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scottk
sage


Reged: 08/29/09

Loc: Tennessee
how technological should astronomy be?
      #5992878 - 07/27/13 12:05 PM

I've read many posts from people with ten thousand dollar cameras complaining about updates and firmware. Going into a field to do astronomy is good. But at what point does the technology get in the way?

Edited by Jon Isaacs (07/27/13 12:50 PM)


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newtoskies
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 07/15/12

Loc: SE Ma.
Re: how technological should astronomy be? new [Re: scottk]
      #5992913 - 07/27/13 12:21 PM

Personal preference is all. Besides this hobby I have another that I guess you can say I get technical. In this hobby I'm not worried about the tech stuff. The AP guys can get very technical, and that is understandable.
Surround sound....good for when I watch a documentary or movie, but not when I'm behind the ep.


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Maverick199
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Reged: 02/27/11

Loc: India
Re: how technological should astronomy be? new [Re: newtoskies]
      #5992938 - 07/27/13 12:35 PM

When you spend ten thousand dollars on equipment, you expect top notch quality and support. That's not to say you can't be happy with a simple P & S. Its all about interest and hobby fever. I recall spending $$ on scale model but wanted the best brand of Japan and not settle for less. I have left that hobby years back. My interest then developed towards Astronomy and photography and now I want the best in both. When I spend $100 for a scope, while I expect a new package, I don't expect much in way of quality but if I spend $1000 or more, I would definitely go over an item closely.

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frito
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 10/05/12

Loc: Fremont, CA
Re: how technological should astronomy be? new [Re: Maverick199]
      #5992953 - 07/27/13 12:43 PM

for visual, I agree tech can just get in the way.

AP on the other hand is a whole nother ball game, tech is nessisary for good results and repeatable sucess. yes as folks get deep into AP they end up spending tons of money and have extravagant setups, the reason is simple, to automate everything you can automate thus making the good results repeatable and easier to achieve consistantly. that being said one does not have to have an extravagant setup starting off with wide field, something as simple as a DSLR piggybacked on a visual scope on a EQ mount is all that is needed to get going and that is far from an extravagant setup.


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Ed Wiley
scholastic sledgehammer


Reged: 05/18/05

Loc: Kansas, USA
Re: how technological should astronomy be? new [Re: frito]
      #5992992 - 07/27/13 01:08 PM

Tech gets in the way when you no longer enjoy astronomy because you have to futz with too much stuff.

Ed


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Cliff Hipsher
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Reged: 12/31/08

Loc: North Chesterfield, VA
Re: how technological should astronomy be? new [Re: scottk]
      #5993016 - 07/27/13 01:23 PM

Quote:

I've read many posts from people with ten thousand dollar cameras complaining about updates and firmware. Going into a field to do astronomy is good. But at what point does the technology get in the way?




That is a very good question, and the answer will vary from one person to another. My philosophy is, its not the technology that gets in the way. What gets in the way is obsessing over the minutiae and ignoring the grandeur of the universe...

To counter this possibility I have two telescopes. One is set up of imaging, and the other is strictly for observing...

My visual rig is a simple Bird-Jones newt on a simple gem with tracking motors and a hand controller. I do a rough alignment to get me close and I use the hand control to keep things in the FOV.

Once I get my imaging session going I just back and star hop. The only better therapy is twisting the right grip on my Harley...


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frito
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 10/05/12

Loc: Fremont, CA
Re: how technological should astronomy be? new [Re: Cliff Hipsher]
      #5993034 - 07/27/13 01:28 PM

Yeah I do the same when i'm imaging away from home, i'll get my imaging rig setup and get it going then go do visual in my dob while it shoots away. once a basic automated imaging rig is setup its pretty trivial to keep it running leaving plenty of time to do visual in between changing settings on the computer and telling it to GO!

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Cliff Hipsher
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Reged: 12/31/08

Loc: North Chesterfield, VA
Re: how technological should astronomy be? new [Re: Ed Wiley]
      #5993038 - 07/27/13 01:30 PM

Quote:

Tech gets in the way when you no longer enjoy astronomy because you have to futz with too much stuff.

Ed




Another way to look at this is tech gets in the way when you don't know why your futzing with what you're futzing with...


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Kon Dealer
professor emeritus


Reged: 01/05/11

Loc: Cambridge UK
Re: how technological should astronomy be? new [Re: Cliff Hipsher]
      #5993139 - 07/27/13 02:38 PM

The only tech. I use is "goto".
If it were not for goto, I would not have seen a tenth of what I have seen.
LP kills the manual astronomer.


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Maverick199
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Reged: 02/27/11

Loc: India
Re: how technological should astronomy be? new [Re: Kon Dealer]
      #5993143 - 07/27/13 02:46 PM

Quote:

The only tech. I use is "goto".
If it were not for goto, I would not have seen a tenth of what I have seen.
LP kills the manual astronomer.




Absolutely! While star hopping is fun and rewarding, those like me who live in heavily light polluted cities get very little time and in that time, we want to see as much as we can. Also gives us more time viewing the object hands free then nudging the scope = more observing time.

Just to correct the equation, its not like only AP'ers spend $$, there are many amateur astronomers who spend $$ on super duper Refractors and Reflectors. Aperture rules so why not just settle for a simple mass produced Dobsonian? I am sure some will argue stating they prefer better optics, strehl, mechanical quality etc., I am sure folks don't buy Delos or Ethos for AP, point being, people spend and there is nothing wrong if that's their interest in the hobby.


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mich_al
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Reged: 05/10/09

Loc: Rural central lower Michigan ...
Re: how technological should astronomy be? new [Re: scottk]
      #5993189 - 07/27/13 03:31 PM

Quote:

I've read many posts from people with ten thousand dollar cameras complaining about updates and firmware. Going into a field to do astronomy is good. But at what point does the technology get in the way?




Highly personal thing. Keep it as simple or as complex as you want. I personally like it fairly simple. The more complex it gets the more futzing is needed and the more that can go wrong to screw up the evening. For me astronomy is for relaxing and enjoying the wonders NOT some endeavor to see haw big a stack of electronics/optics/money I can manupulate into something.


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Jeff Phinney
super member


Reged: 02/20/13

Loc: CA
Re: how technological should astronomy be? new [Re: Maverick199]
      #5993191 - 07/27/13 03:31 PM

It's amazing the odds and ends, and other do-dads that are out there available for the amateur astronomer, much of it having to do with polishing the cannon ball and not really indulging the hobby. When one starts asking "Are we having fun, yet", then maybe it's time to stand back and re-evaluate if what one's doing is actually worth doing at all.

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jrcrillyAdministrator
Refractor wienie no more
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Reged: 04/30/03

Loc: NE Ohio
Re: how technological should astronomy be? new [Re: Jeff Phinney]
      #5993204 - 07/27/13 03:41 PM

Quote:

When one starts asking "Are we having fun, yet", then maybe it's time to stand back and re-evaluate if what one's doing is actually worth doing at all.




I've not seen anyone ask that; folks are capable of telling whether they are having fun or not. If someone ever did have trouble determining it, asking someone else surely wouldn't help. How would someone else know? The key is to do what one enjoys and not to worry about what others are doing or using.


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GeneT
Ely Kid
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Reged: 11/07/08

Loc: South Texas
Re: how technological should astronomy be? new [Re: scottk]
      #5993206 - 07/27/13 03:43 PM

I'm an old guy and have stayed with visual only. Many younger people are tech savvy, and AP is just another technological venue for them to pursue. People are getting stunning results with fairly modest telescopes. Advances in photo chips and software are what make this possible. The money spreads are quite wide. Some people are satisfied with spending only a small amount of money. Others not. I have a friend who was not satisfied until he had purchased a mount costing $10K. People's interests and budgets sort all this out.

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Jeff Phinney
super member


Reged: 02/20/13

Loc: CA
Re: how technological should astronomy be? new [Re: jrcrilly]
      #5993267 - 07/27/13 04:31 PM

Quote:

Quote:

When one starts asking "Are we having fun, yet(?)", then maybe it's time to stand back and re-evaluate if what one's doing is actually worth doing at all.




I've not seen anyone ask that; folks are capable of telling whether they are having fun or not.




Sorry, it was simply a rhetorical question.


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mayidunk
Don't Ask...
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Reged: 02/17/10

Loc: Betwixt & Between...
Re: how technological should astronomy be? new [Re: scottk]
      #5993309 - 07/27/13 05:00 PM

Quote:

I've read many posts from people with ten thousand dollar cameras complaining about updates and firmware. Going into a field to do astronomy is good. But at what point does the technology get in the way?



In my opinion, it's when it interferes with what you really want to do!

