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When star hopping gets annoying...

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#1 Javier1978

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Posted 11 December 2012 - 04:22 PM

I have always considered myself in the star hopping side. I have been observing for four years now and finding a lot of objects with my dob became a second nature and I enjoy it a lot.

But last saturday I went to my dark observing site after months of cloudy new moons (or close to that). I was looking forward to find some new targets, but I got lost with my charts and that became very dissapointing, thinking about all the time of pure observation I was losing. I admit I didn´t do my homework for those targets in my regular roof observation, wich I usually do before going to a dark site.

Anyway, for the very first time I understood how useful a goto mount can be.

#2 ensign

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Posted 11 December 2012 - 04:28 PM

Or you could just do your homework . . . :tonofbricks:

#3 rdandrea

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Posted 11 December 2012 - 04:34 PM

Nothing wrong with GoTo. This is a hobby. Do it in a way that gives you the most enjoyment. You don't need to prove anything to anyone.

#4 Javier1978

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Posted 11 December 2012 - 04:42 PM

Of course, I just love the simplicity of my dob. Besides, I´m not planning new investments for the hobby at the moment

I´ll do my homework though.

#5 Astrojensen

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Posted 11 December 2012 - 05:16 PM

last saturday I went to my dark observing site after months of cloudy new moons (or close to that). I was looking forward to find some new targets, but I got lost with my charts and that became very dissapointing, thinking about all the time of pure observation I was losing.


That has happened to me, too. When it does, set it all aside, sit down and relax. Look at the beautiful sky for a while with the naked eye or perhaps with binoculars, then go visit some old celestial friends and forget your troubles. It's not a work or a race to see who can see the most objects. There's always a billion objects out there you'll never see, so one or two less on a list won't make a scrap of difference. What counts is being happy under the stars, not numbers on a piece of paper.

BTW, I am a very experienced starhopper myself, but recently I got my first GOTO mount. I was excited. I thought it was going to be a blast to use. It was boooooring. It was about as much fun as dragging a TV set to a river and watch a video about fly fishing... The fun, challenge and excitement from the hunt and the satisfaction from knowing the sky and how to find the target was completely missing. Other people praise the frustration-free observing of a GOTO, but I found it exceptionally dissatisfying.

Just my honest opinion.


Clear skies!
Thomas, Denmark

#6 Feidb

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Posted 11 December 2012 - 05:27 PM

Getting frustrated star hopping is part of the fun! That may sound contradictory but that's as true as any other part of searching for deep sky objects. I've been doing this a long time, the old-school way (old time hockey!). Now I use a green laser pointer instead of my 50mm finder and I still have trouble with some objects. There are times when I may spend 10 to 15 minutes looking for one object. By that time I give up and move on to the next. With the faint fuzzies I shoot for, that can be par for the course. Does that make me want to "cheat" and spring for a GOTO? Not on your life! That's just me.

Don't feel bad if you have an off nigtht. We all do. It's still fun for me, at least. I appreciate the objects I DO find more.

On the other hand, more often than not, I've already observed a dozen objects before some of my buddies have fooled around trying to get their GOTOs to work. That says something right there!

#7 Astrojensen

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Posted 11 December 2012 - 05:45 PM

Spot on, Feidb.

On the other hand, more often than not, I've already observed a dozen objects before some of my buddies have fooled around trying to get their GOTOs to work. That says something right there!



:grin: Been there, done that.


Clear skies!
Thomas, Denmark

#8 rockethead26

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Posted 11 December 2012 - 06:13 PM

I always star hopped when I lived in Florida and Arizona and enjoyed the hunt immensely. I had good night and bad nights when I couldn't seem to find anything. It was just part of the adventure

Then I moved to crummy red-zone skies in Indiana and bought my first computerized push-to system for my dob. There just aren't enough visible stars to star hop so I decided I'd rather enjoy looking at the objects I can and to heck with the hunt. To be honest, even with push-to, there's still a little hunting involved.

The next time I visit a dark site, I'm sure my skills will be rusty and I'll get a little frustrated. If that happens, I can fall back to my computer for help. I really don't care how I do it, I just want to see some great stuff while I'm out.

As another poster stated, you've got nothing to prove to anyone, it's a hobby! Just don't waste a good night.

#9 Astrojensen

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Posted 11 December 2012 - 06:26 PM

you've got nothing to prove to anyone, it's a hobby! Just don't waste a good night.


The truth.


Clear skies!
Thomas, Denmark

#10 GeneT

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Posted 11 December 2012 - 06:42 PM

I admit I didn´t do my homework


This is the key. One should sit down with the star charts and calendars and prepare a viewing session before setting out. I am not against Go To, but I am a star hopping viewer and therefore, must always prepare before going out.

#11 GeneT

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Posted 11 December 2012 - 06:44 PM

BTW, I am a very experienced starhopper myself, but recently I got my first GOTO mount. I was excited. I thought it was going to be a blast to use. It was boooooring. It was about as much fun as dragging a TV set to a river and watch a video about fly fishing... The fun, challenge and excitement from the hunt and the satisfaction from knowing the sky and how to find the target was completely missing. Other people praise the frustration-free observing of a GOTO, but I found it exceptionally dissatisfying.


