Return to the Cloudy Nights Telescope Reviews home pageAstronomics discounts for Cloudy Nights members
Get a Cloudy Nights T-Shirt Submit a Review / Article

Click here if you are having trouble logging into the forums

Privacy Policy | Please read our Terms of Service | Signup and Troubleshooting FAQ | Problems? PM a Red or a Green GuÖ uh, User

Equipment Discussions >> Classic Telescopes

Pages: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | (show all)
Daniel Mounsey
Vendor (Woodland Hills)
*****

Reged: 06/12/02

Observing in the 60's and 70's
      #5628058 - 01/17/13 01:01 PM

Since this was before my era, could anyone who was observing during the 60's and or 70's please elaborate on what observing was like in those days? Did you find yourself fussing with your telescope mechanics or did you find yourself paying more attention to what you were observing in the night sky?

Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
terraclarke
Post Laureate
*****

Reged: 05/29/12

Loc: Just South of the Mason-Dixon ...
Re: Observing in the 60's and 70's new [Re: Daniel Mounsey]
      #5628084 - 01/17/13 01:25 PM

In the 1960s everything was analog and we appreciated what we had, so we learned the night sky, learned to find what we wanted to see by star-hopping and using binoculars and star charts, and sometimes using setting circles. If the scope was driven, it was typically only in R.A. We looked in awe at the astronomical object we saw rather than critiquing the view with regard to chromatic aberration, pinpoint star patterns across the field, etc. And I should add that in my opinion anyway, the skies were much better then, fewer contrails, and less light pollution. It seemed to me then that is was much more about the sky and much less about the equipment- or perhaps that was just the exuberance of youth and living in the "space age."

Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Brian RisleyModerator
Carpal Tunnel
*****

Reged: 09/04/06

Loc: SW Florida
Re: Observing in the 60's and 70's new [Re: Daniel Mounsey]
      #5628085 - 01/17/13 01:26 PM

Daniel, starting in 77/78, I was at the tail end of this time frame. I would say that I paid more attention to what I was observing to start with, but equipment did come into play more and more over time. I did not use electronic scopes until the past few years. Star hopping, cards, atlases and some setting circle work was how I found things.
(This was how I did the complete Messier Marathon in 1987(C-8) with Norman McLeod(12" f4 GEM Newt), although several close attempts did have us tuned up for it.)
I first started with a friends 60mm, but jumped in with both feet with a C-8 when I graduated 8th grade.
Living under 6.5+ skies and later going out to 7.0-7.5 skies did make the observing more pleasant and easier without much concern about trying to tweak everything.
I learned a lot about not using equipment as Norman was and is involved with the American Meteor Society and we spent many a night out with just our eyes and binoculars.
Brian


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
droid
rocketman
*****

Reged: 08/29/04

Loc: Conneaut, Ohio
Re: Observing in the 60's and 70's new [Re: Daniel Mounsey]
      #5628095 - 01/17/13 01:30 PM

Oh I dont know, in some ways we had it worse then, what books there were, usually called galaxys nebula, no internet, so no access 24 and 7 to astronomy.

On the other hand light pollution was minor so skys were , or seems to me, darker.
Only 8 channels on tv, so often nothing I wanted to watch on tv so I spent a lot more time outside.
Only owned binos until the early 1970s when I was gifted a 4.5 reflector.
I think the only " better " thing about then , for me, was the skys were really dark.
I went back to the ole homestead a year or so ago, there are now light domes in all directions, sad.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
CharlieB
Carpal Tunnel
*****

Reged: 12/11/07

Loc: Southern NH
Re: Observing in the 60's and 70's new [Re: Daniel Mounsey]
      #5628116 - 01/17/13 01:40 PM

In the late 50's & early 60's, my grandparents had a farm in rural Michigan. The skies were dark enough for the Milky Way to cast faint shadows. You didn't need a scope to see some brighter galaxies and nebulae. Constellations were more difficult to distinguish because of all the background stars. A pair of 50mm binoculars gave views that would knock your socks off these days. Of course, my eyes were somewhat better back then.

Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Joe Cepleur
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 03/18/10

Loc: Dark North Woods
Re: Observing in the 60's and 70's new [Re: terraclarke]
      #5628187 - 01/17/13 02:26 PM

Quote:

We looked in awe at the astronomical object we saw rather than critiquing the view with regard to chromatic aberration, pinpoint star patterns across the field... much more about the sky and much less about the equipment






How do we teach this to the new generation of astronomers? Simple optics are entirely adequate, but culture is hard to steer.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
rmollise
Postmaster
*****

Reged: 07/06/07

Re: Observing in the 60's and 70's new [Re: Daniel Mounsey]
      #5628279 - 01/17/13 03:14 PM

Quote:

Since this was before my era, could anyone who was observing during the 60's and or 70's please elaborate on what observing was like in those days? Did you find yourself fussing with your telescope mechanics or did you find yourself paying more attention to what you were observing in the night sky?




The basics, worrying about gear, figuring out what to look at, weren't much different, but things were different both in how you observed, and what you observed. Oh, and you can bet your patootie we were as gear crazy then as now. All those giant Caves, almost affordable Edmunds and Criterions, and those luscious and utterly unaffordable Unitrons. I wore out more than one drool-soaked astro-catalog.

No go-to, of course, and many of us didn't even have a clock drive. Astronomy equipment was far more expensive than it is now. That was why many of us homebrewed our scopes and mounts. I for one SURE wouldn't want to go back to my 6-inch Newtonians on pipe mounts.

But, anyhow, except for the fact that there were no Dobsonians, you got to your targets like star hoppers still do. But even then, things were not as good as now. No Telrads, most finders around 30mm, the TOP OF THE LINE atlas for most of us was the Skalnate Pleso, the predecessor of Sky Atlas 2000--but it was a while before I was able to save up for a copy. I got by with the completely inadequate (for use at the telescope) Norton's for what seemed like a VERY long time.

And you looked through? For most of us, eyepieces were simple Kellners and Ramsdans with small apparent fields. As the 70s came in and most of us kid astronomers grew up and had some disposable income, Erfles and Orthos came to inhabit our eyepiece boxes, but, though that was better, it was a fur piece from today.

What was also different was what we looked at. For most of us it was the planets and the Moon and the Messier. The Moon and planets were a natural; with NASA moving out into the Solar System, it was an exciting time. Deep Sky? The Messier was the amateur's life list. Oh, some of us were pushing out into the NGC under the tutelage of Scotty, but I and my buddies considered things like the Veil Nebula objects for PROFESSIONAL SCOPES.

It was a simpler time, and I wouldn't go back...but oh! What fun we had!

Edited by rmollise (01/17/13 03:17 PM)


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
rmollise
Postmaster
*****

Reged: 07/06/07

Re: Observing in the 60's and 70's new [Re: Joe Cepleur]
      #5628291 - 01/17/13 03:21 PM

Quote:

Quote:

We looked in awe at the astronomical object we saw rather than critiquing the view with regard to chromatic aberration, pinpoint star patterns across the field... much more about the sky and much less about the equipment






How do we teach this to the new generation of astronomers? Simple optics are entirely adequate, but culture is hard to steer.




I lived through it, and I can tell you things have not changed much at all. One thing I do guard against? Putting on the DADGUM HAIR SHIRT with the novices and telling them real men do not use go-to and Ethoses. You use whatever makes you happy, keeps you in the hobby, and keeps you seeing cool stuff. And all that is far easier today.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
rmollise
Postmaster
*****

Reged: 07/06/07

Re: Observing in the 60's and 70's new [Re: CharlieB]
      #5628294 - 01/17/13 03:23 PM

Quote:

In the late 50's & early 60's, my grandparents had a farm in rural Michigan. The skies were dark enough for the Milky Way to cast faint shadows. You didn't need a scope to see some brighter galaxies and nebulae. Constellations were more difficult to distinguish because of all the background stars. A pair of 50mm binoculars gave views that would knock your socks off these days. Of course, my eyes were somewhat better back then.




No doubt. Mine were. But I will also say that most of us did not have access to skies like that at home even in the 60s. Mine were maybe a little better than now, but not much, not much.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
astro140
super member


Reged: 01/28/08

Loc: Mayhill, New Mexico
Re: Observing in the 60's and 70's new [Re: terraclarke]
      #5628306 - 01/17/13 03:25 PM Attachment (63 downloads)

I think Terra nice summarized the experience of observing in the 60's. As for astrophotography, for me it was eyepiece projection into an Exacta camera with a Steinheil lens; Kodak Tri-X Pan film, develop and print the picture yourself. Still have a picture which I scanned and attached that I took when I was 17 in 1964...5 second hand-guided image! Of course I can do much better with my Takahashi and CCD today (IMHO ), but those days were great fun.
Steve
NM


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Bonco
Post Laureate
*****

Reged: 04/17/06

Loc: Florida
Re: Observing in the 60's and 70's new [Re: astro140]
      #5628377 - 01/17/13 04:02 PM

Good replies especially Terra's. In the 50's and early 60's 60 mm refractors ruled. In 1960 or 61 I got my RV6 and it was the biggest scope in our Dallas Tx Club. One guy had a four inch Unitron which was way too expensive for most of us and we were in awe.
By just going a few miles out of Dalls we found really dark skies. That area now is covered with development for miles and miles. Star hopping was the norm to find Messier objects and I and others would star hop to find asteroids. Many of us developed a high degree of proficiency of finding deep sky objects from memory and knowing the constellations and star names. Big change came in the 70's with the introduction of the Celestron line of SCT's and others soon to follow. DOB's were the next major evolution and larger scopes were now the norm. While we lusted for the pricier products we or at least I were very satisfied with what we had and seldom got wrapped up on CA issues, contrast, or detailed optical discussions. However I'm sure Amateur Telescope Makers would disagree with that statement. ATM's were much more prevelent then compared to now. Also, my impression is that there we more young people such as preteen and teen observers in the days of yore compared to today. We had a very active Junior club with kids from 12 to 18 years old. I don't see that anymore but I'm sure there are some groups out there I'm not aware of. The main thing I miss is the rather convenient access to dark skies not far from home. Currently for me it's a 100 mile drive to fairly dark skies.
Bill


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
tim53
Postmaster
*****

Reged: 12/17/04

Loc: Highland Park, CA
Re: Observing in the 60's and 70's new [Re: Bonco]
      #5628418 - 01/17/13 04:28 PM

My workhorse star atlas before I bought a Skalnate was the Petersens Field Guide to the Stars and Planets by Pasakov, IIRC. I have a later edition with the printed star charts, but my favorite was the 60s version with the photographic star charts that went out to 15th magnitude (but had "Eastman Objects" that sometimes looked like stars). You needed good eyes to use those tiny charts, but I did at the time.

