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5" Refractors

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#51 NHRob

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Posted 22 August 2014 - 08:56 PM

the graph shows relative light grasp ( area of aperture) and also the curve of 1/D.

Where they intersect is meaningless!



#52 aa6ww

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Posted 22 August 2014 - 09:57 PM

My experiences say the same thing as what your saying Bill. The jump from 4" to 5" puts you in a much more serious arena, for what refractors do best, which to me is producing beautiful crisp images of stars, wide field views but enough resolution for planetary details and even deep space, that won’t leave you wanting more refractor. The jump from 5" to 6" to me, is less significant, mostly because the 5" is already doing everything well, enough so that going to a 6" still isn’t going to satisfy my urge for more.

The urge for more, from 5" means I need a 10" or more to start pulling in deep space and making planetary performance from reflectors take over anything even a 6" triplet can give me. To me, 5" is the threshold in refractors. Beyond that, for me anyway, a well collimated C11 or 12" newt or more, satisfies that "more" urge, without going into crazy territory like the 16" and larger refractors.

For me, a realistic combination is my TOA-130 and a C11 with a smaller scope for something light and easy foe casual observing.


..Ralph

 

I notice in this thread, and others as well, a common expression that going from 5" to 6" is a lot more dramatic than going from 4" to 5".  From and observational perspective, I would agree with this also, that reaching 6" seems to activate some sort of threshold and it appears more significant.  Running the numbers for light gathering and resolution however, reveals that the 4" to 5" is actually slightly more significant.  That being the case, I wonder what the driver might be that makes us feel that the 5" to 6" jump is a more significant one.  Interesting.  :hmm:


Edited by aa6ww, 23 August 2014 - 01:23 AM.

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#53 jrbarnett

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Posted 22 August 2014 - 10:43 PM

There seems to be a real following of folks here who use 5" refractors (120-140mm). Why 5"?  Is it that a 6" costs so very much more for that one inch gain in aperture? If you use a 5" can you tell us why?

A 6" takes so very much more mount, usually.

 

:grin:

 

- Jim



#54 jrbarnett

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Posted 22 August 2014 - 10:50 PM

 

I notice in this thread others as well, a common expression that going from 5" to 6" is a lot more dramatic than going from 4" to 5".  From and observational perspective, I would agree with this also, that reaching 6" seems to activate some sort of threshold and it appears more significant.  Running the numbers for light gathering and resolution however, reveals that the 4" to 5" is actually slightly more significant.  That being the case, I wonder what the driver might be that makes us feel that the 5" to 6" jump is a more significant one.  Interesting.  :hmm:

It's rather sad that I came up 12mm short of that magical 6" threshold, story of my life I guess. I look at my TEC140 now, and wonder what could have been.

 

I've run my 6" and my 140mm side by side.  At a given magnification, it's very hard to tell them apart.  Compare either to an 8" SCT, and the 8" at a given magnification goes obviously deeper.  I'd say that it takes at least 8" to make a material (to the eye) difference over 5", and better still 9-10".

 

- Jim



#55 issdaol

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Posted 22 August 2014 - 11:59 PM

For me the choice of 5 inch refractor came down to a compromise across all factors of Portability vs Performance, Quality and Cost & Local Warrant/Support

 

I already had my Mewlon 300 so deep space and a larger aperture for planetary was taken care of already.

 

Needing a larger mount and cost ruled out 6+ inch apo's so this really left the 5inch APO's from main manufacturers.

 

I looked at TEC 140, AP130, Tak TSA 120 and Tak TOA130

 

In the end the Tak TSA120 won out because of the best (IMO) balance of all the features mentioned above.

 

Obviously given the scopes I was looking at the final decision point (assuming equal quality and optical performance) came down to portability and price which made the TSA120 stand out.