I agree with you, but wouldn't have had the (b)alls to say it. :grin:

#12 Astrojensen

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Posted 11 December 2012 - 07:00 PM

One should sit down with the star charts and calendars and prepare a viewing session before setting out. I am not against Go To, but I am a star hopping viewer and therefore, must always prepare before going out.


This has become increasingly difficult for me, as the number of clear nights continue to decrease, seemingly. In winter, in can be weeks, even a whole month or longer, between deep-sky nights. The whole sky seems to have changed each time I go out. Constellations that were prominent in the west have now set completely. I find it extremely difficult to plan constellation-specific projects, as I never know when I am able to observe them next time. Now I have observed for so long that I am very familiar with the sky and I can easily spend several hours even without an atlas, finding objects from memory alone. Or I can just bring Uranometria and open a page on a constellation that is well placed and begin, starting with something big and obvious and then checking out the smaller objects nearby. Every so often, I stumble on something nice. Most of my evenings are like this and I am almost always taken by surprise when it suddenly clears for a few, precious hours, and find myself scrambling for maps and eyepieces.


Clear skies!
Thomas, Denmark

#13 coopman

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Posted 11 December 2012 - 07:00 PM

So....what's wrong with picking a constellation and slowly scanning it to see what you might find? I do this a lot and it always yields a rewarding session.

#14 C_Moon

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Posted 11 December 2012 - 07:55 PM

I sometimes feel this way when it is very cold. It takes a certain amount of energy to star hop. Sometimes there's just not much left when you subtract the energy required to keep me warm :grin:

On nights like that I always thought it would be cool to just have the scope slew to where I wanted to go.

#15 magic612

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Posted 11 December 2012 - 08:39 PM

Anyway, for the very first time I understood how useful a goto mount can be.


I've had that happen. I even bought a couple of goto mounts. Then when I went to align them, and had a tree in the way, or a house, or another tree, or the batteries died or were low, it was then I understood how useful a simple, non-motorized scope can be. ;)

But that's just me, and where I observe from. Everyone is different, and if goto works, cool - more power to them. I prefer finding each object by starhopping, even when I get frustrated and lost. It happens. Fall back, regroup, try again another clear night. There will be more. :)

#16 george golitzin

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Posted 11 December 2012 - 08:59 PM

last saturday I went to my dark observing site after months of cloudy new moons (or close to that). I was looking forward to find some new targets, but I got lost with my charts and that became very dissapointing, thinking about all the time of pure observation I was losing.


That has happened to me, too. When it does, set it all aside, sit down and relax. Look at the beautiful sky for a while with the naked eye or perhaps with binoculars, then go visit some old celestial friends and forget your troubles. It's not a work or a race to see who can see the most objects. There's always a billion objects out there you'll never see, so one or two less on a list won't make a scrap of difference. What counts is being happy under the stars, not numbers on a piece of paper.

BTW, I am a very experienced starhopper myself, but recently I got my first GOTO mount. I was excited. I thought it was going to be a blast to use. It was boooooring. It was about as much fun as dragging a TV set to a river and watch a video about fly fishing... The fun, challenge and excitement from the hunt and the satisfaction from knowing the sky and how to find the target was completely missing. Other people praise the frustration-free observing of a GOTO, but I found it exceptionally dissatisfying.

Just my honest opinion.


Clear skies!
Thomas, Denmark


I agree completely. That moment when you give up the current chase, and sit back and look up, is really vital--it reconnects one to the sky, and provides an opportunity to relearn, or to learn better, the map of the stars overhead. Then, having relaxed a bit and refreshed your star-memory, maybe on the next go-round you won't turn north when you mean to turn south!

-geo

#17 tezster

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Posted 11 December 2012 - 09:32 PM

Whether I'm starhopping or using DSC's, both methods are tied to the use of my tablet running SkySafari, so it's a fairly seamless transition.

When starhopping, SkySafari is used as an electronic star atlas. And in the case of push-to, it's wireless Bluetooth connection to the DSCs. So I'm free to choose either option :)

#18 JayinUT

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Posted 11 December 2012 - 09:48 PM

I star hop, I love star hopping. There is a time and a place for GoTo, when you have a short time to observe. I find after 3 months or so of cloudy new moons I usually am a bit rusty. After I find an object or two, I am back in the groove and the rest of the night goes well. Good advice to take a break and star hop to something you find easy to do. For me in fall that is the Blue Snowball PN or Messier 78 in Orion in winter, just something easy to do. I have also found that using a new scope and having moved my focuser to the right side of the scope since I am left eye dominant also caused some adjustments. It's all good as its part of the journey and its the journey that matters to me, not just a destination.

#19 Dennis_S253

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Posted 11 December 2012 - 10:15 PM

What is the real point of this thread? That you didn't do your homework, or you want a goto system? You know Messier and the other's of the day, they didn't have goto.

#20 frito

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Posted 11 December 2012 - 10:26 PM

i agree with others, planning is pretty key but i do highly recommend trying sky safari. its full of tools to help the star hopper and even if one did not have a set plan or anything you can still easily find things to view using it.