My workhorse scopes between 7 years and 19 years of age were my Tasco 4VTE and whatever the 60mm version of the varipower was (can't remember at the moment).

Even when I bought my first "real telescope" (OC 8" Discoverer in 1972), I still loved to star hop. I did have a clock drive though, plus driven RA pointers. I lived large like that for over 8 years, when I built my Springfield using the OC's optics.

-Tim.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
terraclarke
Post Laureate
*****

Reged: 05/29/12

Loc: Just South of the Mason-Dixon ...
Re: Observing in the 60's and 70's new [Re: tim53]
      #5628517 - 01/17/13 05:26 PM Attachment (39 downloads)

Thanks guys I'm glad you liked what I wrote
My first star atlas if you want to call it that was a very early edition of "The Stars" by H. A. Rey- yup, the same guy that wrote the Curious George books. This was the edition that had the sky broken down in quadrants for each map and the maps were drawn for 2hr intervals for every two week period in the year. The way he drew the constellations, they were so easily recognizable in the sky. I then got my Norton's Star Atlas (1964 edition) and I transferred many of the Messier objects from the Norton's into The Stars. I practically wore those books out and still have 'em. The bindings are now held together with tape. I'm saving them for my grandson named Orion. I can't wait to teach him the same way and give him my first telescope, a 60 mm Mayflower.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Masvingo
scholastic sledgehammer
*****

Reged: 01/10/12

Loc: Ayrshire, Scotland
Re: Observing in the 60's and 70's new [Re: tim53]
      #5628519 - 01/17/13 05:27 PM

My star atlas for my early days, mid seventies, was the photo charts in A Field Guide to the Star and Planets by Donald Menzel bought when we were on holiday in South Africa along with a small 4.5" reflector on a very basic and wobbly alt-az mount.

But even in the middle of Harare (then Salisbury), the capital city of Zimbabwe (then Rhodesia) the skies were reasonably dark and the temperatures mild although with sanctions equipment was pretty scarce. It's a different story now in Scotland and I still miss the Southern Cross, Omega Centauri and the Scorpion.

James


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
terraclarke
Post Laureate
*****

Reged: 05/29/12

Loc: Just South of the Mason-Dixon ...
Re: Observing in the 60's and 70's new [Re: Masvingo]
      #5628528 - 01/17/13 05:31 PM

I had the same book as well James. Still have the very well worn copy. I loved the way it had the complete sky photographed in a long series of B&W photos. It also had a great photographic atlas of the moon (also B&W). I still love that old early sixties edition so much more than the new color one.

Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Masvingo
scholastic sledgehammer
*****

Reged: 01/10/12

Loc: Ayrshire, Scotland
Re: Observing in the 60's and 70's new [Re: terraclarke]
      #5628545 - 01/17/13 05:45 PM

Agreed and yes, I've still got my copy as well Terra, a prized possession. I found the photo charts, with a negative next to them, very handy and I also used the charts (nomograms) provided for determining where the planets would be.

And now all this is so readily to hand from computer programs and the interweb! Sometimes I feel though, that when things are so easily available, you loose a sense of appreciation for them. But I guess also when you look back you often remember the good things more than the bad - rose tinted glasses!


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
terraclarke
Post Laureate
*****

Reged: 05/29/12

Loc: Just South of the Mason-Dixon ...
Re: Observing in the 60's and 70's new [Re: Masvingo]
      #5628555 - 01/17/13 05:51 PM

"when you look back you often remember the good things more than the bad"- and that James is a blessing.
I remember such good times curled up pouring over those books, planning my observations.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
GeneT
Ely Kid
*****

Reged: 11/07/08

Loc: South Texas
Re: Observing in the 60's and 70's new [Re: Daniel Mounsey]
      #5628639 - 01/17/13 06:35 PM

I began observing in 1958, in Ely Nevada. I owned a 4 inch, F10 Dynascope, with two Ramsden eyepieces. Clock drives were just coming into amateur equipment. I did not have one, but did have an equatorial mount. Photography was done afocal, primarily with black and white film. Many of us did not have the money to load up with a lot of expensive accessories. I worked all summer to raise the $79.95 for my telescope. I just went outside and viewed--in mag 6+ skies, in my back yard.

Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
gatorengineer
Carpal Tunnel
*****

Reged: 02/28/05

Loc: Hellertown, PA
Re: Observing in the 60's and 70's new [Re: GeneT]
      #5628662 - 01/17/13 06:50 PM

Late 70's for me. Darker sky, the joy of finding stuff... A 60MM refractor, with a film camera and a bulb release.... 1980 brought me a 6"F8 Woo hoo....

Kids today arent interested in stars, unless they explode, on TV or have alien monsters. There are no big science projects, not even any meaningful little science projects. Except for things like Skycube....


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Cepheus Elf
member


Reged: 08/01/10

Loc: Rainy, Cloudy Lancashire UK
Re: Observing in the 60's and 70's new [Re: gatorengineer]
      #5628703 - 01/17/13 07:22 PM

Back in the 70s in the UK, even a 60mm department store scope was very expensive and a 6" reflector was a dream scope for many amateur astronomers. The range of books and observing guides was very limited and basic. Newcomers to the hobby today definitely have an easier time with very good quality scopes available at relatively low cost as well as better books, software, apps etc...

Mick (observing since '74!)


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
dickie
member
*****

Reged: 12/13/07

Loc: Cape Cod,Mass.
Re: Observing in the 60's and 70's new [Re: gatorengineer]
      #5628724 - 01/17/13 07:38 PM

Observed every night I could as a kid during the mid 60's with a Sears 60mm refractor,returned to astronomy after 40 year hiatus with a Megrez 110 and 12 inch dob.The most clear and distinct difference I immediately saw is the clouds passing by the moon, now have a constant brown hue to them,maybe living in New England down wind from midwest power plants has something to do with it.Light pollution from my once rural area is now off the charts too.

Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
tim53
Postmaster
*****

Reged: 12/17/04

Loc: Highland Park, CA
Re: Observing in the 60's and 70's new [Re: Masvingo]
      #5628727 - 01/17/13 07:43 PM

Quote:

My star atlas for my early days, mid seventies, was the photo charts in A Field Guide to the Star and Planets by Donald Menzel bought when we were on holiday in South Africa along with a small 4.5" reflector on a very basic and wobbly alt-az mount.
James




That's the one! I got the author wrong in my post above. Sorry 'bout that.

-Tim.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Datapanic
Post Laureate
*****

Reged: 10/17/09

Loc: Tucson, Arizona
Re: Observing in the 60's and 70's new [Re: Cepheus Elf]
      #5628739 - 01/17/13 07:46 PM

I started in 72 or 73 on Guam with a 60mm refractor and the manual - that's all I had! My next door neighbor was also my teacher and she did a small section on Astronomy which got me started. Later, after moving back to the states, my high school had lots of books, a planetarium and an Astronomy club. That's when I go my Cave 8" Lightweight Deluxe, which I still own today. Back then, and even now, I used Atlas of the Heavens (1950 epoch) and a catalog I made from S&T's Deepsky Wonders column along with Setting Circles to find things. I've never been much of a hopper, besides, it was cool to dial stuff in and there it was in the eyepiece. I haven't changed much since then - still using scopes from the same era but do have an 80's dual axis variable frequency drive control I made for easier tracking. Atronomy-wise, I only use the computer for imaging and Cloudy Nights. Oh yeah, and to buy stuff

Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
tim53
Postmaster
*****

Reged: 12/17/04

Loc: Highland Park, CA
Re: Observing in the 60's and 70's new [Re: tim53]
      #5628742 - 01/17/13 07:49 PM

Before that, though, was this book, which I bought with my hard-earned allowance (I got $2, twice a month!) when I was 11:



The ABCs of Astronomy by Roy A Gallant

I think the book cost me about 5 bucks, too, so more than a month's pay back then! It had decent star charts for binoculars, and blurbs about interesting astronomical factoids.

I still had my copy when we had a house fire in 2001, which destroyed our attic and most of the contents, including that book I keep looking for a replacement, because I spent many nights propped up in my bed looking out my south window with binoculars, consulting those charts.

-Tim.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
tim53
Postmaster
*****

Reged: 12/17/04

Loc: Highland Park, CA
Re: Observing in the 60's and 70's new [Re: tim53]
      #5628761 - 01/17/13 07:54 PM

This was a fun book, too. Bought it when I was 13 or 14.



Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
actionhac
Post Laureate
*****

Reged: 08/09/08

Loc: Seattle
Re: Observing in the 60's and 70's new [Re: gatorengineer]
      #5628768 - 01/17/13 07:55 PM

My 1960's astronomy was lots of naked eye observing.
I remember laying in my sleeping bag and looking at the stars a lot.
Learning the constellations for my scout merit badge.
My Mercury 7X35 binocular was given to me mid. 60's.
Grandma gave me a 2 1/2" reflector around 1966.
My technical books were Sky & Telescope and a Herbert S. Zim book on observing.
In the 60's I don't really remember a telescope being that important, it seemed I could see plenty with my imagination.
I was a serious sci-fi bookworm, especially Robert Heinlein.
In the 70's it was less sci-fi and more scientific non-fiction, and a more serious telescope eventually.
My Jr. high years starting in 1970 were unforgettable. We had astronomy and model rocketry, wood shop, metal shop.