 

If cost, portability and mounting were NOT a limitation I would probably have gone for a Tak TOA150, TEC180 or AP160/175



#56 aa6ww

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Posted 23 August 2014 - 02:00 AM

I think Astronomy has slowly become and older persons hobby now. Most of us were lured into this interest because of the Space race and Apollo missions. I bet the average age of people who contribute to these forums is over 50 years old, which puts them right at a young kid age when the Eagle landed on the moon in 1969.
Many in this age range have gone full circle, going from 60mm refractors up to large dobsonians and SCT's. Now these people have gotten older but still love the hobby, and are abandoning the heavier scopes in favor of lighter ones with superior optics.
I work in the space industry. We are struggling to get young people interested in this field and fill the shoes of the Engineers and Scientists approaching retirement age. They are out there, but they aren't flooding the market like we did 30 years ago.

I don’t see commercials with Lebron James in the dark with his kids, looking through a telescope. I see 60 year old Billy Mummy and 62 year old Mark Hamill promoting space, and these are our young guys out there!

I honestly think this is why the 120mm to 140mm refractor has become the size range of choice. There’s also not many used TSA-120's that come up for sale. Most of these are bought and kept by smart people as their retirement refractor. I believe it’s going to be 15 or more years before TSA-120's start consistently start hitting the used market. Sadly, probably from Estate sales and people finally just giving up on astronomy and life.

...Ralph



That being the case, I wonder what the driver might be that makes us feel that the 5" to 6" jump is a more significant one.

I personally don't think the jump from 5" to 6" is as noticeable as the jump from 4" to 5".
 
I have own maybe a dozen 4"  refractors, from fast achromats to APOs.    Honestly, I could never love any of them.   Just to small and for my own observing, incapable of giving a satisfying result.
 
The step to 5" to me was quite good, while the step from 5" to 6" was not as dramatic.
 
And that is why back to the original question, I think a lot of people are content with 5" to 140mm.   The level of commitment is far smaller than going to 6", and the difference in performance is not that great, vs 4" to 5".
 
There was a time 10 years ago where ED and APO scopes bigger than 4" were quite uncommon.
 
Today, they are like roaches.  You'll find them all over in the dark.  But 15 years ago, they were not common at all.
 
By comparison, 6" ED and APO scopes, while far less expensive than they used to be, I think still do not sell in proportion to the 120mm to 140mm models.  Lots of reasons for this, but as has been pointed out, the size, weight, and commitment required to use a 6" and larger refractor is much more of a step up than the performance step up would be.


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#57 cwilson

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Posted 23 August 2014 - 02:22 AM

I think Astronomy has slowly become and older persons hobby now. Most of us were lured into this interest because of the Space race and Apollo missions. I bet the average age of people who contribute to these forums is over 50 years old, which puts them right at a young kid age when the Eagle landed on the moon in 1969.
Many in this age range have gone full circle, going from 60mm refractors up to large dobsonians and SCT's. Now these people have gotten older but still love the hobby, and are abandoning the heavier scopes in favor of lighter ones with superior optics.
I work in the space industry. We are struggling to get young people interested in this field and fill the shoes of the Engineers and Scientists approaching retirement age. They are out there, but they aren't flooding the market like we did 30 years ago.

I don’t see commercials with Lebron James in the dark with his kids, looking through a telescope. I see 60 year old Billy Mummy and 62 year old Mark Hamill promoting space, and these are our young guys out there!

I honestly think this is why the 120mm to 140mm refractor has become the size range of choice. There’s also not many used TSA-120's that come up for sale. Most of these are bought and kept by smart people as their retirement refractor. I believe it’s going to be 15 or more years before TSA-120's start consistently start hitting the used market. Sadly, probably from Estate sales and people finally just giving up on astronomy and life.

...Ralph



 

 

 

I think you're right about it being an older persons hobby and the reasons for it. I was 11 years old when I watched Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walk on the moon with my mouth hanging open in amazement. From my own past experience most of the younger folks seem underwhelmed by views through an amateur telescope. They didn’t grow up during those days, and to many it seems like ancient history. They don’t seem to realize how great an achievement that was, especially considering the technology available at the time.

 

For me it’s just not the view itself, but the view combined with thinking about the distance to it and the nature of the object itself. Maybe amateur astronomy doesn’t offer enough instant gratification for most of the younger generation.

 

But like many here in my 50s I really can’t see myself lugging a heavy or hard to handle scope and mount around anymore, and that’s why my recent interest in smaller refractors. For me something along the lines of 120mm is probably the maximum my old back can deal with, so a smaller, light refractor makes the most sense to me.

