Jump to content


Photo

Do you generally observe alone or with friends?

  • Please log in to reply
59 replies to this topic

#26 MikeRatcliff

MikeRatcliff

    Surveyor 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 1782
  • Joined: 12 Jun 2004
  • Loc: Redlands, CA

Posted 28 January 2013 - 11:12 PM

Safety in numbers. I only observe with other people for safety reasons around where I live.


Same with me (California desert), not counting the backyard which isn't that good for deep sky.

I enjoy the company too. We trade views on interesting stuff, and we help each other think of good stuff or in finding things. After a while we tend to drift into our own programs.

Mike

#27 Ptarmigan

Ptarmigan

    Lagopus lagopus

  • *****
  • Posts: 3781
  • Joined: 23 Sep 2004
  • Loc: Arctic

Posted 28 January 2013 - 11:34 PM

Generally alone.

#28 kfiscus

kfiscus

    Vanguard

  • *****
  • Posts: 2109
  • Joined: 09 Jul 2012
  • Loc: Albert Lea, MN, USA

Posted 28 January 2013 - 11:55 PM

Only with my observing buddy. We have the same DSO interests, seeing abilities, tastes in music.

#29 stevecoe

stevecoe

    "Astronomical Tourist"

  • *****
  • Posts: 4227
  • Joined: 24 Apr 2004
  • Loc: Arizona, USA

Posted 29 January 2013 - 01:53 AM

It used to be 50-50 but as time as gone on I have become more along the lines of 20% alone and 80% with members of my club. The Saguaro Astronomy Club is filled with many memebers who enjoy coming out under dark Arizona skies and enjoying the views and the other people. I understand what a rare thing that is in today's world.

We take a break around 11 PM, sit around someone's table and enjoy some chatting and cookies, then back to the sky. We have long ago learned not to play music to one another or flash white about.

Clear skies to us all;
Steve Coe

#30 aa6ww

aa6ww

    Viking 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 922
  • Joined: 23 Oct 2011
  • Loc: Sacramento, Calif.

Posted 29 January 2013 - 02:18 AM

This has become a very nice thread. I'm finding out that my viewing situation isn't much different than many out here. I honestly would rather do my observing with someone else if I could find someone similar to me who can really focus on the sky, not do lots of talking, and comes ready to observe for the entire night, but its next to impossible to find this type of person with experience and knowledge I want to observe with who can add to my knowledge and compliment what I'm doing, instead of always just needing help.

Some time ago, just for fun, I created a group on Facebook called Active Amateur Astronomers Worldwide, hoping I could get astronomers to have a real time link with other astronomers if they were out also. so they would be able to share their real time experiences with others doing the same thing at the same time. This has been successful during solar and lunar Eclipses, and when following events happening in the sky at any given time. Watching Jupiter's GRS transits, or occulations, or even during Solar flairs, seems to spark a flurry in this group, since many now have smart phones they have access to immediately.
I notice sometimes it even inspires people to get out and observe something that someone else says they are going to hunt for on any given night.
All of this is just to join like minded people together, but on a global scale who are out observing at the same time with others.
Hopefully this will pick up more interest when the weather warms up and people get excited about astronomy again this spring time. Anyone interested in this can request to join. I'm hoping with the new comets heading this way, having a real time link will become more valuable and usable in the months to come


...Ralph

#31 starrancher

starrancher

    Mercury-Atlas

  • *****
  • Posts: 2960
  • Joined: 09 Jun 2009
  • Loc: Northern Arizona

Posted 29 January 2013 - 03:14 AM

A man alone is easy prey . When observing at a remote location , I find it tough to give the eyepiece the attention that is needs for serious observation due to what could possibly sneaking up behind me . It really becomes a worthless venture to me because of that . Plus I enjoy a bit of comraderie with one or two fellow astronomers . Even if I was observing in the safety of a backyard , I still enjoy a bit of comraderie . If they flake out early , I'll keep at it till I'm ready to quit , but out in the boonies , the mountain lion can pounce without notice . Even if I'm packin a piece , I really can't concentrate well enough to make it worth while with the threat if a wildlife attack .

#32 Erix

Erix

    Toad Lily

  • *****
  • Administrators
  • Posts: 25758
  • Joined: 25 Dec 2004
  • Loc: Texas, USA

Posted 29 January 2013 - 11:25 AM

The majority of observing I do is in solitude from my rural location where I do my 'serious' observing.

About 5% of my observing is public outreach and even less, private star parties. In those instances, it has been more about sharing the views and trying out equipment rather than having the opportunity to concentrate on targets.