Robert



Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
BarabinoSr
Pooh-Bah
*****

Reged: 11/17/05

Loc: Slidell La
Re: Observing in the 60's and 70's new [Re: actionhac]
      #5628882 - 01/17/13 09:01 PM Attachment (36 downloads)

Hi All!!
Just begun reading this great post, and enjoying everyone's stories on their exploits during those years. I first took interest in the sky as an 11 year old kid back in 1965,from reading my older brother's high school science book. I was born and raised in New Orleans, Louisiana. It was a much different world back then, and even from the city the night sky was not bad from where I lived at that time.But I got a spyglass type scope later that year,but it did'nt show much. I increased my knowledge of telescopes and astronomy from reading books at the school library,and by February of 1970 I had obtained a small Selsi 60mm variable power scope(60x-30x-45x60x) and by then my family and I moved to a housing development . I got a summer job working for the city of New Orleans and obtained a 4" Selsi Stargazer Reflector.During that time I met a 14 year-old kid named Mel Dawson who also loved astronomy and on Aug. 16,1970, he and I founded the Vega Observatory and recorded our views of the partial lunar eclipse using the variable powered scope and the Stargazer reflector. I can remember how crisp and clear those views were under clear skies,even though I was living only 5 miles as the crow flies from the heart of the city and especially how much I enjoyed observing the sky. Shortly after that event,I started to keep Annual Journals, that date from 1970 hence of our observing activities,and these old beginning observations have even survived the flood waters of Huricane Katrina in 2005. The name of our little observatory was changed to the Vega Sky Center in 1975, and has since grown greatly. To me its amazing how far we've come from the days of two young men and a couple of small telescopes . The scope in the picture (Holmar) looks just like the Selsi from the 1970's with the click stop drawtube. The other shot shows an exact copy of the Selsi Stargazer 4" reflector. Gary

Edited by BarabinoSr (01/17/13 09:13 PM)


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
BarabinoSr
Pooh-Bah
*****

Reged: 11/17/05

Loc: Slidell La
Re: Observing in the 60's and 70's new [Re: BarabinoSr]
      #5628892 - 01/17/13 09:11 PM Attachment (34 downloads)

4" Selsi Stargazer,alt-azimuth reflector. It has two eyepieces labeled 40x and 80x,sized .917 diameter.Exactly like the one from the 70's. Gary G

Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
John Higbee
sage
*****

Reged: 07/17/12

Loc: Virginia
Re: Observing in the 60's and 70's new [Re: tim53]
      #5628896 - 01/17/13 09:14 PM

Tim - those two books (ABC's of Astronomy, and Star Maps for Beginners) were the first two books in my astronomy library...and I still have them! Got "the ABCs" from my folks in 1964, along with my Tasco 60mm refractor (the one with the integral "slide stop" eyepiece that gave you 15, 30, 45 and 60X, depending on how far you pulled it out!).

Grew up in the St. Louis suburbs - skies weren't dark, but they were "observable". My 7th grade Earth Science teacher (the best teacher I ever had) hooked me on astronomy...I wore out the 520 (Dewey Decimal Sys code for Astronomy...remember?) section of my school and public library soaking up astronomy info.

Cut my teeth on the 60mm (still have it, objective is in great shape but the rest of the scope in sad need of renovation!). Graduated to the Edmund 4.25 f/10 reflector on an equatorial in 1967...what a wonderful scope that was (is)! Haunted the (then) brand new McDonnell Planetarium in Forest Park...convinced the director that two of us (at that time sophomores in high school) were trustworthy enough to host public viewings on the roof of the planetarium. The viewing deck was reached via a ramp that wrapped itself around the outside of the star theater dome...the deck had three 8" cassegrains on pier mounted GEMs (possibly Caves...not sure). We would set up the scopes on the Moon, Jupiter or Saturn, or a bright Messier object, and host questions...a lot of fun, but the excellence of the scopes was more than offset by inner city skyglow (those skies really WERE awful!).

My Dad was a great supporter...he helped me make longer legs for the Tasco tripod, and sank a concrete mounted pipe pier for my 4.25 Edmund in our back yard. He would even occasionally take a look at the Moon, but felt that observing was my job. Lost him 11 years ago...still miss him!

Four of my classmates and I formed an astronomy club (The Celestial Observers of St. Louis...no bashfulness in that selection(!)) and pooled our telescopes at each other's house for Friday night star parties, fueled by Pepsi and enthusiasm. Our pride of the pack was my friend Bob's brand new RV-6...when it showed up, our other scopes got a vacation. I can remember staying up with my friends to dawn observing on many a Saturday morning. We even gave planetarium shows of our own for the neighborhood kids, using a Spitz Junior Planetarium with red cellophane taped over Aldeberan and Antares for "local color".

St. Louis was a great place to grow up, and a great place to be an (amateur) astronomer in the 1960's...setting circles, synchronous clock drives, Norton's Star Atlas, and good friends!

John


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
John Higbee
sage
*****

Reged: 07/17/12

Loc: Virginia
Re: Observing in the 60's and 70's new [Re: tim53]
      #5629037 - 01/17/13 10:41 PM

Tim - PM sent. John

Edited by John Higbee (01/17/13 10:43 PM)


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Meadeball
sage


Reged: 10/22/12

Loc: Midlothian, Virginia
Re: Observing in the 60's and 70's new [Re: John Higbee]
      #5629137 - 01/17/13 11:40 PM

Ah, the good old days. I started in 1976. Tell me, who else grew up with the good ol' trusty Edmund Mag 5 Star Atlas? I still have mine and use it from time to time.



Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Rich (RLTYS)Moderator
Postmaster
*****

Reged: 12/18/04

Loc: New York (Long Island)
Re: Observing in the 60's and 70's new [Re: Meadeball]
      #5629388 - 01/18/13 06:14 AM

Started observing with my first telescope Christmas 1967 a Tasco 6TE-5 refractor. One thing no one has mentioned was the skies were a lot darker back then.

Rich (RLTYS)


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Mirzam
Post Laureate
*****

Reged: 04/01/08

Loc: Lovettsville, VA
Re: Observing in the 60's and 70's new [Re: Rich (RLTYS)]
      #5629606 - 01/18/13 10:14 AM Attachment (25 downloads)

I began my foray into amateur astronomy in 1965, after receiving a Gilbert 3" cardboard reflector for Christmas, followed the next year by a 4.5" Tasco reflector (Lunagrosso). Viewing was from a white zone suburb of D.C., although at the time the skies where probably yellow or maybe better. Knocked off most of the Messier list from that location. I was never happy with the images of the Tasco. Wish now that I had known something about collimation!

In 1968 a remarkable thing happened. I walked into a Drug Fair store (sort of like CVS) and found a paperback copy of "How to Make a Telescope" by Jean Texereau. Can you imagine finding a book like this today at a drug store, or a 15 year old kid buying it?

I remember being in our basement in 1968 when the news came about RFK's assasination. I was working on a 6-inch mirror, (which was never finished as the normal 15-year-old hormones finally kicked in). Later that year I bought an RV-6, which was and is a great little scope. It's still around.

JimC


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Meadeball
sage


Reged: 10/22/12

Loc: Midlothian, Virginia
Re: Observing in the 60's and 70's new [Re: Rich (RLTYS)]
      #5629683 - 01/18/13 10:55 AM

Quote:

One thing no one has mentioned was the skies were a lot darker back then.




Only about half of the people responding to this thread did!

Way back when I started, our club's (Richmond Astronomical Society) observatory was located wayyyy out in the far limits of the suburbs, surrounded by a few acres of pine trees, and gave stellar views from Mag 6/7 skies. My first-ever view of M42 through that 7-inch refractor is forever etched in my mind's eye. In the early 80s, though, development encroached. The ENTIRE stretch of woods between the observatory and the road were purchased for a shopping center, and to add insult to injury, the supermarket they placed within feet of the observatory was called Big Star. We did have some input on lighting, and the shopping center obliged by installing shielded parking lot lights, but it was never the same. Today the observatory still stands there, blocked from view by a fence and (usually) several reefer trailers for the store. The suburbs now stretch a good 10 miles farther out, and the sky pollution from the malls, restaurants and car dealerships is worse than that coming from downtown. The telescope is only good for planetary and solar work now, and the club can't seem to come up with the funds required to move the old beauty. I haven't been active in the club in years, but I still drive by the Ragland Observatory from time to time and cast a sad look at its current situation. Poor scope.



Edited by Meadeball (01/18/13 10:56 AM)


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
catboat
professor emeritus
*****

Reged: 12/01/09

Loc: Maine
Re: Observing in the 60's and 70's new [Re: rmollise]
      #5629729 - 01/18/13 11:14 AM

Quote:

I lived through it, and I can tell you things have not changed much at all. One thing I do guard against? Putting on the DADGUM HAIR SHIRT with the novices and telling them real men do not use go-to and Ethoses.




HAIR SHIRT?? Where can I get one of those?


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
rmollise
Postmaster
*****

Reged: 07/06/07

Re: Observing in the 60's and 70's new [Re: catboat]
      #5630068 - 01/18/13 03:01 PM

Quote:

Quote:

I lived through it, and I can tell you things have not changed much at all. One thing I do guard against? Putting on the DADGUM HAIR SHIRT with the novices and telling them real men do not use go-to and Ethoses.




HAIR SHIRT?? Where can I get one of those?




You are automatically issued one when you reach your 40th year or so as an amateur...


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
terraclarke
Post Laureate
*****

Reged: 05/29/12

Loc: Just South of the Mason-Dixon ...
Re: Observing in the 60's and 70's new [Re: rmollise]
      #5630142 - 01/18/13 03:47 PM

Well I never got mine darn it! I need a hair shirt keep me warm. I haven't been able to get my butt outside at night to observe with anything other than my two eyes since Thanksgiving weekend. Whenever its clear here at night this winter its also below 30 and I don't allow frost on my 'objective.'

Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
orion61

*****

Reged: 10/20/07

Loc: Birthplace James T Kirk
Re: Observing in the 60's and 70's new [Re: terraclarke]
      #5630198 - 01/18/13 04:18 PM

I got my first scope after my "older" Niece got a 3" Reflector. (I was born when my folks were in their 40's)
I have a Sister old enough to be my MOM! But I was hooked,
I saved all the money I made in the Summer helping neighbors haul Hay Bales and an allowance. it was horrible! My English teacher heard about me from my Science teacher
and was offered his old Edmund Reflector, it was so nice in that wooden box, everything well taken care of and there were 3!!! eyepieces. He sold it to me (gave it) fo me doing extra credit work and helping him at Ball Games he had to be. I had it well into adulthood. I ended up giving it to my younger nephew who, to my horror, trashed it....
Boy but on that Farm in Ne. was it DARK!!


