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Do you create an observing list before Observing?

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#26 fvandrog

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Posted 31 January 2013 - 04:38 AM

I often have a few new objects to check out but I never write anything down. My favorite objects are those that I have serendipitously "discovered" in my wanderings about the night sky.


That's the way I tend to do it as well. While looking for one of the couple of objects I have in mind coming over something 'curious' and then figuring out what it is.

#27 CounterWeight

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Posted 31 January 2013 - 08:54 AM

Lists and logs... love 'em. Not that I always follow the list - it's more a suggestion, seeing (and temps/comfort)can have a huge say in what actually works for the night, how long I stay on a particular object.

#28 REC

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Posted 31 January 2013 - 09:25 AM

I have "tonight's best" tours in my scope and then go to search stuff in a constellation. I do take notes as to what others are viewing in CN and keep a running list of interesting objects that I want to follow up with. That's the beauty of this forum:)

Bob

#29 Tom Clark

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Posted 03 February 2013 - 10:07 AM

No lists, no logs! Some of my friends may consider me to be the worst astronomer they know. Ok by me. After 30 years of observing I have yet to log the Messiers, let alone the Hershels, or any other observing list. Why? Just read many of the posts above.

"I am WORKING on this list or that list." Sorry, for way to many years I worked in a stressful career. After work, I just want to relax, and astronomy is one way to do that. A night under the stars can be a beautiful, relaxing experience, or you can turn it into another job. I prefer to enjoy myself as a beach bum does on the beach, except I prefer to be a star bum…

When away from home, attending star parties with our travel scopes, or doing sidewalk astronomy under the wonderful skies of many of our national parks, we enjoy showing strangers what the night sky looks like in large amateur telescopes. Sure, we occasionally get out the star charts and look up some new things to observe when we have some time to kill, but most of the time we do not plan ahead. When going to a strange sky, we first learn where the best part of the sky is, and stay in that area. No use spending time in the light polluted part…

At star parties we enjoy spending time with our scopes, but also enjoy walking around the observing fields, meeting other astronomers and sharing views with them. To me, it seems sad to see someone spending all their time 'working' on their observing list or programs. Each to their own.

At home in our observatory, Jeannie and I occasionally spend a night alone, exploring new places, but far more often we enjoy having friends over and sharing the universe with our big scope. Most astronomers never get a chance to objects in large telescopes, and we find it far more fun than looking at tiny dim smudges just so we can cross it off a list. Just not our thing.

Oh well! Each to their own. Enjoy the sky your way - just make sure you are relaxing and having a good time, not working your tail off. We have met way to many frustrated astronomers who are busy working…

#30 FirstSight

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Posted 03 February 2013 - 10:32 AM

"I am WORKING on this list or that list." Sorry, for way to many years I worked in a stressful career. After work, I just want to relax, and astronomy is one way to do that. A night under the stars can be a beautiful, relaxing experience, or you can turn it into another job. I prefer to enjoy myself as a beach bum does on the beach, except I prefer to be a star bum…


One of the stragest often-heard terms in amateur astronomy is "planetary work", e.g. someone will say "when I'm doing planetary work...". Whenever I hear another amateur stay that, I have to stifle the urge to make a snide reply: "You getting paid a dollar a minute for that?"

#31 FirstSight

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Posted 03 February 2013 - 10:42 AM

I'll often go out with a list in mind, sometimes even a thoughtfully prepared list compiled by scanning e.g. "Night Sky Observer's Guide", "Deep Sky Wonders" etc. for well-placed areas of the sky. However, like many of you, I'll often wander off-reservation long before I get halfway through my list, and start hunting and pecking for whatever's in the nearby region of where I'm already at, peeking at "Pocket Sky Atlas", and if I'm observing at home by myself, sometimes compromising night vision in one eye for the benefit of enough light I can actually see the chart well with. Or, I might get distracted by realizing some "shiny object" I hadn't thought of is well-placed, and go way over there from wherever I had just been. Now...um...where was I again? Dunno, well ok, let's lookee here at what might be nearby...

Anyhow, though I've sometimes gone out with earnest, disciplined intentions, I have never, ever actually finished a pre-compiled observing list, and not just because some of the objects turn out to not be visible under the given night's sky conditions. Call it astro-ADD, or whatever, but I'm easily distracted into looking at whatever strikes me at the moment might be an interesting idea.

#32 JimMo

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Posted 03 February 2013 - 01:09 PM

I feel the same way as Tom and Chris when I get a rare chance to go out to a dark site. Astronomy is an avocation, not an occupation. :grin:

#33 Madratter

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Posted 03 February 2013 - 01:50 PM

One of the stragest often-heard terms in amateur astronomy is "planetary work", e.g. someone will say "when I'm doing planetary work...". Whenever I hear another amateur stay that, I have to stifle the urge to make a snide reply: "You getting paid a dollar a minute for that?"


