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js1976
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Reged: 12/27/12

Loc: Madison, MS
Setting circles
      #6479966 - 04/21/14 08:59 PM

How many of you use setting circles to navigate with a dob? Appears to be an affordable way for a beginner to navigate vs a push or go to. All you do is level the base and line up with Polaris correct?

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js1976
member


Reged: 12/27/12

Loc: Madison, MS
Re: Setting circles new [Re: js1976]
      #6479976 - 04/21/14 09:05 PM

Looking at an Apertura 10...would you go with the pre installed circles or the halo?

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beatlejuice
Pooh-Bah
*****

Reged: 04/05/11

Loc: Hamilton, ON,Canada
Re: Setting circles new [Re: js1976]
      #6480068 - 04/21/14 09:54 PM

Quote:

Looking at an Apertura 10...would you go with the pre installed circles or the halo?




Also get the levelling feet and you would want to buy a digital inclinometer.

Or you can do the circles on your own and not get the halo.

This Degree circle thread should keep you busy for a couple of hours.

Eric


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js1976
member


Reged: 12/27/12

Loc: Madison, MS
Re: Setting circles new [Re: beatlejuice]
      #6480105 - 04/21/14 10:11 PM

If you get the halo it comes with leveling feet, and thanks for the link. I'm sure it will keep me busy!

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js1976
member


Reged: 12/27/12

Loc: Madison, MS
Re: Setting circles new [Re: js1976]
      #6480119 - 04/21/14 10:20 PM

Ok, I was thumbing through that thread and I'm confused! Do you set your scope based on Polaris or magnetic north?

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cbwerner
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Reged: 08/27/05

Loc: Maidens, VA
Re: Setting circles new [Re: js1976]
      #6480157 - 04/21/14 10:36 PM

True north, which Polaris almost is. You should be able to get a chart to show Polaris' offset from North (angle and direction based on when you look), and there are offsets for true north when using a compass, based on your location. Visually, you just need to get close though unless you are relying on DSCs for fainter or harder to find objects.

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rlmxracer
sage
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Reged: 11/09/11

Loc: Motocross Mecca (Riverside) , ...
Re: Setting circles new [Re: cbwerner]
      #6480288 - 04/22/14 12:03 AM

I've had great luck with just leveling the mount and using the digital inclinometer alone. I get the current altitude from sky safari then move the scope in azimuth to the general area. Using this method works very well for me and has actually taught me to star hope fairly well.

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kfiscus
Carpal Tunnel
*****

Reged: 07/09/12

Loc: Albert Lea, MN, USA
Re: Setting circles new [Re: rlmxracer]
      #6480395 - 04/22/14 01:18 AM

They're selling the Halo with an inclinometer included now. I'm thinking about getting one.

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orion61

*****

Reged: 10/20/07

Loc: Birthplace James T Kirk
Re: Setting circles new [Re: kfiscus]
      #6481878 - 04/22/14 07:15 PM

You can find ANYTHING the expensive Computerixed Go-To scopes with 140,000 objects can with DSS!
Plus your scope is not "locked" in position and you can
Star Hop anywhere with it without losing alignment!
Downfall is that it is Push too, but you burn 5 calories every object you "push to" ha ha... Do you think you could hit
500 objects a night??


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DavidOpticsmart
Vendor (Opticsmart.com)


Reged: 08/15/11

Loc: Alabama
Re: Setting circles new [Re: js1976]
      #6481924 - 04/22/14 07:44 PM

Quote:

Ok, I was thumbing through that thread and I'm confused! Do you set your scope based on Polaris or magnetic north?




You set the base down with its compass pointing to magnetic north. Then you find Polaris and center it in the eyepiece. The magnetic pointer will be "off" from the Zero-degree position by the amount of magnetic declination in your area (plus or minus any minor error due to compass inaccuracy, magnetic interference, user sloppiness in setup, etc). Then you simply slide the pointer back to zero to "calibrate" it to Polaris, which will eliminate the magnetic declination and any of those errors mentioned, from the azimuth readings. If you can't see Polaris, you can use any visible star or planet, and just calibrate (slide) the pointer to that star/planet's azimuth (although a star near the north or south celestial pole will make calibration easier and more accurate because it will move more slowly through the field of view).


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kevinrr
member


Reged: 10/13/10

Loc: Morristown, TN
Re: Setting circles new [Re: DavidOpticsmart]
      #6489149 - 04/26/14 03:03 AM

When I put the setting circle and altitude gauge on my 12" dob it transformed my viewing experience. Using a dob without a coordinate location system is like trying to drive a car without ever pressing the gas....you can do it but you will be sorely disappointed with the results and you will never figure out the potential of the equipment.

My last night out a couple nights ago I located about 15 messier objects in a couple hours with ease.


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kevinrr
member


Reged: 10/13/10

Loc: Morristown, TN
Re: Setting circles new [Re: kevinrr]
      #6489150 - 04/26/14 03:04 AM

Go and search for the "big dob mod" thread. I found many of the ideas for my mods there, and they made a world of difference. Mine is now battery powered and fully lighted.

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Tony Flanders
Postmaster
*****

Reged: 05/18/06

Loc: Cambridge, MA, USA
Re: Setting circles new [Re: kevinrr]
      #6489222 - 04/26/14 05:41 AM

Quote:

Using a dob without a coordinate location system is like trying to drive a car without ever pressing the gas....you can do it but you will be sorely disappointed with the results and you will never figure out the potential of the equipment.




Wow, that certainly hasn't been my experience!

Quote:

My last night out a couple nights ago I located about 15 messier objects in a couple hours with ease.




Right. And having learned the Messiers by star-hopping, I can locate 15 of them in 15 minutes simply by pointing my Dob to the right place in the sky.


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BrooksObs
professor emeritus


Reged: 12/08/12

Re: Setting circles new [Re: Tony Flanders]
      #6489405 - 04/26/14 09:13 AM

Quote:

Quote:

Using a dob without a coordinate location system is like trying to drive a car without ever pressing the gas....you can do it but you will be sorely disappointed with the results and you will never figure out the potential of the equipment.




Wow, that certainly hasn't been my experience!

Quote:

My last night out a couple nights ago I located about 15 messier objects in a couple hours with ease.




Right. And having learned the Messiers by star-hopping, I can locate 15 of them in 15 minutes simply by pointing my Dob to the right place in the sky.




I have to most definitely agree with Tony's response in this matter. Only those who never bothered to take the time to properly learn the constellations at the outset of the observing careers are so critically handicapped as to have to depend on gizmos to find their way around the sky. I regard it as the modern bane of the hobby, as it honestly places one at a great disadvantage in his observing efforts. I've used large alt-az scopes for over 40 years now unassisted by circles, or other outside methods for locating objects and I find that I can usually work at a pace 2x to 3x faster in locating objects than do the amateur astronomers relying on tech gizmos for locating objects. Nothing replaces an excellent knowledge of the constellations star patterns as the most valuable of observing tools.

BrooksObs


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howard929
Member
*****

Reged: 01/02/11

Loc: Low End of High Ground
Re: Setting circles new [Re: js1976]
      #6489420 - 04/26/14 09:21 AM

Quote:

Ok, I was thumbing through that thread and I'm confused! Do you set your scope based on Polaris or magnetic north?




I sort of cheat this a bit and just use magnetic north. There always seems to be something I can find naked eye and with real time information from Stellarium, zero in and tweak the pointer. On long sessions over 3 hours, things tend to slide away from those initial settings due to inaccuracy of a level base. It's pretty much a slam dunk for say Saturn to be still in the finder but may not be in a higher power eyepiece. With 10 degrees off each side of zero, small re-tweaks brings things back to where they should be.


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Tony Flanders
Postmaster
*****

Reged: 05/18/06

Loc: Cambridge, MA, USA
Re: Setting circles new [Re: BrooksObs]
      #6489700 - 04/26/14 11:46 AM

Quote:

Only those who never bothered to take the time to properly learn the constellations at the outset of the observing careers are so critically handicapped as to have to depend on gizmos to find their way around the sky.




Well ... I can and do find my way around the sky without any mechanical or electronic aid both under dark skies and from my local city park. But I must say that when I'm star-hopping to (say) Uranus and Neptune, deep in the notoriously faint Great Sea, it can be fairly time-consuming.

So although I don't agree with those who say that finding aids are essential in heavily light-polluted surroundings, I certainly sympathize with them.

Dark skies are a totally different matter -- in that environment star-hopping is a piece of cake.

But that assumes that you have good visual skills with maps. It's something that I do -- either because I was born that way or from constant practice with terrestrial maps throughout my childhood. People who can't make sense of a conventional road map are likely to have at least equal problems with star maps.