 

"You know you're getting old when the candles cost more than the cake." - Bob Hope


Edited by cwilson, 23 August 2014 - 02:32 AM.


#58 thomqos

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Posted 23 August 2014 - 06:34 AM

As some of you know from another thread, I just ordered a TSA-120.

 

I first became interested in astronomy in 1986 during the aparition of Halley's Comet.  My grandfather recounted to me seeing it as a boy & so too did I as a 16 year old, high overhead under dark rural Australian skies. I still remember that magical feeling of discovery with my dad's binoculars, to a chorus of frogs croaking.  Hope I get to see it again when I'm 91. :confused:

 

In my 20s, I had a 12.5" & was really only interested in faint fuzzies.  But as I got older, with the reality of living in a city, my interest shifted more towards the planets. 

 

Then with the business of family life I mostly lost my interest for about 10 years, only recently regaining it.  I showed my kids some things through my scope a few years ago (they were 7 & 9) but they weren't too interested.  But only recently (bad I know), I showed them Saturn ... my daughter was particularly impressed.

 

Anyway,  I've become far more interested in the sky as a whole, rather than being focussed on finding small faint patches of light... particularly, using my binoculars.  A regression if you will to the beginnings of my interest with Halley's Comet. The milky way around scorpius is directly overhead this time of year in Melbourne.. even from my house the bright & dark knots still standout despite the light pollution.  I've been enjoying scanning the milky way with my binos. from altair through centaurus, as well as the magellanic clouds.   I'm also wanting to make a bit of an effort to observe comets & double stars.  

 

So it is this shift in interest from purely deep sky to a larger mix of planets & wide field that has led me down the short focus refractor path... and to the largest that I can reasonably afford; A (nearly) 5 inch. Compactness/portability is also a key bonus... I have many times been attracted to SCTs for the same reason, but I have never really seen great images through an SCT.  I still keep thinking about maybe a C11 or 14 one day, but don't know whether I'd ever be truly happy with optical performance.

 

PS: I also agree with sentiments above that kids today have too much instant gratification at hand... to me, it supresses imagination.



#59 Cliff C

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Posted 23 August 2014 - 08:14 AM

Jim P,

I've got an AP-130 GT and love it but if your looking to split doubles why not consider the APM/TMB 130mm f/9.25 scope in a lightweight tube with maybee a feathertouch focuser.

Cliff



#60 JimP

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Posted 23 August 2014 - 09:12 AM

Jim P,

I've got an AP-130 GT and love it but if your looking to split doubles why not consider the APM/TMB 130mm f/9.25 scope in a lightweight tube with maybee a feathertouch focuser.

Cliff

You have one for sale? 

Only interested in used scopes. 

 

Jim



#61 JimP

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Posted 23 August 2014 - 09:22 AM

I agree with Ralph. I was given my first telescope, a "Gilbert 80X" reflector of about 2" aperture by my Mom for my 15th birthday, September 1965. I have never been without a telescope. I have owned most kinds and my favorites are Apochromatic refractors and Maksutovs. I have saved to be able to buy the telescopes of my choice over the years. I did not buy fancy cars or boats, fancy clothes or take expensive vacations but I did spend big money on telescopes. After going to "school" for 27 years I had a very good paying job for about 25 years and am now semi-retired. My bigger scopes have to be in an observatory. For a scope that I can take out or set up at age 63,  it has to be a small Maksutov or a refractor of about 5" aperture. My AP 155 was light enough that it would qualify if I still owned it. A Tak FS 152 would if I could find one for sale. But, the largest choices available are in the 120-140mm range. For me personally, the 4-5" jump was more impressive (just my opinion) than the 5-6" jump. Based on my personal experience the move from a 5" to a 6" is significant but to a 7" is where it's at if you want to go Large in a refractor.



#62 Arizona-Ken

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Posted 23 August 2014 - 11:19 AM

A few years ago, as I was upgrading from my C8 to my C11, I was looking ahead to getting a good quality refractor. What seemed affordable at that time were 4 inch ED style refractors. As I got to the point of actually buying something, the 5 inch triplets were of the quality and the price range that appealed to me. I ended up with an ES 127 APO, which, although is not a top flight APO, is just fine for my use. It is large enough to give good views while small enough to be handled by my ASGT5.