For instance, having a good GOTO mount makes it so much easier to view "what's up!" For me, that works, and never gets in my way. However, for others, it may get in the way if their first desire is to learn the sky the way that others before us have. As for AP, I have not attempted to try that as of yet. However, I can see where starting simple can be a boon, allowing one to see where improvements might be made, while at the same time learning basics skills while experiencing some level of instant gratification. This, as opposed to spending so much time analyzing every aspect of the technology available, then expending all of your efforts, and time, trying to make it all work together. However, that in no way implies that going through this process is not in line with what makes this enjoyable for many people, because it does!

In the end, the final image (whether in the eyepiece, or on the computer screen) is the goal. The process of getting there is a very large part of that enjoyment! However, the point at which YMMV will depend upon how much time, and effort you want to put into the process that gets you to that goal.

They say that the voyage is more about the trip than it is about arriving at your destination. My experience is that I have enjoyed the trip as much as the destination. For some, they just can't seem to arrive because they're just having too much fun getting there, while others just can't wait to get there. In all cases, they have fun!

(At least, we all hope they do...)


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brianb11213
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Reged: 02/25/09

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Re: how technological should astronomy be? new [Re: mayidunk]
      #5993317 - 07/27/13 05:06 PM

Technology, however complex, when it's needed and when you know how to use it, fine. For beginners, electronic gizmos attached to telescopes are IMHO unneccessary at best, and usually far more trouble than they're worth. The only exception here is a good planetarium program running on a laptop computer, used to plan observing sessions, really worth while & I wish they'd been around when I was learning ...

There are two main reasons for not having electronics integrated into scopes: one, a failure in the electronics makes the thing junk; two, money spent on electronic gizmos is money which could be better spent on a more solid mount and/or better optics. An all singing, all dancing, wobbly mount is utterly useless!


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obin robinson
Carpal Tunnel
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Reged: 10/25/12

Loc: League City, TX
Re: how technological should astronomy be? new [Re: scottk]
      #5993435 - 07/27/13 06:34 PM

Quote:

But at what point does the technology get in the way?




To put it simple technology gets in the way when you can no longer enjoy astronomy. I'm sure that there are people who think a "simple" or "low tech" telescope rig would give them displeasure because it won't do what they want it to. Some people are happy with the basics whereas others are happy with complexity and versatility.

If you truly enjoy multiple computers, high end cameras, computerized mounts, and sophisticated focusing/collimation gear then it becomes part of your personal astronomy experience. It all has to do with what you as a person enjoy doing. As long as technology isn't getting into your way then enjoy what it is doing for you.

obin


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Achernar
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Re: how technological should astronomy be? new [Re: scottk]
      #5993665 - 07/27/13 09:04 PM

Astronomy will be as technological as those who participate in are technological, no more and no less. For those who just prefer the basics there is just as much roon in astronomy as those who enjoy the latest electronic cameras and computerized telescopes.

Taras


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Seldom
scholastic sledgehammer


Reged: 08/05/12

Loc: N of Cedar City Light Dome
Re: how technological should astronomy be? new [Re: Achernar]
      #5993713 - 07/27/13 09:45 PM

Back when astronomy was being invented a straight stick (gnoemon) and clay tablets were regarded as high tech. I just used the stick to calculate my latitude. (Inspired by Fred Hoyle.) If you are interested in the basics, there's still a lot you can do with a pencil and calculator.

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stevew
Now I've done it


Reged: 03/03/06

Loc: British Columbia Canada
Re: how technological should astronomy be? new [Re: Ed Wiley]
      #5993799 - 07/27/13 10:39 PM

Quote:

Tech gets in the way when you no longer enjoy astronomy because you have to futz with too much stuff.

Ed



I agree. I had a 'Go To" mount for about 3 months, I spent more time looking at the hand controller than the sky.
I sold it.
Besides I can "Go To" much faster than the motors on the mount.
Give me a telescope with good optics, and a star to steer her by, and I'm happy.

Steve


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DarkDisplay
sage


Reged: 12/21/10

Loc: Texas
Re: how technological should astronomy be? new [Re: scottk]
      #5993824 - 07/27/13 10:50 PM

There was a time when people were happier and healthier without so much technology. Something to think about.

As for astronomy, a dark sky and two good eyes are hard to beat. Optically, I could get by with a decent binocular and scope. Remember, the folks we consider the greats of astronomy didn't have what we have to work with.

Best wishes,
Frank


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okieav8rAdministrator
I'd rather be flying!
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Reged: 03/01/09

Loc: Oklahoma!
Re: how technological should astronomy be? new [Re: Achernar]
      #5993880 - 07/27/13 11:18 PM

Quote:

Astronomy will be as technological as those who participate in are technological, no more and no less. For those who just prefer the basics there is just as much roon in astronomy as those who enjoy the latest electronic cameras and computerized telescopes.

Taras




Well said. Whether you do it old school or are a gearhead who uses the latest technology, there is room for everyone in this hobby. I'll never understand those who criticize everyone else for not doing it their way.


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herrointment
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Reged: 03/12/11

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Re: how technological should astronomy be? new [Re: okieav8r]
      #5993956 - 07/28/13 12:26 AM

The tech aspect of the hobby was part of the draw when I came back to it. I refused to learn how to operate a computer until 2010!

So bring on the tech....it's interesting!


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FJA
Sketcher Extraordinaire
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Reged: 11/17/04

Loc: 50.65° N, 1.15° W
Re: how technological should astronomy be? new [Re: herrointment]
      #5994198 - 07/28/13 06:30 AM

It can be as technological or not as you want it to be. I don't like too much technology when I'm observing, because it just gets in the way, at the moment the most technological item on my scope is a dew zapper on my Telrad. That said I'm planning to get Argo Navis DSCs in the near future, but that's as technological as I intend to get.
I see imagers at star parties with enough cabling to circle the Equator five times and more blinking lights than the Starship Enterprise. It's not for me but other people enjoy that kind of observing. Each to their own.


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Tony Flanders
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Re: how technological should astronomy be? new [Re: scottk]
      #5994200 - 07/28/13 06:36 AM

Quote:

I've read many posts from people with ten thousand dollar cameras complaining about updates and firmware. Going into a field to do astronomy is good. But at what point does the technology get in the way?




I think you're confusing several different issues: money, technology, and complexity.

To get the groundworks straight, astronomy is, and has always been, an inherently technological activity. You can certainly enjoy the night sky just lying on your back and gazing at the stars, but that's not really astronomy in the normal sense. It's when you start measuring and classifying that astronomy changes into a science.

The most brilliant minds in the world worked at astronomy for millennia with tools no more complicated than yardsticks. And all that work was superseded, swept away, in two years when Galileo turned his spyglass to the sky.

Visual observing is inherently simpler than imaging. No matter what technology you're using, it's bound to be more obtrusive when your goals are more ambitious -- such as making precise measurements instead of aesthetic enjoyment or capturing images instead of visual impressions.

For any given goal, technology actually makes that goal easier, not harder. The main difference between a $5,000 rig and a $1,000 rig is often that the $5,000 rig is easier to use. Technology gets in the way more when it's inadequate than when it's all humming along smoothly and effortlessly. That typically requires more money and a higher level of sophistication.

I'm not sure I agree, but many people claim that the rudimentary technology required to star-hop is more obtrusive than the fancier technology of Go To. For better or worse, star-hopping certainly side-tracks you more from the primary goal of location your target -- and also messes more with your dark adaptation.

Technology is at its best when it's invisible.


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obin robinson
Carpal Tunnel
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Reged: 10/25/12

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Re: how technological should astronomy be? new [Re: FJA]
      #5994222 - 07/28/13 07:23 AM

Quote:

I see imagers at star parties with enough cabling to circle the Equator five times and more blinking lights than the Starship Enterprise. It's not for me but other people enjoy that kind of observing. Each to their own.




That's because they're imaging, not observing. I'm sure they look at your setup and think "What a waste of a good telescope. He could probably get some great astro photos if he had the proper gear."

obin


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sg6
professor emeritus


Reged: 02/14/10

Loc: Norfolk, UK.
Re: how technological should astronomy be? new [Re: Tony Flanders]
      #5994224 - 07/28/13 07:23 AM

As much as you need or want. There is no use ending up as no technology and only technology.

There is a change in requirements as you start and gain more experience also.

I find that I both need some and also know what is in effect the same without technology.

Take a small goto to a public evening and tell it to go to Albereio. Nice simple, just before the public start looking I want to have pretty good confidence that it is actually pointed at Albereio.

So the goto technology helps but the knowledge without the technology is also required. Helps me to not look so stupid. I was particularily thick one night but did get away with it however.