Remember also that even at an otherwise pristine site, the full Moon washes out most of the reference stars.

Quote:

I regard it as the modern bane of the hobby, as it honestly places one at a great disadvantage in his observing efforts.




I know lots of experienced observers who are very good at star-hopping but still prefer to use Go To when available.

As for beginners, they seem to fall into two classes. Many (probably most) use Go To or setting circles as a way to avoid learning the sky -- just as many people who drive around using GPS units have no idea where they are in the broader scheme of things. As long as the GPS gets them to their destination, they're content not to know that they drove within a block of the most famous monument in their city.

But other beginners use these as aids to learning the sky. If you're inclined to learn the sky anyway, having Go To or setting circles to help you along and confirm your understanding can be very helpful.


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gene 4181
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 11/12/13

Loc: n.e. ohio
Re: Setting circles new [Re: js1976]
      #6489744 - 04/26/14 12:15 PM

Quote:

How many of you use setting circles to navigate with a dob? Appears to be an affordable way for a beginner to navigate vs a push or go to. All you do is level the base and line up with Polaris correct?


if it keeps you out there doin it go for it. i don't use them. i learned the old fashioned way, the old way. was it easy, no. but i persevered and learned it. i only use a telrad and red flashlight with a sky chart. but everyone to their own. you do what works for you. and yes, it would be an affordable way to find things versus push to or go-to. if you had a sky&telescope pocket atlas, i could talk to you on the phone for 20 minutes and you wouldn't need any of that other stuff either. sometimes an explanation is that's needed. feel free to send a private message, i'll explain it to ya.

Edited by gene 4181 (04/26/14 12:24 PM)


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rlmxracer
sage
*****

Reged: 11/09/11

Loc: Motocross Mecca (Riverside) , ...
Re: Setting circles new [Re: Tony Flanders]
      #6489749 - 04/26/14 12:18 PM

Bane of the hobby? Really? First off in order to use any goto or setting circles you need to at least learn the bright stars. This ends up being a stepping stone to learning the constilations. I started with a goto scope to keep my young son interested by always having a object in the fov. Now I've used digital assistance on our dob and in doing so have learned the sky pretty well. Star hopping is a skill that takes a while to learn. I've been at it almost 3years and am just starting to get confident in finding objects manually. I see goto and setting circles as aids to learning the sky and as a benefit help keep a rookies interest.

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kevinrr
member


Reged: 10/13/10

Loc: Morristown, TN
Re: Setting circles new [Re: Tony Flanders]
      #6489781 - 04/26/14 12:36 PM

I know that a lot of the old heads favor "learning the sky" intimately and using star charts and star hopping as a means to find what it is you're looking for. Of course, knowledge of the sky comes with time and experience, and these people are to be commended for their time spent in the hobby to get to a point where it is feasible for them to do it that way.

We are, however, in the "beginner" section of the forum, and by definition those who post here looking for guidance will lack that experience and ability. That should not be reflective of their intelligence or level of motivation to "learn the hobby", only of their current level of inexperience, right?

So with that said, what's with the "disapproval" you older guys have for computerized or manual coordinate locating systems? It seems to me as though you guys should be happy more people are engaging in the hobby *by any means*, rather than insisting that everyone do it the way you think it should be done (or thinking that they are not "doing it right" otherwise).

If you told me that your grandfather could build a house without using a measuring tape or square and have it come out level and square, does that mean that everyone should have to do it that way? Does that mean that those who ask about or use a measuring tape and square are being lazy or doing it wrong? The measuring tape is just a tool to help the average person achieve faster and more reliable results, right? How is that different from using setting circles or a goto scope? Whatever means are used to get the desired results should be perfectly acceptable.

You say you are able to star hop and locate DSO's and other specific objects quickly and easily. That's great for you. I found a good amount of difficulty in trying to star hop to faint objects (for me, "faint" being defined as anything mag8 or higher since I live in an orange zone and there are numerous street lights within 100 yards of my home). Sometimes I could get there and sometimes I couldn't even though I knew I was in the right area. Maybe you would think of it as laziness or frown on it, but I probably would have abandoned the hobby after a year or 2 if I had to rely solely on constellation maps and star hopping as a means to locate faint objects in the sky. It just didn't hold my interest and I felt like I was wasting time in a futile effort. I might spend a half hour or more trying to locate a single object. So after a couple of hours I would get bored and pack it in, having seen very little of what I set out to see.

The setting circle method has allowed a significant increase in my ability to locate objects and enjoy the hobby. It literally opened my eyes and probably increased my interest in the hobby tenfold. I expect that my experience as a beginner is similar to that of other beginners, thus my advice.

I do not think it is feasible to expect the majority of beginners to have your abilities, and if you expect them to take the time to learn them (which could require years of experience) they might become lost to the hobby. Let's face it...most young and middle aged people who might try to join the hobby today do not have a ton of spare time, so anything to help increase efficiency is going to be hugely beneficial. As for me personally, I do well to get 2-3 hours per week at the scope, so I'd like for that to count for as much as possible rather than holding myself to others' standards unnecessarily.

You're also overlooking the fact that as a user operates the goto/push-to system, they will eventually learn the sky anyway, but they will not become frustrated or bored in the meantime. This seems like a win-win for the hobby, so I don't understand the resistance.

Edited by kevinrr (04/26/14 12:43 PM)


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gene 4181
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 11/12/13

Loc: n.e. ohio
Re: Setting circles new [Re: rlmxracer]
      #6489842 - 04/26/14 01:10 PM

in all fairness, tony flanders didn't say bane to the hobby, it was brooks obs. i say if it keeps you out there doing it, at the eyepiece go for it. there's no right or wrong to this. your response is a great example of this, if a inclinometer and a setting circle on the base does it for you, that's great. if a cell phone and an app does it for you, god bless you. need a laptop to find it, no problem. what ever floats your boat. at least your out there at night doin it.

Edited by gene 4181 (04/26/14 01:49 PM)


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Dennis_S253
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 11/22/11

Loc: West Central Florida
Re: Setting circles new [Re: gene 4181]
      #6489952 - 04/26/14 02:03 PM

I used setting circles on my B&L 4" SCT for years. I thought it was great. I was really good at it. I don't know if it really helped me to learn the night sky though. I would set the scope up and get Polaris zeroed in. Check a couple stars to see if everything was good and start looking by using the setting circles. I could find M13 or 92 and never know I was in Hercules. I found what I was looking for though. I also don't have a bunch of time as I get up at 5:30 everyday to be at work by 7:00. So I get to look on Friday and Saturday if the weather is nice. Learning the night sky is nice to do. I'm not sure if it as important as it was 2000 years ago though. Use whatever makes you happy. It is nice to look at Leo and say Wow, There's some nice Galaxy's not to far from that star right there. It's also nice when your talking to someone that is a Leo "born" and they have never seen the constellation. They have no idea how big it is. Again, if your looking that's great. Do whatever makes you happy.

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Abhat
sage
*****

Reged: 12/14/13

Loc: Middletown, MD
Re: Setting circles new [Re: Dennis_S253]
      #6490064 - 04/26/14 02:50 PM

I personally found setting circles quite confusing. I had to have a light shining on the circle as well as on the Altimeter. Then I had to have my laptop with me see current alt-az reading. Laptop screwed my night vision. Then if you are still not in 1 deg accuracy I could still not find the object unless you had a wide field scope. I never used setting circles for more than a day.

Then I added a Telard to the 9X50 RACI. That was a magical synergy. Learnt the constellations, bought a few books and learned star hopping and no problems so far. In fact exploring the sky is so much fun.

I would still love to get the computerized Go-to system someday mainly for tracking and finding extremely faint objects that are not visible through 9X50. With tracking you don't have to keep nudging the scope every few seconds.


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SkipW
sage


Reged: 02/03/11

Loc: Oklahoma, USA
Re: Setting circles new [Re: BrooksObs]
      #6490950 - 04/26/14 10:52 PM

Quote:

... I have to most definitely agree with Tony's response in this matter. Only those who never bothered to take the time to properly learn the constellations at the outset of the observing careers are so critically handicapped as to have to depend on gizmos to find their way around the sky. I regard it as the modern bane of the hobby, as it honestly places one at a great disadvantage in his observing efforts. I've used large alt-az scopes for over 40 years now unassisted by circles, or other outside methods for locating objects and I find that I can usually work at a pace 2x to 3x faster in locating objects than do the amateur astronomers relying on tech gizmos for locating objects. Nothing replaces an excellent knowledge of the constellations star patterns as the most valuable of observing tools.

