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#1 Asbytec

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Posted 15 December 2013 - 03:05 AM

How many telescopes are sold across the globe every day? How many people observer through them? Many thousands for sure. How many people engage in this hobby? Who knows.

Right now, there are about 40 in Cats and Casses, 20 in Reflectors, 50 in Refractors and usually more in each. The two imaging forums have about 50 people at any given time. Binoculars is pretty populated. Even the Off Topic Observatory has more people than Double Stars, Deep Sky, Lunar, and Planetary forums - to name a few of the popular observing forums - combined.

Surely quite a few folks, you should see the membership list (of which a large portion are not active, surely), there are over 100 pages of just "a's." Amazing. A mere fraction of that number lurk through continually without posting anything. Far less post anything. Normally it takes a few hours to pick say a couple dozen views, a couple downloads, and absolutely no comments. There aren't any comments until regulars post. I guess that defines them as "regular," in this context, of course. :lol:

For the most part you can count the number of active observers who regularly post, discuss, sketch, image, or any other activity on about two hands (well, imaging would take about 6 hands.) But, compared to the number of people on the roster or the the number of observers on the planet, the sum of lurkers and active participants during a given period seems very light.

Nothing wrong with lurking, looking, being at work, on hiatus, or whatever. That's not the point. There is is no requirement to post, sometimes even regulars have nothing to add or say. There are as many reasons as there are members, surely, and all perfectly valid. But sometimes don't you just wonder, well, where is everybody?

Surely there are more than a handful of people across the globe who observe, say, Jupiter and do so with some level of dedication and admiration. ISON got quite an audience, but probably by the same handful of people and a couple hundred folks lurking. But, is that it? Is that us? :lol:

I'm retired at home, pool stick leaning against the wall, caught up on a few "Z's" and waiting for the sun to go down. I'm wondering if it'll stay clear. Yea, that means bored at the moment, but still often wonder why the foot traffic is so light.

#2 Nerotheroman

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Posted 15 December 2013 - 04:27 AM

Good morning,

thanks a lot for this post.
I'm registered for quite a while now, but thought
I would need some more experience to start posting here.

Now I take your post as an invitation to do so :)

My name is Mathias, I'm 22 years old and live in
Germany.
I'm studying East Asian Studies in Ruhr Universität Bochum.

Astronomy is something I've been interested in all
my live.
Last your I bought my first scope a 10" Galaxy Dobson, since
then I got to see so many amazing anx spectacular things,
that Im still speechless.

Now I got to the point, where I would like to keep
all those moments in pictures.
So Astrophotography will be the next step on the road :)

Thanks a lot for your post, that made me enter this
community :)

Greetings
Mathias

#3 Asbytec

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Posted 15 December 2013 - 05:43 AM

Hey, Mathias. Welcome. Didn't mean to force anybody. :lol: It's nice you took it as an invitation, though.

You know, you don't need experience to post here. You actually learn by doing so, I believe, anyway. Some good info posted in here, jump in...observe, tell us what you saw. Sketch, paint, image, or just chat. Ask questions or answer them. This is a huge community, it seems, but not a lot of community involvement. (No, not running for president, or anything. Just curious.)

You seem well equipped with a nice Dob, some speechless experiences, and like many of us have been interested in Astronomy for most of our lives. See? We have a lot in common already. And your from Europe, as are a lot of others scattered around the globe. If you're speechless, as I often am by the beauty of the heavens, let others know what it is that made you speechless, if you want to.

There is a huge AP forum, I look forward to running across your work someday and talking about some celestial object you imaged. I might even want to use it as a reference to an observation I made. You can learn a lot up there in the imaging forums, lots of talent and skill. But, don't forget about us visual observers, too. :)

Cheers,
Norme
Retired and living in a tropical paradise. :)

BTW, every morning I wake up with a hot cup of coffee and read what others have said or look at their images sketches. Sometimes I don't even finish that cup of coffee and the nights new threads are already finished. So, I often wonder where is everyone.