#33 Achernar

Achernar

    Cosmos

  • *****
  • Posts: 9013
  • Joined: 25 Feb 2006
  • Loc: Mobile, Alabama, USA

Posted 29 January 2013 - 12:23 PM

Most of my observing I do alone at home in the driveway, so large predators are not a concern. However, any two-legged predator would be very unwise to molest or threaten me, or anyone else for that matter because Alabama is a stand your ground state. A number of thugs learned that the hardway in Mobile since stand your ground laws came into effect. When I observe in remote areas with other, we all arrive and depart at the same time. That policy has prevented one of us from being in a dire situation due to car trouble in a remote area in the dead of night. Even if I go to a remote area armed, I do not remain there alone after everyone else leaves.

Taras

#34 David Knisely

David Knisely

    Hubble

  • *****
  • Posts: 15447
  • Joined: 19 Apr 2004
  • Loc: southeastern Nebraska

Posted 29 January 2013 - 03:33 PM

While I do a lot of serious observing alone, I often leave a message for a friend of mine in a nearby town and he will show up if he can. We observe a lot together, as his 8 inch f/5 complements my 14 inch f/4.6 for observing larger objects that won't fit in the field of my scope. In addition, he also means one other person for security purposes (2nd vehicle, 2nd cell phone, and other considerations). Clear skies to you.

#35 hbanich

hbanich

    Apollo

  • *****
  • Posts: 1098
  • Joined: 17 Jun 2005
  • Loc: Portland, Oregon

Posted 29 January 2013 - 04:11 PM

I'm lucky to share observing styles and attitude with my good friend Chuck, and we’ve observed together probably 80% of the time for the past 22 years. I like taking breaks and talking about what we're observing and inviting each other for a look at a particularly notable object. We often notice slightly different details and so we both end up seeing a little more than we might have by ourselves. Mostly we’re just comfortable with each other.

I always observed alone until 1991 when I went to my first start party and discovered the joys of observing with other knowledgeable people, many of whom are still my friends. That’s not to say I don’t find some people irritating or on a different enough wavelength that we don’t get along very well. I’m sure there are those that don’t want to observe with me either! Different strokes.

When I do observe by myself now the first thing I notice is Chuck's absence. Part of that is that I suddenly feel more exposed to the real and imagined dangers of the night but for the most part I miss his excellent company. I do enjoy observing alone but, for me, having a good friend to share the sky with is priceless.

#36 peter k

peter k

    Ranger 4

  • -----
  • Posts: 325
  • Joined: 03 Feb 2007

Posted 29 January 2013 - 09:57 PM

When I did belong to a club the only advantage was the darker site that they had. Otherwise, it seemed that observing nights were social nights more than anything.


Thanks a lot, Doug! Well, at least I enjoyed your company at Star Hill back around the turn of the century. ;)

But seriously, I enjoy observing with other serious observers. Have learned a lot of stuff from observing with the likes of CNers Steve Gotlieb, George Golitzin among many others. (I might have even learned something from Doug once.) My group observing nights usually consist primarily of quiet solo time at the scope punctuated by occasional discussion of obscure or unusual objects, view comparisons, and equipment kibitzing.

These days I mostly observe solo though, primarily because most other Big Island observers insist on setting up in the tourist-headlight-polluted Mauna Kea Visitor's Information Station parking lot, while I prefer the darker, touristless dirt site across the road.

#37 Astrodj

Astrodj

    Viking 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 576
  • Joined: 24 Aug 2011
  • Loc: Missouri

Posted 30 January 2013 - 12:36 AM

"This has become a very nice thread. I'm finding out that my viewing situation isn't much different than many out here. I honestly would rather do my observing with someone else if I could find someone similar to me who can really focus on the sky, not do lots of talking, and comes ready to observe for the entire night, but its next to impossible to find this type of person with experience and knowledge I want to observe with who can add to my knowledge and compliment what I'm doing, instead of always just needing help. "

Ralph,

You sound like my kind of observing pal. In my forty plus years of observing I have been fortunate to have a few cherished observing buddies. A typical night would be each of us with our own set up, usually very different from each other equipment-wise, each with a separate observing plan.

Over the course of the night we would occasionally share views that were worthy of interrupting the other person's activities, otherwise we would just kind of do our own thing. Sometimes we would target the same object and compare views, but mostly we would pursue our own agenda.

Often times we would spend hours and maybe exchange a dozen words, all the while enjoying each others company immensely.

Other than that type of situation, I prefer to be alone, or with my two younger boys who have developed an interest which I try to keep stoked.

Too bad Missouri is so far away!

#38 Doug Culbertson

Doug Culbertson

    Soyuz

  • *****
  • Posts: 3992
  • Joined: 06 Jan 2005

Posted 30 January 2013 - 09:28 AM


When I did belong to a club the only advantage was the darker site that they had. Otherwise, it seemed that observing nights were social nights more than anything.