BrooksObs



A large scope on an alt-az mount isn't a "gizmo"?


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Tony Flanders
Postmaster
*****

Reged: 05/18/06

Loc: Cambridge, MA, USA
Re: Setting circles new [Re: kevinrr]
      #6491309 - 04/27/14 06:19 AM

Quote:

We are, however, in the "beginner" section of the forum, and by definition those who post here looking for guidance will lack that experience and ability.




I was a beginner not so very long ago -- I can remember it quite well. Go To scopes were available, but not very practical for me due to cost and size. Digital setting circles weren't widely available, and would have had many of the same problems. So I found my way around the sky by star-hopping simply because it seemed like the easiest and most obvious way to do so.

I do not remember it as being hard at all -- I was finding tons of stuff right off the bat.

Exactly why this wasn't the case for you is an interesting question. Perhaps you approached it wrong, without the appropriate tools and techniques. Perhaps light pollution is more of a problem for you -- though I do live very near the center of one of the biggest metropolitan areas in North America, deep inside the white zone. Perhaps your visual memory, spatial sense, and map-reading skills aren't as good.

Quote:

So with that said, what's with the "disapproval" you older guys have for computerized or manual coordinate locating systems?




Interesting question. I think there are a bunch of motivations, some laudable some much less so. More on this below.

Quote:

It seems to me as though you guys should be happy more people are engaging in the hobby *by any means*




I couldn't agree more!

Quote:

If you told me that your grandfather could build a house without using a measuring tape or square and have it come out level and square, does that mean that everyone should have to do it that way? Does that mean that those who ask about or use a measuring tape and square are being lazy or doing it wrong?




I don't think that is an accurate analogy. In fact, you can't build a house well without a measuring tape and square. These tools have been used since prehistory. If I didn't have them, my first step would be to make them -- which wouldn't be particularly difficult.

Would an ancient Egyptian pyramid builder feel resentful that we now can buy superb squares and measuring tapes at our local stores? Maybe a little, but mostly he would just consider these to be the same tools that he was using, but better.

Likewise, Go To is just an improved version of setting circles -- which, by the way, have been in widespread use for well over a century. Anybody who praises setting circles and denigrates Go To is highly inconsistent. All that Go To does is take the drudge work out of setting circles; you're still approaching the sky in the same way.

However, people who use either setting circles or Go To are approaching the sky in a totally different way from people who star-hop. It's a matter of working from the inside out rather than the outside in. Not only the process but the end result is profoundly different.

If you find a galaxy in the Virgo Cluster by star-hopping, you know deep down in your gut that it is inside a massive aggregation of galaxies lying in the same part of the sky. And a little bit of reflection will make it clear that it's no accident that this is far from the plane of the Milky Way.

If you find two Virgo galaxies by looking up the coordinates of their NGC numbers, each one is a specialty item -- an island universe. You could view dozens of galaxies that way before it vaguely dawns on you that they might be related.

This is even more true in the Milky Way, where nebulae and star clusters form a continuum to the star-hopper.

So part of the reason that star-hoppers complain about setting-circle users is a sense that you're missing out something truly valuable and wonderful -- the big picture. And worse, you have no idea what you're missing.

I feel exactly the same about the younger generation of drivers who have never known any way to get anywhere except using GPS. Their worlds are tiny -- just the little bubble around their cars that's shown on the GPS screen. They don't have any idea how things fit together in two dimensions -- don't even quite realize that there are two dimensions.

Quote:

The setting circle method has allowed a significant increase in my ability to locate objects and enjoy the hobby. It literally opened my eyes and probably increased my interest in the hobby tenfold.




That's great! I wish you well.

Quote:

You're also overlooking the fact that as a user operates the goto/push-to system, they will eventually learn the sky anyway.




I wish it were so, but that is quite obviously not the case. Some Go To users do indeed learn the sky and end up at the same place as star-hoppers, but by a different route. But for many, the sky remains forever a disjointed collection of island universes.

What about the less worthy complaints of star-hoppers about Go To and setting circles? Well, there's obviously at least a little element of "sour grapes." I had to work hard when I was a kid, he isn't working hard -- grr, grr, there must be something wrong.


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csa/montana
Den Mama
*****

Reged: 05/14/05

Loc: montana
Re: Setting circles new [Re: kevinrr]
      #6491503 - 04/27/14 10:02 AM

Quote:

I know that a lot of the old heads favor "learning the sky" intimately and using star charts and star hopping as a means to find what it is you're looking for. Of course, knowledge of the sky comes with time and experience, and these people are to be commended for their time spent in the hobby to get to a point where it is feasible for them to do it that way.

We are, however, in the "beginner" section of the forum, and by definition those who post here looking for guidance will lack that experience and ability. That should not be reflective of their intelligence or level of motivation to "learn the hobby", only of their current level of inexperience, right?

So with that said, what's with the "disapproval" you older guys have for computerized or manual coordinate locating systems? It seems to me as though you guys should be happy more people are engaging in the hobby *by any means*, rather than insisting that everyone do it the way you think it should be done (or thinking that they are not "doing it right" otherwise).

If you told me that your grandfather could build a house without using a measuring tape or square and have it come out level and square, does that mean that everyone should have to do it that way? Does that mean that those who ask about or use a measuring tape and square are being lazy or doing it wrong? The measuring tape is just a tool to help the average person achieve faster and more reliable results, right? How is that different from using setting circles or a goto scope? Whatever means are used to get the desired results should be perfectly acceptable.

You say you are able to star hop and locate DSO's and other specific objects quickly and easily. That's great for you. I found a good amount of difficulty in trying to star hop to faint objects (for me, "faint" being defined as anything mag8 or higher since I live in an orange zone and there are numerous street lights within 100 yards of my home). Sometimes I could get there and sometimes I couldn't even though I knew I was in the right area. Maybe you would think of it as laziness or frown on it, but I probably would have abandoned the hobby after a year or 2 if I had to rely solely on constellation maps and star hopping as a means to locate faint objects in the sky. It just didn't hold my interest and I felt like I was wasting time in a futile effort. I might spend a half hour or more trying to locate a single object. So after a couple of hours I would get bored and pack it in, having seen very little of what I set out to see.

The setting circle method has allowed a significant increase in my ability to locate objects and enjoy the hobby. It literally opened my eyes and probably increased my interest in the hobby tenfold. I expect that my experience as a beginner is similar to that of other beginners, thus my advice.

I do not think it is feasible to expect the majority of beginners to have your abilities, and if you expect them to take the time to learn them (which could require years of experience) they might become lost to the hobby. Let's face it...most young and middle aged people who might try to join the hobby today do not have a ton of spare time, so anything to help increase efficiency is going to be hugely beneficial. As for me personally, I do well to get 2-3 hours per week at the scope, so I'd like for that to count for as much as possible rather than holding myself to others' standards unnecessarily.

You're also overlooking the fact that as a user operates the goto/push-to system, they will eventually learn the sky anyway, but they will not become frustrated or bored in the meantime. This seems like a win-win for the hobby, so I don't understand the resistance.




+1 An excellent post!

I started the lengthy "Degree Circle" thread in Equipment as a novice in using a telescope. David of the "Halo" said that thread encouraged him to market his product. I don't think it matters how a person views the night skies; whatever "system" they are using, if it gives them the satisfaction of finding targets, and allows them to enjoy our spectacular night sky; then there is no right or wrong way to observe. These added observing aids simply makes it easier, especially for newcomers to start observing; but don't kid yourselves, they work equally as well for seasoned observers. We all should remember our first view thru our telescope, and how intimidating it was to find something in the night sky!


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gene 4181
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 11/12/13

Loc: n.e. ohio
Re: Setting circles new [Re: gene 4181]
      #6491578 - 04/27/14 10:52 AM

to all the previous respondents, i learned the old fashioned method with a twist of sorts. there is a book called the messier marathon by harv pennington. it helped me find stuff by scaling the approximate location using a telrad. its a easy way of finding things. i don't even use a optical finder. if you would like an explanation of it, how it works send me a private message with your phone number, i'll explain it. i will call.

Edited by gene 4181 (04/27/14 11:26 AM)


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BrooksObs
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Re: Setting circles new [Re: kevinrr]
      #6491735 - 04/27/14 12:32 PM

Quote:

...what's with the "disapproval" you older guys have for computerized or manual coordinate locating systems? It seems to me as though you guys should be happy more people are engaging in the hobby *by any means*, rather than insisting that everyone do it the way you think it should be done (or thinking that they are not "doing it right" otherwise).






Allow me to offer my views on why old-hands like myself look rather disapprovingly at the approach so many newcomers have with their unwillingness to bother thoroughly learning the sky first.