If you like and do imaging then really little choice, you need the technology at some level, and you may as well use it to make life easy.

When you say "technology" what is meant? Electronic and computer control of motors, or accurate grinding of precision parabolic mirrors and the technology to make exotic glasses like FPL-53?


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jgraham
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Re: how technological should astronomy be? new [Re: sg6]
      #5994259 - 07/28/13 08:16 AM

Way back when I first started in this hobby nye on around 1962 there were basically 3 kinds of amateurs; beginner beginners with small refractors (mine was an old 50mm from Sears), telescope makers, and those lucky enough or well off enough to own a good commercially built scope. The hobby has since grown and expanded to an unimaginable extent. Astronomy has become a very rich hobby with so much to offer amateurs with very diverse interests. If you enjoy keeping it simple that's great, enjoy, but it is wonderful that there is so much to explore depending on your interests. Also, just like in the good old days, it doesn't necessarily have to be expensive.

Have fun!


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GOLGO13
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Reged: 11/05/05

Loc: St. Louis area
Re: how technological should astronomy be? new [Re: scottk]
      #5994297 - 07/28/13 08:51 AM

Of course it depends on what you are doing. I found out very quickly I did not like doing my own astro-imaging. I found it was much easier to just look at others' photos who are more into doing that type of thing.

Now, I love the technology of astronomy...But that can mean much more than electronics. I love eyepieces, telescope designs, collimating tools, etc etc. A great magazine for telescope tech is Astronomy Technology Today. A lot of people enjoy the equipment side of astronomy almost as much as the observing itself.

But as others have said. If you are not enjoying the technology side of the hobby, then it would be best to avoid that aspect. I do that with avoiding taking pictures (saves me a lot of money also). If your "go to" setup is frustrating, try going manual. I usually am more frustrated with manual star hopping then using technology. Especially in my light-polluted skies.


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Jon Isaacs
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Re: how technological should astronomy be? new [Re: Tony Flanders]
      #5994303 - 07/28/13 08:54 AM

Quote:

For better or worse, star-hopping certainly side-tracks you more from the primary goal of location your target -- and also messes more with your dark adaptation.





If location of a specific, predetermined target is your goal...

Jon


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Feidb
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 10/09/09

Loc: Nevada
Re: how technological should astronomy be? new [Re: Jon Isaacs]
      #5994407 - 07/28/13 09:49 AM

As many people have stated, it's all a matter of preference. I can only state from my 47 years of personal experience, observations and taste.

As a kid, I craved the technology because I didn't know any better. After years of frustration and realizing I had neither the budget or the ultimate desire to #1 take images, #2 have a need for a driven system because of the advent of wider field eyepieces, #3 I knew the sky well enough I didn't need either setting circles (via an equatorial mount) or GOTO, #4 I had ultimately no compulsion or obsession over equipment or to tweak all night, I was happy with a simple Dob.

To me, outside of a green laser pointer, any other technology gets in the way.

I've watched people spend thousands upon thousands of dollars on systems with relatively tiny aperture so they could either have GOTO or ultimately take images (or maybe already do) but in the field can't see what I can with my 16-inch, visually. I've listened to them complain as they set up, fussing with their gear, either trying to make it work or waiting for alignment stars or giving up because they forgot something like a battery pack (or a cable is broken). I've glanced over as guys (not usually gals) would obsessively tweak their scope (mostly Dobs) all night and hardly look at a thing). I've listened as groups got into pointless arguments over technical specs of their gear and forget to observe at all.

I found my groove in simplicity. I spent all my money in aperture and a few good moderate-priced eyepieces. Even before that, I made that aperture, and used cheap and improvised eyepieces and did just fine.

Jack Newton and Jason Ware are the two guys that back in the 90's convinced me, though unintentionally that I wasn't cut out to do imaging. I already knew I couldn't afford it, but after seeing what they went through to take decent images, I knew for sure it wasn't for me. My simple Dob was da bomb!

You have to find your mojo and adjust your budget accordingly. Technology only gets in the way if it doesn't do what you want it to.


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Maverick199
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Loc: India
Re: how technological should astronomy be? new [Re: Feidb]
      #5994446 - 07/28/13 10:15 AM

Quote from Edition The Hindu, 28th, July,2013: Like all ground-based observatories, TMT ( thirty metre telescope ) is limited in spatial resolution by the atmospheric turbulence. While the 30 m primary builds on the technological and operational experience of the Keck Telescope, it will be the first ground-based telescope to incorporate the technology of Adaptive Optics ( AO ) as an integral component of the telescope. AO refers to systems designed to sense atmospheric turbulence in real time, make the appropriate corrections to the beam and enable true image on the ground limited only by optical diffraction. The AO capability will enable the TMT resolve objects by a factor of 3 better than the 10 m-class telecopes and 12 times better than the Hubble Space Telescope ( HST ).

When Adaptive optics gets utilized in consumer dobs or reflectors and helps resolve detail by adapting to the atmospheric turbulence, how many of us would want this technology? Its not available as yet but who knows? Wouldn't this be helpful to those living in light pollution or even those without? Would we still pretend as if we are simple observers and simple instruments are going to show us what we want to see? The moment you invest in even as trivial item as a green laser, you are accepting technology. Forget those who invest in Moonlites, TV's, Zambuto's etc., Why only pick on technology concerned with imaging?


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panhard
It's All Good
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Re: how technological should astronomy be? new [Re: Maverick199]
      #5994522 - 07/28/13 11:04 AM

Quote:

Each to their own.


That is the way I look at it Faith.

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amicus sidera
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Reged: 10/14/11

Loc: East of the Sun, West of the M...
Re: how technological should astronomy be? new [Re: scottk]
      #5994540 - 07/28/13 11:17 AM

Amateur astronomy should be as technological as a given individual wants it to be for themselves.

That said, there exists a mild "tyranny of the technological" in the avocation at this time; if this is doubted, attempt to purchase a new, mass-produced telescope without sophisticated electronics and computer control - not a beginner's instrument, mind you, but an equatorially-mounted scope of decent aperture... such is no easy task. Since the majority desire telescopes laden with go-to and electronica (whether of their own volition, or more likely having been trained to want them via advertising and peer pressure), that is what is almost exclusively available in the marketplace. This situation is also driven in considerable degree by the numbers of relatively well-heeled individuals entering the hobby whose primary interest is in astrophotography.

The last couple of decades have seen the splitting of amateur astronomy into two major camps: one consists primarily of those who are interested in exploring the night sky visually, while those in the other camp are not really amateur astronomers in the classic sense, but rather photographers who happen to have chosen the heavens as their subject matter. While there is some degree of overlap between these two general groupings, as well as many outliers, they seem to have but little in common, in my experience.

I can recall a day when performing long-exposure or multiple-image astrophotography at a star party was considered impolite and generally bad form, as it required excessive light discipline on the field - one impact of the increasing number of imagers is that such discipline is now considered de rigeur at all major events, and is for the most part a result of the large number of astrophotographers present, who must not be inconvenienced as they capture the 28,567th image of the Trifid Nebula for posterity.

Incidentally, I'm firmly in the first camp (although I've dabbled in the second), which should be fairly obvious.

Fred


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Kraus
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Re: how technological should astronomy be? new [Re: amicus sidera]
      #5994560 - 07/28/13 11:31 AM


Define astronomy.


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FJA
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Re: how technological should astronomy be? new [Re: obin robinson]
      #5994634 - 07/28/13 12:17 PM

Quote:

Quote:

I see imagers at star parties with enough cabling to circle the Equator five times and more blinking lights than the Starship Enterprise. It's not for me but other people enjoy that kind of observing. Each to their own.




That's because they're imaging, not observing. I'm sure they look at your setup and think "What a waste of a good telescope. He could probably get some great astro photos if he had the proper gear."

obin




You think I'm slagging off imagers, don't you? I'm actually not. Just because I don't care for it doesn't mean I don't think it's a valid means of observing. As I said 'each to their own'.

But then the same imagers come over and ask for a look through my telescope. A look!

And, by the way, it's 'she' not 'he'.


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obin robinson
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Re: how technological should astronomy be? new [Re: amicus sidera]
      #5994639 - 07/28/13 12:20 PM

Quote:

The last couple of decades have seen the splitting of amateur astronomy into two major camps: one consists primarily of those who are interested in exploring the night sky visually, while those in the other camp are not really amateur astronomers in the classic sense, but rather photographers who happen to have chosen the heavens as their subject matter. While there is some degree of overlap between these two general groupings, as well as many outliers, they seem to have but little in common, in my experience.
Fred




There is a third group as well: researchers whose subject matter happens to be far above their heads and requires use of a telescope and computers. Modern technology has given backyard observers with home-made gear the ability to discover supernova, comets, asteroids, and other objects in the heavens. This capability used to be only available to universities, corporations, and government entities. Now it is in the hands of the masses with budgets a mere fraction of what the "big boys" have.

obin


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mayidunk
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Re: how technological should astronomy be? new [Re: Kraus]
      #5994782 - 07/28/13 01:54 PM

Quote:

Define astronomy.