Thanks for responding. :)

#4 nirvanix

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Posted 15 December 2013 - 05:46 AM

Hi Mathias, glad you are posting. I also have a 10" dob that I enjoy. Where do you do the observing? If you are in the Ruhr there is a lot of light pollution? When I was in university I couldn't afford to buy a telescope, but I dreamed all the time about having one. You are lucky!

Hey Norme, I often wondered the same thing myself. 50,000 members here, but only the same hundred or so posters over and over. I guess astronomers are shy types? :o

My last observation was last week on Jupiter. I saw a nice shadow transit, but had to get up at 4am in -20C temperature :coldday:. We have a lot of cloud in my area this winter but looks like tonight will be good.

#5 goodricke1

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Posted 15 December 2013 - 06:23 AM

I think in a subject like this the difference between the experts and the novices can seem pretty intimidating. I certainly wouldn't dream of posting any of my miserably basic images when I see some of the masterpieces on here. But I visit every day and am mostly content to absorb the wisdom of the more experienced and knowledgeable posters.

They also serve who only stand and wait - Milton.

#6 Asbytec

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Posted 15 December 2013 - 06:27 AM

Maybe it's the cold that keep em inside. :) It's cold in Germany, too. But, yea, hey, no casting stones about staying warm.

So, you've wondered the same thing, too. It was mentioned in another thread, as well, that many observers don't post here...with so many members on the books? Its certainly not mandatory, of course, and folks have their reasons. But to see 500 views and 10 comments and to recap overnight (daytime US/Canada) postings before finishing a cup of coffee? That's a lot of overly shy people. Maybe. :grin: (<---see how friendly we are, we grin all the time.)

#7 Asbytec

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Posted 15 December 2013 - 06:35 AM

Milton, yea, there are some big boys posting in here. But, you can engage them. It seems everyone settles into a niche and has some area of expertise. Heck, for example, Glenn and Brian know a lot more about spherical aberration than I do, but I pretend they don't. :) Sometimes they debate it among themselves, and it's always congenial.

That's not always the case, though, sometimes discussions can get heated. When they are, I usually post the "gotpopcorn" graemlin like this :gotpopcorn: and lurk and learn. And for fun, you can always get Eddgie fired up about MTF. That's usually good for about 16 pages of informative discussion. hehe (Kidding, Eddgie...in fact I rely on him sometime.)

But, everyone has something to share, surely. Nirv was out observing a shadow transit, I'm stuck inside with cloud cover rolling in. Have you ever observed a double star? Hey, what did it look like? Was it easy? Hard? Nice color? Was the primary violet? (Don't say it was, because the experts will jump all over you for that. :lol:)

If you have a scope and saw something that made your lower jaw fall off, no one can debate that. Maybe you even saw Omega Centauri from Canada, not many do.

Yea, it's possible some can feel intimidated, that's totally understandable and not a problem. But, I'd bet they have something they can share that's neutral and won't attract scrutiny and ire of the big boys. Like, hey, M42 was nice last night. Or they might even have an area of expertise no one can mess with. Then people turn to them for advice. We all find a niche.

When you post a sketch, you're never gonna get a bad reply. And you might actually be surprised how good it actually turned out, to others who can appreciate both the object and the difficulty observing and recording it.

They don't have a soap box graemlin do they? One that shows someone stepping off it?

#8 goodricke1

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Posted 15 December 2013 - 06:45 AM

Just to clarify, Milton was the guy (poet) who came up with that 'stand and wait' line :grin:

Well, my piece of expert advice is: if you haven't seen M11 through an 8-incher, you haven't lived :cool:

#9 nirvanix

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Posted 15 December 2013 - 06:49 AM

Hi goodricke1! Just talk about something you saw that you enjoyed, or something you'd like to see, or about your equipment. We're all basically kids having fun :jump:

For example a couple of weeks ago we had a really clear night so I had my neighbors over with their children to see the moon. They'd never seen it before in a telescope and thought it was cool.