Lacking a firm knowledge of the constellations leaves the would-be observer largely impotent to carry out his nightís observing plans should some aspect of his circles/push-to/GoTo approach decide to malfunction (or he never bothers to learn how to use them properly in the first place). How many times Iíve seen that situation played out at star parties has been far more than most here might imagine.

Then, too, Iíve countless times set up side-by-side with folks having these wonderful GoTo or similar scopes and found myself having been gainfully observing objects for thirty, or more, minutes before my companions have managed to set up their fancy scopes well enough to get them operating properly. Coming from a region of the U.S. where clear skies are increasingly at a premium and often lasting only a portion of the night anyway, to say the least that leaves me and others long in the tooth very unimpressed with todayís crop of hobbyists and their gear.

Have todayís would-be amateur astronomers truly become so tech driven and in need of instant gratification when trying out their newest hobby pursuit they feel any extra personal effort to accomplish it might slow them down in gaining the end result, Or is it simply regarded by most as just too much effort? I simply don't understand this new mentallity, one that seems to apply to all sorts of hobbies these days. If one thinks that the new approach is so advantageous, take the time to peruse some of my previous recent posts regarding just how much more the "just average" amateur astronomer knew and was capable of a generation ago. Then see how many hobby friends, or club members, are at that same level of sophistication as observers today. I regard the outcome of such comparisons as generally rather depressing myself.

P.S. Learning the sky well does not require spending years at it as a hobbyist. It took me just about one year to learn the sky to a level allowing me to find virtually anything I desired using star-hopping and simple hand-traced paper charts. Most of my colleagues, too. It's called having a real interest in the subject and that's what has kept us in it for decades.

BrooksObs

Edited by BrooksObs (04/27/14 05:46 PM)


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Abhat
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Re: Setting circles new [Re: Tony Flanders]
      #6491812 - 04/27/14 01:25 PM

This is exactly what happened to me last week. While looking at M53 and then Mars, I came across a Galaxy minefield in Virgo. It was quite an experience to see so many Galaxies tightly packed. I had seen Leo's triplet a few times but this was one step above.

Same experience with Sagittarius. Messier galore. No matter where you slew your scope you are met with awe when you see those clusters and nebulae all in one constellation.

I am not sure if that had happened if I was using the go-to.


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gene 4181
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Re: Setting circles new [Re: BrooksObs]
      #6492399 - 04/27/14 06:29 PM

Quote:

Quote:

...what's with the "disapproval" you older guys have for computerized or manual coordinate locating systems? It seems to me as though you guys should be happy more people are engaging in the hobby *by any means*, rather than insisting that everyone do it the way you think it should be done (or thinking that they are not "doing it right" otherwise).






Allow me to offer my views on why old-hands like myself look rather disapprovingly at the approach so many newcomers have with their unwillingness to bother thoroughly learning the sky first.

Lacking a firm knowledge of the constellations leaves the would-be observer largely impotent to carry out his nightís observing plans should some aspect of his circles/push-to/GoTo approach decide to malfunction (or he never bothers to learn how to use them properly in the first place). How many times Iíve seen that situation played out at star parties has been far more than most here might imagine.

Then, too, Iíve countless times set up side-by-side with folks having these wonderful GoTo or similar scopes and found myself having been gainfully observing objects for thirty, or more, minutes before my companions have managed to set up their fancy scopes well enough to get them operating properly. Coming from a region of the U.S. where clear skies are increasingly at a premium and often lasting only a portion of the night anyway, to say the least that leaves me and others long in the tooth very unimpressed with todayís crop of hobbyists and their gear.

Have todayís would-be amateur astronomers truly become so tech driven and in need of instant gratification when trying out their newest hobby pursuit they feel any extra personal effort to accomplish it might slow them down in gaining the end result, Or is it simply regarded by most as just too much effort? I simply don't understand this new mentallity, one that seems to apply to all sorts of hobbies these days. If one thinks that the new approach is so advantageous, take the time to peruse some of my previous recent posts regarding just how much more the "just average" amateur astronomer knew and was capable of a generation ago. Then see how many hobby friends, or club members, are at that same level of sophistication as observers today. I regard the outcome of such comparisons as generally rather depressing myself.

P.S. Learning the sky well does not require spending years at it as a hobbyist. It took me just about one year to learn the sky to a level allowing me to find virtually anything I desired using star-hopping and simple hand-traced paper charts. Most of my colleagues, too. It's called having a real interest in the subject and that's what has kept us in it for decades.

BrooksObs


brooks obs. everything has changed. its never going to be the way it was. what makes you think they don't have a real interest in it?

Edited by gene 4181 (04/27/14 07:48 PM)


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lamplight
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Re: Setting circles new [Re: gene 4181]
      #6492659 - 04/27/14 08:50 PM

Oh boy.. This is almost as bad as the religion vs science, I mean, cosmos thread. Juuuust kidding. Sorta.

I'm a starhopping fan..it's a major part of the fun for me, not a waste of time at all. I suppose if somebody with limited time sees that as a waste of time, well, they have different priorities. I see it as such an integral aspect of the hobby, I see people without that ability as not fully enjoying all there is to the hobby. Some may disagree, but if you don't know how, you just don't know how much truth there is to that since you haven't experienced it.

There's definitely a large percentage of hobbyists who have no clue how to read charts.. I've noticed this in the short time that I've been at this: In any given astronomy event or star party I've been to, I'm in the minority of folks who can find things on their own. Even Most of the big dobs have setting circles I've seen. Reading charts, that's what really makes you learn the sky fast, traversing it.. Looking at almost all the objects along the way to your destination... Its so effective that I just start remembering where things are and constellation shapes without even trying, it's kind of neat if all I did was goto I'd have to force myself to remember where things are as an academic exercise.. As opposed to a starhopper just getting familiar with the neighborhood as I slowly move through it. It surely would be more time consuming and perhaps less fun that way if I had to make myself look at and memorize constellation shapes and relationships... The large percentage of goto users who don't know the sky well speaks for itself.

In fact I've been wondering...

I often see people learning to starhop talk about learning how to starhop to a particular object... And then they'll talk about starhopping to another Object...each hop with different specific directions... I sometimes wonder if this approach comes from goto user mentality. To starhop what's needed is map reading skills, as has been said.. Lots of people appear hung up on specific directions for specific objects.. If you learn to read star charts, you can find ANYTHING with confidence, even if it's not visible from your scope or location, you can be sure you are looking at the right location. Goto can't even guarantee that it seems like a handicapped way to approach the skill. Learning to look at a map and correlate that to what you see in the sky or through the scope.l that's the place to start (IMO, it's worked very well, relatively quickly for me).

If you're busy and only want to look, then yes! It's still great you're doing that! But there is much more fun and satisfaction to be had exploring ! It's unfortunate the culture as a whole seems to be moving more and more to shorter and shorter attention spans.. One things for sure about starhopping though, it might take a while to get the hang of, but once you learn it you can find objects pretty easily and speedily.

And yes, There's no reason to give people a hard time because they don't have time to learn to starhop. I really can't agree that there are good reasons for not learning to do so however,.. If I could get any one of my family outside via a goto system I would ENSURE we had a goto system within days. Alas, it's not to be as I have had a few goto mounts... No luck.


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lamplight
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Re: Setting circles new [Re: lamplight]
      #6492696 - 04/27/14 09:15 PM

not to imply people who don't starhop have short attention spans! Many many people report lack of time as a reason for relying on goto, Was just wondering if it's a factor for some.

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rowdy388
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Re: Setting circles new [Re: lamplight]
      #6493020 - 04/27/14 11:59 PM

I've learned the constellations and star hopped since my first 60mm refractor 40 yrs ago and still do today but with nicer equipment. I think hoppers are more attuned to the cosmos. We are not just interested in specific eye candy Messiers but we want to know the layout of the heavens. Knowing the constellations is part of my personal connection to the overall beauty of the night sky.

When I see the milky way in midsummer on a clear night I am blown away. I do not grab my telescopes. (while they are cooling anyway) I look up at the Northern Cross, the Summer Triangle, the great rift, and then pick out all the constellations and get as much joy from that as at the eyepiece later. Something about the rapport I feel knowing the heavens that makes the more intimate closeups later that much special. Just the way I approach the hobby.

Probably a lot of people can't relate to what I tried to describe. In most people's light polluted skies the majority these days just see a washed out version of the sky and learning the sky may not be practical. Sad to see many will never feel that connection.
Regards, Dave Y


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Tony Flanders
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Re: Setting circles new [Re: BrooksObs]
      #6493244 - 04/28/14 05:31 AM

Quote:

Allow me to offer my views on why old-hands like myself look rather disapprovingly at the approach so many newcomers have with their unwillingness to bother thoroughly learning the sky first.