I guess you don't work on the house either. Work does not necessarily imply paid. Check the dictionary.

For example at http://dictionary.re...com/browse/work

#34 FirstSight

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Posted 03 February 2013 - 01:59 PM


One of the stragest often-heard terms in amateur astronomy is "planetary work", e.g. someone will say "when I'm doing planetary work...". Whenever I hear another amateur stay that, I have to stifle the urge to make a snide reply: "You getting paid a dollar a minute for that?"


I guess you don't work on the house either. Work does not necessarily imply paid. Check the dictionary.

For example at http://dictionary.re...com/browse/work


I don't do recreational work on the house. And amateur astronomers aren't doing any "maintenance" work on planets.

Nevertheless, I'm merely commenting on a curious bit of wording here. Amateur golfers "working" at their swing is a similar curious construction.

#35 Tony Flanders

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Posted 03 February 2013 - 04:54 PM

One of the stragest often-heard terms in amateur astronomy is "planetary work", e.g. someone will say "when I'm doing planetary work...". Whenever I hear another amateur stay that, I have to stifle the urge to make a snide reply: "You getting paid a dollar a minute for that?"


One of the most unfortunate things about our culture is that the word "work" has negative connotations. In fact, nothing is more pleasurable or gratifying than working in a way that you enjoy toward a goal that you value.

You're welcome to substitute the word "play" for "work," if you prefer. To my mind, they're virtually synonymous, especially at the highest levels.

Consider gardening. It's recreational by definition; when it's done for money it's called agriculture. And if gardening isn't work, I'd like to know what is!

#36 Dennis_S253

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Posted 03 February 2013 - 08:23 PM

So yes, I said I was working on the Messier's and Globulars. Maybe I should have said "something else". No I don't concider it work and I'm not in a hurry to get it done. It's something I wanted to do in 2013. I think I can set a goal for myself and still have fun doing it. I don't think whatever word was used, someone will have a negitive comment.
Tony, that gardening comment was very good. Yes it's hard work, but the reward of fresh vegetables. yum yum...Eating a fresh vine ripe tomato. There's nothing like it.

#37 Undermidnight

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Posted 05 February 2013 - 08:42 AM

Usually for me, I tend to pick a page in my pocket sky atlas and work down the page. Other times I just visit my favorite objects.

Jason

#38 csa/montana

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Posted 05 February 2013 - 11:16 AM

"I am WORKING on this list or that list." Sorry, for way to many years I worked in a stressful career. After work, I just want to relax, and astronomy is one way to do that. A night under the stars can be a beautiful, relaxing experience, or you can turn it into another job. I prefer to enjoy myself as a beach bum does on the beach, except I prefer to be a star bum…


One of the stragest often-heard terms in amateur astronomy is "planetary work", e.g. someone will say "when I'm doing planetary work...". Whenever I hear another amateur stay that, I have to stifle the urge to make a snide reply: "You getting paid a dollar a minute for that?"


I think we all use terms that may not be precise, according to the official meaning. Also, all of us do a lot of "work" in our everyday lives; some includes a paycheck; some necessary evils (cleaning, yard chores, etc.); and many are simply pleasure. We tag the pleasure ( inc. astronomy) as "work", when compared to sleeping on the couch. ;) I'm very tolerant of phrases or words others use; as I hope they are also tolerant of my mis-used words or terms. :)

#39 payner

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Posted 06 February 2013 - 01:13 PM

Well put Carol. Many (most) of us live in a crucible of activity in order to earn a living. At that time every i is dotted and t crossed. It is nice to come in here to Cloudy Nights and take the shoes off!

Best,
Randy

#40 MessierScott

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Posted 07 February 2013 - 02:22 PM

I always have an observing list. I'd hate to go out and have a perfect conditions night and by midnight be saying "What's next?"

I am usually working on a few Astronomical League programs or other personal projects.

And I make it a goal that every time I am out, I see at least 1 new object every night.

#41 Old Rookie

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Posted 10 February 2013 - 09:35 AM

I've used an observing list since I started this hobby. Early on I found that I needed the focus that a list provides. Most nights, I'll work from one or two Astronomical League lists and a list for whatever NGC/IC's are in the particular constellation that I'm observing in. I do save some time for "eye candy" throughout the night!!

#42 leviathan

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Posted 10 February 2013 - 02:48 PM

Definitely. Don’t even know what I would do last time under dark sky in grey zone of light pollution without one. But with it I managed to view quite a good number of planetary nebulas.