 

Arizona Ken 



#63 j3ffr0

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Posted 23 August 2014 - 11:42 AM

5" just works -- every time.  I can use a 120mm ED doublet as a grab and go and it always yeilds good planetary views (as good as the seeing will allow).   A 6" is a lot more work to mount.  If I want ED it's a lot more money too.  Then they're are competing designs of larger aperture (the cats and dobs).  In theory an 8" cat should do as just well, but in practice it doesn't work out that way for me.  Cooling is a big factor, dew, collimation.  My 16" dob doesn't have the best optics, and there all cooling issues wiht a scope that large (as well as thermals from my body). 

 

It is to the point that if I only want to look at planets I just use my 5".  I will look at planets in one of my bigger scopes if I'm out doing deep sky and the seeing is good, but it's never the primary reason I take out a bigger scope. 



#64 BigC

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Posted 23 August 2014 - 01:19 PM

Just a casual look suggests that 6"ED scopes cost about four times the price of comparable 5" ED scopes but the increase in light grasp and resolution is 50% and 20% ,so the 5" ,alright 120mm isn't quite 5", is much better value for the $.



#65 drollere

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Posted 23 August 2014 - 02:43 PM

the graph shows relative light grasp ( area of aperture) and also the curve of 1/D.

Where they intersect is meaningless!

 

well, of course it is. that's why the intersection of the curves is not what decides the 95% resolution gain. it's the point on the left hand vertical axis of resolution gain that is equal to 0.05 of the maximum amount (1.0). the 95% light grasp gain is decided by the 0.95 point on the right hand vertical axis. the intersection is coincidental because the two curves are evaluated on different metrics. the relative *inflection* in the curves is scale free.



#66 drollere

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Posted 23 August 2014 - 02:59 PM

I think you're right about it being an older persons hobby and the reasons for it. I was 11 years old when I watched Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walk on the moon with my mouth hanging open in amazement. From my own past experience most of the younger folks seem underwhelmed by views through an amateur telescope. They didn’t grow up during those days, and to many it seems like ancient history. They don’t seem to realize how great an achievement that was, especially considering the technology available at the time. ...

 

But like many here in my 50s I really can’t see myself lugging a heavy or hard to handle scope and mount around anymore, and that’s why my recent interest in smaller refractors. For me something along the lines of 120mm is probably the maximum my old back can deal with, so a smaller, light refractor makes the most sense to me.

 

i was 13 when "telstar" was a hit record on AM radio and the mercury astronauts were trying to catch up with the soviets. werner von braun told us all about future space travel on walt disney presents. but if those are the main reasons people get into astronomy then astronomers must be a dwindling group of people and al nagler is looking for an exit strategy.

 

as one among the medicare population i take ergonomics seriously. but i have to question whether lugging a 4 foot long 180 mm ƒ/7 refractor is really all that much easier than carrying a ~2 foot long 180 mm ƒ/15 mak cass. while observing, if anything, the GEM mak cass is no harder on the back and legs than that GEM mounted ƒ/7 refractor ... *and* you will love the views.

 

i hear those zeiss refractors are built like tanks, by the way.



#67 drollere

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Posted 23 August 2014 - 03:11 PM

I work in the space industry. We are struggling to get young people interested in this field and fill the shoes of the Engineers and Scientists approaching retirement age. They are out there, but they aren't flooding the market like we did 30 years ago.

 

unfortunately this is now a general problem in college education: the most popular courses among quant types are in economics, and students claim they want to go on to work in the financial industry, preferably at a hedge fund skirting the legal limits of insider trading and high velocity arbitrage, and upon early lucreous retirement purchase a very large luxury cruise ship rather than a very fine telescope.

 

http://www.huffingto..._n_1069424.html

 

tangential to that, there is currently on the NY Times web site a hilarious article on the "gentrification" of the burning man festival by conspicuously consuming silicon valley weenieaires. each guest of a weenieaire gets at least two personal servants to attend their every need, etc.

 

how much can you pay an astrophysicist or deep space engineer? -- not enough, not nearly enough.