Lacking a firm knowledge of the constellations leaves the would-be observer largely impotent to carry out his nightís observing plans should some aspect of his circles/push-to/GoTo approach decide to malfunction . . .

Then, too, Iíve countless times set up side-by-side with folks having these wonderful GoTo or similar scopes and found myself having been gainfully observing objects for thirty, or more, minutes before my companions have managed to set up their fancy scopes well enough to get them operating properly . . .




It seems to me that both of those are criticisms of specific models of Go To scopes rather than of Go To scopes in general. What you're really saying is that Go To scopes don't work as they're supposed to, not that there's anything inherently wrong with Go To itself.

For what it's worth, the technology has improved dramatically in the last decade. Go To scopes are much easier to set up and use now than they used to be. I suspect that if you were to attend a modern star party, you would rarely see those problems.

Consider automobiles as an analogy. Back when autos were first invented, they were balky and unreliable. Drivers could be left stranded when, as you put it, "some aspect of the motorized approach decides to malfunction." And in cold weather, cranking the car could be very time-consuming and sometimes ineffective; a pedestrian might be halfway along to his destination before the driver ever got the car started.

But all those problems have been overcome. Cars now start with the flip of a key, and people expect them to function flawlessly for hundreds of hours on end -- which they do.

Are you really sure that what you stated is the true basis of your objection? Would you withdraw the objection if Go To scopes could be reliable aligned in seconds by first-time users, and if Go To could be expected to operate flawlessly for hundreds of hours, as cars do?


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combatdad
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Re: Setting circles new [Re: rowdy388]
      #6493315 - 04/28/14 07:33 AM

Quote:

I've learned the constellations and star hopped since my first 60mm refractor 40 yrs ago and still do today but with nicer equipment. I think hoppers are more attuned to the cosmos. We are not just interested in specific eye candy Messiers but we want to know the layout of the heavens. Knowing the constellations is part of my personal connection to the overall beauty of the night sky.

When I see the milky way in midsummer on a clear night I am blown away. I do not grab my telescopes. (while they are cooling anyway) I look up at the Northern Cross, the Summer Triangle, the great rift, and then pick out all the constellations and get as much joy from that as at the eyepiece later. Something about the rapport I feel knowing the heavens that makes the more intimate closeups later that much special. Just the way I approach the hobby.

Probably a lot of people can't relate to what I tried to describe. In most people's light polluted skies the majority these days just see a washed out version of the sky and learning the sky may not be practical. Sad to see many will never feel that connection.
Regards, Dave Y




+1 Dave. Been observing for some 57 years since age 9, pretty much all with alt-az mounts. A week ago had an opportunity to get out to a dark sky site and spent most of the time just "counting stars". It's a great reminder sometimes just how much beauty you can see with the naked eye.

Dave


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BrooksObs
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Re: Setting circles new [Re: combatdad]
      #6493710 - 04/28/14 11:56 AM

"brooks obs. everything has changed. its never going to be the way it was. what makes you think they don't have a real interest in it?" - gene4181

"Are you really sure that what you stated is the true basis of your objections? Would you withdraw the objection if Go To scopes could be reliable aligned in seconds by first-time users, and if Go To could be expected to operate flawlessly for hundreds of hours, as cars do?" - Tony


Let me respond to these questions in turn and excuse me if I am perhaps just a bit blunt in doing so.

Yes, I totally agree that things have changed. However, from what I see they certainly have not changed for the better. Hobbyists today seem largely just a group of weekend dabblers hopelessly lost without equipment that will do most everything for them. For anyone perusing these threads the listing below most of the signatures reveals today's obsession with gear, not any reflection of the observer's own abilities.

And that's where the change in the hobby is the most obvious. While we've always had a segment of hobbyists who were simply casual observers (nothing wrong with that overall) pursuing astronomy simply as light entertainment, today this and repetitious astrophotography seem to be virtually the entire direction of the hobby. The truly knowledgeable enthusiasts who are not simply gawking at objects their scopes locate unassisted for them number but a fraction of what once was. The count of U.S. participants in the hobby's traditional organizations dedicated to some form of observing in a worthwhile manner is dwindling. Some of these once popular organizations have already met their demise. Yet, in contrast, the number of more traditional amateur astronomers and the popularity of that approach seems to be growing steadily throughout the remainder of the world! America is becoming the hobby's backwater except for gear.

So in my view while instrumentation has unquestionably taken great strides forward over the past two decades, the abilities of those employing it has mainly moved us in quite the opposite direction. From all that I have read and seen, I have to regard the hobby today more than anything else as most resembling what it was between the 20th century's two great wars and only a pale shadow of where it stood as a far more sophisticated pursuit just two, or three, decades ago.


Tony questions whether I am sure about my misgivings concerning GoTo technology? You bet I am! I do get around to various astronomical functions and am very much aware what this technology has done to hobbyists. These days I see more than just a few folks around me in the dark at these gatherings unable to even properly ID their GoTo alignment stars! I cringe when I hear someone nearby asking, "Where's Vega?" Others fail to get their mounts reasonably level, or properly aligned with north if Polaris should happen to be obscured and curse when their scopes can not center on the right field if it's well either side of the meridian.

However, if we can get GoTo scopes that will indeed be totally autonomous and will surmount such difficulties today's observers encounter, won't that be great? Certainly, we are on our way to these. In fact, some high-end examples are here right now. But does that solve all the problems, or will it just reduce the so-called "observer" even further, to nothing more than a clueless drone lacking any knowledge of the heavens? Will we then still have the right to be considered an amateur astronomer? What would be the difference between us and any ordinary man off the street, beyond owning a telescope? Is our hobby really about being nothing but a mere "witness"? This future prospect doesn't exactly excite me, Tony.

BrooksObs

Edited by BrooksObs (04/28/14 12:00 PM)


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howard929
Member
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Reged: 01/02/11

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Re: Setting circles new [Re: BrooksObs]
      #6494067 - 04/28/14 03:02 PM

Quote:



SNIP

But does that solve all the problems, or will it just reduce the so-called "observer" even further, to nothing more than a clueless drone lacking any knowledge of the heavens? Will we then still have the right to be considered an amateur astronomer? What would be the difference between us and any ordinary man off the street, beyond owning a telescope? Is our hobby really about being nothing but a mere "witness"? This future prospect doesn't exactly excite me, Tony.

BrooksObs




Staying current with this thread I was wondering about something. But now I see where you're coming from.

Climb down from your high horse, the ladder you used to get yourself that great distance above us is still there. It's right where you left it.


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stargazer424
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Re: Setting circles new [Re: howard929]
      #6494073 - 04/28/14 03:05 PM

I do! I made my own after reading the Degree Circles thread.



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dr.who
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Reged: 01/05/12

Re: Setting circles new [Re: stargazer424]
      #6494238 - 04/28/14 04:28 PM

Ok... Chiming in here. I started as a GOTO guy because I am in a red/white LP zone and to star hop was very very difficult for the amount of time I had to observe. Now I am very much wanting to transition to star hopping. There is something very appealing in the simplicity and elegance of a Telrad, finder, and EP. Perhaps I am being overly naive and a romantic but the quote "A tall ship and a star to steer her by" from John Masefield's poem "Sea Fever" sums it up quite nicely.

My next scope will be one that has no GOTO and will be setup so I can go to a dark(er) site for hopping. It will be Alt/Az which is also a departure for me. And leads to my question. Is the only simple way to translate the RA Dec values I find in The Pocket Star Atlas via Stellarium or other computer based option or is there something else? My goal is to use PSA and the combination of Telrad and finder as much as possible and would like to do it without having to use a calculator or other device with a chip in it or having to pencil out the Celestial Trig equations. As I said stupid question but I can't wrap my little bean head around the transition from EQ to Alt/Az and don't have the option to use a EQ mount since said scope will be a big Dob... Thank you for the help.


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lpn678
super member


Reged: 02/02/14

Loc: Western NY
Re: Setting circles new [Re: dr.who]
      #6494263 - 04/28/14 04:46 PM

I'm going to make my own setting circles, that way I can measure the positions of objects and begin to make my own charts!



Just kidding.

I decided to forgo setting circles at the beginning predominantly to minimize my upfront costs. I may end up making my own at some point, but star hopping isn't that hard with my RACI finder and a decent chart. It takes a little bit of time still, but its nice to find an object all by yourself. I typically use my binoculars to try to find new objects, then follow the same star hopping path with my finder. I'll get a telrad soon to make finding my initial guide star that much easier.


