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Joy of Visual Observing

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#1 dcriner

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Posted 12 July 2013 - 08:35 PM

I have never gotten into astro photography. I enjoy simple backyard observing, primarily of the solar system, and sharing views with friends, neighbors, and neighbor kids. It must be a quirk of human nature, but I could show people the most exquisite photos of the moon, Saturn, etc. - and I wouldn't get near the response as when they look through the telescope. I can't explain it, but I feel the same way.

#2 desertstars

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Posted 12 July 2013 - 09:17 PM

I think it's the doing, the inter-action with the telescope itself, and with an enthusiastic observer. Half of any outreach event is the sight of the telescopes pointed to the heavens and the eagerness of their owners to share. A field full of scopes is an impressive sight, and being allowed to look through them is exciting for a person new to the experience. For myself, I've never gotten over the thrill of finding and seeing these things for myself.

Imagers I know express similar sentiments, from their end of the continuum. :cool:

#3 MikeBOKC

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Posted 12 July 2013 - 09:57 PM

While some signs like the heavy imager-oriented ads in S&T and other marketing tactics would suggest that a lot of astronomers are heavily or exclusively into imaging, I suspect far far more are primarily or exclusively visual observers. I know in the local club it appears to me anyway to be at least 70-30 visual to imagers. My rough bet would be that a similar percentage holds true here on CN.

#4 star drop

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Posted 12 July 2013 - 10:08 PM

Purely visual for me. I like to see the real thing.

#5 Jim_Smith

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Posted 12 July 2013 - 10:32 PM

Always visual even i had the option for photo ($) :) Jim

#6 Sorny

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Posted 13 July 2013 - 12:45 AM

Pictures are pretty, but there is something special about seeing something with the ol' MK1 eyeballs.

#7 derangedhermit

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Posted 13 July 2013 - 02:22 AM

Photos can be awe-inspiring, and getting them right takes real skill and talent.

My wife and I are visual only, to the extent that I say the term "visual observing" is redundant. Observing is observing; imaging is imaging.
:dob:

#8 FJA

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Posted 13 July 2013 - 02:43 AM

Purely visual for me too. I appreciate great images, like everyone else, but imaging's too fiddly for me, I had a go at it a few years ago and after a couple of hours fiddling about with the telescope, the CCD camera and the computer, I was ready to chuck the CCD and the computer in a skip - and probably would have done only they belonged to our local astro society! Put simply, I don't have the necessary patience required to be a successful imager. I love daytime photography and wide angle night sky shots with my DSLR but dedicated astro-imaging's not my thing.

There's something about purely looking through the eyepiece...I can't explain it but there's a "magic", for want of a better word, about it that I don't get when looking at the object on a computer screen.

#9 derangedhermit

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Posted 13 July 2013 - 03:24 AM

The universe is an awesome distillery of wonder. Deep space is a giant joy-seasoned barrel therein, flavored with grace and peace. As photons leave a sun's surface they begin to steep: miniscule transient flashes marinating in glee. Once appropriately aged, perhaps ten thousand years for a showy open cluster, or ten million years, more suitable for the majestic swirl of a galaxy, each tiny drop is delivered to one of the waiting watchful. Our uplifted eyes imbibe this heavenly elixir, and the essences dissolve into our minds and hearts, forever changed and grateful.

#10 Kraus

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Posted 13 July 2013 - 06:40 AM


I too did astrophotography. Guiding, focusing, film processing, etc. were quite the task. I just stopped. I was so wrapped in the astrophotography thingy, I missed an object's real beauty.

So I observe.

#11 Greyhaven

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Posted 13 July 2013 - 07:06 AM

Faith
I have to agree visual observing is the most satisfying form of enjoying the night sky. I do some DSLR imaging but lack the funds needed for quality images. That means most of my images are now just used as inserts in my observing logs,solar system and Messier objects that can be done with short exposures. I would use sketches but there is a distinct lack of talent in that area.
Be Well
Grey

#12 omahaastro

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Posted 13 July 2013 - 07:13 AM

<like />

#13 Qwickdraw

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Posted 13 July 2013 - 07:32 AM

Let's compare it to watching a good football game on the television or actually going to the game. Which is more exciting and interesting?