The word astronomy literally means "law of the stars" (or "culture of the stars"), and is derived from the Greek word astronomia, which itself is made up from the Greek words astron, meaning "star," and nomos, meaning "laws" or "cultures."

(Ya just gotta love Google! )


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Re: how technological should astronomy be? new [Re: mayidunk]
      #5994813 - 07/28/13 02:17 PM

One challenge is that you just can put people into little boxes that define them or their interests. I observe with my eyes, I observe with my cameras, I image with my cameras, I take qualitative and quantitative data with my cameras. Each one of these is a unique experience and each one is an integral part of how I explore this hobby. I am sure than many others also have their own unique way of enjoying amateur astronomy and each one is perfectly valid. None of us has the right to say what is right or wrong with how someone else expresses their own interest. This is a great time to be an amateur astronomer!

Enjoy.

P.S.

In my neck of the woods we get maybe 60 clear nights a year, so I get as much out of each one as I can. Over the past week we had a couple of fairly good nights, but that run is now over. With it getting dark so late I generally do more imaging this time of year and when it is clear I image like a demon recording as much as I can. As I sit here the clouds are rolling in an rain is in the forecast. I'll spend the next several days processing my new images and trying out different things. I consider this to be very much an extension of observing that let's me stretch out the observing experience over several days, exploring the images that I have captured. I also have a set of cameras that I specifically use for real-time observing, but each one of these is a unique component to the larger activity of observing the heavens. Also, having access to unprocessed source images has deeply enriched my visual observing experience as they make the absolute best finder charts and they show me exactly what these objects look like before they are processed beyond all recognition.

What a fun hobby!


Edited by jgraham (07/28/13 02:24 PM)


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BlueGrass
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Re: how technological should astronomy be? new [Re: jgraham]
      #5994907 - 07/28/13 02:58 PM

Part of the current problem with using technology in this hobby is many who are doing AP forget how sensitive the visual folks are to stray light be it white, blue or red or to the LCD screens of their laptops. As I've progressed in my AP journey, I've learned that even my eyes are negatively affected during the course of the evening. The numerous blinking and non-blinking LEDs are annoying and even a polarized filter over the laptop screen isn't enough. I have to dim the screen and put black tape over the LEDs to keep my eyes sensitive enough to look around the sky during imaging runs. I enjoy both aspects of the hobby but wish there was a way to have a complete 'lights out' AP setup particularly if I'm out with others. Make the effort, turn the lights off, mask the status lights, do what you can to eliminate and minimize the intrusion of the technology on others ... They'll thank you.

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Re: how technological should astronomy be? new [Re: Maverick199]
      #5994946 - 07/28/13 03:22 PM

Maverick 199,

I'm not picking on anyone though the majority of the gear DOES focus on astrophotography. My accepting a tiny bit of technology like a GLP is not being hypocritical if that's what you're implying. I enjoy a pretty picture just like the next person. I've also "cheated" and taken advantage of a friend or two's GOTOs to verify an obscure object I'd found was the actual open cluster I was looking at. For my personal money and use, I'd never spend it on either AP gear or high-end observing gear such as you mentioned. I've observed through all of it and the expense in my eyes does not come close to the minute advantages one gets, one night a year, in my opinion. But that's just me.

On the other thing you mentioned, adaptive optics. I've been doing just fine without them. I'd never fork out the cash for such a system as I know the costs, even if they invented a system within the reach of amateurs, would be strictly high-end and that's already way out of my budget. I'd be more than happy to look at the results. Whether I'd be impressed or not is to be seen. Wouldn't matter. I'm sure just like the high-end gear, I couldn't afford it or wouldn't want to spend the money on it even if I could.

Choices.

Not knocking technology or picking on any one aspect of the hobby. It's called a hobby for a reason. To enjoy in our own way. I've just given my reasons for liking what I do and not liking what I don't. I don't expect you or anyone else to agree with me. My AP buddies and high-end buddies get along with me just fine.


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mayidunk
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Re: how technological should astronomy be? new [Re: Feidb]
      #5995045 - 07/28/13 04:18 PM

And that is exactly as it should be, to each their own! Everyone gets enjoyment, either from the trip, or from arriving at the destination, or both.

Whether the efforts are for pure research, pure science, pretty pictures, or gasps at the eyepiece, in the end we are all doing it because we like doing it! In fact, many here can't think of many other things they would rather be doing than to be out under the stars, on a dark, Moonless night, either glued to the eyepiece, having lost all track of time, or going for as many unguided frames as they can before they finally have to flip the mount, or marveling at that machine that they actually own that enables them to do this, or simply swearing a blue streak, pitching a fit as they fight and struggle with the technology they know will make their pain worthwhile in the end!

Different strokes, for different folks! And so on... and so on... and shoobie, doobie, dooooobie...

"We got to live together!"

Peace.


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Re: how technological should astronomy be? new [Re: mayidunk]
      #5995099 - 07/28/13 04:37 PM

Quote:

Quote:

Define astronomy.



The word astronomy literally means "law of the stars" (or "culture of the stars"), and is derived from the Greek word astronomia, which itself is made up from the Greek words astron, meaning "star," and nomos, meaning "laws" or "cultures."

(Ya just gotta love Google! )




Bob understands. Thank you.

Anyone else?


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lamplight
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Re: how technological should astronomy be? new [Re: Kraus]
      #5995144 - 07/28/13 05:03 PM

I like it all, even though i tend to gravitate most often to manual mounts. I even like futzing around with my scopes when its cloudy for weeks on end.

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Paco_Grande
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Re: how technological should astronomy be? new [Re: Kraus]
      #5995558 - 07/28/13 09:38 PM

Quote:

Quote:

Quote:

Define astronomy.



The word astronomy literally means "law of the stars" (or "culture of the stars"), and is derived from the Greek word astronomia, which itself is made up from the Greek words astron, meaning "star," and nomos, meaning "laws" or "cultures."

(Ya just gotta love Google! )




Bob understands. Thank you.

Anyone else?




Who cares? The Greeks are bankrupt. The fact is, we laypeople think of astronomy as viewing and enjoying the stuff of the heavens. That works for most of us, except for anal retentive types, I suppose.

Weird that no one addressed the OPs orig question. I'll try!

There are two technologies that often get in the way. One is just good old poor design. We're fortunate to live in a time where competition has run most poor designs into has-beens. We live in a time of great designs and great value. We're pretty lucky that way.

Second is with software and firmware - especially the latter. It's very hard to write good firmware, especially if you're of the mind to break rules, and programmers often break rules, or get lazy. And the result is nightmare upgrades of operating systems, etc.. How many people remember Windows 3.11 and video driver problems? Man was that a nightmare.

So, I say that technology is a problem gets in the way of your enjoyment, when it doesn't work, or is clunky. I have a very low tolerance for lousy software/firmware.


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mayidunk
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Re: how technological should astronomy be? new [Re: Paco_Grande]
      #5995958 - 07/29/13 03:46 AM

Quote:

Quote:

Quote:

Quote:

Define astronomy.



The word astronomy literally means "law of the stars" (or "culture of the stars"), and is derived from the Greek word astronomia, which itself is made up from the Greek words astron, meaning "star," and nomos, meaning "laws" or "cultures."

(Ya just gotta love Google! )




Bob understands. Thank you.

Anyone else?




Who cares? The Greeks are bankrupt. The fact is, we laypeople think of astronomy as viewing and enjoying the stuff of the heavens. That works for most of us, except for anal retentive types, I suppose.

Weird that no one addressed the OPs orig question. I'll try!

There are two technologies that often get in the way. One is just good old poor design. We're fortunate to live in a time where competition has run most poor designs into has-beens. We live in a time of great designs and great value. We're pretty lucky that way.

Second is with software and firmware - especially the latter. It's very hard to write good firmware, especially if you're of the mind to break rules, and programmers often break rules, or get lazy. And the result is nightmare upgrades of operating systems, etc.. How many people remember Windows 3.11 and video driver problems? Man was that a nightmare.

So, I say that technology is a problem gets in the way of your enjoyment, when it doesn't work, or is clunky. I have a very low tolerance for lousy software/firmware.