"Well, my piece of expert advice is: if you haven't seen M11 through an 8-incher, you haven't lived"

M11 is my favorite open cluster. When seeing conditions are right it's like diamonds scattered in the sky.


#10 Asbytec

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Posted 15 December 2013 - 06:55 AM

Just to clarify, Milton was the guy (poet) who came up with that 'stand and wait' line :grin:

Well, my piece of expert advice is: if you haven't seen M11 through an 8-incher, you haven't lived :cool:

Gaaa...can't say that I have. Six inches, you bet...but not 8 inches or larger. I was more into small planetaries and globulars. Yea, M11 almost fits that bill, though.

Edit: I had to look up the Milton reference. Not my area of expertise, thanks for sharing.

Also, we're a diverse group prone to misunderstandings, lack of communication, and all that other stuff. Sometimes we rub each other a little the wrong way. That's just normal group dynamics.

#11 Nerotheroman

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Posted 15 December 2013 - 06:55 AM

Thank you for welcomming me!

It's true Norme it's all about learning
from each other.
I learnt a lot reading Threads on
Cloudy Nights and I found myself
brought back to the time I spent
at the Grand Canyon and in the desert
around Palm Springs, where I first saw
a real nightsky.

I'm looking forward to share my impressions and to live with you through yours :)

Most of the time I'm observing from my
backyard. Yes the Ruhr area is pretty much
useless, but at least I got some decent views in the horizont.

Yes I consider myself really lucky, to be
able to support my hobby financialy.
But I had to work a long time for the scope and my EPs, still it was worth every single hour:)

Best wishes
Mathias

#12 nirvanix

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Posted 15 December 2013 - 07:10 AM


Most of the time I'm observing from my
backyard. Yes the Ruhr area is pretty much
useless, but at least I got some decent views in the horizont.

Best wishes
Mathias


You can still do a lot in light-polluted skies: lunar, planetary, double stars. A good test for your dob is to see how many of the small craterlets you can see inside the large crater Plato or try to spot the Alpine rift.

#13 Asbytec

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Posted 15 December 2013 - 07:26 AM

[quote name="nirvanix"]I'm looking forward to share my impressions and to live with you through yours...[quote]
That says it all, imagine if 50,000 members thought the same way.

#14 Nerotheroman

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Posted 15 December 2013 - 07:39 AM



Most of the time I'm observing from my
backyard. Yes the Ruhr area is pretty much
useless, but at least I got some decent views in the horizont.

Best wishes
Mathias


You can still do a lot in light-polluted skies: lunar, planetary, double stars. A good test for your dob is to see how many of the small craterlets you can see inside the large crater Plato or try to spot the Alpine rift.



That's so true :)
There is so much to see on the moon,
it never is boring. Especially when I try
sketching it :) so many details :shocked:
I love planetary observations and double star splitting.
Even some galaxies, planetary nebulas and
reflection nebulas work from my
home :)
My target for this month is, to finally
observe Mars!

M11 truely is amazing :)

#15 Asbytec

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Posted 15 December 2013 - 07:59 AM

Mathias, I was introduced to the Plato craterlet challenge in this forum and posted right along with others. It was a blast. I've seen the Alpine rile exactly one and a half times. Jupiter is up and I read every post discussing that planet and post my own. When Mars becomes more favorable, you can bet it will be in this forum and one or two others. So, welcome to the observing forum. Your interests are shared by several people. Thats what we do, ya? Pretty painless. :)

#16 BrooksObs

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Posted 15 December 2013 - 08:12 AM

I addressed more-or-less this same question in some other thread here recently. The number of "telescope owners" must indeed be truly enormous world-wide. But the question of just how many of these instruments ever end up getting used by their owners of anything like a regular basis, say even weekly, quickly shrinks the number to a dramatically smaller figure.