#14 kfiscus

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Posted 13 July 2013 - 07:47 AM

Taking the football game analogy another step.

Or watching the game vs. getting a great still photo from the sidelines. Both could be a person's choice and thrill but it's going to be hard to do both at the same time.

#15 karstenkoch

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Posted 13 July 2013 - 10:07 AM

I'm a 99% visual observer. Sometimes I dabble in widefield photography just to see what happens. Rarely do I impress myself with my images. But, I can stare at a double star in one of my scopes for a long time in awe. And, I can also stare at some of the amazing images taken by others for a long time in awe. Regardless of whether you choose to image with your retina or observe with your CMOS, in either case we are doing very similar things: enjoying the beauties of the cosmos, participating in their existence with our awareness of it, and pondering our place in it all. That's what unites observers, imagers, naked eye astronomers of past millenia, and future travelers to the objects of our attention. And, if I could be one of those travelers, I would want to look, cause my images just wouldn't do it justice :)

#16 Mike B

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Posted 13 July 2013 - 03:30 PM

There's something about purely looking through the eyepiece...I can't explain it but there's a "magic", for want of a better word, about it that I don't get when looking at the object on a computer screen.

You mean the "looking glass", Alice? I quite agree! :ubetcha:

...forever changed and grateful.


Nicely put, Lee.

I sometimes observe alongside a couple of "imagers". What they do i find enjoyable... prob'ly more so 'cuz THEY are doin' it instead of me. When their rig is clickin' & hummin', they'll come over to MY scope to do some visual.

All-in-all, a very fun experience!
:photo:

#17 nmitsthefish

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Posted 13 July 2013 - 06:13 PM

The way I feel is that for imagers, having a collection of great captures is similar to those who keep photo albums of their life, their children, or their friends. It's nice to go through them all and think what a great shot I remember that night. I would love to have a great setup for imaging but I'm just getting started and I need to really get to know my "friends" before worrying about taking pictures of them. I wanna be able to tell others what they look like, where they live, and how they make me feel before having photo shoots with them =). Ok so if my personification of the heavens is kinda creepy please let me know so I can seek help.

#18 Starman1

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Posted 13 July 2013 - 06:23 PM

There is something about sitting at the scope and looking through an eyepiece at an object in the field that lets me know I am looking at a magnified image of a small section of the night sky, and I love the night sky.

The night is a very special time: the air feels different, and the quietness of the world is almost palpable. If the sky is clear at the same time, and you are under dark skies, that special experience just continues all the way up.
If you're lucky, the 3-dimensionality of the Universe you can see comes through.

I also like the fleeting nature of what you see at the very limit of your vision. The very faintest image comes in and out so you want to be looking when it winks in. We observe in an art gallery of natural objects--one in which the halls are filled with smoke. Sometimes, the halls are nearly clear and we see farther and fainter, and more clearly, the artworks of the natural universe. Other times, the halls are filled with wispy smoke and we barely make out the details and features we saw the last time we were here. That variability makes us want to continually experience the night sky anew. On that one night when nature has ripped away all the haze between us and the universe, we want to be there to see it.

And no two objects ever look alike. There is always something different. With over 11,000 objects in my log, I do have many with similar descriptions; or even the same because my notes tend to be cryptic. But when I go back and re-view the objects, they always impress me as being different than I remember, or than my notes described.
I keep running into new "Wow, look at that!" objects all the time. When does that stop? I don't know. I won't live long enough to see every object visible in my scope, but I would like to have a "favorites" list that doesn't keep getting continually larger. Or maybe I don't.

Why don't many people enjoy the view, and switch eyepieces to see if the object looks different at different powers, or switch filters for the same reason? Why don't they appreciate the grandeur of looking at a small faint spot the light from which started on its journey to use when all life on Earth was unicellular and in the ocean? Or a bright "star" which is really a quasar, whose light started toward Earth before there was life here?