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
jgraham
Postmaster
*****

Reged: 12/02/04

Loc: Miami Valley Astronomical Soci...
Re: Observing in the 60's and 70's new [Re: terraclarke]
      #5630210 - 01/18/13 04:22 PM

Wow, that's an interesting question. Some of us have been at this so long it's hard to remember what it was like way back then. I started around 1962. Things were pretty basic; books from the library (our Internet), 40mm telescope from the local pawn shop, spending a lot of time with the shallow-sky (stars, constellations, watching those new fangled satellites flying overhead). Deepsky? What was that? You mean those little speckly patches in Norton's Star Atlas? Gosh, there must be dozenís off them! Catalogs were little paper pamphlets from mail-order houses. If you were rich (by our standards) you could buy a scope, if not you drooled over Amateur Telescope Making Books I, II, and III (mostly I and II). I funded my first homebuilt telescope project (a 4.25" f/8, the first of over two dozen homebuilt scopes ending with my 16.5" f/6.5) by mowing lawns, shoveling snow, and collecting the deposits from pop bottles. I handle a little yellow elephant piggy-bank on the mantle in our living room that slowing got heavy enough to order the mirror grinding kit from Precision Optical in Ithaca New York (a far off land somewhere East from Kansas City, Mo.). I still have the Royal portable typewriter I used to write the letter for the kit. I was shattered when I got a letter back informing that the price of the kit had gone up $1.50 from the 1950's era pamphlet my Dad had (he was an ATM back in the really old days). We not only built our own scopes, but we also built our own cameras and developed our own film. Noth'n like push-processing 4"x5" Tri-X sheet film! I never thought that'd I'd get that smell outa my hands.

Over the years it has been fascinating to watch the hobby progress from one era to another. A wonderful life-long pursuit.

Enjoy.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
catboat
professor emeritus
*****

Reged: 12/01/09

Loc: Maine
Re: Observing in the 60's and 70's new [Re: rmollise]
      #5630221 - 01/18/13 04:30 PM

Quote:

Quote:

Quote:

I lived through it, and I can tell you things have not changed much at all. One thing I do guard against? Putting on the DADGUM HAIR SHIRT with the novices and telling them real men do not use go-to and Ethoses.





HAIR SHIRT?? Where can I get one of those?




You are automatically issued one when you reach your 40th year or so as an amateur...






I doubt I'll make it that far. Can I request an itchy pine box as a consolation prize?


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Joe Cepleur
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 03/18/10

Loc: Dark North Woods
Re: Observing in the 60's and 70's new [Re: rmollise]
      #5630390 - 01/18/13 06:49 PM

Quote:

Quote:

HAIR SHIRT?? Where can I get one of those?




You are automatically issued one when you reach your 40th year or so as an amateur.




Sad to say, I am old enough to have earned my shirt, but am only active in astronomy these past four or five years. Would a lifelong curiosity qualify me?

This thread is of special interest to me, because I am the same age as many of its authors, yet might be called "new" to astronomy. In childhood, I wanted a telescope and in fact built one from a shaving mirror, but I never got a good one. I still recall asking the salesman in Lechmere Sales in Dedham, Massachusetts, why anyone would pay so much more for one telescope than the other, and doubting that what must have been the 80mm was really so much bigger than what must have been the 60mm as to have been so many dollars better. I still recall seeing ads for Celestron C8s, likely in "Boy's Life" magazine and even in the back pages of comic books, and wondering how anything so odd in appearance might have been a telescope!

I live on the Classics Forum as a way to recover what is not yet a lost past. I can't get the years back, but I can see the sky with the same instruments I might have used then, had I pursued astronomy earlier. I suppose Uncle Rod is right --again!-- that we codgers should not disparage newcomers from relying on GoTo, if that's what preserves astronomy. Still, there is a special wonder not just in finding one's own objects studiously, hop by hop, but in looking up and, at a glance, knowing exactly where they are. If you are experienced and can appreciate the ride, find your thousands of Herschels with GoTo to be able to see them in this lifetime; but, if you are new, work and learn something for your own enrichment, such as how to find the Messiers on your own. I worry that astronomy risks becoming television at the eyepiece, and fear that something is lost when people presume they must buy the right gear, rather than learn the right skills, to find accomplishment and wonder in their lives.

I'm not a Luddite. I'm a Nerd. I love the new scopes and own no paper charts, preferring software on my iPod Touch. It's just that I also love the idea that simple optics, including those one might make at home --one comprehensible if sophisticated mirror, a diagonal, an eyepiece, and a marvelous, mechanical mount that mirrors the workings of the Earth's place in the solar system-- might bring the heavens within my grasp. I'm glad the equipment has improved over the years, and yet believe that, in some regards, it has not, if its role is to illuminate its own workings, the Earth's rotation, and the glories of the sky above. An alt/az GoTo mount I can understand, but an equatorial mount I can feel, not just with my hands, but its movements mimicked in my body. Something is lost when a computer from China has to teach the locals how to see and feel their own skies.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
John Jarosz
Astro Gearhead
*****

Reged: 04/25/04

Loc: Fairfax, Iowa
Re: Observing in the 60's and 70's new [Re: Joe Cepleur]
      #5630466 - 01/18/13 07:31 PM

It's hard to tell that astronomy in the 60's/70's had a lot of equipment emphasis but it did/ It's just that there is SO MUCH MORE gear available now. Insanly high end stuff too. Back then there was Questar, Unitron, Tinsley and Vega( yes Vega was very very small) in the high end market. As I recall the only really high end eyepieces were orthoscopics. I had a 6" F13 ATM given to me by my uncle who moved on to other things. I had a 1.25" FL Erfle eyepiece and a 1/2" FL Ramsden eyepiece. I did not know anyone else who had a telescope but many of my friends were intrigued enough to return for additional views after their first taste.

Much more of astronomy back then (to my mind) was the do-it-yourself aspect.

I saw quite a few objects from my Chicago backyard. I really remember when Chicago switched to sodium vapor streetlights and put them in the alleys as well for good measure. Those lights mage a big change - I was not pleased. My prize was finding M57 all by myself after 3 or 4 nights of looking. I grew up never really seeing the night sky from a dark site.

Back then I remember reading S&T and wondering about the section that mentioned 25 years ago in S&T. These days I'm horrified to actually remember covers and articles that are listed in their section on 50 years ago in S&T.

I think my initial exposure to astronomy via an ATM scope conditioned me not to run after perfect optics or hardware but to enjoy the views of things that can't be seen by the naked eye. It's still amazing what you can see with modest equipment.

John


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Jim Curry
Pooh-Bah
*****

Reged: 10/29/07

Loc: STL
Re: Observing in the 60's and 70's new [Re: John Jarosz]
      #5631121 - 01/19/13 07:37 AM

Christmas 1968-1972. Graduating from 8x32 binoculars to a 4" Criterion eq. (see Joe Cepleur's list). Two eyepieces, a third later as a birthday present, a fourth (military erfle) found and put to use as a wide field. I was told recently by Joe that the single secondary stalk was twisted out of alignment, something I never noticed while exploring the skies. Norton's was my field atlas for the Messier hunt, that took about 15 months. Then reading Scotty's column I went after NGC's. There was a couple of great comets, a Venus transit and two solar eclipses to chase (one off Cape Cod, the other Nova Scotia). Wrote a paper on an amateur solar spectrahelioscope design which got me an invite to Yale for a science symposium then poof-off to college and long term storage for the scope. It's now in good hands in the state of Maine under mostly dark skies again.

Jim


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Larry10
super member
*****

Reged: 06/16/03

Loc: NE Ohio
Re: Observing in the 60's and 70's new [Re: John Jarosz]
      #5631136 - 01/19/13 08:14 AM

Quote:

Back then I remember reading S&T and wondering about the section that mentioned 25 years ago in S&T. These days I'm horrified to actually remember covers and articles that are listed in their section on 50 years ago in S&T.




I can relate to that! Maybe CN should open a "Classic Observers" forum.
As others have mentioned light pollution was less prevalent. I now live on the same city block where I grew up and the magnitude limit has dropped by a bit over 2.
Equipment options were more limited. Orthoscopics ruled the roost on the top end and I was envious of those who actually owned one - and in awe of those who owned more than one. 6" reflectors were the norm for the serious observer and many were ATM products. I only knew two people who had monstrous 8" reflectors. I had the privelege of being brought into the hobby by a great group of folks who started a club in 1949. One of these people was Diane Lucas, an amazing individual, who used to share her 6" ATM Mak with some of us younger members. That was an exotic treat!


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Daniel Mounsey
Vendor (Woodland Hills)
*****

Reged: 06/12/02

Re: Observing in the 60's and 70's new [Re: John Higbee]
      #5631232 - 01/19/13 10:00 AM

Thank you all for your thoughts. It's a tremendous honor to listen to you all and John I was especially moved by your comments regarding your fathers support and your loss. My father has supported me as well.

Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
terraclarke
Post Laureate
*****

Reged: 05/29/12

Loc: Just South of the Mason-Dixon ...
Re: Observing in the 60's and 70's new [Re: Larry10]
      #5631250 - 01/19/13 10:15 AM

Big hooray for Diane Lucas, I would have loved to have known her. Women amateurs who are "hard core" and not just friends/tagalongs (not that there is anything wrong with that) are a rare breed, especially were back then. Girls were generally not encouraged in science unless you expressed an interest in being a nurse. My heroes were Marie Curie and Caroline Herschel. I had only one female science teacher in middle/high school- my 7th grade science teacher, no women math teachers, and in college and graduate school, it was the same, no women professors in my field (geology/geophysics). Today thankfully things are changing so that is one aspect I do not look nostalgically back on.

Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Larry10
super member
*****

Reged: 06/16/03

Loc: NE Ohio
Re: Observing in the 60's and 70's new [Re: Larry10]
      #5631564 - 01/19/13 01:19 PM

I forgot to mention that to get to a good observing site we had to hike miles uphill in deep snow - both ways.

Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
PJ Anway
Double-Star Observer
*****

Reged: 06/04/03

Loc: North Coast
Re: Observing in the 60's and 70's new [Re: Daniel Mounsey]
      #5631633 - 01/19/13 01:55 PM

I started in the late 1960's when I purchased a kit from Ryder's Hobby Shop in Michigan and ground my first and only mirror. It started out being six inches, but after a problem with TDE it ended up being about 5-1/2". After completing the scope and mount, for years it was my only gear and the emphasis was on observing.

Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
tim53
Postmaster
*****

Reged: 12/17/04

Loc: Highland Park, CA
Re: Observing in the 60's and 70's new [Re: Joe Cepleur]
      #5631637 - 01/19/13 01:57 PM

Like

Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Joe Cepleur
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 03/18/10

Loc: Dark North Woods
Re: Observing in the 60's and 70's new [Re: Larry10]
      #5632032 - 01/19/13 07:00 PM

Quote:

Diane Lucas, an amazing individual, who used to share her 6" ATM Mak with some of us younger members. That was an exotic treat!