Thanks a lot, Doug! Well, at least I enjoyed your company at Star Hill back around the turn of the century. ;)

But seriously, I enjoy observing with other serious observers. Have learned a lot of stuff from observing with the likes of CNers Steve Gotlieb, George Golitzin among many others. (I might have even learned something from Doug once.) My group observing nights usually consist primarily of quiet solo time at the scope punctuated by occasional discussion of obscure or unusual objects, view comparisons, and equipment kibitzing.

These days I mostly observe solo though, primarily because most other Big Island observers insist on setting up in the tourist-headlight-polluted Mauna Kea Visitor's Information Station parking lot, while I prefer the darker, touristless dirt site across the road.


Hey Peter! PM sent.

#39 Alvin Huey

Alvin Huey

    Mercury-Atlas

  • *****
  • Posts: 2757
  • Joined: 17 Oct 2005
  • Loc: NorCal

Posted 30 January 2013 - 11:14 AM

Those who know me...I observe very deep and with at least one friend when at a remote site. Safety in numbers. I use my 22" f/4 at remote locations. I used to observe myself and always pack. Never know. I had one close call 20 years ago...that is enough. Not worth it. I will never observe alone at a remote site.

When I do observe with friends, we do chat and once in a while share views. Then we just observe. We go out until 1 (winter) to 3AM (summer). I have a life outside of astronomy, which is a very small part of my life, and need to be active the next morning, so I don't observe all night unless at a star party or have absolutely nothing planned the next morning. It is what it is.

But in the backyard, I always observe myself as the skies aren't that great (NELM 4.5-5.0) and it is not worth anyone's time to run over to my house. I use a 6" refractor at home.

Ralph...Very nice setup - I like it. :) I may adopt some of your ideas for my backyard.

#40 Jeff Morgan

Jeff Morgan

    Fly Me to the Moon

  • *****
  • Posts: 5573
  • Joined: 28 Sep 2003
  • Loc: Prescott, AZ

Posted 30 January 2013 - 01:43 PM

A man alone is easy prey . When observing at a remote location , I find it tough to give the eyepiece the attention that is needs for serious observation due to what could possibly sneezing up behind me . It really becomes a worthless venture to me because of that . Plus I enjoy a bit of comraderie with one or two fellow astronomers . Even if I was observing in the safety of a backyard , I still enjoy a bit of comraderie . If they flake out early , I'll keep at it till I'm ready to quit , but out in the boonies , the mountain lion can pounce without notice . Even if I'm packin a piece , I really can't concentrate well enough to make it worth while with the threat if a wildlife attack .



Good point. I live in northern Arizona which is both mountain lion and bear country. Last year there were three bear attacks near Payson. A human alone is a possible meal, two humans are a threat.

And of course for us near the border, human and drug traffickers are a real possibility, especially in the low desert. For those of you thinking that idea is paranoid, go to the Saguaro Astronomy club website and read the cautions on remote sites and observing.

Then there is the medical aspect. A couple of summers ago I had an accident where a portable pier with 275 pounds of equipment toppled over. Without the leverage to upright the pier, I threw myself under the mount to save the equipment. My leg took the impact from the equatorial head, just above the knee. I was quite fortunate to have friends to help get the equipment off of me (and equally lucky my leg was not broken). And with friends present, I was able to observe through their scopes until the swelling and the pain got he better of me. ;)

I'll go alone but much prefer the company of a few friends.

Attached Files



#41 azure1961p

azure1961p

    Voyager 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 10235
  • Joined: 17 Jan 2009
  • Loc: USA

Posted 31 January 2013 - 12:00 AM

Almost always alone but a cool neighbor drops in now and again. I love it - her enthusiasm is wild and reminds me how special the pursuit truly is. This summer I want my daughter to have more ocular time.

Ralph - hope your buddies don't read that post!!!!!

Pete

#42 Erix

Erix

    Toad Lily

  • *****
  • Administrators
  • Posts: 25758
  • Joined: 25 Dec 2004
  • Loc: Texas, USA

Posted 01 February 2013 - 12:07 AM

...her enthusiasm is wild and reminds me how special the pursuit truly is. ..!

Pete


This is one of the things I love most when sharing the views with others. ;)

#43 star drop

star drop

    contra contrail

  • *****
  • Moderators
  • Posts: 70303
  • Joined: 02 Feb 2008
  • Loc: Snow Plop, WNY

Posted 01 February 2013 - 12:41 AM

I have observed alone for years, all of it within seventy five feet of our house or closer. Since joining Cloudy Nights I have had an observing buddy much of the time.

#44 Gary Riley

Gary Riley

    Mariner 2

  • -----
  • Posts: 295
  • Joined: 01 Dec 2011
  • Loc: White Bluff, TN

Posted 01 February 2013 - 01:28 AM

I generally observe by myself.