It's been said for a very long time in circles of more serious observers that there are around just a thousand or so hobbyists doing somewhat systematic observing that culminates in anything of any value and that this situation has prevailed for many decades independent of the hobby's growth, or decline. Those who might be consided casual, or occasional, observers must number several tens of thousands more than that.

Likely, those who frequently post seem to do so on multiple forums, so the apparent number of active individuals is less than it may initially appear. And there are also those who are reluctant to even make their presence on a forum known. Does this balance? I have no idea.

BrooksObs

#17 Nerotheroman

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Posted 15 December 2013 - 08:20 AM

Oh boy, now I want to go out observing.
But it's 2pm and it is so foggy I can't even see my car in front of the garage ^^
So I start putting my observing list for next observing time together.

It is pretty painless indeed :)

#18 Asbytec

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Posted 15 December 2013 - 08:54 AM

Brooks, sure there are fewer folks as you approach the "top" tier, I guess for lack of a better term, doing what might be deemed progressive work in our field. Maybe many don't post in social networking. Maybe some of their research is more appropriate for official publication and not so much up for peer debate. Whatever reason.

Still the tens of thousands that enjoy this hobby on every level, from a quick look at the Pleiades with the naked eye to more serious double star or planetary work, for fun or even for scientific gain, can take or leave the option of mingling with like minded folks online. Maybe many people, as I do, prefer personal contact and avoid most social networking. I observe online, but I do not play pool nor meet people (like dating :grin:) online.

There are reasons posting seems light with so many members. But, if so many take the time to create a nic and upload an avatar, maybe more could join the fun. How many folks observe alone? How many are privileged to be members of small groups of observers and thus no need for a broader outreach? There are often threads about observing alone, too. I'd bet many of us do.

I dunno if this is balance or not, either. But when the sum total of all the threads in various forums can be read and commented on before one finishes a cup of coffee, well, where is everybody?

Surely more than a few people buy scopes then never use them much for whatever reason. No fault, just reality. If anyone has an unused Intes 8" MCT, I'd like to take it off your hands. :)

#19 Eric63

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Posted 15 December 2013 - 09:21 AM

Hi Norme

Planetary observation has been a bust for me this fall. I couldn't wait for Jove to be back in the evening sky but unfortunately the jet stream parked itself overhead and seems like it's here to stay. The best I can get with either my 5"Mak or 6"Newt are a few bands on the planet and a hint of polar shading. Last year around this time Jupiter had great colour and I could make out some white spots and details within the bands. Now to make matters even worse, the extreme cold came early this year. It's -25C in the evenings so my enthusiasm is a bit low. Add to that that we seem to have clouds all the time. Hell, I just got some Bt70-45 binoculars two weeks ago and all I could test them on are a few rooftops in daylight...and from inside the house! :lol:

But I won't give up since I am sure that the planets will align some day ( :grin:) and the conditions will be just right for a great viewing session... And I will be sure to report my findings. No sketches though; can't hold a pencil in that cold. :lol:

Eric

#20 azure1961p

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Posted 15 December 2013 - 09:23 AM

Psssst: we're all on the moon watching that Chinese rabbit take its first leaps!
Pete

#21 David Gray

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Posted 15 December 2013 - 09:32 AM

Perhaps a seasonal element at present (N. Hem. Winter): stove-huggers; lay-a-beds etc??

I have recently visited a few more forums and, not wanting to cause uproar here(!), some seem to show a degree of angst and faint-hearted-negativity/defeatism.

In particular I responded to a post: http://www.cloudynig...6250044/page... about the discomfort of cold-weather , and simply giving in to it. I suggested going in and out of doors (where practical); making incremental intervals out, which has always worked for me. Then another thread appeared apparently alluding to my ‘radical’ suggestion with regard to dark-adaption: “that would kill your nite vis.” I had addressed this and a little lateral thinking/application simply deals with this for me at least. Maybe I come from another planet: but I dark adapt rapidly anyway and once achieved, if I lose it, comes back in minutes – and I’m pushing 70 now. Similarly cold-adaption develops with that in/out practice and find I can endure longer spells out after a few ins. I claim no discovery there as S&T and others have addressed these matters several times over the years – cold/dark-adaption.