What else can you recall about that Mak? My club received a 4" ATM Mak recently. I understand there was a subculture of ATMers building Maks back then, as home-grown alternatives to costly refractors, and want to learn more.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
DAVIDG
Post Laureate
*****

Reged: 12/02/04

Loc: Hockessin, De
Re: Observing in the 60's and 70's new [Re: Joe Cepleur]
      #5632130 - 01/19/13 07:50 PM

Quote:

Quote:

Diane Lucas, an amazing individual, who used to share her 6" ATM Mak with some of us younger members. That was an exotic treat!




What else can you recall about that Mak? My club received a 4" ATM Mak recently. I understand there was a subculture of ATMers building Maks back then, as home-grown alternatives to costly refractors, and want to learn more.




It was called the Maksutov Club, which started at Stellafane back in the late 50's when John Gregory displayed his 5" Mak at Stellafane in 1956 and wrote his famous article about his Mak Cass design for Sky and Tel in 1957. The club published a newsletter from that time until the early 80's. The best of the articles became the two volume books "Advanced Telescope Making Technics-Optical"and the second volume "Mecanical" which are available from Willmann Bell. The Mak club also arranged for Hayward Glass in Cal. to make the Mak corrector blanks in sizes from 4" up to 11". Diane Lucas has a couple of articles in those books. Coulter Optics also sold the corrector shells in the 1970's as well.

- Dave


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
John Jarosz
Astro Gearhead
*****

Reged: 04/25/04

Loc: Fairfax, Iowa
Re: Observing in the 60's and 70's new [Re: Joe Cepleur]
      #5632135 - 01/19/13 07:52 PM

I almost bought a Mak optical set in the 80's, I think JMI was selling them. It would have been an ATM project without building the optical components. I came thisclose to pulling the trigger. I forget why I didn't.

Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
jeffg
member


Reged: 02/13/07

Loc: Irvine CA
Re: Observing in the 60's and 70's new [Re: tim53]
      #5632467 - 01/20/13 12:01 AM

My brother and I started into astronomy in the mid-60s with a 3 inch reflector we got from Sears for Christmas. It was a Harmonic Reed and had a simple eyepiece and a horrid Barlow, but you could get a useful 75x out of it before the images became blurry. We upgraded it to 1.25 inch eyepieces with a focuser from Edmund and two Ramsden eyepieces. I used to looking longingly at the Orthos in the Edmund catalog, but there was no way I could afford $14.95 for one as a teenager. We eventually got one of the RV-6 scopes from Criterion, which even had a clock drive, which very few in our Astro club had. As had been said previously, Uncle Rod is right, no way would I want to go back to those days. The skies were darker, but that didn't mean you knew how to find much of the faint stuff. This evening I was looking at some negatives of Comet Bennett I took in 1967, but they aren't very good--focus is poor, and the stars are elongated due to poor tracking. So it is much easier to get a decent shot today.

Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
CHASLX200
Post Laureate
*****

Reged: 09/29/07

Loc: Tampa area Florida
Re: Observing in the 60's and 70's new [Re: Daniel Mounsey]
      #5632726 - 01/20/13 08:09 AM

Quote:

Since this was before my era, could anyone who was observing during the 60's and or 70's please elaborate on what observing was like in those days? Did you find yourself fussing with your telescope mechanics or did you find yourself paying more attention to what you were observing in the night sky?




I started out in 1976 and found myself trying to find stuff in the sky. Everything was new to me and i would love to go back and start over.

Chas


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Larry10
super member
*****

Reged: 06/16/03

Loc: NE Ohio
Re: Observing in the 60's and 70's new [Re: DAVIDG]
      #5632736 - 01/20/13 08:23 AM

Summed up well, Dave!
There is a wonderful book, Telescopes for Stargazing, by Henry E. Paul that shows a good spectrum of the gear used in the early 60's. Not too hard to find a used copy online.
Larry


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
bogg
sage


Reged: 11/17/09

Loc: Bruce County Ontario
Re: Observing in the 60's and 70's new [Re: Larry10]
      #5632923 - 01/20/13 10:36 AM

I got started in the 70s with a copy of The Stars. Nothing but eyeball observing to start. I could even remember most of the constilations. My Dad one Christmas got me my first "telescope". It was a Bushnell Skymaster with a 20 to 45 power eyepiece and a photographic trypod. I enjoyed many a nght observing Looking at Jupiter and its moons. One night I was shure I was looking at Andromeda. I just panned arround the sky. Looking at what I found. I still have that Skymaster and it brings back some good memories and at 60mm still produces an amazing view for terestial or astronomical.

Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
SkipW
sage


Reged: 02/03/11

Loc: Oklahoma, USA
Re: Observing in the 60's and 70's new [Re: Larry10]
      #5632957 - 01/20/13 10:52 AM

One thing is for sure: cold-weather clothing is much better now! Today's outdoor gear is lighter, far less bulky, and warmer.

I sure don't miss freezing my butt off. Maybe I'm just more cold tolerant now, but I don't think so.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
rmollise
Postmaster
*****

Reged: 07/06/07

Re: Observing in the 60's and 70's new [Re: terraclarke]
      #5633451 - 01/20/13 03:49 PM

Quote:

Well I never got mine darn it! I need a hair shirt keep me warm. I haven't been able to get my butt outside at night to observe with anything other than my two eyes since Thanksgiving weekend. Whenever its clear here at night this winter its also below 30 and I don't allow frost on my 'objective.'




Hint: the purpose of one is not to keep you warm...


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Glen A W
professor emeritus


Reged: 07/04/08

Loc: USA
Re: Observing in the 60's and 70's new [Re: terraclarke]
      #5633729 - 01/20/13 06:25 PM

Quote:

It seemed to me then that is was much more about the sky and much less about the equipment- or perhaps that was just the exuberance of youth and living in the "space age."




That did not really get lost until the late 80s and all through the 90s. Now, I am kind of sick of all the equipment fascination. S&T hardly even did equipment reviews until about 1990! I liked things better then.

Edit : I may be wrong about that. It's only how it seemed to me! I didn't have the money for a bigger scope, so I made do with a 60mm and it was, actually, pretty great.

Edited by Glen A W (01/20/13 06:38 PM)


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Glen A W
professor emeritus


Reged: 07/04/08

Loc: USA
Re: Observing in the 60's and 70's new [Re: tim53]
      #5633753 - 01/20/13 06:40 PM

Star Maps for Beginners was my first book! The cover was different than on yours. Those little cross shaped maps worked really well - I still use the book sometimes. GW

Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Ed Wiley
scholastic sledgehammer


Reged: 05/18/05

Loc: Kansas, USA
Re: Observing in the 60's and 70's new [Re: Cepheus Elf]
      #5635462 - 01/21/13 06:05 PM

Uncle Rod summed it up. The only thing I would add is that the 50s were magical with my little 60mm refractor. Naturally most of my observing then was Luna and the bright planets.

Ed


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Meadeball
sage


Reged: 10/22/12

Loc: Midlothian, Virginia
Re: Observing in the 60's and 70's new [Re: Glen A W]
      #5635484 - 01/21/13 06:19 PM

Quote:

It seemed to me then that is was much more about the sky and much less about the equipment-




Well, that's because we all had 6-inch newtonians. What was the point?

I say that half-jokingly, but in all honesty, when my club started doing monthly "skywatches" behind the Science Museum of Virginia in the late '70s, we'd have, oh, 10 guys with scopes show up and half of them would be Criterion RV-6's.

Edited by Meadeball (01/21/13 06:21 PM)


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
terraclarke
Post Laureate
*****

Reged: 05/29/12

Loc: Just South of the Mason-Dixon ...
Re: Observing in the 60's and 70's new [Re: Ed Wiley]
      #5636448 - 01/22/13 09:10 AM

I thought the ring nebula (M57), the trapezium, the double double e-Lyra, and lovely Alberio were also pretty magical in my little Japanese 60 mm back then, even in the suburbs. Never underestimate a good 60 mm on a decently stable mount, even now. And that was back with the 0.965 eyepieces

Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Glen A W
professor emeritus


Reged: 07/04/08

Loc: USA
Re: Observing in the 60's and 70's new [Re: terraclarke]
      #5636569 - 01/22/13 10:17 AM

Quote:

I thought the ring nebula (M57), the trapezium, the double double e-Lyra, and lovely Alberio were also pretty magical in my little Japanese 60 mm back then, even in the suburbs. Never underestimate a good 60 mm on a decently stable mount, even now. And that was back with the 0.965 eyepieces




Since I only had a 60, I thought it was a perfectly adequate galaxy scope. Looking back I am amazed at what I saw with it. I wouldn't even try it, now. GW


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
bremms
Carpal Tunnel
*****

Reged: 08/31/12

Loc: SC
Re: Observing in the 60's and 70's new [Re: Glen A W]
      #5637019 - 01/22/13 02:19 PM

Nothing wrong with 0.965 eyepieces. I have some nice Celestron Kellners and one 8mm plossl. Zeiss and pentax made some REALLY nice eyepieces in 0.965. My 18mm and 30mm Kellner have really nice coatings and perform very well with my Tasco 11TR and Sears 6339.

Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
bremms
Carpal Tunnel
*****

Reged: 08/31/12

Loc: SC
Re: Observing in the 60's and 70's new [Re: bremms]
      #5637144 - 01/22/13 03:18 PM

I was about eight or nine when I remember going out to the country one evening to the house my parents just bought. It was Quite dark there in 1970. (still is pretty dark) Really loved astronomy and was watching every moon mission whenever I could. You could see so many stars there, just sat outside in the yard looking at the stars and milky way. Went and found a book about constellations the next day. That was the start.

Edited by bremms (01/22/13 03:25 PM)


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
philjay
super member


Reged: 12/02/09

Loc: UK Derby
Re: Observing in the 60's and 70's new [Re: bremms]
      #5637241 - 01/22/13 04:10 PM

Observing was so much simpler then, no pcs/ power packs/ gotos to fail, set up took no time at all with my Tasco 10TE and I learned the sky from an early age. I kept a log of all observations with sketches, still have some of the logs in my book shelf, makes interesting reading.
I even tried taking photos with my Zenit B strapped to the back of the tasco, got some nice lunar shots and some wobbly DSOs. The DSOs were fun, manual guiding for 4 or 5 minutes in teh middle of winter getting a stiff neck, ahh the memories.
I think thats why I like using classics so much, yep I have hi tech computerised mounts and Apo scopes but theres nothing like taking a classic out on a clear night and doing it the old fashioned way

Phil


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
terraclarke
Post Laureate
*****

Reged: 05/29/12

Loc: Just South of the Mason-Dixon ...
Re: Observing in the 60's and 70's new [Re: Glen A W]
      #5637313 - 01/22/13 04:41 PM

Hi Glen,
Nothing at all wrong with 0.965s. I have a wonderful collection of vintage Japanese 0.965 eps which now include three orthoscopics, but my selection was a bit more limited back then. In 1965-67 my eyepiece collection consisted of a 40 mm Jaegers (I think it was a Kelner- I no longer have it), a 12.5 mm Jaegers Huygens, a 20mm Mayflower Ramsden, 5 and 6 mm Mayflower H.M.s, and one 7 mm Unitron S.A. that was the prize of my collection. I used them to the best of my ability and squeezed every bit of performance out of them.