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rowdy388
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Re: Setting circles new [Re: dr.who]
      #6494370 - 04/28/14 05:44 PM

Quote:

Ok... Chiming in here. I started as a GOTO guy because I am in a red/white LP zone and to star hop was very very difficult for the amount of time I had to observe. Now I am very much wanting to transition to star hopping. There is something very appealing in the simplicity and elegance of a Telrad, finder, and EP. Perhaps I am being overly naive and a romantic but the quote "A tall ship and a star to steer her by" from John Masefield's poem "Sea Fever" sums it up quite nicely.

My next scope will be one that has no GOTO and will be setup so I can go to a dark(er) site for hopping. It will be Alt/Az which is also a departure for me. And leads to my question. Is the only simple way to translate the RA Dec values I find in The Pocket Star Atlas via Stellarium or other computer based option or is there something else? My goal is to use PSA and the combination of Telrad and finder as much as possible and would like to do it without having to use a calculator or other device with a chip in it or having to pencil out the Celestial Trig equations. As I said stupid question but I can't wrap my little bean head around the transition from EQ to Alt/Az and don't have the option to use a EQ mount since said scope will be a big Dob... Thank you for the help.



You can forget ALT/AZ when star hopping. Don't need to use it. The darker your sky the easier to hop. A pocket sky atlas, red flashlight, a Telrad, RACI finder, and a wide field eyepiece are good tools to use.

The "tricks" or shortcuts to star-hopping is to learn and use several different techniques. Actual hopping from a bright known star to your target actually takes the longest time. Most often we can visually triangulate the target and find it in seconds.

Don't have much time to observe? Star-hopping takes practice but you can see a lot of stuff in a short period of time once you get the hang of it. Finding new targets in an unfamiliar part of a constellation takes more time but the beauty there is you often find cool new stuff on your way to the target.
Regards, Dave Y


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dr.who
scholastic sledgehammer
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Re: Setting circles new [Re: rowdy388]
      #6494381 - 04/28/14 05:49 PM

Brilliant! Thank you Dave!

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orion61

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Re: Setting circles new [Re: Tony Flanders]
      #6494444 - 04/28/14 06:20 PM

Quote:

Quote:

Using a dob without a coordinate location system is like trying to drive a car without ever pressing the gas....you can do it but you will be sorely disappointed with the results and you will never figure out the potential of the equipment.




Wow, that certainly hasn't been my experience!

Quote:

My last night out a couple nights ago I located about 15 messier objects in a couple hours with ease.




Right. And having learned the Messiers by star-hopping, I can locate 15 of them in 15 minutes simply by pointing my Dob to the right place in the sky.




I don't think I have EVER agreed with a statement as much as I have yours Tony.
Someone that cannot use a Star Chart, Compass, mechanical setting circles or at least Star Hop, cannot honestly say they know the hobby.
There is a huge difference that is markedly pointed out at Star Parties between the Sub and Plus 50 yr old observers.
It is totally related to Technology and GO-To. The same goes for the ability to use a Map on a trip or being totally dependent on a GPS.
In my opinion If you are dependent on Go-To and a computer
to find objects,or if you cannot at least point out the Constellations, Someone else is doing the Astronomy for you.
It is why didn't they allow calculators in School for so long, you were not actually doing the math, the person that programmed the calculator is.
I'm sorry if that offends people, and I don't mean it personally, it is taking the easy way out, The fact is a great number of people that bought their first scopes in the last 15 years, really have very little knowledge of the Night Sky, unless they took the time to learn it on their own. The honest People will be the first to admit it.
Just as I admit I have forgotten where things are compared to when I was in my 20's and 30's!
Anybody want to swap me a manual mount for a Celestron NexStar SLT Go-To? (as an example) I have been leaving my
computers at home lately. Nothing feels better than finding things on your own! There is a feeling of accomplishment that is not there with Go-To.
My Observing sessions have been lasting 2-3 hours again like they used to. I wasn't enjoying myself like I was. 45 minutes with Go-To and I was BORED.
There is NOTHING I admire more than someone that can take a Dob and find Objects by request, I know I have lost a lot of that ability with my computers!
DSS can sure make you look like a sidewalk Genius tho....


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csa/montana
Den Mama
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Re: Setting circles new [Re: BrooksObs]
      #6494452 - 04/28/14 06:24 PM

Quote:

or will it just reduce the so-called "observer" even further, to nothing more than a clueless drone lacking any knowledge of the heavens? Will we then still have the right to be considered an amateur astronomer? What would be the difference between us and any ordinary man off the street, beyond owning a telescope? Is our hobby really about being nothing but a mere "witness"? This future prospect doesn't exactly excite me, Tony




Statements such as this sadden me. I don't think anyone that's interested in viewing the night skies should be considered a "clueless drone", regardless of what equipment they use. I've never used "Go-To" equip; but I certainly don't think anything is wrong with it, or whatever method any one wants to use to view our exciting night sky. I really don't see any method, be it "old school", or the latest, greatest equipment, superior to the way other's view. Referring to people interested in observing, as "so-called "observer"; is very disheartening, as we are all observers! I hope this line of thinking does not disuade anyone, especially beginners; from continuing their interest in the night skies, regardless of what way they choose to observe!


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David Knisely
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Re: Setting circles new [Re: orion61]
      #6494528 - 04/28/14 07:18 PM

Orion61 wrote:

Quote:

There is a huge difference that is markedly pointed out at Star Parties between the Sub and Plus 50 yr old observers.




Yea, a lot of the youngsters tend to pick things up faster than some of us "old fogies" do. I recall one youngster (the son of one of our club members) who came out with his dad a lot to observe with him. Eventually, using just his eyes and his dad's 10 inch Dob, he learned to find things all over the sky with just a quick look in the Telrad and a couple of fast moves with the scope. In fact, he got so good at this that we called him, "the Human Go-To". At the Nebraska Star Party one year, he was going from scope to scope helping people find things. I thought about hanging a sign around his neck which read, "WILL FIND THINGS FOR FOOD" . He has since gone on to herpetology (now a grad student who really likes snakes), but he can still find his way around the sky pretty well.

As for the old Go-to vs. star hopping fiasco, as an "old fogy" whose experience pre-dates electronic aids, I can recall similar pointless debates between those who star-hopped and those who used (horrors ) setting circles. These arguments were just as silly as those Go-To detractor/advocate "discussions" are now. In the end, you use what you want (or need) to use. What you become after that is your own choice as well (this is, after all, a hobby and not much else). Clear skies to you.


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csa/montana
Den Mama
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Reged: 05/14/05

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Re: Setting circles new [Re: David Knisely]
      #6494533 - 04/28/14 07:21 PM

Quote:

In the end, you use what you want (or need) to use. What you become after that is your own choice as well (this is, after all, a hobby and not much else)




Very well put!


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kevinrr
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Reged: 10/13/10

Loc: Morristown, TN
Re: Setting circles new [Re: csa/montana]
      #6495110 - 04/29/14 02:04 AM

As a long time car guy coming from a specialized community full of elitists that think their way is the only proper way, I am surprised to find that people still think the same way in a broader community with science as a primary basis rather than personal taste or opinion.

Consider for a moment the question of why you guys think your way is the best way? Who appointed you judge over other enthusiasts? Who says that I have to live up to some standard that you set for me? Why do you get to tell me that I am not a real astronomer because I am not using your method, or that the hobby is in a state of decline because of those like me? Are you the head of the governing body for amateur astronomy? IF you respond to any of these questions negatively, perhaps you should consider posting with less condescension and stepping down from the pedestal you've placed yourself on. You may have more years and more experience than I do, but your way is not the only way and your use of it does not make you better than anyone else.

IF we are both at a star party or in our back yard and someone walks up and gives us both a target object to find, if we both find it within a few minutes, who cares by what method we achieved that?

At the end of the day, you might be right, you might not. I imagine similar conversations taking place with each new technological advance in every industry, hobby, or social circle in the world throughout history. In most cases, the old ways gave way to the new, sooner or later.


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Tony Flanders
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Reged: 05/18/06

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Re: Setting circles new [Re: kevinrr]
      #6495238 - 04/29/14 06:50 AM

Quote:

Consider for a moment the question of why you guys think your way is the best way? Who appointed you judge over other enthusiasts? Who says that I have to live up to some standard that you set for me?




Nobody. Old-timers can chew the stale crusts of their grievances all they want, but what's going to happen is going to happen, whether we like it or not.

Quote:

In most cases, the old ways gave way to the new, sooner or later.




