Jump to content


Photo

Which equipment is "king"?

  • Please log in to reply
70 replies to this topic

#1 jrbarnett

jrbarnett

    Eyepiece Hooligan

  • *****
  • Posts: 19842
  • Joined: 28 Feb 2006
  • Loc: Petaluma, CA

Posted 08 October 2013 - 02:25 PM

The telescope? The eyepiece? The experience and eyesight of the user? The camera? The mount?

All good answers, but sadly all incorrect.

Fuel is king.

In these days of expanding light pollution and dwindling dark sky resources, the surest way to increase the performance of any telescope is to load it into a vehicle and drive to an observing site at least two darkness zones darker than your usual observing site.

For the price of an Ethos the average astronomer in North America could fund travel for a dozen or two dark sky trips, provided he or she doesn't mind camping out.

Save for targets that require resolution, going darker with what you have is very much like going bigger and staying put. If you observe under magnitude 4.5 skies as I do, going to Magnitude 6.5 skies makes an HUGE difference on what is seen. A 12" at home is given a run for its money by a mere 8" at such a dark sky site.

Perhaps it makes more sense to spend less and obtain a smaller telescope, and apply the savings to dark sky travel to extract the most out of that equipment?

- Jim

#2 Astrojensen

Astrojensen

    Fly Me to the Moon

  • *****
  • Posts: 5082
  • Joined: 05 Oct 2008
  • Loc: Bornholm, Denmark

Posted 08 October 2013 - 02:46 PM

Sad, but true.


Clear skies!
Thomas, Denmark

#3 csrlice12

csrlice12

    Voyager 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 10447
  • Joined: 22 May 2012
  • Loc: Denver, CO

Posted 08 October 2013 - 03:33 PM

I've always said the gas filter is the best piece of equipment I have.....

#4 Crow Haven

Crow Haven

    Apollo

  • -----
  • Posts: 1309
  • Joined: 09 Jan 2009
  • Loc: Oregon USA

Posted 08 October 2013 - 03:43 PM

This is always true! I will only add that having the larger aperture available every night at a less dark but permanent site has enabled a lot of great observing, out-manuvering the fickle weather deities which have a way of ruining planned dark sky trips. I love my Lumicon UHC & OIII filters! :grin:
---Maya

#5 Eddgie

Eddgie

    Voyager 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 12492
  • Joined: 01 Feb 2006

Posted 08 October 2013 - 03:55 PM

Yes, this mirrors my own finding and something I have mentioned many times before.

Even in my Central Austin home, I did a lot of productive observing with my C14.

Using a 3mm or 4mm exit pupil helps keep the sky pretty dark, and I have observed hundreds and hundreds of objects from my back yard.

True, all of them look better under dark sky conditions. Not debating that.

But driving a 90 minutes out of the city to get to dark sky conditions is not something I want to do with the frequency I observe.

I can roll out and align my Go-to dob in less than 10 minutes and be observing before you can load a small mount, telescope, eyepiece cases, battery packs, and all of that other stuff you need.

I don't have to dig holes in the desert to use the bathroom. I can go right inside.

And sometimes, I like a little vodka with my stars, so no need to worry about warping while drinking.

I used to read that there was no point in having a big telescope un brighter sky conditions. It used to be common for retailers to say that in their brochures.

Thankfully, they no longer say that, and as I have said for so many years now, aperture is your friend.

#6 brianb11213

brianb11213

    Cosmos

  • *****
  • Posts: 9047
  • Joined: 25 Feb 2009
  • Loc: 55.215N 6.554W

Posted 08 October 2013 - 03:58 PM

Fuel is king.

Umm, yeah, ideally (to minimise observing time wastage) live at a good observing site & commute to shops / job.

You can save a great deal on fuel price by driving a sensible vehicle. It's not hard these days to find comfortable vehicles with reasonable load carrying capability & performance that will still deliver 60 mpg or more on long runs.

#7 Aquarist

Aquarist

    Apollo

  • -----
  • Posts: 1041
  • Joined: 27 Aug 2012
  • Loc: Illinois

Posted 08 October 2013 - 04:09 PM

Well, for my wife and I, traveling to dark sites is infeasible. So we built an observatory in our backyard and we can be up and running in under 10 minutes. When the weather is good, we are good to observe. Of course, during the day, the sun is also a great target.

Still, in the long run we may also get a dob and wheel it out into the back on the patio (probably would not fit in the observatory) so we can increase aperture. Sure dark site viewing would be great . . . no argument there.

#8 csa/montana

csa/montana

    Den Mama

  • *****
  • Posts: 86111
  • Joined: 14 May 2005
  • Loc: montana

Posted 08 October 2013 - 04:11 PM

Fuel is king.