#45 WaterMaster

WaterMaster

    Moat Keeper

  • *****
  • Administrators
  • Posts: 9281
  • Joined: 17 Feb 2010
  • Loc: Southeast Idaho, USA

Posted 01 February 2013 - 01:56 AM

I enjoy observing with others a few times a year at star parties, but a major part of this hobby for me is solitude.

#46 jeff heck

jeff heck

    Apollo

  • *****
  • Posts: 1270
  • Joined: 16 Jan 2006
  • Loc: stl,mo.

Posted 01 February 2013 - 03:51 PM

The more the merrier I always say, but a night of solitude under the stars ranks high on my list of favorite things. :grin:

#47 Old Rookie

Old Rookie

    Messenger

  • -----
  • Posts: 459
  • Joined: 05 Sep 2008
  • Loc: North Central Ohio

Posted 01 February 2013 - 06:03 PM

I can focus more when only 2 or 3 friends are around observing also. More than that like on a club night and it's a waste of time. A lot of our members like to look through the larger scopes when someone else is driving. I don't mind spending a little time providing views but before I know it, I've blown a couple of hours on some Messiers rather than going deep off of some list. I only observe two or three times a month so my observing time is valuable to me. As for the safety factor, one does what one can to be prepared.

#48 IVM

IVM

    Apollo

  • -----
  • Posts: 1056
  • Joined: 07 Jan 2008
  • Loc: USA

Posted 01 February 2013 - 09:54 PM

Interesting thread.

My sites Spruce Knob (WV) and Cherry Springs (PA) are civilized compared with what I hear about desert and western mountain sites. There are some black bears roaming around at night and an occasional rowdy company (rarely). The drunks never actually molested me and with my experience I judged them totally innocuous if distracting; the bears seem far less predictable. In a sense it is a decision being alone at night in such areas, because as a biologist I think that chances of effectively resisting a deliberate, predatory nighttime bear attack (this is different from a daytime attack that for the bear is usually a knee-jerk reaction to a human intruder) are slim regardless of what you pack. The fact that nothing like that has happened here probably in the last 100 years does not bring solace considering that it may simply reflect the fact that nobody here has been out alone after dark. I don't remember when I last developed real jitters, although it surely did happen when I started some years ago. The solution then was to play Herschel's music, at some volume. This was not so much to keep the wildlife at bay - music theoretically cuts both ways in this regard - as to drown out the paranoia-inducing sounds of the night forest and to feel better just from asserting my presence.

I enjoy solitude, and on other occasions I enjoy having a few serious observers (or at least quiet campers) around. I am less often alone now that there is another dedicated amateur observing at my site even off-season. We talk and share views a couple times a night, and that is great.

#49 azure1961p

azure1961p

    Voyager 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 10235
  • Joined: 17 Jan 2009
  • Loc: USA

Posted 01 February 2013 - 10:42 PM

Oh I agree - music , radio etc. even the news is actually rather relaxing. There's a different pace about those nights in the removed areas. I've got the cautious thing too but more for humans and inquisitive troopers. I find that locating a truly undisturbed spot is in competition with drunks and lovers lane. I never kno if I truly found the right spot or I'm due for an intrusion. The police are friendly always though - lol - even at 3am.

Pete

#50 Astro One

Astro One

    Sputnik

  • *****
  • Posts: 39
  • Joined: 20 Feb 2013
  • Loc: San Bernardino County, CA.

Posted 09 March 2013 - 10:11 PM

Generally alone. About 30% of the time with others. I do this in remote desert locations in California. At my house there is lots of LP and with a small back yard there isn't a decent view of the sky. I admire the guy in Sacramento that has his back yard beautifully set up! The posts here have been very interesting reading, and I've learned some things. I'd love to have one or two readily available observing friends. I do belong to a local club and get out with fellow club members occasionally. Problem with this for me is my local observing friends are often only available on Friday or Saturday nights. As I am retired and can go on any night I often go alone. In fact, tomorrow I am leaving for three nights at Eureka Dunes in Death Valley. I am all packed except my ice chest. Yes, it is a bit risky but I go well prepared. In my past I've done a lot of backpacking and some of it alone, I always prefer company but not enough to go to a big campground with the potential of local LP, like RV'ers who want to burn an outside light all night long and walk around with white light flashlights. This trip to Eureka Dunes is pretty exciting to me, I have been to Mahogany Flats, also in Death Valley, numerous times, but the Eureka Dunes are in a black zone, rather than gray. Also, I plan to hike to the top of the dunes. About the only non-human predators in our desert areas are the rattlesnakes and scorpions, and they aren't out until the weather warms up. People are generally more dangerous than the flora and fauna. I love the solitude of being out alone, but if your reading this and live in my area don't hesitate to contact me.
Steve






Cloudy Nights LLC
Cloudy Nights Sponsor: Astronomics