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How to keep observing interesting?

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#1 MikeBOKC

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Posted 24 January 2013 - 04:48 PM

I have been looking into an eyepiece, off and on, since the early 1980s, not including childhood. While I have been in and out of astronomy to varying degrees, the last few years, with partial retirement and a renewed involvement in the local astro club, have given me more observing opportunities. But like many I suspect I find myself sometimes saying "Sky is pretty good . . . could get out . . . naw, Jupiter is in the same basic spot as it was two nights ago." Not burnout by any means, but a reluctance to gear up, set up and view the same sky I had yesterday.

I have found a few techniques that make observing less habitual and more enticing. I'll note mine and then yield to others for additional suggestions:

-- Spend a night on one specific category of objects like double stars.

-- Binoview exclusively for a whole evening.

-- Play with filters on a range of objects to see what they do (and don't) do.

-- Let the tour function on the CPC take me from object to object all evening.

-- Set up the small refractor instead and try differnt eyepieces on the moon.

Any other ideas to add spice and variety to keep observing fresh?

#2 norton67

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Posted 24 January 2013 - 07:10 PM

Find someone, maybe a grandchild and show them all that you have seen. Make it new through showing and sharing the hobby with someone new.

#3 kansas skies

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Posted 24 January 2013 - 07:12 PM

Buying a new scope always seems to help... :lol:

Seriously, I like to try to target objects and details that are just outside my limitations. This gives me the incentive that I need to get out under a variety of conditions. I try to include Lunar features as well, so the moon does more than just get in the way.

Bill

#4 kfiscus

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Posted 24 January 2013 - 07:18 PM

My observing buddy and I will pick a chart or two from the S&T Pocket Atlas and will try to find every galaxy, planetary, etc. or if the pickings are more slim, try for every object marked on that chart.

Another thing we do for variety is research an interesting object ahead of time then find it in the scope to surprise the other person.

#5 Meep_Esq

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Posted 24 January 2013 - 07:50 PM

For me, having a project is the key, stops things from becoming a bit aimless. Also, planning what you'd like to do beforehand. My current ideas include trying to observe Venus during the day, and trying to observe particular lunar features over a full lunar day to build up a better idea of the topography. It's hardly pro-am stuff but it keeps your brain engaged :-)

#6 herrointment

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Posted 24 January 2013 - 08:11 PM

Looking at the night sky from southern N.Z. would do the trick. A few hours on the Mataura and I would die a happy man!

#7 EJN

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Posted 24 January 2013 - 08:12 PM

Any other ideas to add spice and variety to keep observing fresh?


Observe naked.
In winter.

#8 CJK

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Posted 24 January 2013 - 08:38 PM

Any other ideas to add spice and variety to keep observing fresh?


Observe naked.
In winter.


:john:

-- Chris

#9 ZeroID

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Posted 24 January 2013 - 08:51 PM

Funny, I got asked the question 'why do I keep trying to photgraph the stars, they all look the same'
Just made me think there is so much diversity in objects and visual\photographic challenges up there along wth all the technical challenges of making it all come together that I think I am going to run out of time before I run out of interest.
A large part of my interest is in planning to solve those challenges with my limited resources and ingenuity. I probably spend as much (or more) time in the workshop or Ob testing and rebuilding stuff. Almost the perfect hobby IMHO. All I need now is to get my food and drink delivered so I don't have to stop and I'll be happy. My wife might take exception to that arrangement though. :grin:

#10 Asbytec

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Posted 24 January 2013 - 10:10 PM

Seriously, I like to try to target objects and details that are just outside my limitations. This gives me the incentive that I need to get out under a variety of conditions. I try to include Lunar features as well, so the moon does more than just get in the way.

Bill


I'd agree with that. Challenge yourself and push you're scope beyond the simple glance. You might be surprised what it can show you, that makes a huge difference in the level of excitement. For example, Jupiter this season has been wonderful, I could not put my scope away having seen Jupiter like never before: a wealth of detail and learning to observe it's colors. Tackle some difficult double stars and some colorful pairs. As stated, observe the moon instead of shunning it. As a deep sky observer, I was just amazed at what the moon can offer besides a lit sky.

#11 Asbytec

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Posted 24 January 2013 - 10:27 PM

Buying a new scope always seems to help... :lol:

Seriously, I like to try to target objects and details that are just outside my limitations. This gives me the incentive that I need to get out under a variety of conditions. I try to include Lunar features as well, so the moon does more than just get in the way.

Bill


:goodjob:

#12 dennyhenke

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Posted 25 January 2013 - 12:32 AM

I'm really enjoying the various lists and programs. I've almost finished the Messier list and have made a good bit of progress on the Herschel 400. Next on the list is Herschel 2 and after that the Globular Cluster program and the new Stellar Evolution program... these are all via the Astronomical League.

As I work through the various lists I supplement the visual astronomy with lots of reading of astronomy/cosmology books and Wikipedia. Lastly, I listen to lots of science/astronomy oriented podcasts, Astronomy Cast with Pamela Gay and Fraser Cain being my favorite.

Exploring the science aspect of it all really enriches the experience not only because it adds depth but also because it adds to my realization that I know so little... I could do this for the rest of my life and still be a novice and yet I'll constantly have a real sense of achievement and constant learning.

One last thing, I do a lot of viewing by myself but also do a lot of viewing with friends and guests. My nearby facebook friends all know they have an open invitation to come out any clear night. It seems to work out perfectly.

#13 nicknacknock

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Posted 25 January 2013 - 04:23 AM

How about having a regular observing partner?