Now I have a full set of Unitrons, several circle V orthos, a couple of Circle T Celestrons and a couple of really nice early Meade Japanese including a 40 mm; all 0.965. I still use the 0.965s in my Unihex and in my Unitron diagonal, but I have also adapted all of my classic scopes to also use 1.25 inch accessories with full aperture adapters so there is no vignetting. I love the classic 1.25 inch volcano top orthos!


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
t.r.
Post Laureate
*****

Reged: 02/14/08

Loc: Upstate NY
Re: Observing in the 60's and 70's new [Re: terraclarke]
      #5637594 - 01/22/13 07:27 PM Attachment (10 downloads)

Started with the Kmart "Focal" 40mm alt/az refractor with zoom feature in the mid 70's as a kid then progressed to the Service Merchandise Jason 313 Discoverer 60mm equatorial as a teen. I loved tracking down dim objects using the setting circles...it was slick! Anyone remember this book in its various reprints, it was in my pocket everywhere I went...

http://www.vintagepbks.com/gg-titles/sky_observe.html


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
BarabinoSr
Pooh-Bah
*****

Reged: 11/17/05

Loc: Slidell La
Re: Observing in the 60's and 70's new [Re: t.r.]
      #5637768 - 01/22/13 09:07 PM

Sure do! I have a copy, one of my favorites !

Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
iluxo
sage


Reged: 09/23/08

Re: Observing in the 60's and 70's new [Re: BarabinoSr]
      #5638253 - 01/23/13 05:23 AM

I started as an ATM in 1972, making a 4", 6" and 8" Newtonian, then around 1978 a folded f/18 6" that bears my name (see Sky &Telescope June 1981, ATM page). At that time I also had access to a beautiful 4.5" Cooke refractor, and a 9" refractor at a professional observatory.

The things that really stand out for me...

1. Eyepieces were terrible, really awful things compared to modern ones. High magnification was really tedious as it meant horrible eyepieces with no eye relief, narrow fields and tiny, poor quality lenses that more often than not scatterered a lot of light or were poorly aligned.

2. Mounts were positively agricultural compared to what most of us take for granted now.

3. Astrophotography using film, many nights taking shots, developing the negs in a darkroom...

4. Not to mention the painful visual guiding at high power on a guide star, using a an i,luminated eyepiece in a guide scope... There is nothing quite as incredibly tedious as doing this for say 1 hour straight on a cold night.

5. Computerised mounts, CCD's and auto guiders were just appearing in professional observatories at literally astronomical prices... It is truly remarkable that these are now easily within the grasp of amateurs.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Jim Curry
Pooh-Bah
*****

Reged: 10/29/07

Loc: STL
Re: Observing in the 60's and 70's new [Re: t.r.]
      #5638285 - 01/23/13 06:18 AM

That book is still in my library, too!

Jim


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
rmollise
Postmaster
*****

Reged: 07/06/07

Re: Observing in the 60's and 70's new [Re: bremms]
      #5638355 - 01/23/13 07:48 AM

Quote:

Nothing wrong with 0.965 eyepieces. I have some nice Celestron Kellners and one 8mm plossl. Zeiss and pentax made some REALLY nice eyepieces in 0.965. My 18mm and 30mm Kellner have really nice coatings and perform very well with my Tasco 11TR and Sears 6339.




Well, no...not much, anyway. The tiny eyelenses and restrictive barrels are turn-off, but those you mention and the Takahashis are very good optically.

Problem was, we didn't have--nobody _I_ new, anyway--Zeiss and Tak. We had Edmund and Tasco. Their .965s were invariably dreadful. I've run across some pretty good Japanese .965s from The Day, but those were few.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
terraclarke
Post Laureate
*****

Reged: 05/29/12

Loc: Just South of the Mason-Dixon ...
Re: Observing in the 60's and 70's new [Re: rmollise]
      #5638598 - 01/23/13 10:28 AM

No one has mentioned (or I fail to remember reading it- if so I apologize for my old age ) all the cool war surplus stuff we had available back then. My second telescope was a 6 inch F/4.5 reflector that I made myself for a high school science fair project. Got the mirror grinding kit from Edmund along with a diagonal spider, r&p focuser, and mirror cell. I worked all winter grinding and figuring the mirror in our laundry room. Then I made a really unsatisfactory pipe mount from instructions in an Edmund book called "Telescopes You Can Build."

I got an Edmund eq mount late the next summer for what seemed to be a fortune after I gave up on my pipe mount. I paid for it from a summer's worth of baby sitting and vacation pet care for neighbors.

But the really cool things that I remember most was a WWII surplus Erfle eyepiece that our neighbor who was a machinist made a 1.25inch brass adapter for (the ep was so heavy he had to re-work the focuser so it could support its weight) and a finder made from some sort of surplus artillery gun sight that came from Edmund or Jaegers. Anyway, the thing I remember most was that eyepiece. It had a huge eye lens and it seemed like I was looking through a space ship porthole when I looked at the Milky Way. I wish I still had it. I have never been able to replicate the view. Maybe I remember it as better than it really was because it was so cool at the time but it just seemed so neat!


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Cepheus Elf
member


Reged: 08/01/10

Loc: Rainy, Cloudy Lancashire UK
Re: Observing in the 60's and 70's new [Re: terraclarke]
      #5639364 - 01/23/13 06:17 PM

Quote:

Hi Glen,
Nothing at all wrong with 0.965s. I have a wonderful collection of vintage Japanese 0.965 eps which now include three orthoscopics, but my selection was a bit more limited back then. In 1965-67 my eyepiece collection consisted of a 40 mm Jaegers (I think it was a Kelner- I no longer have it), a 12.5 mm Jaegers Huygens, a 20mm Mayflower Ramsden, 5 and 6 mm Mayflower H.M.s, and one 7 mm Unitron S.A. that was the prize of my collection. I used them to the best of my ability and squeezed every bit of performance out of them.

Now I have a full set of Unitrons, several circle V orthos, a couple of Circle T Celestrons and a couple of really nice early Meade Japanese including a 40 mm; all 0.965. I still use the 0.965s in my Unihex and in my Unitron diagonal, but I have also adapted all of my classic scopes to also use 1.25 inch accessories with full aperture adapters so there is no vignetting. I love the classic 1.25 inch volcano top orthos!


I'm keeping hold of my Vixen .965s....great eyepieces!!!

Mick


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
will808
member


Reged: 03/07/11

Loc: Haymarket Va
Re: Observing in the 60's and 70's new [Re: terraclarke]
      #5639381 - 01/23/13 06:28 PM Attachment (16 downloads)

We did the best we could with what we had...i saw craters on the moon with a 30x40 tabletop earned through selling greeting cards in the mid sixties and it lit a fire that still burns & i think it does in all of us!

Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Glen A W
professor emeritus


Reged: 07/04/08

Loc: USA
Re: Observing in the 60's and 70's new [Re: will808]
      #5639383 - 01/23/13 06:30 PM

How come every time we get a good thread going, somebody posts a pretty lens-scope pic and makes me feel bad because of my insatiable jealousy? GW

Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
rguasto
scholastic sledgehammer
*****

Reged: 11/18/10

Loc: Long Island, NY
Re: Observing in the 60's and 70's new [Re: terraclarke]
      #5639435 - 01/23/13 07:05 PM Attachment (14 downloads)

When a close friends father passed, I inherited all his astronomical equipment. This was my introduction to astronomy. He was an avid astronomer in the late 50's until his passing in the mid 1990's. His wide field eyepiece was a surplus erfle. I did use it a lot, but have stored it away now.. Yes, the eye lens is huge, all the glass is uncoated and I cannot appreciate any field stop (the barrel most likely). Works great in an F8 reflector.

Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
BrooksObs
professor emeritus


Reged: 12/08/12

Re: Observing in the 60's and 70's new [Re: Glen A W]
      #5639450 - 01/23/13 07:22 PM

A good deal of memory-spurring names and remembrances among the preceding posts for me. Started out before most here, back in the middle 50's with a 4" alt-az Dynascope. Soon graduated to a 60mm Unitron paired with a 6" f/10 reflector cobbled together from visits to Jaegers and Edmunds.

A much different hobby back then and one that I regard as much more interesting and involving. Mainly you were the creator of your own instruments, designing them to fit the type of observing you were most interested in. And the hobby was about observing, not collecting telescopes, eyepieces and gizmos without end.

Then, too, far more folks did serious visual observing, participating in various programs and studies in conjunction with Sky & Telescope. Big events saw hundreds of reports submitted by readers and summarized in their pages with scientifically valuable information gleaned. There initially was very little space program and amateurs were much closer to the leading edge of astronomy than can possibly be imagined today.

Stellafane, mentioned up-stream, was a nice little annual meeting of about 200 folks when I started and eventually you knew everybody by name and they knew you. John Gregory and Diane Lucas were mentioned earlier and both were longtime friends. So was Les Peltier, Tom Cragg (of Mt. Wilson), and so many others whose names are now long since cut in stone.

Others have mentioned the pristine skies. Even right on the edge of big cities they were beyond the imagination of what most travel hours to see nowadays here in the east. I recall counting 11-12 Pleiades with the unaided eye just 15 miles north of NYC and skies so dark and clear an hour north that Venus and Jupiter seriously bothered your dark adaptation (limiting magnitude 7.5) if up.

Yes, the Internet is fun and scopes do a lot more now, but I'd take back the 50's and 60's observing experience and the thrill of the developing space program any day over the way it all is now.