When I was doing lots and lots of mainframe development years ago, I busted my hump to ensure that my code was readable, well documented, modular (functionally cohesive sections/paragraphs/modules), and well structured. I did a lot of assembler, so adding profuse comments (pseudo code, really) on the side was what you did! But I also did much more COBOL over the long run. COBOL is excellent in that, if you write clear, well structured code, your source code will be self-documenting when you're done, and should be easily decipherable by anyone who knows the basic business processes involved, and the rules that accompany them. COBOL, if done a certain way, can leave your code as easy to read as a book, allowing almost anyone to be able to understand what the code is doing!

I loved those days when I mostly did new program, and system development from scratch! However, later in my career I got to spend all of my time "in the barrel," troubleshooting, and maintaining other people's code. Many were the mornings where I just sat staring at someone's source code, shaking my head, and wondering why! Not that I was the best programmer to ever come down the pike, I certainly wasn't! Over the years, I have coded more than my share of time bombs, and stinkers! However, when you see large programs where the entire PROCEDURE DIVISION is made up entirely of one, long, nested "if-then-else" statement, one single endlessly meandering sentence, that goes on for page, after page, after page, having only one, single, lonely little period to end it. Well my friend, welcome to H-E-Double-Hockey Sticks! Pull yourself up a blazing briquet, and have a seat! This could take a while...

I once had a person on a development team that I was leading, who actually prided themselves on being able to do exactly that! They claimed that the CPU was able to process it more efficiently!!

We went round, and round...


Another one I've seen is where people, rather than to try to understand what the code is doing, would just code a PERFORM statement (think "GOSUB") at what they hoped was a harmless point in the logic of the code, causing it to branch to another seemingly complete program that they had coded at the very bottom of the source code listing, RETURNing back to where they branched out when their code was finished, hoping it all worked out correctly! At least with them, you could see what they did, and it was easily contained if you had to make changes. Though, you couldn't always count on them only having added those blocks of code. No, they probably coded other PERFORM statements, sprinkled throughout the existing code, thinking themselves as being awfully clever for having done it in such an obviously structured manner! Of course, they never left a comment, not even a hint, to show what they had done, or why!! Just a terse comment at the top of the listing, briefly stating what they did, and when they did it:

"7/14/84 - Added code, tested it, it ran to EOJ."

("EOJ" means "end-of-job." In other words, the job ended normally without suddenly blowing up, taking half the planet with it! Don't laugh, I was there when a fellow employee once said something very similar to the "big boss" after a job of his blew up in production! The boss just shook his head, and walked away...)

Honestly, I couldn't make this stuff up if I tried!


Another time, we encountered a batch job where someone had made changes to a program without leaving any documentation at all regarding what the change actually was, why it was done, and (most importantly) who had actually made the change! We only caught it by sheer dumb luck when we got a call from the users, complaining that some of their data was suddenly not making sense, and that they had only discovered it by happenstance when something else entirely unrelated had occurred!

After tracking it down to that one job, and realizing that we didn't have a clue as to what had been changed, we immediately went to the backups of the previous versions of both the JCL, and the source code, in an attempt to restore either, or both to their original state. It was only then that it become horrifyingly clear to us that, had we not gone for the backups on that very day, the tapes that contained their code would have rolled off of the backup list that night (aka, the GDG index), and the tapes that contained their data would have probably been written over. Gone!

The data would have been lost for good!!

Oh, before you ask, did I mention that they didn't even have a disaster recovery plan in place at the time? That's why we would've been nailed, because the only possible route we might've had to recover after something like that happening, did not even exist at the time! There was no alternate recovery site (think, another computer center that could pick up, and do our work), there was no true offsite storage facility (think "Iron Mountain") where we could, at least, safely store the backup tapes that were critical to our being able to get back on our feet if disaster ever struck! No. Instead, their "offsite" storage facility for those particular archive tapes, the absolute last hope they would ever have of recovering after a disaster... was a storage closet in the back of the computer room!

I kid you not. You just can't make this stuff up!


And, if I were to tell you the name of the organization to whom all this belonged, you would probably blanch at first, and then afterwards, reluctantly agree that this is pretty much par for the course for many organizations of this type! Even after 911, it took them almost 10 more years to finally get some semblance of a credible disaster recovery plan into place! And they've been "in the business" for nigh unto 40 years!

It's truly amazing that things like this can actually be happening! It leaves one wondering if we may, in fact, all have good reason to be afraid...

To be very afraid!

I'm sorry, I didn't mean to hijack the thread with that. Once I got started, I was on a roll! However, if anything, it does clearly show how technology can get in the way of an otherwise perfectly good time!



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Maverick199
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Re: how technological should astronomy be? new [Re: Feidb]
      #5995990 - 07/29/13 05:47 AM

Hi FiedB,

Absolutely not and your post is perfectly okay for me. I understand perfectly well there is nothing wrong in what we do in our individual capacity and for our hobby. We are all trying to make a good point of the topic and your opinion counts. When I mentioned high end viewing gear, I was pointing out those folks who do just as AP'ers too spend on high end gear. To each his own.


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Tony Flanders
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Re: how technological should astronomy be? new [Re: amicus sidera]
      #5995996 - 07/29/13 05:56 AM

Quote:

The last couple of decades have seen the splitting of amateur astronomy into two major camps: one consists primarily of those who are interested in exploring the night sky visually, while those in the other camp are not really amateur astronomers in the classic sense, but rather photographers who happen to have chosen the heavens as their subject matter. While there is some degree of overlap between these two general groupings, as well as many outliers, they seem to have but little in common, in my experience.




That is not my experience. I know many of the world's best astrophotographers through electronic contact and a fair number face to face. All of them are also passionate visual observers.

In fact, they consider visual observing integral to their particularly sub-specialty. Like any kind of photography, astrophotography is all about interpretation. And how can you know how to interpret images of the sky unless you're guided by what you see through the eyepiece?

Tony Flanders
Associate Editor, Sky & Telescope


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Maverick199
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Re: how technological should astronomy be? new [Re: Tony Flanders]
      #5996001 - 07/29/13 06:05 AM

I have to agree with Tony here. Every time I image, I observe visually the object in question for several minutes before attaching the imaging gear. Of course certain objects are not visible through the eyepiece from my location due to city viewing but still I look for surrounding stars etc., to compose my image. If weather stays clear all night, I bring out my Dobsonian whilst imaging.

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waffle
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Re: how technological should astronomy be? new [Re: Seldom]
      #5996046 - 07/29/13 07:37 AM

technology certainly breathed new life into my enthusiasm for the whole thing. using goto functions have shown me stuff i didn't even know existed and hence has triggered renewed excitement for it.

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amicus sidera
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Re: how technological should astronomy be? new [Re: Maverick199]
      #5996157 - 07/29/13 09:07 AM

Quote:

I have to agree with Tony here. Every time I image, I observe visually the object in question for several minutes before attaching the imaging gear.




"Several minutes"... therein lies the gap.

There is always a degree of overlap, but to ignore that there are generally separate groups in amateur astronomy is unrealistic, in my opinion. Certainly, in the end, the division between imaging and visual astronomy is a moot point; we all pursue astronomy as we wish, in whatever manner brings us enjoyment. However, if a large segment of hobbyists happen to prefer the much costlier hobby of imaging, it's easy to predict the course which the manufacturers will take, in regards to the type of equipment they will produce.

Fred


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Maverick199
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Re: how technological should astronomy be? new [Re: amicus sidera]
      #5996318 - 07/29/13 10:57 AM

Quote:

Quote:

I have to agree with Tony here. Every time I image, I observe visually the object in question for several minutes before attaching the imaging gear.




"Several minutes"... therein lies the gap.

There is always a degree of overlap, but to ignore that there are generally separate groups in amateur astronomy is unrealistic, in my opinion. Certainly, in the end, the division between imaging and visual astronomy is a moot point; we all pursue astronomy as we wish, in whatever manner brings us enjoyment. However, if a large segment of hobbyists happen to prefer the much costlier hobby of imaging, it's easy to predict the course which the manufacturers will take, in regards to the type of equipment they will produce.

Fred




True but this does not detract from the fact I also use my Dobsonian. My issue is light pollution. On those really transparent nights, I bring out both equipment. Once set up, the laptop does the rest leaving me to view the skies. What I need to add here is on most nights, seeing is terrible even if no clouds and on such nights, its purely visual.


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Jon Isaacs
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Re: how technological should astronomy be? new [Re: amicus sidera]
      #5996322 - 07/29/13 11:02 AM

Quote:

That said, there exists a mild "tyranny of the technological" in the avocation at this time; if this is doubted, attempt to purchase a new, mass-produced telescope without sophisticated electronics and computer control - not a beginner's instrument, mind you, but an equatorially-mounted scope of decent aperture... such is no easy task.