#68 George9

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Posted 23 August 2014 - 03:51 PM

On 5" vs 6", on another thread I likened owning a 5" to owning a bicycle and owning a 6" to owning a boat (money pit and better to know someone who owns one). Mount, tripod, counterweights, case, fit in car, fit in house. Now that things have settled down a bit, I am really starting to like my 6". I now use it as often as I used to use the 5", it feels about as easy to mount (now that I own a big enough mount), and the 5" basically sits in storage. And this is despite having to hand carry (or wheel) everything to my observing sites.

 

As far as the view, most things look similar, but a few things are on the edge of visibility in the 5", and the extra inch makes the difference. For example, fine details in active regions for hydrogen-alpha solar observing. Some DSOs. Some planetary details.

 

It is becoming so comfortable, in fact, that it is hard not to wonder what a 35 lbs 7" f/7 would be like (e.g., TEC or old AP). Luckily the cost keeps that in check. I feel pretty good about solo lifting the 27 lbs 6" scope into its rings, but I bet 35 lbs would feel a lot worse.

 

I guess I would say that a good 5" up to a 7" f/7 are similar sorts of scopes, and it is just a matter of degree on view, cost, and weight.

 

My ideal would be my 6" f/7 plus or minus an inch; perhaps a 95mm f/6 or a C5 (mountable on light photo tripod like my current Pronto); and a Dob (now an 18" f/4.3). The Dob is for serious night observing, the 6" is for solar and for night-time fun, and the 95mm or C5 would be for travel.

 

George


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#69 JJK

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Posted 23 August 2014 - 07:28 PM

 

That being the case, I wonder what the driver might be that makes us feel that the 5" to 6" jump is a more significant one.

I personally don't think the jump from 5" to 6" is as noticeable as the jump from 4" to 5".

 

I have own maybe a dozen 4"  refractors, from fast achromats to APOs.    Honestly, I could never love any of them.   Just to small and for my own observing, incapable of giving a satisfying result.

 

The step to 5" to me was quite good, while the step from 5" to 6" was not as dramatic.

 

And that is why back to the original question, I think a lot of people are content with 5" to 140mm.   The level of commitment is far smaller than going to 6", and the difference in performance is not that great, vs 4" to 5".

 

There was a time 10 years ago where ED and APO scopes bigger than 4" were quite uncommon.

 

Today, they are like roaches.  You'll find them all over in the dark.  But 15 years ago, they were not common at all.

 

By comparison, 6" ED and APO scopes, while far less expensive than they used to be, I think still do not sell in proportion to the 120mm to 140mm models.  Lots of reasons for this, but as has been pointed out, the size, weight, and commitment required to use a 6" and larger refractor is much more of a step up than the performance step up would be.

 

Your seeing might be a limiting factor.



#70 Diego

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Posted 24 August 2014 - 12:42 PM

Nice discussion....very good opinions and experiences. I am 37 and still have some strength left in me. While I've never owned or viewed through a 5 inch refractor, I find myself using my 80 mm refractor much more than my 6 inch reflector. My 6" has a heavey platic tube and I just hate lugging it around. I'd be more inclined to get the largest aperture with the lightest weight. A 5" would be good enough for me. 


Edited by Diego, 24 August 2014 - 12:48 PM.


#71 charles genovese

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Posted 24 August 2014 - 03:48 PM