BrooksObs

Edited by BrooksObs (01/23/13 09:49 PM)


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Bonco
Post Laureate
*****

Reged: 04/17/06

Loc: Florida
Re: Observing in the 60's and 70's new [Re: BrooksObs]
      #5639479 - 01/23/13 07:46 PM

Great thread. Thanks BrooksObs for your post. It pesented many of my thoughts and memories. I'm just a year or two behind you as I began observing in the late 50's. In the early 60's I and my friend's got credit in Sky and Telescope for capturing photo's of a Saturn occultation by the moon and shadow timing events of a luanr eclipse. At around 12-13 years old I was proud to see our results published. Sure enjoy those memories.
Bill


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Joe Cepleur
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 03/18/10

Loc: Dark North Woods
Re: Observing in the 60's and 70's new [Re: BrooksObs]
      #5639846 - 01/24/13 12:21 AM

Quote:

A much different hobby back then and one that I regard as much more interesting and involving. Mainly you were the creator of your own instruments, designing them to fit the type of observing you were most interested in. And the hobby was about observing, not collecting telescopes, eyepieces and gizmos without end.




I seek to create that experience anew, today -- thus my interest in classic scopes. Of course, this entails a certain amount of collecting, to amass the gear one can not buy easily, brand new.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Datapanic
Post Laureate
*****

Reged: 10/17/09

Loc: Tucson, Arizona
Re: Observing in the 60's and 70's new [Re: BrooksObs]
      #5639888 - 01/24/13 01:02 AM

Quote:


...
Then, too, far more folks did serious visual observing, participating in various programs and studies in conjunction with Sky & Telescope. Big events saw hundreds of reports submitted by readers and summarized in their pages with scientifically valuable information gleaned. There initially was very little space program and amateurs were much closer to the leading edge of astronomy than can possibly be imagined today.
...





I think that defines the big difference between now and then. Back Then, Astronomy Clubs would measure variable star magnitudes and provide occultation timings among other measurements and submit that data for the professionals to interpolate. I gotta confess that I'm "still stuck in the 70's" and don't even know what data modern astronomy clubs provide now-a-days.

Remember tuning in to the short wave time signal (WWV was it?) and synchronizing wind-up stop watches? Spacing scopes apart by x number of feet/meters for grazing occultations? Those were the good old days where the collection of data had to be as accurate as can be - we used USGS Survey maps to get our Latitude and Longitude to +/- 100 feet or so.

Back then, Sky & Telescope was a lot more technical too.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
SkipW
sage


Reged: 02/03/11

Loc: Oklahoma, USA
Re: Observing in the 60's and 70's new [Re: Datapanic]
      #5639904 - 01/24/13 01:19 AM

Quote:

Back then, Sky & Telescope was a lot more technical too.



That is very true. They have to change to survive, I suppose, and they're still here. We have far more sources for information, and more timely now, though.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Datapanic
Post Laureate
*****

Reged: 10/17/09

Loc: Tucson, Arizona
Re: Observing in the 60's and 70's new [Re: SkipW]
      #5639937 - 01/24/13 01:58 AM

One more story about back then...

When I returned to the States in 1974, I started my freshman year at West Springfield High School in Springfield, VA. The school was built in the 60's and it and other schools in the same county had Astronomy I on the curriculum as well as Planetariums! That was like Astronomy Heaven to me. I joined the school Astronomy club but had to wait a year for that Astronomy I class. A lot of people took that class thinking it would be easy and they would just sleep in the comfy chairs, but most of the time it was math and science at the work tables. I really enjoyed it. Myself and 2 others went on in our Junior year to take Astronomy II, which was all project oriented and involved lots of papers. But, we did learn how to operate the planetarium and even wrote a program for show. In my Senior year, the county started a 'gifted' program and I could have worked for no pay at the newly opened Smithsonian Air & Space museum, but there was no way to afford the $4 round trip bus ticket down town every day, so I continued on with advanced studies. My first scope overhaul was the school's 80mm Unitron purchased when the school first opened. About six years ago, I visited my old school, the planetarium is still there, but they don't teach Astronomy any more as far as I know. I was the president of the club for the last two years and really boosted up the membership by accepting everyone who had an interest, novice or otherwise and teaching them how to use a telescope (not everyone had one) and about observing what was up there.

It was a real privilege to have the opportunities back then that I had. I just wonder what kids have today...


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Meadeball
sage


Reged: 10/22/12

Loc: Midlothian, Virginia
Re: Observing in the 60's and 70's new [Re: SkipW]
      #5639938 - 01/24/13 01:58 AM

Back then S&T had more pages too! Man, I just got my subscription renewed (following a 2-year hiatus) as a Christmas present. I just received my first issue in the mail today. At first I thought it was just a pamphlet about the magazine. Then I flipped through it. Wow, my old issues were sometimes more than 200 pages long. The February issue doesn't break 90. Considering the subscription price (and a newsstand price of SIX BUCKS?!), I'm a little let down!

Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Datapanic
Post Laureate
*****

Reged: 10/17/09

Loc: Tucson, Arizona
Re: Observing in the 60's and 70's new [Re: Meadeball]
      #5639961 - 01/24/13 02:28 AM

Quote:

Back then S&T had more pages too! Man, I just got my subscription renewed (following a 2-year hiatus) as a Christmas present. I just received my first issue in the mail today. At first I thought it was just a pamphlet about the magazine. Then I flipped through it. Wow, my old issues were sometimes more than 200 pages long. The February issue doesn't break 90. Considering the subscription price (and a newsstand price of SIX BUCKS?!), I'm a little let down!




Ironic because you can get the 2010 and 2011 DVD of S&T issues for $9.99/year and the 2012 volume will be out soon. Unfortunately, S&T like other specialized magazines are falling. I hate to see that with such an old favorite and there are staff of S&T here on CN, but what's to do?


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
rmollise
Postmaster
*****

Reged: 07/06/07

Re: Observing in the 60's and 70's new [Re: BrooksObs]
      #5640233 - 01/24/13 09:14 AM

Quote:



A much different hobby back then and one that I regard as much more interesting and involving. Mainly you were the creator of your own instruments, designing them to fit the type of observing you were most interested in. And the hobby was about observing, not collecting telescopes, eyepieces and gizmos without end.




Not really. Not any of the amateurs I knew anyplace I lived, anyhow.

Most of us were not designing pea-turkey. We were trying to build a simple 6-inch (or so) Newtonian telescope from instructions we found in a book, or based on the instructions of a buddy who'd figured it out from a book.

We were--anybody I knew--far from tailoring our telescopes to _anything_. We were just trying to put together something that would work, and maybe work a little better than the 60mm refractors and 3-inch reflectors most of us started with.

Not about telescopes and "gizmos"?! You hung out with a far different crowd than most of us then. Most of us spend hours and hours MOONING OVER the catalogs from Edmund, Criterion, Unitron, and the rest. The only reason we weren't "collecting" was that moldie oldie: "I Ain't Got No Money."

It's fun to remember the past, and the older we get, the more virtuous we were back then.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
dgreyson
scholastic sledgehammer
*****

Reged: 11/06/12

Loc: South Carolina
Re: Observing in the 60's and 70's new [Re: rmollise]
      #5640502 - 01/24/13 11:43 AM

Quote:

..Most of us spend hours and hours MOONING OVER the catalogs from Edmund, Criterion, Unitron, and the rest. The only reason we weren't "collecting" was that moldie oldie: "I Ain't Got No Money."..




The sad thing is a lot of these companies were willing to sell by monthly installments and I still didnít have the money to buy much. I had to struggle just to scrape together enough money to be able to buy the 30 cent a gallon gasoline that Esso was selling. Nice scopes were out of my reach, Guess I could have gotten a job but I did not have that long an attention span to save and wait several years. The $250 or so a Unitron 128 etc. cost in 1970 would cost over $1535.00 in todayís money. Not something Mom and Dad would cough up readily.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Glen A W
professor emeritus


Reged: 07/04/08

Loc: USA
Re: Observing in the 60's and 70's new [Re: Datapanic]
      #5640762 - 01/24/13 01:59 PM

Quote:



Remember tuning in to the short wave time signal (WWV was it?) and synchronizing wind-up stop watches? Spacing scopes apart by x number of feet/meters for grazing occultations? Those were the good old days where the collection of data had to be as accurate as can be - we used USGS Survey maps to get our Latitude and Longitude to +/- 100 feet or so.

Back then, Sky & Telescope was a lot more technical too.




I have an autographed copy of Provenmire's book on the occultation timing! Well, we have gained a lot and lost a lot too, is how I'd put it. I wonder if he is out there with a stopwatch, still?

Astronomy peaked for me 20-30 years ago. Well, I was really just a kid. But, I think we had a good selection of equipment but we hadn't been shut out of a lot of things, as is ongoing now. GW

Edited by Glen A W (01/24/13 02:01 PM)


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
BrooksObs
professor emeritus


Reged: 12/08/12

Re: Observing in the 60's and 70's new [Re: rmollise]
      #5640883 - 01/24/13 03:01 PM

Quote:

Quote:



A much different hobby back then and one that I regard as much more interesting and involving. Mainly you were the creator of your own instruments, designing them to fit the type of observing you were most interested in. And the hobby was about observing, not collecting telescopes, eyepieces and gizmos without end.




Not really. Not any of the amateurs I knew anyplace I lived, anyhow.

Most of us were not designing pea-turkey. We were trying to build a simple 6-inch (or so) Newtonian telescope from instructions we found in a book, or based on the instructions of a buddy who'd figured it out from a book.

We were--anybody I knew--far from tailoring our telescopes to _anything_. We were just trying to put together something that would work, and maybe work a little better than the 60mm refractors and 3-inch reflectors most of us started with.

Not about telescopes and "gizmos"?! You hung out with a far different crowd than most of us then. Most of us spend hours and hours MOONING OVER the catalogs from Edmund, Criterion, Unitron, and the rest. The only reason we weren't "collecting" was that moldie oldie: "I Ain't Got No Money."

It's fun to remember the past, and the older we get, the more virtuous we were back then.




Obviously a different crowd indeed from what I experienced in the NYC area back in the 50's and 60's. The couple of area clubs I belonged to were set up with divisions centered around specific types of observing, their purposes being ultimately to contribute useful observations to the ALPO, AAVSO, AMS and graze occultation timings, together with occasional group trips (regional) to observe and record special events like eclipses.

These outfits were more "seriously" active back then than they are today. And the market was also too small to create much in the way of "mooning" over gizmos. Beyond just a few companies, like Unitron and Cave Optical, there was little affordable to even moon over (ever seen Feckers ad prices?)!