It really motivates me to go out and observe more often.

#14 dpwoos

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Posted 25 January 2013 - 07:58 AM

1) get involved in your local club.
2) outreach.

#15 wky46

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Posted 25 January 2013 - 08:19 AM

Binoculars certainly add a little spice. Also, inexpensive solar film to view the sun in white light. I set my telescope up during the day and since it's already set up, it's there at the ready for night time viewing. I also tend to view and concentrate on those objects that are presenting themselves easterly for the first time of the season. I eagerly anticipate and view them throughout their westerly track til finally presenting the most optimal view through the eyepiece at or a little past meridian.... Phil

#16 Jon Isaacs

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Posted 25 January 2013 - 08:36 AM

Lots of good suggestions so far. Things that work for me:

- Be relaxed, time under the night sky is like an evening walk through the neighborhood or the nearby woods. Let curiosity and serendipity roam free. No need to rush around.

- Switch scopes, adds variety. Hunting down M76 from my backyard is not so easy in a 4 inch but do able. It's even more difficult in a 60mm, a nice challenge for a light polluted backyard.

- From a light polluted backyard, take up observing double-stars. They are everywhere and most are not seriously affected by light pollution.

- From a light polluted backyard... Pick a challenge object, one that would seem to be impossible.. Make it a project. Find it. For example, the Helix Nebula never rises more 35degrees. It's large with a very low surface brightness. The southern sky is badly light polluted... downtown, the malls, the freeways... it's light pollution much. It's detectable with an 80mm and the right filter.

jon

#17 dpwoos

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Posted 25 January 2013 - 08:49 AM

For example, the Helix Nebula never rises more 35degrees. It's large with a very low surface brightness. The southern sky is badly light polluted... downtown, the malls, the freeways... it's light pollution much. It's detectable with an 80mm and the right filter.


Out of all the objects that I have difficulty finding, the Helix is at or near the top of my list for figuring out a good way to locate it. Do you have an easy method?

#18 edwincjones

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Posted 25 January 2013 - 08:56 AM

start over

-naked eye

-binocululars

-view something different

-go to a/different star party

-read a good astronomy book/new magazine

-take a break for a while

-go to club meetings

edj

#19 csrlice12

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Posted 25 January 2013 - 09:15 AM

Wait till you're older to get into astronomy, you'll be dead before you can get bored???? :scared:

#20 Jon Isaacs

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Posted 25 January 2013 - 09:40 AM

For example, the Helix Nebula never rises more 35degrees. It's large with a very low surface brightness. The southern sky is badly light polluted... downtown, the malls, the freeways... it's light pollution much. It's detectable with an 80mm and the right filter.


Out of all the objects that I have difficulty finding, the Helix is at or near the top of my list for figuring out a good way to locate it. Do you have an easy method?


Dennis:

No super easy method. Maybe someone else has a better method.

I just refreshed my memory looking at Cartes du Ciel. If the skies are dark, I believe I typically triangulate off of 77 and 88 Aquarii using a magnifying finder or a short focal length refractor. If I am low, I recognize a 3 star arc beginning with 49 Aquarii that leads to the Helix. It is recognizable in a finder if the skies are dark.

Finding it from my light polluted backyard in the 80mm takes more careful starhopping, I believe I used 5th magnitude 41 and 47 Aquarii as pointers, it's about two degrees North-East of 47. Low powers, O-III filter.

Jon

#21 Feidb

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Posted 25 January 2013 - 09:55 AM

I've been observing 46 years and have never been bored with it, not once. EVER.

I have observing goals. Faint fuzzies. I have lists, right now it's the Herschel 400-2, the Herschel 2500, the Skiff & Luginbuhl list, the Palomars, the Collinder clusters... I'll probably never see them all but I'll sure try.

Even if I ever do, I'll probably start over again.

#22 dpwoos

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Posted 25 January 2013 - 10:01 AM

Jon,

Thanks for the response. So many targets have great/easy ways of finding them. David Knisely once posted a method for easily finding the Cat's Eye nebula using the center of an X formed by 36, 42, f, and omega Draconis. If I can see these 4 stars (which form an obvious asterism) then I can point a dob at the Cat's Eye in seconds, whereas before it would take me minutes. I would love to be able to find the Helix like this, but I guess some targets are going to remain a challenge. Maybe I will post this question over on an observing forum.

Maybe the original poster might find new pleasures in being able to manually find more stuff? I know that I really get into learning the sky better - what started out as a necessity (homemade scopes) has become an important part of my enjoyment.

#23 csa/montana

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Posted 25 January 2013 - 10:38 AM

Wait till you're older to get into astronomy, you'll be dead before you can get bored???? :scared:



:roflmao: Ohhh, I fit that catagory! :lol:

#24 csa/montana

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Posted 25 January 2013 - 10:42 AM

I like to find the targets listed in the "This Month" catagory of S&T, and Astronomy magazine. Many mentioned, I have not seen, so it inspires me to put them on my "to see" list.

I also use the Pocket Sky Atlas, & love taking a page & trying for every possible target on that page.

When weather does not permit observing, then I turn to my astronomy library & go thru my books; then I can't wait to get out observing!

#25 csrlice12

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Posted 25 January 2013 - 10:50 AM

I finally just gave up and took up cloud watching as another hobby...I'm getting pretty good at it.....and I seem to have a lot more time for this hobby then I do astronomy.....and what's more....watching clouds is a LOT cheaper, in fact, it's free! :bigshock:






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