One night I suddenly got the idea of distance in my mind as I saw the bulge in the Milky Way extending to alpha and beta Librae, and viscerally felt the enormous size and distance to that bulge. For a brief moment I was a speck of dust on a small ball of rock orbiting a small star an immense distance from the core of the galaxy. It was enough for me to spend the rest of my life looking for that same feeling again. It happened when I was 12, and had my first scope, and sat outside by a lake learning the constellations with a paper planisphere. I had read all about the Milky Way and how big it was and how deep into it the Messier objects were that I was observing with my 4.25" scope.

I knew where home was. And it was under the stars, looking up.

#19 gunfighter48

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Posted 13 July 2013 - 06:53 PM

I'm a visual observer also. I can't afford to do AP!! I'm an equipment geek, never met a eyepiece, mount, tripod, etc. that I didn't like. If I got into AP I'd want the best equipment I could buy but couldn't afford, and I would buy it anyway!

But like the rest of you I'm awed by the views thru my scopes. Saturn, the Moon, Jupiter, Mars, Trifid nebula, Andromeda, are thrilling thru the eyepiece in real time. There's just nothing that beats real time observing IMO.

One evening after work I had setup my Meade 2080 for a coworker to look thru. I thought Jupiter was up that evening but it turned out to be Saturn. My coworker was just astonished that he could see Saturn at all thru my scope. His comment was "you have this painted on your eyepiece don't you". The seeing was so steady that night the we were able to see the Enke division!! A photo just wouldn't have had the same impact on him or me.

I love looking at astro photos but it's cheaper to buy magazines and books for that than buying more expensive equipment. There needs to be a 12 step program for equipment geeks!!!!!!!!!!!

#20 microstar

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Posted 13 July 2013 - 06:57 PM

Well I'm 95% into imaging. I do find comparisons between imaging and "just looking at pictures" a bit condescending though I'm afraid. For some of us imaging captures as much of a sense of wonder as the eloquent expressions of the joy visual observing. It's not like snapping pics on your phone. After hours collecting light and calibration frames, processing, and coaxing an image out of the shadows you know that small wonder of the universe in a way that is akin to how an artist knows her work in a way that no casual observer can experience. Visual or imagers can experience the grace of wonder in various ways and this unites us much more than separates us. I'm for allowing each observer, visual or Mallincam or DSLR or long exposure CCD, to find their own path to the wonders of the universe.
...Keith

#21 nmitsthefish

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Posted 13 July 2013 - 07:09 PM

After hours collecting light and calibration frames, processing, and coaxing an image out of the shadows you know that small wonder of the universe in a way that is akin to how an artist knows her work in a way that no casual observer can experience.


I like that analogy and I totally agree, I hope my post didnt sound condescending either. Perhaps I should've compared it to an artists portfolio as well as a photo album, which, in the art of photography, is synonymous anyway.

#22 CelestronDaddy

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Posted 13 July 2013 - 07:26 PM

I've been a visual astronomer since the 1970's. I get real enjoyment from just observing and spending time eyeball to eyepiece looking at all types of objects. Even enjoy binocular and naked eye astronomy ....

#23 nmitsthefish

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Posted 13 July 2013 - 07:29 PM

http://youtu.be/pV58YptFTK0

#24 CelestronDaddy

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Posted 13 July 2013 - 08:18 PM

Impressive video :grin:

#25 Otto Piechowski

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Posted 13 July 2013 - 08:31 PM

I continue to observe visually for two reasons.

When we observe the stars with our eyes, we are consuming star light; the electro-magnetic energy of the light strikes the eye and is changed into the electrical chemical energy of the eye/brain system; turning into an image within the brain. We are changing one form of stored energy into another form of stored energy, just as when the apple is eaten and digested. We are actually consuming light.

The light from a distant star is created within that star, is part of the substance of that star. So when we observe the stars with our eyes, we are touching the star.






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