I don't think the old is about to give way, either. I'm quite sure that star-hopping and various kinds of finding aids will continue to co-exist -- as they have in fact for centuries now. Josef Fraunhofer's Dorpat Refractor of 1824, the one that put the "German" into "German equatorial mount," had superb setting circles. Which didn't stop hobbyists in the 1970s from star-hopping.

Improvements in technology are likely to tilt the balance somewhat toward computerized finding aids -- but probably not much more than they already have. And I wouldn't be at all surprised to see a widespread backlash.

In discussions like these, I'm am strongly inclined to say "A pox on both your houses." The elitism of certain old-timers is utterly repugnant. On the other hand, people who have grown up with the new technology tend to be dismissive of the old, which is equally repugnant.

It really distresses me when people say "You need a Go To telescope to find anything from a light-polluted site." Nobody told me that when I started using a telescope 17 years ago -- and a good thing, too! I did then and still do now find my way around the sky just fine without electronic or mechanical aids.

Quote:

IF we are both at a star party or in our back yard and someone walks up and gives us both a target object to find, if we both find it within a few minutes, who cares by what method we achieved that?




Care? That's not quite the point. The point is that finding something by Go To is NOT the same as finding the same object by star-hopping. The experience is quite different, and the process of arriving there will color how you look at the object once you arrive.

Consider Mt. Washington, the tallest mountain in the Northeast, which I usually climb once every season of every year. It has a road to the top, and it's always fun to chat with the people who have driven up. But although we are occupying the same physical space, we're not standing on the top of the same mountain -- not at all.

To them, it is just another waypoint on the road. One with an extraordinarily good view and extraordinarily cold and windy weather, but otherwise not much different from a rest stop on I-90.

To me, it is a mountain with complex structure; I know how the water drains off it; I know how it was carved by glaciers; I know what kinds of rocks it is made of, the lichens that grow on those rocks, and the dwarf birches that survive in niches between them. Totally different mountain.

This is presenting it as though the issue were one-sided, as though walking is uncontestibly superior to driving. In a sense that's true -- an hour spent walking is always better than an hour spent driving. But in another sense it's hogwash. Without a car (or at least the Concord Trailways bus, which is much the same thing), it would be impossible for me to climb Mt. Washington once per season.

Likewise, star-hopping isn't in all ways superior to Go To. Yes, the experience of arriving is richer. However, star-hopping tends to focus you in on one particular section of sky. You'd be much more likely, for instance, to compare and contrast a dozen widely separated planetary nebulae if you were using Go To than if you were star-hopping. Geographical proximity isn't all there is to the sky!

Going back to cars -- because I actually think this isn't a half-bad analogy -- it's a simple fact that people who have spent their whole lives around cars tend to dismiss walking completely. In much of the U.S., the idea of getting from point A to point B by foot is totally alien. And to my mind, people who have, in a sense, lost the ability to walk because it's outside their ken are loosing more than people who cannot drive a car because of poverty or some kind of disability.

Likewise, I worry that Go To already has led many stargazers to conclude that star-hopping is utterly without value, that it's just an inferior way of arriving at the same destination. And that, to my mind, is an even more grievous harm than those old-time star-hoppers grumbling about the new technology.


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howard929
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Reged: 01/02/11

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Re: Setting circles new [Re: Tony Flanders]
      #6495399 - 04/29/14 09:37 AM

I can't think of a single reason why learning to star hop isn't a good idea. The truth always floats. Say it once, maybe twice in a thread and it either rings true for some of the intended readers ... or it doesn't. OTOH, slamming and attempting to belittle anyone who happens to disagree or isn't up to speed (as someone attempted to do) is IMO, in this space, Beginners, counter productive.

Edited by howard929 (04/29/14 09:39 AM)


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combatdad
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Reged: 12/28/12

Loc: Culpeper, VA
Re: Setting circles new [Re: csa/montana]
      #6495481 - 04/29/14 10:30 AM

This is really in response to no one in particular, but like so many things in life, each individual really needs to assess why he/she got into this hobby..and then do what is right to get the most out of it.

Dave


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csa/montana
Den Mama
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Reged: 05/14/05

Loc: montana
Re: Setting circles new [Re: combatdad]
      #6495521 - 04/29/14 10:53 AM

Quote:

This is really in response to no one in particular, but like so many things in life, each individual really needs to assess why he/she got into this hobby..and then do what is right to get the most out of it.

Dave




Dave, absolutely. It should matter little to others whether someone simply uses their eyes, binoculars, star-hop with the smallest/largest of scopes, or using Go-to, or Video! We all enjoy the night sky in the best way that pleases us the most. What we don't want to do, especially in this forum, is discourage beginners from using whatever method is best for them!


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csrlice12
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Reged: 05/22/12

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Re: Setting circles new [Re: csa/montana]
      #6495563 - 04/29/14 11:14 AM

"Not only the process but the end result is profoundly different."

I disagree, the process might be different, but the end result is still the object in the fov....

I'm older, just really getting into the hobby, and admit I can only find a handfull of nebulas, galaxies, etcc without aid. The push-to DSCs allow me to view objects I might not otherwise see. Yes, I plan to learn the sky (especially interested in using the Telrad Charts to star-hop), but like anything, there's a learning curve. Time is a valuable commodity, but now that I'm retiring, I'll be able to devote more time to learning the old ways.


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Durden
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Reged: 08/13/13

Loc: Milton, Ontario Canada
Re: Setting circles new [Re: csrlice12]
      #6496122 - 04/29/14 03:47 PM

So I've got this really cool video game, but oh man is it hard. I mean hard like battletoads speeder level. Ruthless and unforgiving. But I'm hooked! And hey, after a few hundred hours of gameplay, I actually got pretty good at it. Might even say I've reached the pro level. Now I set myself certain goals in the game to make it harder, to prove myself elite. And when someone invades me I take one look at their gear and give a smug little laugh, they're doing it wrong. I mean how could they not see that there is only one way to enjoy the game...?

Nuff of that, as with any hobby, the individual will take it to the level he/she desires. I don't see what's wrong with someone who may not have a whole lot of time to put into this hobby using a goto system. If you're convinced that your way is better and you have a more intimate knowledge of the night sky, fine! Leave it at that and don't condescend and belittle those who do it differently. Maybe from their perspective you're doing it wrong. You're no authority, and who is anyone to judge?

Calling anyone who is out there trying to appreciate the night sky in any fashion a "clueless drone" seems far less sophisticated than someone using a computer aided tracking system.


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kevinrr
member


Reged: 10/13/10

Loc: Morristown, TN
Re: Setting circles new [Re: Durden]
      #6496476 - 04/29/14 06:23 PM

The funny part (to me, anyway) is that the very posters who seem to consider themselves so smart are the ones who have apparently overlooked that the installation of setting circles results in a manual push-to setup rather than a computerized go-to motorized scope, which is what they seem to want to discuss. I have no idea where the tangent of "go-to motorized scopes" came into this thread. Yet they would berate others for a perceived lack of attention to detail.

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C_Moon
Pooh-Bah
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Reged: 10/23/09

Loc: Beneath the arms of Cassiopeia
Re: Setting circles new [Re: kevinrr]
      #6497234 - 04/30/14 12:36 AM

Quote:

The funny part (to me, anyway) is that the very posters who seem to consider themselves so smart are the ones who have apparently overlooked that the installation of setting circles results in a manual push-to setup rather than a computerized go-to motorized scope, which is what they seem to want to discuss. I have no idea where the tangent of "go-to motorized scopes" came into this thread. Yet they would berate others for a perceived lack of attention to detail.




I think your comment here is what kicked it off:

Quote:

Using a dob without a coordinate location system is like trying to drive a car without ever pressing the gas....you can do it but you will be sorely disappointed with the results and you will never figure out the potential of the equipment.




I have enjoyed reading this thread and really can't understand why some get so angry at opposing views. I don't think this is discouraging to beginners at all; to the contrary, it may very well intrigue them to consider other aspects of the hobby they might have overlooked. There is no question in my mind that if you want to advance in this hobby you need to learn the sky (and I thought Tony's third post in this thread gave a good appreciation of what that phrase means, especially in terms of seeing the 'big picture'). I'm sure that can be done without starhopping, but starhopping is a quite effective way of doing it; and there may be many folks who do not want to "advance" in the hobby and just want to have fun. Have at it I say (to pretty much unanimous agreement, I'm sure).