In my case, no. I'm quite content observing right here at home with SQM readings of averaging 21.50/21.70. I have no desire to observe elsewhere. :)

#9 bobhen

bobhen

    Viking 1

  • -----
  • Posts: 668
  • Joined: 25 Jun 2005

Posted 08 October 2013 - 04:38 PM


For more and more people, the video camera (Mallincam, Stellcam 3, and others) are or will be king.

I live just outside Philadelphia, PA. It's impractical for me to travel to a decently dark sky. But my video camera allows me to not only continue to do deep sky observing (thank goodness) but to "see" objects and details that would require a huge telescope and very dark sky.

I think my situation will become the norm for a lot of astronomers in the future.

Bob

#10 faltered

faltered

    Viking 1

  • -----
  • Posts: 617
  • Joined: 01 Apr 2005

Posted 08 October 2013 - 05:02 PM

Interesting post. I agree with you. I really only enjoy this hobby from dark sky. Backyard viewing for me is getting really old, and not as enjoyable. I think sometimes I only do that to say I am still in the hobby and justify the equipment.

Nothing like dark sky. Its king. So yep, Fuel is king!

#11 GeneT

GeneT

    Ely Kid

  • *****
  • Posts: 12632
  • Joined: 07 Nov 2008
  • Loc: South Texas

Posted 08 October 2013 - 05:20 PM

The ideal would be to live in a dark sky site. Next best would be to have an observatory and some simple living quarters at a dark sky site, and drive to it on weekends, and holidays. Most of the time I have to observe in Mag. 4.8-5.0 skies. Due to my schedule it is difficult to get to the really dark sites.

#12 Gastrol

Gastrol

    Apollo

  • -----
  • Posts: 1193
  • Joined: 04 Nov 2011
  • Loc: los angeles

Posted 08 October 2013 - 06:10 PM

Fuel, for both my vehicle and myself, and some essential sleeping gear.

#13 Widespread

Widespread

    Viking 1

  • -----
  • Posts: 635
  • Joined: 11 May 2011
  • Loc: Bowling Green, Kentucky

Posted 08 October 2013 - 06:40 PM

For best views, Fuel is king. But for frequency of viewing, 'tis Convenience who wears the crown.

#14 Jon Isaacs

Jon Isaacs

    ISS

  • *****
  • Posts: 43441
  • Joined: 16 Jun 2004
  • Loc: San Diego and Boulevard, CA

Posted 08 October 2013 - 07:29 PM

Fuel is king.



In my case, no. I'm quite content observing right here at home with SQM readings of averaging 21.50/21.70. I have no desire to observe elsewhere. :)


:waytogo:

Fuel is not king,fuel is cheap...

Time is king... time to observe...

Jon

#15 mountain monk

mountain monk

    Surveyor 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 1853
  • Joined: 06 Nov 2009
  • Loc: Grand Teton National Park

Posted 08 October 2013 - 08:29 PM

Time to observe under dark skies.

Dark skies.

Jack

#16 blueman

blueman

    Photon Catcher

  • *****
  • Posts: 5308
  • Joined: 20 Jul 2007
  • Loc: California

Posted 08 October 2013 - 09:16 PM

Well, with the cost of my equipment, I will not quibble over a little gas. But I refuse to drive long distances to get a possible good night.

I am fortunate enough to have a private club site 56 miles from home that I go to each month. Not the absolute best, but overall a good situation.
Blueman

#17 Jon Isaacs

Jon Isaacs

    ISS

  • *****
  • Posts: 43441
  • Joined: 16 Jun 2004
  • Loc: San Diego and Boulevard, CA

Posted 08 October 2013 - 09:33 PM

Well, with the cost of my equipment, I will not quibble over a little gas. But I refuse to drive long distances to get a possible good night.

I am fortunate enough to have a private club site 56 miles from home that I go to each month. Not the absolute best, but overall a good situation.
Blueman


Floyd:

I am happy to drive long distances to locations with pristine dark skies.. But I am happy to make the journey regardless of whether the night sky warrants the trip.. The places themselves, the trip itself, these are sufficient.

My wife and I are fortunate to have 4 acres in the mountains with a small house and a good sized garage. It's 70 miles from home, the skies not the darkest but the Milky Way with it's branches into Ophiuchus blaze away overhead. It's a nice place to be even when the skies are not clear..