I think that there is a simple reason for this: I suspect that the per unit cost of GOTO quite low so GOTO represents an increased profit margin. It's basically two motors and some relative simple electronics...

As far as the original topic, the opportunity does exist to get lost in a technology, reveling in the magic of equipment rather than using it as a tool to observe the night sky in one way or the other.

As far as astro-photography, I do know of astrophotographers who do no visual. After all, it's getting more and more popular to have an remote observatory where a robotic telescope is operated from a hundreds or thousands of miles away.

Jon


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obin robinson
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Re: how technological should astronomy be? new [Re: Jon Isaacs]
      #5996564 - 07/29/13 01:09 PM

Quote:

As far as astro-photography, I do know of astrophotographers who do no visual. After all, it's getting more and more popular to have an remote observatory where a robotic telescope is operated from a hundreds or thousands of miles away.

Jon




I can imagine a time within the next 50 years where ultra high resolution goggles make it possible for people to get gigapixel-level live images from observatories. So in essence you will be able to "log in" to a telescope and look through their camera as if it was an eyepiece directly in front of you. The potential is there and once it becomes affordable I am sure that high tech solutions like this will bring more people into the hobby. I am sure that generation of observers will look back and laugh at the past when hauling huge telescopes out to remote sites at night was the only way to get a view of a dark sky.

obin


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jrcrillyAdministrator
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Re: how technological should astronomy be? new [Re: Jon Isaacs]
      #5996580 - 07/29/13 01:17 PM

Quote:

Quote:

That said, there exists a mild "tyranny of the technological" in the avocation at this time; if this is doubted, attempt to purchase a new, mass-produced telescope without sophisticated electronics and computer control - not a beginner's instrument, mind you, but an equatorially-mounted scope of decent aperture... such is no easy task.




I think that there is a simple reason for this: I suspect that the per unit cost of GOTO quite low so GOTO represents an increased profit margin. It's basically two motors and some relative simple electronics...




I think the reason is that when both Meade and Celestron tried to re-introduce non-goto EQ SCT forkounts at a decent reduction in price a few years ago they found no substantial market. The manufacturers don't produce what they prefer; they produce what people buy.


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Kraus
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Re: how technological should astronomy be? new [Re: jrcrilly]
      #5996727 - 07/29/13 02:28 PM


Perhaps we should define technology and then tie it to astronomy.


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lordhaw
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Re: how technological should astronomy be? new [Re: Kraus]
      #5996732 - 07/29/13 02:34 PM

In my opinion it's a personal thing. I work with tech all day in my job as a sysadmin and I rather enjoy unplugging with the simple joys of a manual telescope. Things like GOTO have their place and I wouldn't mind some powered tracking when sketching but by and large I want my astronomy experience to be pure and simple.

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mayidunk
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Re: how technological should astronomy be? new [Re: Kraus]
      #5996957 - 07/29/13 04:42 PM

Quote:


Perhaps we should define technology and then tie it to astronomy.



Quote:

Quote:

Define astronomy.



The word astronomy literally means "law of the stars" (or "culture of the stars"), and is derived from the Greek word astronomia, which itself is made up from the Greek words astron, meaning "star," and nomos, meaning "laws" or "cultures."

(Ya just gotta love Google! )



The word technology literally means "Of art, skill, and cunning of hands, I speak," and is derived from the Greek words techne, meaning "art," "skill," "cunning of hand," and logia, meaning "I speak."

So, if we were to add astronomy to technology, it may go something like this:
"I speak of art, skill, and cunning of hands as they apply to the law, or culture of the stars."

However, it may also be seen as:
"The study of art, skill, and cunning of hands as they apply to the law, or culture of the stars."

An old teacher of mine would have termed it as:
"A word about art, skill, and cunning of hands as they apply to the law, or culture of the stars.


Once again, kudos to Google, and Wikipedia! Maybe not as good as Britannica, but certainly more convenient... and pocket sized to boot!

My knowledge is a mile wide, but a half-inch deep! How did I do?

Edited by mayidunk (07/29/13 05:01 PM)


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jrbarnett
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Re: how technological should astronomy be? new [Re: scottk]
      #5996988 - 07/29/13 05:10 PM

I'd say it depends on the user's technical proficiency and what kind of observing makes him or her happiest. For some, a light switch might be too hard to fathom. For others, anything short of a fully robotic imaging observatory 3000 miles away would leave them utterly bored.

You'll always have your Luddites on one extreme and your technophiles on the other, and then the rest of us between them. Technology can be intimidating, but astronomy gear are tools designed to solve particular problems. No matter how scary that hammer looks, trust me, it'll be better in the long run than that rock you were using to pound nails. On the other hand, you might not really need that pneumatic generator driven compressor hammer for 99.9% of the nail pounding adventures you're likely to face.

- Jim


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Kevdog
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Re: how technological should astronomy be? new [Re: jrbarnett]
      #5996997 - 07/29/13 05:19 PM

I have both a C11 and an 18" dob now with no computer assistance.

It's sure nice to set up the C11 and align and then just slew to whatever I want to see.

It's now also nice to have 18" of aperture and search to see what I can find with no batteries, power cables, etc. Sometimes it's frustrating, but once I find something that is a nice feeling. Of course sometimes not finding something (like the ring nebula last night) is very disappointing. Still new to starhopping, so that won't be as bad later.

Both approaches have their advantages and different rewards. Goto is great in heavy LP. Finding things yourself is rewarding too!


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Kraus
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Re: how technological should astronomy be? new [Re: mayidunk]
      #5997998 - 07/30/13 08:59 AM

Quote:

Quote:


Perhaps we should define technology and then tie it to astronomy.



Quote:

Quote:

Define astronomy.



The word astronomy literally means "law of the stars" (or "culture of the stars"), and is derived from the Greek word astronomia, which itself is made up from the Greek words astron, meaning "star," and nomos, meaning "laws" or "cultures."

(Ya just gotta love Google! )



The word technology literally means "Of art, skill, and cunning of hands, I speak," and is derived from the Greek words techne, meaning "art," "skill," "cunning of hand," and logia, meaning "I speak."

So, if we were to add astronomy to technology, it may go something like this:
"I speak of art, skill, and cunning of hands as they apply to the law, or culture of the stars."

However, it may also be seen as:
"The study of art, skill, and cunning of hands as they apply to the law, or culture of the stars."

An old teacher of mine would have termed it as:
"A word about art, skill, and cunning of hands as they apply to the law, or culture of the stars.


Once again, kudos to Google, and Wikipedia! Maybe not as good as Britannica, but certainly more convenient... and pocket sized to boot!

My knowledge is a mile wide, but a half-inch deep! How did I do?




You did well. I begin to see a connection between technology and astronomy.

My night is to be clear. I shall explore Messier 102 and the Cat's Eye.


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csrlice12
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Re: how technological should astronomy be? new [Re: jrbarnett]
      #5998019 - 07/30/13 09:15 AM

As technical as you want it to be.....be it just walking outside and looking up, or a complete AP Observatory.....It's a hobby, enjoy it at the level you want (or can afford)....and truthfully, this does not need to be an expensive hobby.....

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ensign
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Re: how technological should astronomy be? new [Re: csrlice12]
      #5998263 - 07/30/13 11:46 AM

I'm not sure if the Mennonites who drive horse and buggy in my neck of the woods are considered technology averse or not. The reality is that they chose one technology (horse and buggy) over another (automobile).

If you're observing with anything but naked eye, you're making use of technology. As a long-time user of high technology, I've observed that technology typically solves one set of problems but leaves you with another set of problems.

As an example, consider the humble Newt. You can see a lot more detail in deep space objects with an 8" Newt. The problem it solves is enabling you to see very faint objects that would be impossible naked eye.

The problems it creates: you need to store it, you generally need to transport it. You need to align it periodically. You need to aim it. You need to cool it. You sometimes need to keep dew off the secondary (I'm sure there are more I haven't considered).

The question, that can only be answered by each individual, is whether or not the problems it creates are worth managing given the problems it solves.


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Tony Flanders
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Re: how technological should astronomy be? new [Re: Jon Isaacs]
      #5998498 - 07/30/13 01:50 PM

Quote:

Quote:

That said, there exists a mild "tyranny of the technological" in the avocation at this time; if this is doubted, attempt to purchase a new, mass-produced telescope without sophisticated electronics and computer control - not a beginner's instrument, mind you, but an equatorially-mounted scope of decent aperture... such is no easy task.




I think that there is a simple reason for this: I suspect that the per unit cost of GOTO quite low so GOTO represents an increased profit margin. It's basically two motors and some relative simple electronics...




