting a little burned out on observing. I took a pretty long break (maybe a year or two), somewhat because I had two young kids now. I found that I had a renewed interest in observing...and I have somewhat forgotten the dark sky differences. I have also found myself enjoying my smaller scopes more which do fine on most light pollution objects.

Maybe just take some time off and don't get too worried about perfection. I personally cannot afford to get the best (well, at least my wife won't let me). So I try to get the most out of what I have.

#12 Tony Flanders

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Posted 15 November 2012 - 10:23 AM

I joined my local astro club, sold the 8" dob, got a 10" dob, started ATMing again, built a this and that and a 12" dob and now have a couple of cases of collimation tools and eyepieces. . . .

I am no longer ever satisfied with the equipment that I have now after decades of enjoying whatever equipment that I had. Reading planetary observers rave about seeing "much more detail than I could take in" and endless descriptions of "minute pinpricks on a background of black velvet," not to mention dust lanes, faint planetaries, solar flares, Airy discs and the moons of Jupiter as perfect discs.


With the exception of solar flares, which require an H-alpha scope, those have nothing at all to do with your equipment, and everything to do with seeing, dark skies, and experience.

A 12-inch Dob is amply big enough to see Jupiter's moons as disks. It's a rare night indeed when you will see more detail on Jupiter with any telescope, no matter how large, than with a good 12-inch Dob.

And a 12-inch Dob shows dust lanes in many galaxies under dark skies.

#13 jgraham

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Posted 15 November 2012 - 10:25 AM

I've had a similar experience after reading several reports of unbelievable performance and amazing views and oh my gawd I couldn’t believe what a difference these hopelessly expensive eyepieces have made in the incredibly expensive hypertuned small telescope. After trying out some of this gear I’ve come to the conclusion that most of these types of reports are exaggerations to say the least. Yes, having great gear can make a difference to a point, but the differences are often small and/or require great skies and/or steady air and are really in the eyes of the beholder. The only time I have ever had a near out-of-body experience observing was looking at Saturn through a master telescope maker’s Tri-Schiefspiegler. Oh yes, and authors of some deepsky observing guides are either hyper-experienced, have super-human vision, use the 60” on mount Wilson and misquote it as being a 60mm, observe under the best skies known to humankind, smoking something medicinal, or are making half of it up (okay, three quarters). In short, you may be chasing an illusion. There are certain basic truths that seem to hold water. For visual deepsky aperture rules. For imaging it’s all about the mount. For planetary seeing is everything. None of this replaces the experience of the observer. You can have a heck of a lot of fun with a heck of a lot less depending on what your goal is. I’ve been an active amateur astronomer for right at 50 years, much of that as an amateur telescope maker. I’ve accumulated a lot of stuff and I’ve reached the point where I’ve got a nice set to tinker with depending on my mood. (I suffer from astronomical ADD, so I tend to bounce around a lot. It’s not so much that nothing holds my attention very long it’s that I’m interested in everything and there’s only so much you can do with Ohio weather.) I found rather than pursuing that mythical perfect view pursue what interests you. Unless of course what interests you is that perfect view, in which case that’s more of a place than a thing. And remember that most basic truth of all; happiness is not for sale.

Have fun, and enjoy each evening one at a time.

#14 David Pavlich

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Posted 15 November 2012 - 10:46 AM

Well, there's a lot of us that are quite the gizmo junkies and I can't think of a better (or worse :grin:) hobby than astronomy for a gizmo oriented person. We love to try stuff and because of that, we go through a lot of equipment. I've slowed down the last year or so, but suffice it to say, I moved my share of stuff. For me and for a lot of others in this hobby, it's fun trying different stuff, not sad.

David

#15 csrlice12

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Posted 15 November 2012 - 11:04 AM

I have to agree that while the equipment side has it's place, time at the eyepice is what matters. I find I see more everytime I go out (not as often as I'd like, I haven't had the scope out in about 2 months due to family commitments, and the nasty weather--it's the weekend, it must be raining). TexasRed was the one who mentioned in another thread, that time at the eyepiece brought out the detail more than any eyepiece...and he's right. Not that equipment doesn't help, but the viewing is more important then the equipment.