#21 jgraham

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Posted 11 December 2012 - 10:54 PM

I was a practitioner of the long tradition of star-hopping for many decades before I bought my first GoTo. I was convinced my first night out with it. However, I still make use of the old skills. I recently found a way to combine these two worlds; the simplicity of a fully manual scope with the convenience of GoTo. The motivation for this approach was my biggo homebuilt 16.5” f/6.5. A wonderful scope, but note the lack of sophisticated pointing aids. That combined with a small field of view made using my big baby a bit of a chore. Not a recipe for fun on the few clear nights we get here in Ohio.

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#22 jgraham

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Posted 11 December 2012 - 10:54 PM

After trying several blends of finders, my trusty Telrad, setting circles, and laser pointers I hit on an idea. While using my laser pointer I found that I could easily see the beam in my finder and even the scope itself. Then it occurred to me that the laser didn’t have to necessarily be on my Dob, but it could be on any scope nearby. The original thought was to mount a laser pointer on an cheapy ETX-60. However, after digging through spare parts I came up with an old Meade 2045s (4” f/10 SCT spotting scope) on a DS-2000 mount with a #494 GoTo controller and an Orion laser pointer. I use the DS-2045s to point to the target and illuminate it with the laser pointer. I then locate the beam in the finder of my 16.5” and follow it out to the end. Voila! A Point-To system. The nice thing about this approach is that it is relatively simple, inexpensive, and I can use it with any scope. Sooooo, you can keep your Dob and use it with a Point-To laser designator whenever you want. The best of both worlds!

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#23 KidOrion

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Posted 12 December 2012 - 12:45 AM

Star-hopping, to me, is like fishing.

Sometimes you spend a lot of time in the boat only to catch nothing. Sometimes, you only catch minnows or debris. Sometimes, though, you reel in a fine catch that's well worth the effort and occasional frustration. No matter what you catch, though, you're surrounded by nature and everything seems at peace.

\this analogy was better in my head

#24 avarakin

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Posted 12 December 2012 - 01:10 AM

One way of star hopping without preparation is this:
1. If you are looking for M objects, print Telrad Messier finder charts and then just point your scope according to chart. This works most of the time even in light polluted skies
2. If you are after H400 list, then Triatlas B is your best friend: you open a page with a constellation which you can nicely see (not too high not too low) and then look for H400 objects on the page, they are marked bold and there at least 2-3 of them on a page. Then you just star hop to them. Triatlas B has stars down to Mag 11 so it gives enough stars to hop

If you are not doing M or H400 list and just futzing around, then you need to prepare for this :lol:

Alex

#25 Jon Isaacs

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Posted 12 December 2012 - 04:21 AM

I agree completely. That moment when you give up the current chase, and sit back and look up, is really vital--it reconnects one to the sky, and provides an opportunity to relearn, or to learn better, the map of the stars overhead. Then, having relaxed a bit and refreshed your star-memory, maybe on the next go-round you won't turn north when you mean to turn south!

-geo



GOTO can be GOOD...


- "Reconnecting with the sky" :ubetcha:

- I hear Javier's, excitement, expectations, his frustration, his impatience. Out under a dark night sky for the first time in several months, he was excited and hopeful of locating some new objects. When that did not seem to be, disappointment, confusion... :(

- "Reconnecting with the night sky"

"Make new friends but keep the old" Most any time I am under dark skies I begin by just enjoying my old friends, working from memory and just taking in the visual pleasure.. This might last the entire evening..

At some time, it feels like the right moment to start off on a search for something new. When I do this, I may have some region and objects already in mind but I may just decide, hey, Fornax looks interesting, I wonder what new objects I can find tonight. At that point, I walk away from my telescopes, position my chair to have an unobstructed view of the region and get my binoculars. I get my charts, Sky Safari Pro these days, it used to be Planetarium for the Palm, before that, I used paper charts. I sit there and just enjoy identifying the stars in the region, learning/relearning that part of the sky. At some point I scan the region with the binoculars, familiarizing myself at a deeper level. This might take 15 minutes and is most enjoyable, learning, connecting with the night skiy is enjoyable. Once I am familiar with the region, I spend a few minutes which the chart/program deciding on some interesting targets, move back to the telescope and start hunting. This past weekend, once I was started, I had great fun with the brighter (Mag 9-mag 12) Galaxies in Fornax...

- GOTO is the solution for many and Javier might enjoy stargazing more with a GOTO mount or at least DSCs. But as they say, "the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence." Using a GOTO mount can also be a frustrating, disappointing experience. Last month a friend called me long distance, his Nexstar 8SE mount was acting up and he was at his wits end trying to fix it. In the end, I was able to figure out that nothing was wrong with it, in his impatience, he had not correctly remembered the alignment procedure. And GOTO mounts break down ruining an evening or an entire trip. When I used to share a secret spot with three guys with a 12 inch LX-200 GPS, the mount failed a few times and they were dead in the water, a lost night, a lost weekend.

- Patience is probably the most important virtue required for this hobby... The night sky throws us so many curve balls that playing the night by ear, just patiently plodding ahead is the most satisfying path...

Jon






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