I'll go a little farther than that. I'm not sure exactly what's meant in the original quote by "decent aperture." It's certainly easy enough to buy an off-the-shelf 8-inch equatorial-mounted Newt.

But in larger apertures, computerized alt-azimuth mounts are inherently superior to equatorial mounts, and the bigger the aperture, the truer that is. There is a reason that no large professional telescope has been placed on an equatorial mount in the last 50 years.

In other words, serious astronomers use Go To scopes not because they love gee-whiz technology, but because they're cheaper and work better. Two very good reasons!


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brianb11213
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Re: how technological should astronomy be? new [Re: Tony Flanders]
      #5998597 - 07/30/13 02:52 PM

Quote:

But in larger apertures, computerized alt-azimuth mounts are inherently superior to equatorial mounts, and the bigger the aperture, the truer that is.



If you want to go to the expense & complication of a field rotator. Otherwise altaz mounts - even with computerised tracking - are critically compromised for imaging.

Equatorial mounts are commonly used in apertures up to about 0.5 metres - the likes of Paramount ME has a great many users. The only real disadvantage of the equatorial mount is the complications caused by engineering in giant sizes. For the sort of apertures that amateurs typically have access to, a good motor driven (not necessarily computerised) equatorial is generally superior to the altaz GOTOs on the market in almost every respect.


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Tony Flanders
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Re: how technological should astronomy be? new [Re: brianb11213]
      #5998720 - 07/30/13 04:11 PM

Quote:

Quote:

But in larger apertures, computerized alt-azimuth mounts are inherently superior to equatorial mounts, and the bigger the aperture, the truer that is.



If you want to go to the expense & complication of a field rotator. Otherwise altaz mounts - even with computerised tracking - are critically compromised for imaging.




Quite so. However, the cost of a derotator depends only on the camera, and is independent of the size of the telescope. Therefore, as the aperture increases, the relative cost of a derotator decreases.

Quote:

Equatorial mounts are commonly used in apertures up to about 0.5 metres.




Absolutely. But by professional standards, that's tiny. Not that tiny telescopes don't have their uses, mind you.

Quote:

The only real disadvantage of the equatorial mount is the complications caused by engineering in giant sizes.




Actually, for the professionals, the biggest advantage of the alt-az mount is its compactness, which allows for a smaller dome.

But the engineering complications of EQ mounts don't start at gigantic sizes. An 8-inch alt-az fork-mounted SCT is considerably smaller and lighter than its old-fashioned eq fork-mounted equivalent. Any way you look at it, alt-az mounts are inherently balanced and EQ mounts are inherently unbalanced.

Quote:

For the sort of apertures that amateurs typically have access to, a good motor driven (not necessarily computerised) equatorial is generally superior to the altaz GOTOs on the market in almost every respect.




That is true for imaging. But for visual observing, a computerized alt-az mount has several advantages -- lighter, more compact, mechanically simpler, no tube rotation, and quite likely cheaper.


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Jeff Phinney
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Re: how technological should astronomy be? new [Re: brianb11213]
      #5998748 - 07/30/13 04:29 PM

As seen in the minutes from a business meeting of an amateur astronomy organization:

---------------------------------------------------------------

6. New Business.

A 12 Meade LX200 GPS with a failed motherboard
was donated to the XXXX.
XXXX will contact XXXX to see about repairs.
$400 was allocated to this effort.

---------------------------------------------------------------

Call me old school, but since when did telescopes start to have a useful lifetime that ended when the electronics within took a dump. When replacement of motherboard is required to use a telescope, .... well,.... I think I've made my point with regard to the issue being discussed.


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shawnhar
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Re: how technological should astronomy be? new [Re: scottk]
      #5998752 - 07/30/13 04:34 PM

how technological should astronomy be? As tech as you need it to be. I started with 7x42 binocs, I quickly realized I needed more tech, a scrap 2x4 a bunjee cord a washer and a bolt was my 1st tech upgrade, it allowed me to hold the binocs steady. Next 2 upgrades were apeture, next upgrade was tracking, next upgrade was a camera, then a mount that would allow auto-guiding, then guide scope, guide camera, etc....
None of that stuff except for the apeture is needed to do "real" astronomy, you can discover a comet or a supernova with a 10" dob, low tech indeed, and in that respect tech has already gotten in the way for me many times. Laptop battery died, software crashes, wrong settings in the camera, etc... I "could" have just set up the dob and enjoyed the view, but that's the price you pay if you want to take pics of the Universe, it's complicated.


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Kraus
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Re: how technological should astronomy be? new [Re: brianb11213]
      #5998826 - 07/30/13 05:29 PM

Quote:

Quote:

But in larger apertures, computerized alt-azimuth mounts are inherently superior to equatorial mounts, and the bigger the aperture, the truer that is.



If you want to go to the expense & complication of a field rotator. Otherwise altaz mounts - even with computerised tracking - are critically compromised for imaging.

Equatorial mounts are commonly used in apertures up to about 0.5 metres - the likes of Paramount ME has a great many users. The only real disadvantage of the equatorial mount is the complications caused by engineering in giant sizes. For the sort of apertures that amateurs typically have access to, a good motor driven (not necessarily computerised) equatorial is generally superior to the altaz GOTOs on the market in almost every respect.




I agree Herr BrianB. The Hale is mounted equatorially. How in the heck did they align it to the pole? Star drift? I can see it now.

"OK boys, we're too far west. Push it three inches to the east."

"Oh look. It's below the pole. Ready boys, now lift and hold it there. I'll tighten the bolts."


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brianb11213
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Re: how technological should astronomy be? new [Re: Tony Flanders]
      #5998868 - 07/30/13 05:59 PM

Quote:


Quote:

The only real disadvantage of the equatorial mount is the complications caused by engineering in giant sizes.




Actually, for the professionals, the biggest advantage of the alt-az mount is its compactness, which allows for a smaller dome.




OK, how much smaller would the dome for the Hale 200" be if it was mounted altaz?

The reason domes are getting "smaller" (in relation to the aperture of the scope contained therein) in more recent observatories has a lot to do with the working focal ratio being made smaller these days, giving a shorter tube length. (Another complication here as the short focus primary mirror necessitates a coma corrector to get anything approaching a respectable field of view!)

Quote:

But the engineering complications of EQ mounts don't start at gigantic sizes. An 8-inch alt-az fork-mounted SCT is considerably smaller and lighter than its old-fashioned eq fork-mounted equivalent. Any way you look at it, alt-az mounts are inherently balanced and EQ mounts are inherently unbalanced.



A 8" SCT on a fork mount, on a wedge, is very little bigger or heavier than the same scope on a fork mount. And it's inherently balanced too. Don't confuse "equatorial mount" with "German equatorial mount" : the GEM has its charms (being easier to swap tubes) but also significant disadvatages, apart from the counterweight the required meridian flip is a nuisance.

The real issue here in engineering terms - with all equatorial mounts used at temperate or tropical latitudes - is that the polar axis has a significant bending moment due to the weight of the tube, it is much easier to build an adequately smoothly rotating yet solid polar axis when the only load is in thrust uniformly distributed across the bearing. This is certaintly a real issue when the supported weight gets measured in tonnes rather than kilogrammes but hardly matters for instruments in the 0.5m or smaller category.

For amateurs needing a portable instrument, a more practical concern is how easy the mount is to set up and align. A plain (push to point) altaz mount needs no setup; an equatorial mount needs to be polar aligned but with a polar scope one can do an adequate job in about 30 seconds without the aid of any computer. The computerised goto mounts need much longer than that and actually achieving alignment can be a hit-or-miss affair, especially for beginners (who don't know the sky) and especially in those scopes which try to make life easy for the beginner because they sometimes (usually, in my experience) get the alignment wrong for reasons which are hard for the user to understand. That's technology getting in the way of observing. Add in poor slewing/pointing accuracy and a built-in list of objects which are mostly beyond the light grasp of the scope, especially for a beginner and especially in light polluted skies, and you have a recipe for frustration.

Sure, not all computerised mounts are like that, but in my experience those sold to beginners are.


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amicus sidera
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Re: how technological should astronomy be? new [Re: brianb11213]
      #5998886 - 07/30/13 06:14 PM

When telescopes began, to a greater or lesser degree, to in effect think for themselves, they ceased to be human-centered; at that point they joined the ranks of all the other machines that were once perforce intimately directed and controlled by people, but which are now semi- or wholly-autonomous. One can call that progress, and indeed it is - from the machine's point of view.