I am glad that there are folks who will challenge you on this forum because I like getting shaken out of my bubble from time to time

So let's be thankful no one brought out that dreadful lock


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kevinrr
member


Reged: 10/13/10

Loc: Morristown, TN
Re: Setting circles new [Re: C_Moon]
      #6497348 - 04/30/14 02:10 AM

In re: to my original comment, who said that a "coordinate location system" has to be computerized or motorized? I suppose that obtaining the coordinates in real-time from a smartphone or computer program does technically make it a "computerized system", but the adjustments are made by hand and read by eye (in the case of setting circles/push-to systems).

During my short time observing I have tried, but not often used star-hopping as a location method. Many of the opinions here have encouraged me to consider using it as a location technique more often, and perhaps I will have yet another epiphany if/when I master that, which will change my opinion.


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Tony Flanders
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Reged: 05/18/06

Loc: Cambridge, MA, USA
Re: Setting circles new [Re: kevinrr]
      #6497501 - 04/30/14 06:46 AM

Quote:

The funny part (to me, anyway) is that the very posters who seem to consider themselves so smart are the ones who have apparently overlooked that the installation of setting circles results in a manual push-to setup rather than a computerized go-to motorized scope, which is what they seem to want to discuss.




I think that's just because Go To drives are much more common than analog alt-azimuth setting circles of the kind you are discussing. So "Go To" becomes a generic term for this entire class of solutions, including Go To in the strict sense, Push To which tells you how to push the scope, digital setting circles which sense the scope's altitude and azimuth electronically, and mechanical setting circles which let you read the scope's altitude and azimuth directly.

To my mind, they're all much of a piece as far as locating objects is concerned -- the similarities are much bigger than the differences.

The biggest difference, to my mind, is that Go To offers a huge advantage that the human-powered equivalents do not: motorized tracking of the object once acquired.

Other than that, your mechanical setting circles are simply a cheaper but less efficient equivalent of Go To.

Having said that, I also think that old-fashioned equatorial setting circles -- the kind used on Fraunhofer's scope and on almost all commercial scopes sold until the invention of the Dobsonian -- are also fundamentally the same as Go To.

The principle in all cases is exactly the same. You start with the object's name. Then you look up its coordinates -- either by inspecting a paper table or electronically. Then you move the scope until its coordinates match the coordinates you just looked up. You can either use a motorized aid to move the scope or you can push it yourself, but either way the process is completely routine and mechanical. And you arrive at an object without any knowledge of how it fits into the bigger picture.

Star-hopping is totally different; the process is fundamentally creative from the get-go. Every star-hop is different; each one requires a new strategy. And all strategies presuppose knowledge of how the object fits in the sky as a whole.

So I agree with people who make a distinction between star-hopping on the one hand and the various Go To or setting-circle solutions on the other hand. But I have no sympathy at all with people who consider old-fashioned equatorial setting circles to be fundamentally different from (or superior to) Go To drives, digital setting circles, or mechanical alt-azimuth setting circles. That seems completely inconsistent to me. Setting circles are setting circles, whether done with 19th-century technology or 21st-century technology.

The real breakthrough that made mechanical alt-azimuth setting circles practical was the invention of the smart phone or tablet computer. That's what made it possible to convert quickly and efficiently between the object's name and alt-azimuth coordinates. Which is just fine with me. It's something that I can do by hand in a pinch, but I am delighted to let machines perform mechanical chores for me.

Note that Jon Isaacs, one of Cloudy Nights' greatest (though gentlest) star-hopping advocates, now uses a smart phone or tablet to star-hop. Including the not-so-trivial chore of figuring out how to orient the chart to match the view through the eyepiece.


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lamplight
Carpal Tunnel
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Reged: 09/18/12

Loc: western MA, U.S.
Re: Setting circles new [Re: dr.who]
      #6498505 - 04/30/14 04:37 PM

Quote:

Is the only simple way to translate the RA Dec values I find in The Pocket Star Atlas via Stellarium or other computer based option or is there something else? My goal is to use PSA and the combination of Telrad and finder as much as possible and would like to do it without having to use a calculator or other device with a chip in it or having to pencil out the Celestial Trig equations.




hey Doc,
I just look up to see what constellations i can see, pick one thats visible and use the index on the pocket sky atlas to go to the associated pages that show that constellation. no reason for math unless I'm missing your meaning? but thats how i do it without a calculator , computer or math thats one reason i like using sky safari on a tablet for my charts, lots quicker than flipping pages. but the pocket sky atlas is great, its what i learned on for hopping.


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Dennis_S253
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 11/22/11

Loc: West Central Florida
Re: Setting circles new [Re: lamplight]
      #6498707 - 04/30/14 06:24 PM

Well, I'd like to ask a question. Like I said early in this post, I've been using setting circles most of my life. I look up a star that is close to the object I want to see, then double check my setting circles and then move to where I want to go. The question is... If I want to find M5, how do you star hop to it if the pocket atlas only goes to 7 mag stars?

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woodscavenger
sage


Reged: 08/20/13

Loc: Boise, ID
Re: Setting circles new [Re: lamplight]
      #6498715 - 04/30/14 06:28 PM

When I was a boy we went out, dug up some sand, fired it in the forge to make glass, ground the glass, made a telescope without the use of electric tools and we liked it! We walked up hills both ways and we liked it!!

Sheeeshh!

I would bet most of you on the negative side of this arguement grew up when the milky way was so bright in your backyard you could read by its light. The constellations practically held hands as they danced across the skies.

I started with a GOTO ETX90. was able to see things from my back yard well enough to develop an interest because otherwise you couldn't see much to get interested in. This has led to hundreds of hours online, in my star altas, star charts and now out to the dark sites. I am getting to know the constellations. Have graduated from a goto now to a 12" dob but appreciate the setting circles I applied. I enjoy the fact that I modified my scope my way and it works!! I can find somethnig I wanted to view. I am getting better with telrad and starhopping but my brain still messes with my left is right up is down to the point I get very lost. I will know the sky better. But without these tools I would have left long ago.

I appreciate those who do without the aides of goto and such. Their skill and knowledge astound me as I rub shoulders with them at the dark sky parties. But in the mean time, continue to be patient with us newbies with electric cords. When you cant carry your scope anymore you can still come and look through mine if you are nice to me.


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David Knisely
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Reged: 04/19/04

Loc: southeastern Nebraska
Re: Setting circles new [Re: Dennis_S253]
      #6498854 - 04/30/14 07:34 PM

Quote:

Well, I'd like to ask a question. Like I said early in this post, I've been using setting circles most of my life. I look up a star that is close to the object I want to see, then double check my setting circles and then move to where I want to go. The question is... If I want to find M5, how do you star hop to it if the pocket atlas only goes to 7 mag stars?




That's easy. For a start, the Pocket Sky Atlas goes to magnitude 7.6, which is deep enough that all its stars will show up easily in a small pair of binoculars or a small finderscope. In fact, there are eight stars brighter than magnitude 7.6 that are within 2.5 degrees of M5 (the typical field radius of an 8x50 finderscope). M5 is conveniently located only 22 arc minutes (about 1/3rd of a degree) north-northwest of the 5th magnitude star 5 Serpentis. In fact, when I am dark adapted and at my dark sky site, I can often see both 5 Ser and M5 (mag. 5.7) at the same time with averted vision using just my unaided eye. In a finderscope, M5 is an obvious little fuzzy ball sitting right next to 5 Ser. With most low-power eyepieces in modest telescopes, you can put 5 Ser in the center of the field and see M5 sitting out on the edge. 5 Ser is one of a group of five 5th magnitude stars that forms a distorted sort of "kite" shaped asterism (the stars 4, 5, 6, 8, and 10 Ser) so it makes it fairly easy to locate that star and M5. Another method with somewhat brighter stars is to take the 3.7 magnitude 109 Virginis and magnitude 4.4 110 Viginis and go about the same distance that is between the two stars to the east of 110 Vir to get to the field containing M5. Another possibility is to use the brighter stars Alpha and Epsilon Serpentis and make a very narrow isosceles triangle to the southwest which has M5 on its tip. The plain simple fact is that there are so many blasted stars in the area brighter than 7th magnitude that it is quite easy to find M5 no matter what group of stars might want to use. Clear skies to you.


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Dennis_S253
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 11/22/11

Loc: West Central Florida
Re: Setting circles new [Re: David Knisely]
      #6498951 - 04/30/14 08:16 PM

Thanks David, I guess I'm just wondering what people are calling star hopping. I know 109 Vir is only about 8 degrees from M5. I was just wondering if people use a telrad and just move 109 to the side of the circles 2x or what. Is that what they call star hopping. I'd be good at it then. I was thinking it was like a road map. Goto ... and turn left then goto ... and turn east, see 3.7 mag. So basically it's just learning the sky and where things are using a book.

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