Same age as most of you- 62 (next month) and into astronomy since age 8 (binos to junk scopes) to age 11 with an RV6. Serious about astronomy imaging until grad school, then a lull for about 10 years - seems a common theme. Since then I have had about 40 scopes and currently have about 20 (and about 10 mounts), including 6, 8, and 3 10" Newts, 16" Newt (NO DOBS- all equatorial) (all highly modded and "perfect"), C5,8(2), and 14, 9"Mak, and finally started getting into refractors about 15 years ago. Currently have 60mm, 70mm, 3-80mm. 90mm , 120ED, and a C6R. One of my favorite things to do over the years is roll out 2 or 3 and compare them. Especially when comparing different classes of scopes, I have found that different conditions make a huge difference and affect
different scope types differently, including temperature and temp changes and time to reach thermal equilibrium - with and without vent holes and fans, humidity, dark sky vrs urban, grass vrs concrete, seeing, and of course transportability- scope and mount. Now I am lucky enough not to have any back problems and be in pretty good shape- I don't have any difficulty lifting my C14 onto the mount.
Among refractors I got great views with my FS 102, but it simply was a runner up on solar system and deep sky objects to my 120ED every time, and was the same size and weight AND cost 2X's as much. I had an earlier Synta 6" f/8, but sold it after a while because the planetary views were about the same as the 120ED (it was best stopped down to 114mm with a fringe killer) and deep sky at my
moderately light polluted home was much better with bigger apertures. But then I missed it- there was something about low power views (32-40mm -68 degree eyepieces)of the moon and deep sky that were better than the 120. So I got another one and I love it. And now that Markus has the doublet APO objective that adapts to that same tube assembly for only about $2500 I may have that "retirement scope." This one will likely beat thee TEC
140 at about the same size and weight and less than half the price.

Edited by charles genovese, 24 August 2014 - 03:53 PM.


#72 issdaol

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Posted 24 August 2014 - 07:30 PM

On the subject of past experience and growing up with scopes, I was lucky enough to grow up on a farm with ideal dark-site conditions. Started using the family Bino's until I got my first refractor as a birthday present.  It was a lovely Vixen with a wooden tripod. It is funny how you sometimes read on hear that anything below 100mm is not usable but back in those days a 60mm or 80mm refractor was very expensive especially a Vixen and in my conditions performed very well. 

 

In those days it seemed that young astronomers read and researched the subject much more enthusiastically and had more patience for long observing sessions and were better prepared knowledge wise. I find nowdays a lot of the younger generation want a quick visual fix of spectacular targets and do not have the patience for proper viewing sessions or appreciating finer nuances of what they are viewing.  They also seem to have done very little reading and research on the subject so you find yourself explaining simple things like that there are planets with moons up there :-)


Edited by issdaol, 24 August 2014 - 07:31 PM.


#73 BillP

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Posted 25 August 2014 - 08:44 AM

I think Astronomy has slowly become and older persons hobby now. ...  I work in the space industry. We are struggling to get young people interested in this field and fill the shoes of the Engineers and Scientists approaching retirement age.

 

 

IMO it is doomed to shrink.  Today's generation is not the same as previous ones.  They are very plugged-in, so gratification needs to be quick and at the fingertips and access to others has to be rapid and integrated.  So that paradigm does not take well to all the setup and planning and solitude that is typical for observing, or to the very static nature of the many astronomy oriented websites.  So unless the equipment changes to be more a part of the mainstream, interest is not going to swell.



#74 Cliff C

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Posted 25 August 2014 - 09:04 AM

Jim P,

Nope. Not selling the AP-130 and I do not have an TMB 130/9.25.

There seems to be an older AP-130 f/8 on the other site right now.

Cliff



#75 SteveC

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Posted 25 August 2014 - 11:49 AM

 

I think Astronomy has slowly become and older persons hobby now. ...  I work in the space industry. We are struggling to get young people interested in this field and fill the shoes of the Engineers and Scientists approaching retirement age.

 

 

IMO it is doomed to shrink.  Today's generation is not the same as previous ones.  They are very plugged-in, so gratification needs to be quick and at the fingertips and access to others has to be rapid and integrated.  So that paradigm does not take well to all the setup and planning and solitude that is typical for observing, or to the very static nature of the many astronomy oriented websites.  So unless the equipment changes to be more a part of the mainstream, interest is not going to swell.

 

I don't think it's that bad. Some of us are drawn to astronomy, just as some are drawn to stamp, book, and coin collecting. It's something that just clicks, you either have it or you don't. Of all the people I've associated with in my entire life, socially or professionally, I'm only one to have owned a telescope. None of those people grew up in the "plugged in" age. Amateur astronomy is a small circle, always has, always will be, so to declared it dying, I think it's a bit premature. As people age, I believe the solitary nature of observing the universe becomes more attractive and a distraction from our regular routines. That's why many of us start at an early age, drop out to start a life, and then gravitate back to astronomy later in life.


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