#43 lamplight

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Posted 10 February 2013 - 03:28 PM

Glad somebody posted this as I've been thinking about it. I'm very disorganized. I'm working on the Messiers just because. Probably why its a common beginners list: its teaching me about starhopping, reading charts and seeing. Other than that I really only document so that i can later learn moreinfo about what I've seen , so that's the only point of my lists. Im also curious to see how subsequent sitings will compare to other times. I only have certain views from my house (east some south), so its slow going through the constellations but that in itself is a nice speed to learn. Recently had a point were no other M's were available and I realized I'm wasting a seasons constellations!..so ill write down a couple items from the magazine or here but usually only a couple. Sometimes ill just go off of a couple pages of pocket sky atlas as someone else mentioned. I take my time . It's enjoyable. I mostly use sky safari as my chart and after I've seen an object I add it to a sky safari observing list just to keep track and then transfer/write notes elsewhere. I'm using the sky safari observing list kind of backwards, but due to my priorities it works perfectly that way, to keep track of what I've seen.

The last night out I did something very enjoyable: I started with a typical short goal list of two things : 119 tauri and vesta. Once I found the red star I saw some Messiers I'd seen before and was enjoying those clusters.. I setup the scope and a chair and then just started going through skysafari for objects right next to the last one I'd seen.. I spent a relatively comfortable 3 hours not moving the scope more than an inch or two.. In the cold this turned out to be a great benefit to getting and staying as comfortable as possible. In a couple more weeks Leo will be in a better position for me to knock off those faint messier galaxies and then see what else is visible through my LP. In the meantime ill be hitting the zenith more often :grin: and get this.. With that TWO object list of objects to see I forgot about vesta. Like I said, disorganized.

I do need a better way to keep notes though.. Typing bare fingered is no good in the cold so I write less notes.. I tried bringing out a Bluetooth keyboard for this once and while that was fine things were getting cluttered, decided for now at least, just noting the object and only writing observing notes if something significant or not too cold!

#44 toolmaker

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Posted 10 February 2013 - 03:28 PM

No list, just an objective. Generally, there will be a cookout or meal in, a few beers, maybe sit around the fireplace. Then I set up the scope, we all gather around and take a peek at whatever's peeked the interest (such as: comets, bright planets, venus eclipse, solar or lunar eclipse). Thats how I like to do it...you may all now label me as an event hack.

Cool things can happen. Recently,at my annual view jupiter and watch football gathering, I noticed a young girl kept going back for more time at the eye piece. She had a lot of questions, so I set up the binos and tripod and let her rip. She proceded to find the orion nebula and m31. Thats when she took over, started her own star party and proceded to show everyone the galaxy she'd discovered. Nights like that make my list.

#45 Dave74

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Posted 10 February 2013 - 07:31 PM

Typing bare fingered is no good in the cold so I write less notes.


Hey Matt, Wow! You've seen a lot! What about Dragon naturally speaking on your laptop or whatever?

#46 lamplight

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Posted 10 February 2013 - 08:32 PM

Hi.well, I guess, since I started.. Theres more from the fall before i started documenting. I go out a lot :), but im acctually slow at finding things still. yes good idea . actually a voice recorder is something I've been toying with trying.. Or paper :) will keep trying stuff.

#47 CharlesW

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Posted 10 February 2013 - 10:05 PM

I spent a little while with Stellarium today to make an obseving list for the next week. It was really quite easy and will probably save me some time at the scope. This was my first time doing it.

#48 leviathan

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Posted 11 February 2013 - 12:07 AM

Yeah, Stellarium is quite easy for this. You have different group of objects that you can filter and write down for yourself. I also write approx. time when given object can be viewed, instead of waiting for it for all night.

#49 bryguy27007

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Posted 21 February 2013 - 12:05 AM

Cool things can happen. Recently,at my annual view jupiter and watch football gathering, I noticed a young girl kept going back for more time at the eye piece. She had a lot of questions, so I set up the binos and tripod and let her rip. She proceded to find the orion nebula and m31. Thats when she took over, started her own star party and proceded to show everyone the galaxy she'd discovered. Nights like that make my list.


That's a very beautiful thing.

When I observe I never had a list or even an idea of what I would be looking for (besides Saturn). It can get a little stale/frustrating. Next time I go out I am going to have a list for sure. Great thread.

#50 Sorny

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Posted 03 March 2013 - 01:46 PM

No lists for me... I get enough lists of stuff to do at work, I have no time for such shenanigans during "me" time.

I'll usually hit some of the "best of" in SkySafari, and wander from there. I've seen much of the Messier list and a good chunk of the H400, but I couldn't tell you which ones I have not seen. It doesn't matter to me one bit.

I prefer leisure activity to be unstructured and unimpeded by artificial limitations such as lists. This time of year, my main objectives are to check out the Orion Nebula, and after that, whatever else is around.






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