#16 sg6

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Posted 15 November 2012 - 11:11 AM

Brad, I tend to agree. I get a lot of pleasure from looking through the smaller scopes I have.

It may be to do with the fact that I am more relaxed when using the smaller less expensive ones.

Also I just want to look through the smaller ones, I do not expect images to jump out and amaze me. A really good image is a bonus, on the apo's I find I tend to expect it and feel robbed if it isn't.

If I point a 120 apo at Saturn I want precise views, forget the Cassini division I want ice crystals! If I point the little 70mm achro I am pretty happy just to find Saturn.

#17 Edward E

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Posted 15 November 2012 - 11:36 AM

Very interesting and timely post. I was just reflecting on my own experiences with equipment and enjoyment after 30+ years of observing. After having used telescopes from 60mm to 508mm that track, goto, and computerized I have rediscovered that the fun, for me, comes from the hunt; that is hunting down the objects myself, no computer or machine to get me there besides a paper atlas and a basic telescope, plus learning the scope's capabilities and my own limitations. Yes, I can view more objects in less time with a goto scope which I used for many years but during that time I noticed that something was missing. I recently purchased a large used Dob and found the spark that had been missing all those years. My equipment is not state of the art in fact all my eyepieces are over 15 years old now and the scope is 5 years old, not one of today's sleek hot rods with an uber precision, fifth avenue mirror(s)& uber price tag but I am once again coming away from each monthly observing run, very happy, enthusiastic and satisfied about what I have seen. Yes, sometimes the seeing is poor or I do not see everything on my list for that night but like the old saying goes, its not the destination but the journey that is important. Relax, enjoy reading the posts of Cloudy Night R but most of all find what works best for you and enjoy your own journey through this hobby.

Cheers and clear skies! :dob:

#18 cheapersleeper

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Posted 15 November 2012 - 11:36 AM

As sg6 touched on, I suspect it is a matter of expectations.

At this point, I have been working nights for almost 4 years. I have a job that is for me, a bit stressful. Every night it is a "stand and deliver" situation where my work is known, important, and scrutinized. (For the telecom knowledgeable, I work in a NOC.)

This gives rise to two conditions: Scarcity of observing opportunity, and, at times, a need for something "special" out of an observing session. I just don't have the time to get out and my backyard sessions in light polluted skies are a bit on the frustrating side. I do not recall saying that I have NEVER seen Jupiter's moons as discs, never seen this never seen that... I have, but very infrequently. I hope too and EXPECT to have have a good night with some frequency and I believe this is where the equipment acquisition thing picks up. Better mechanicals hopefully mean few nights with something annoying that is not specifically about the observing experience. Better optics hopefully means that you at least have the confidence that you are getting something near what the night is capable of allowing every time out. Those things are the reason that I would want better equipment.

When I observed in ignorance, in a leisurely fashion, it was more fun.

B

#19 csrlice12

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Posted 15 November 2012 - 12:04 PM

As sg6 touched on, I suspect it is a matter of expectations.

At this point, I have been working nights for almost 4 years. I have a job that is for me, a bit stressful. Every night it is a "stand and deliver" situation where my work is known, important, and scrutinized. (For the telecom knowledgeable, I work in a NOC.)

This gives rise to two conditions: Scarcity of observing opportunity, and, at times, a need for something "special" out of an observing session. I just don't have the time to get out and my backyard sessions in light polluted skies are a bit on the frustrating side. I do not recall saying that I have NEVER seen Jupiter's moons as discs, never seen this never seen that... I have, but very infrequently. I hope too and EXPECT to have have a good night with some frequency and I believe this is where the equipment acquisition thing picks up. Better mechanicals hopefully mean few nights with something annoying that is not specifically about the observing experience. Better optics hopefully means that you at least have the confidence that you are getting something near what the night is capable of allowing every time out. Those things are the reason that I would want better equipment.