Jon

#18 BKBrown

BKBrown

    Gemini

  • *****
  • Posts: 3212
  • Joined: 22 Aug 2009
  • Loc: Northern Virginia, USA

Posted 08 October 2013 - 09:51 PM

Since the title of this thread is Which equipment is "king", and since I spend 90% of my astro time in my red sky backyard - I would say a CCD mono camera loaded up with narrowband filters. One can image under light polluted skies, be they man made or lunar induced, and still get stunning images of the night sky. And imaging will always show me more than I will ever see through the eyepiece, even at the darkest dark site with my equipment. I love visual astronomy, but my home location and steadily declining observing conditions drove me toward the decision to focus on lunar and planetary work, splitting doubles...and imaging. Good thing I really enjoy those options :grin:

Clear Skies,
Brian

#19 EFT

EFT

    Vendor - Deep Space Products

  • *****
  • Vendors
  • Posts: 2544
  • Joined: 07 May 2007
  • Loc: Phoenix, AZ

Posted 08 October 2013 - 11:05 PM

Thus the growing popularity of remote observatories for imagers. Arizona and New Mexico are hot spots for these but I recently read about one in the western foothills of the Sierras and wow were those lots expensive. For imagers, remote observatories and the equipment to operate them may become the king.

#20 csrlice12

csrlice12

    Voyager 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 10447
  • Joined: 22 May 2012
  • Loc: Denver, CO

Posted 09 October 2013 - 07:29 AM

Fuel is king.



In my case, no. I'm quite content observing right here at home with SQM readings of averaging 21.50/21.70. I have no desire to observe elsewhere. :)


But we gotta get to your place somehow...look at those SQM readings!! :lol:

#21 hfjacinto

hfjacinto

    I think he's got it!

  • *****
  • Posts: 11803
  • Joined: 12 Jan 2009
  • Loc: Land of clouds and LP

Posted 09 October 2013 - 10:39 AM

Having all the fuel in the world wont make a difference without clear skies.

Clear Skies rule all, I can still observe from my light polluted area when its clear with out fuel.

#22 csrlice12

csrlice12

    Voyager 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 10447
  • Joined: 22 May 2012
  • Loc: Denver, CO

Posted 09 October 2013 - 11:20 AM

except clear skies isn't "equipment"...like the stars, it just is.....

#23 jrbarnett

jrbarnett

    Eyepiece Hooligan

  • *****
  • Posts: 19842
  • Joined: 28 Feb 2006
  • Loc: Petaluma, CA

Posted 09 October 2013 - 11:51 AM

"I used to read that there was no point in having a big telescope under brighter sky conditions."

I agree with you Ed. That makes zero sense. Aperture is the *only* real foil for light pollution if you're going to observe through light pollution. You'll see a lot more through a 14" scope than an 8" scope under suburban skies (or dark skies for that matter). But it's easier to get an 8" scope out to darker skies, and if the limiting magnitude delta between home and the boonies is large enough, you might go deeper in an 8" under dark skies than in a 14" at home. And the 8" is a lot cheaper and easier to mount, too.

So for an observer that doesn't mind burning some dinosaur butter to get out to darker skies, he or she might be able to finance that travel by opting for a smaller aperture, lighter mount, and larger petrol budget.

Regards,

Jim

#24 jrbarnett

jrbarnett

    Eyepiece Hooligan

  • *****
  • Posts: 19842
  • Joined: 28 Feb 2006
  • Loc: Petaluma, CA

Posted 09 October 2013 - 12:09 PM

I have my doubts. I think for most visual astronomers, observation is akin to meditation. It represents a complete divergence from daily life. Lugging cameras and power and computers out to observe would totally kill the peacefulness experience for many of us. Those that already lug a laptop out to the field, though, are probably ripe for video.

Regards,

Jim

#25 csrlice12

csrlice12

    Voyager 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 10447
  • Joined: 22 May 2012
  • Loc: Denver, CO

Posted 09 October 2013 - 01:32 PM

Agree about using my scope to "get away from it all"...besides, I've got enough to load up for a trip to the dark site; the dob takes up the back seat, the base the front passenger seat, (and if I take the XLT too, the mount/tripod lays on the floor of the car with the OTA in the trunk; then theres the accessory case, and the eyepiece case, and the other eyepiece case, and the even other eyepiece case, plus the chair, jackets, etc.....I wouldn't have room for AP equipment even if I wanted........

Actually, I usually don't take it all, usually just the dob, the accessory case (paracorr, controller, batteries, etc...) and one eyepiece case (whatever I chose for the night). Last week I was out during the week and the only eyepieces I used outside of the plossl to align the finder, were the 20mm and 14mm ES 100s.

For some of us, petrol $ are not an option, it's a requirement....






Cloudy Nights LLC
Cloudy Nights Sponsor: Astronomics