Of course I am thinking of those in reasonably good health. My wife is developing T2 diabetes so I am well abreast of the hazards of sufferers getting too cold.

As a baker I worked with a guy, in his early 20s, who got the astronomy bug big time. Straight off he got an 8” Celestron SCT, then a Vixen 90mm refractor. I field-tested them both for him and they were ideal for his purposes. He used to inundate me with questions all through the shift. Often to great distraction for as shift-foreman I had certain stresses/anxieties – at risk of showing favouritism I coped (men can multi-task!).

Then as winter set in his whining about cold-discomfort escalated; and also he already had warnings about sleeping in for dayshifts. As his enthusiasm declined he asked me however did I manage to get out of bed at, say, 2 a.m. to observe on cold winter mornings. Sickened off by then I said: “Simple! I put one foot to the middle of the floor and the other has to follow!”.

He had also joined several BAA sections using me as a reference to my subsequent embarrassment. Not seen him for years but those fine scopes got little use after that I know of…..??

#22 Special Ed

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Posted 15 December 2013 - 09:44 AM

I too have noticed over the years that the observing forums seem to have the lowest participation numbers (with the Solar Observing forum usually leading). Of course, when there is some phenomenon occuring like Nova Del or the much anticipated ISON, those numbers spike. Mars and Jupiter usually bring observers out, too and the best part of their current apparitions is just beginning.

There is a lot of traffic in the Beginners forum and some interesting observations posted there but those folks tend to hang back from participating in the dedicated observing forums. Perhaps they can follow the fine example that Mathias has set for them (welcome, Mathias :))

It could be that people are spending their time on Facebook, Twitter, Linked In, etc. instead of here. Don't know--I haven't crossed that threshold (yet).

The various equipment forums are great if you have a question and get a lot of posters because of that. They also tend to have huge ongoing bull sessions where people discuss/argue/describe their stuff. A large fraction of amateurs seem to prefer to talk about scopes rather than what they see with them. That's understandable since astronomy equipment tends to be beautifully designed and machined. I know I love my mine--I just don't talk about it much. I think I feel a little guilty that I have such a beautiful, well equipped observatory.

Amateur astronomy is often a solitary pursuit--I feel lucky I can share my observations and compare them to those of others world-wide in almost real time thanks to the Internet. I've made a lot of friends here and I hope to make more--CN is a friendly (and educational) place.

#23 Asbytec

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Posted 15 December 2013 - 09:45 AM

Pete, if you're on the moon and didn't invite me...

Hi, Eric, totally understand about the weather and the views. We are just emerging from 6 months of rainy season. It seems natural to be less active or even dormant focusing on other things during such times.

#24 Ed D

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Posted 15 December 2013 - 09:54 AM

I'm still here. The evenings have been very cloudy in Miami and have limited my observing of Jupiter. On the other hand, mornings have been usually nice and I have been observing the approach of Mars. I haven't posted that much because I think people would tire of reading the similar 'I think I saw brown surface features' with Mars being so small right now. But, get ready, as the 'Roman God of War' is fast approaching!

Ed D

#25 Asbytec

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Posted 15 December 2013 - 09:55 AM

Nice comments Dave and Michael. Ive made a few friends in here, too. One iscapparently vacationing on the moon where the seeing is better. Maybe more of them went and without me. But, yea, generally a good community with its quirky group dynamics. Probably couldn't stand half of ya in person. :lol: (kidding, of course.)

Dave, next time someone bugs you for answers, refer them here. Michael, yws, jupiter is bringing a few more regulars back, thankfully. Less crickets.

Well, its late, warm, and overcast here in the south pacific. I bet the moon is clear, though.






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