When I observed in ignorance, in a leisurely fashion, it was more fun.

B


Your glass isn't half empty, it's half full.

On the plus side; you are used to being up nights, so the nights you spend viewing don't come out of your sleep time.

Sounds like to need to get that scope out to a dark site. While the better equipment might give you a slight edge in light polluted skies, it won't make any significant difference. The best and cheapest accessory you have with that scope I call the "Gas Filter". You will see more from a dark site with a WalMart telescope then you will in town with better optics.

Maybe that's the "wow" factor you're looking for. Nothing beats dark skies for viewing, regardless of the equipment.

#20 YetAnotherHobby

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Posted 15 November 2012 - 12:06 PM

My name is Geoff, and I am an astro gear junkie. My last purchase was a few weeks ago when I purchased a 50mm Plossl which promptly brought clouds and hurricanes upon New England. Sorry New Jersey!
But lately I have stopped obsessively scanning the classifieds - I've been using Skytools to generate observing lists. I've been reading Sky and Telescope back issues to get some observing ideas. And last night I spent half an hour staring at Jupiter. Funny how after a few minutes those fuzzy brown bands on a white disk suddenly had texture, and how they were joined by fainter, narrower bands. And when did that subtle coloring of the disk start? It was mesmerizing. In our relentlessly fast paced life moments like these where time stops and we can focus on the beauty of this one thing are all too rare. I want more!

#21 csrlice12

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Posted 15 November 2012 - 12:17 PM

I put to you that you are the opposite of an astro-gear junkie. You're more into the observing then the acqusistion of equipment. Good for you. While equipment is nice, its eyeball to eyepiece that counts.

#22 cheapersleeper

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Posted 15 November 2012 - 12:23 PM

Despite my general protestations that one does not need to have premium equipment to observer well, I do strongly suspect that general annoyance may be lower with really good equipment. In fact, I have a good mind to fire the guy who builds most of my equipment. Of course, if I do that, I will have nothing to occupy my time when it's cloudy.

B

#23 EddWen

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Posted 15 November 2012 - 01:15 PM

Observing nature, from the cosmos to snails in the back yard when it is raining, is enjoyable to me.

I have a considerable equipment list to do this. But my equipment is not a necessary requirement. Here is an example of my using the least expensive telescope I have to gather some memorable observations:

http://www.cloudynig...4675600/page...

At the other end of the spectrum, my grand-daughter loves to use my cobbled together, old, no-name Japanese microscope with an old video camera scavenged from a prototype endoscope, to look at whatever she finds in the yard or street gutter.

#24 FarrOut

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Posted 15 November 2012 - 02:15 PM

Despite my general protestations that one does not need to have premium equipment to observer well, I do strongly suspect that general annoyance may be lower with really good equipment. In fact, I have a good mind to fire the guy who builds most of my equipment. Of course, if I do that, I will have nothing to occupy my time when it's cloudy.

B


I reminds me of a saying about golf and NASCAR.
A a good observer can see more with marginal equipment than another can see with excellent equipment.

#25 cheapersleeper

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Posted 15 November 2012 - 02:30 PM

Despite my general protestations that one does not need to have premium equipment to observer well, I do strongly suspect that general annoyance may be lower with really good equipment. In fact, I have a good mind to fire the guy who builds most of my equipment. Of course, if I do that, I will have nothing to occupy my time when it's cloudy.

B


I reminds me of a saying about golf and NASCAR.
A a good observer can see more with marginal equipment than another can see with excellent equipment.


I don't disagree with that sentiment. The question is, after that guy drives that car or uses those sticks and does better than someone else can do with better equipment, does he also end up saying "Dang, that was frustrating driving that junk!" I suspect they would feel that way and that is what I am talking about.

B






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