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obin robinson
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Re: how technological should astronomy be? new [Re: brianb11213]
      #5998892 - 07/30/13 06:19 PM

Quote:

For amateurs needing a portable instrument, a more practical concern is how easy the mount is to set up and align. A plain (push to point) altaz mount needs no setup; an equatorial mount needs to be polar aligned but with a polar scope one can do an adequate job in about 30 seconds without the aid of any computer. The computerised goto mounts need much longer than that and actually achieving alignment can be a hit-or-miss affair, especially for beginners (who don't know the sky) and especially in those scopes which try to make life easy for the beginner because they sometimes (usually, in my experience) get the alignment wrong for reasons which are hard for the user to understand. That's technology getting in the way of observing.




For the longest time (i.e. most of my life) my astronomy gear consisted of spotting scopes and binoculars. I was quite happy and the only frustrations I recall were being annoyed at how the cheap tripods I had were transmitting vibrations into the spotting scopes. Once I discovered the world of "goto" with the Meade DS my biggest frustration was leveling and pointing the mount at north precisely. Honestly though these frustrations subsided pretty quickly. If someone takes the time to read the manuals provided with this gear they are really easy to set up.

I never thought of technology as getting in the way. I saw the biggest annoyance for many years being wobbly tripods and mounts. Once I stepped up to higher quality gear those problems went away. I can't grasp for the life of me how anyone could find a German Equatorial Mount being complex. It's a really simple device with some really simple instructions. On the other hand if you think a microwave oven or a blender with more than 4 buttons is complex then I guess a GEM would be pretty confusing too.

obin


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brianb11213
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Re: how technological should astronomy be? new [Re: amicus sidera]
      #5998923 - 07/30/13 06:45 PM

Quote:

When telescopes began, to a greater or lesser degree, to in effect think for themselves, they ceased to be human-centered; at that point they joined the ranks of all the other machines that were once perforce intimately directed and controlled by people, but which are now semi- or wholly-autonomous. One can call that progress, and indeed it is - from the machine's point of view.



Actually - it's still human controlled, the difference is that what you get is (at best) what the software designer thinks you want, not necessarily what you want. The machine doesn't actually "think". I reckon that most of the dislike of computerised mounts (and other "advanced" technology) is that the user is surrendering control to the software designer. The situation is at its most unacceptable in computers, set top boxes, phones and other stuff linked to the network, which updates itself (with probable loss of or restriction of functionality) without even bothering to ask the user's permission.

I have a personal view that it should be illegal to sell any computerised equipment without a full source listing of all the code contained in the equipment as sold; and that it should be equally illegal to distribute any add-on software except in source code format. Copyright, bah.


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JMW
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Re: how technological should astronomy be? new [Re: brianb11213]
      #5999113 - 07/30/13 09:02 PM

When I do public outreach astronomy I usually have an iPad running Sky Safari hooked up to each scope showing the public the object that the scope is pointed at. The info available for each object is great. I show people how to use Sky Safari to answer the questions they ask me regarding the distance to the object, what kind of object, etc.. They often have an iPhone or Android phone so I suggest that they buy the basic version of Sky Safari for a few bucks.

Sky Safari and a pair of binoculars under dark skies can be a great introduction to visual astronomy. People already have their smart phones with them so they can have a great astronomy database with them all the time. So technology can be an enabling resource and not a barrier to enjoying of the hobby.


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davebuechler
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Re: how technological should astronomy be? new [Re: JMW]
      #5999196 - 07/30/13 09:58 PM

Without technology, astronomy wouldn't be where it is today.

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mayidunk
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Re: how technological should astronomy be? new [Re: Kraus]
      #5999490 - 07/31/13 03:41 AM

Quote:

Quote:

Quote:

But in larger apertures, computerized alt-azimuth mounts are inherently superior to equatorial mounts, and the bigger the aperture, the truer that is.



If you want to go to the expense & complication of a field rotator. Otherwise altaz mounts - even with computerised tracking - are critically compromised for imaging.

Equatorial mounts are commonly used in apertures up to about 0.5 metres - the likes of Paramount ME has a great many users. The only real disadvantage of the equatorial mount is the complications caused by engineering in giant sizes. For the sort of apertures that amateurs typically have access to, a good motor driven (not necessarily computerised) equatorial is generally superior to the altaz GOTOs on the market in almost every respect.




I agree Herr BrianB. The Hale is mounted equatorially. How in the heck did they align it to the pole? Star drift? I can see it now.

"OK boys, we're too far west. Push it three inches to the east."

"Oh look. It's below the pole. Ready boys, now lift and hold it there. I'll tighten the bolts."



As a matter of fact, the guy overseeing the construction was a career Naval Officer who had many years of experience with that kind of thing. I think they probably got it right the first time! Also, I believe that the Hale's mount was actually the world's very first GOTO mount!

You can read about that control system, among other things, here!

Here's a pic of one of the "GOTO computer's" "hand" controllers!

Here is the caption to the photo linked to above:

Quote:

"One of the control panels which allowed the night assistants to dial in the coordinates of a star or other object, then push a button to slew the telescope to the selected position. The selsyn-controls were an unprecedented improvement on the positioning equipment used on early telescopes. The beautifully machined drive gears, smooth bearings, and the superb variable-rate clock enabled the telescope to point and track with remarkable accuracy, though nowhere near the accuracy claimed in the early plans that called for an analog computer in the control system. The handset on the control panel allowed the night assistant to speak directly with the observer in the prime focus, the cassegrain focus, or the coud room."



The paper in the link above was written by a guy named Bruce Rule, who I believe may have been the Caltech engineer who rode the first few miles on top of the crate containing the completed 200-inch primary mirror, with a portable chart recorder, tracking the vibrations of the load as it started its slow journey from Caltech in Pasadena, to the top of Mt. Palomar, on a 16-wheeled trailer!

You can read about that trip to the mountain, here!

Here's the crate, and that may even be Mr. Rule standing on top!

Both the paper about the engineering aspects of the Hale, and the article about the mirror's trip to Palomar, along with the accompanying photos, are fascinating. It's very interesting how astronomy would not have been where it was almost 65 years ago, without technology!



Edited by mayidunk (07/31/13 05:28 AM)


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Tony Flanders
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Re: how technological should astronomy be? new [Re: brianb11213]
      #5999619 - 07/31/13 07:25 AM

Quote:

OK, how much smaller would the dome for the Hale 200" be if it was mounted altaz?




Probably about 25% the volume, which translates to maybe 35% of the cost.

Quote:

The reason domes are getting "smaller" (in relation to the aperture of the scope contained therein) in more recent observatories has a lot to do with the working focal ratio being made smaller these days, giving a shorter tube length. (Another complication here as the short focus primary mirror necessitates a coma corrector to get anything approaching a respectable field of view!)




Yes, that's obviously a very important factor, too. In fact, at f/3.3 the Palomar telescope is the one that started this trend. It's effectively useless without a coma corrector.

Quote:

A 8" SCT on a fork mount, on a wedge, is very little bigger or heavier than the same scope on a fork mount.




Not if you want it to be equally stable. You can see that in scopes like the Celestron 5SE, which comes with a built-in wedge. Sure, you can just tilt it over from alt-az to EQ mode -- but only at a large loss in stability.

Tilting the scope shifts the balance away from the center of the tripod. So a serious wedge needs to be quite large, to allow the balance to be restored. And that means extra weight, which in turn requires a more robust tripod -- if you aren't willing to sacrifice stability.

Quote:

For amateurs needing a portable instrument, a more practical concern is how easy the mount is to set up and align. A plain (push to point) altaz mount needs no setup; an equatorial mount needs to be polar aligned but with a polar scope one can do an adequate job in about 30 seconds without the aid of any computer.




Agreed -- as long as you're talking visual observing only. Imaging demands a much more rigorous alignment.

Quote:

The computerised goto mounts need much longer than that and actually achieving alignment can be a hit-or-miss affair.




That used to be true, but Go To scopes have become much more user-friendly than they used to be.

Quote:

Add in poor slewing/pointing accuracy and a built-in list of objects which are mostly beyond the light grasp of the scope, especially for a beginner and especially in light polluted skies, and you have a recipe for frustration.




I think the real problem here is unrealistic expectations. With Go To, people often expect the mount to do all the work for them -- and it simply doesn't work like that. Finding a faint fuzzy with Go To certainly takes less effort and time than finding one by star-hopping, but it still takes effort. When you're star-hopping, you're expecting to be doing work up front, so you're less likely to be disappointed.

That is certainly a pernicious effect of technology -- it tends to undermine people's self-confidence and determination. You see that in every aspect of life.


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austingonzo
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Re: how technological should astronomy be? new [Re: Maverick199]
      #6000120 - 07/31/13 02:23 PM

The technology is there. It hasn't been commercialized and integrated into amateur astronomy yet. It will be.

http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2011/03/diy-cellphone-microscope/

-austingonzo


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