BrooksObs


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
terraclarke
Post Laureate
*****

Reged: 05/29/12

Loc: Just South of the Mason-Dixon ...
Re: Observing in the 60's and 70's new [Re: Glen A W]
      #5640887 - 01/24/13 03:03 PM

Okay, here a reality check. I just got my March issue of S&T the other day. This morning I began to read an article. It was Di Cicco's review of the Celestron SkyProdigy 6, their new "astro wizard" Go To telescope. Here is a direct quote from his article:

"When computerized Go To pointing was introduced on modestly priced telescopes in the 1990s, it was widely touted that it would revolutionize observing for beginners. Many pundits felt that Go To technology would banish the difficulty of finding deep-sky objects for people unfamiliar with star charts and the complexities of the moving celestial sphere. For some it did, but for too many others the technology failed. The problem usually came down to the observer being unable to identify the stars needed to initialize the Go To system."

I rest my case on the last sentence of that quote. How many times have you been out and seen folks with telescopes costing 500 to 1500 dollars, whirling around like egg beaters or mixers, and they can't identify Altair, Deneb, and Vega!!! I had someone at the last star party I went too this past fall look through my 6 inch refractor and ask me if the Pleiades was the Little Dipper! They had a NextStar C8! And yes, they couldn't get it to work.

As I said in a post when we first started this thread "we learned the night sky, learned to find what we wanted to see by star-hopping and using binoculars and star charts" but Di Cicco goes on to say basically, no problem- "the digital camera in Celestron's SkyProdigy does the star identification automatically." Oh goodie! Now they will never have to learn Altair, Deneb, and Vega.

Perhaps it would just be easier to buy an astronomy DVD set and stay home and watch pretty pictures of space on television.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
EJN
Carpal Tunnel
*****

Reged: 11/01/05

Loc: 53 miles west of Venus
Re: Observing in the 60's and 70's new [Re: BrooksObs]
      #5640897 - 01/24/13 03:12 PM

Quote:

The couple of area clubs I belonged to were set up with divisions centered around specific types of observing, their purposes being ultimately to contribute useful observations to the ALPO, AAVSO, AMS and graze occultation timings, together with occasional group trips (regional) to observe and record special events like eclipses.




I remember the coverage of the March 1970 total eclipse, the first eclipse I
saw (I was 12), 70% partial in Chicago.

Amateurs were not just taking pretty pictures, but some were trying to collect
scientific data. Some recorded shadow bands, one took a photo of the flash spectrum
with a homemade spectrograph, and others used radial gradient filters to
record fine detail in the corona.

I wonder how many now even know what a flash spectrum or radial gradient filter is?


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
terraclarke
Post Laureate
*****

Reged: 05/29/12

Loc: Just South of the Mason-Dixon ...
Re: Observing in the 60's and 70's new [Re: terraclarke]
      #5640912 - 01/24/13 03:23 PM Attachment (9 downloads)

I'm still observing like it was the in the 60's and 70's, even with my post-modern telescopes. This is my version of a Go To telescope (I Go to it and make it go TO what I want to look at). Works great every time and never runs out of batteries

Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Awesomelenny
Post Laureate
*****

Reged: 05/02/04

Loc: Long: 81.42 W Lat: 41.21 N
Re: Observing in the 60's and 70's new [Re: terraclarke]
      #5640931 - 01/24/13 03:32 PM

I used to love looking out the windwo of the back seat of our car whenever we drove home from my cousins house back in the 60's when I was only 9 years old. I remember seeing the Pleiades from the back seat and it amazed me what I saw. I remember getting this telescope from my folks back then in the 60's, and I was hooked. I loved looking at the Moon then. I have a story about my history here: My love of astronomy and that has been more or less my life story. I just wish I could have met a girl that loved it like I did....

Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
rmollise
Postmaster
*****

Reged: 07/06/07

Re: Observing in the 60's and 70's new [Re: BrooksObs]
      #5641161 - 01/24/13 05:58 PM

Quote:

[And the market was also too small to create much in the way of "mooning" over gizmos. Beyond just a few companies, like Unitron and Cave Optical, there was little affordable to even moon over (ever seen Feckers ad prices?)!

BrooksObs




If that's the way you remember things, more power to you.

Price was no obstacle to mooning.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
will808
member


Reged: 03/07/11

Loc: Haymarket Va
Re: Observing in the 60's and 70's new [Re: rmollise]
      #5641346 - 01/24/13 07:53 PM

Well said Terra,there is something lost i think too but that is evolution after all...we learned astronomy the old fashioned way and are better off for it.

Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
davela
scholastic sledgehammer
*****

Reged: 12/19/06

Loc: Pasadena, CA, USA
Re: Observing in the 60's and 70's new [Re: Cepheus Elf]
      #5641579 - 01/24/13 09:49 PM

Most of us did not have as much gear, for instance eyepieces. Much of the equipment home built - some good, some horrible. It was still a great experience (I started observing at about age 12, which would have been 1968).

Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Joe Cepleur
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 03/18/10

Loc: Dark North Woods
Re: Observing in the 60's and 70's new [Re: terraclarke]
      #5643072 - 01/25/13 06:05 PM

Quote:

I'm still observing like it was the in the 60's and 70's, even with my post-modern telescopes.




Great term! Just trying to understand; not trying to hijack the thread: What exactly are "post-modern" telescopes? I'm guessing telescopes of old-school design, certainly without GoTo, likely of astonishing craftsmanship, and boasting truly useful modern touches such as microfocusers, wide fields of view, and clutchless mounts. In short, scopes designed to enhance classical astronomy, rather than replace it with computerized technology.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Joe Cepleur
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 03/18/10

Loc: Dark North Woods
Re: Observing in the 60's and 70's new [Re: will808]
      #5643117 - 01/25/13 06:33 PM

Quote:

we learned astronomy the old fashioned way and are better off for it.




It's difficult to teach the value and joys of learning a skill to those who see no need for it. Why learn to paddle a canoe if you have a motorboat? Why learn the skies if you have GoTo? There may be a million reasons, all out of the frame of reference of today's generation. Whatever the rewards, how many astronomers learned the skies for the intrinsic reward of learning, versus because it was necessary to seeing anything?


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
terraclarke
Post Laureate
*****

Reged: 05/29/12

Loc: Just South of the Mason-Dixon ...
Re: Observing in the 60's and 70's *DELETED* new [Re: Joe Cepleur]
      #5643418 - 01/25/13 09:41 PM

Post deleted by RLTYS

Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Datapanic
Post Laureate
*****

Reged: 10/17/09

Loc: Tucson, Arizona
Re: Observing in the 60's and 70's new [Re: terraclarke]
      #5643686 - 01/26/13 01:23 AM

One thing I miss about observing in the 70's (Was too young for the 60's), is the life back then... Everything is so different now. Do you remember life before plastic? Listening to Casey Kasem? The Doobie Brothers? Math? There wasn't a worry in the world back then like we have now. I'm not living in the past, but those sure were some good times

Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
clintwhitman
Caveman
*****

Reged: 01/01/07

Loc: CALI SoEasyACavemanCanSlewIt
Re: Observing in the 60's and 70's new [Re: Awesomelenny]
      #5643823 - 01/26/13 05:37 AM Attachment (12 downloads)

Dan my friend Great post. As you know my love for astronomy has been on and off my whole life. I remember running back and forth from the TV to my 60mm Tasco the night Neil Armstrong set the first foot print on the moon. I also remember receiving that telescope for Christmas of 1968 at 9 years old and seeing Saturn for the first time January of 1968.
Thanks to you Fera and Carlos and Woodland Hills Camera being close to my work several years ago the spark that I have always had has grown into a great hobby.
Lenny my good friend, You have been reading my mail. I think if we find a woman that can tolerate us as Classic Telescope Men we have been very lucky indeed.
Kudos to you all (aveman


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Joe Cepleur
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 03/18/10

Loc: Dark North Woods
Re: Observing in the 60's and 70's new [Re: Datapanic]
      #5643930 - 01/26/13 08:13 AM

Quote:

I'm not living in the past, but those sure were some good times




The culture differed. Before Walkmen (remember those?) and big-screen televisions with 500 channels, people had to make their own fun. In a culture where it was common to be able to play at least a few tunes on the guitar, it was common for a small boy to run from the television to peek at the Moon in his Tasco. Now, the 500 channels have expanded to billions of Web sites, and everyone knows it's easier to find higher resolution images of that same Moon online, instantly, with Goggle programmed to finesse its way from what one inadvertently asked to the intended nature of the query.

The loss mourned in this thread is hard to explain to those who do not know what they missed. It's not that GoTo mounts ruin our lives, but that depending on the workings of a black box removes the opportunity to know for one's self how the world works. After some study, one can feel the workings of a manual German equatorial mount, and so come to know more truly how the heavens function; whereas, a GoTo mindlessly reveals an endless cabinet of curiosities even to the uninitiated, who can not appreciate what they see as well as they might have, had they been educated.

Antilock brakes are great for cars. They save lives and property, and far outclass the capacities of the most skilled drivers to feather manual brakes. There is no loss there; the culture moves on. This is not the same as knowing the naked-eye skies and also using technology to expand, rather than replace, that knowledge. One changes upon knowing, at a glance, that the Pleiades are not the Little Dipper. Playing the Doobey Brothers in iTunes is not the same as being able to strum a few chords of your own. Life is different, and richer, when one will sacrifice a few moments of historic television to peer through one's Tasco to see the Moon with one's own eyes.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
actionhac
Post Laureate
*****

Reged: 08/09/08

Loc: Seattle
Re: Observing in the 60's and 70's new [Re: Joe Cepleur]
      #5644174 - 01/26/13 10:59 AM

I think the 70's were just about perfect.
The gasoline shortage was the only blemish. And the 55 mph speed limit.
Today, I feel like I'm being probed and pushed and stressed to my limit.
I'd like to curb my appetite for searching for and buying telescopes. Its a lot of fun but I think I had much more fun with just 2 telescopes back in the seventies. It was a nice balance of my tools and time observing natures beauty.

Robert


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
terraclarke
Post Laureate
*****

Reged: 05/29/12

Loc: Just South of the Mason-Dixon ...
Re: Observing in the 60's and 70's new [Re: Joe Cepleur]
      #5644522 - 01/26/13 02:39 PM

"What exactly are "post-modern" telescopes? I'm guessing telescopes of old-school design, certainly without GoTo, likely of astonishing craftsmanship, and boasting truly useful modern touches such as microfocusers, wide fields of view, and clutchless mounts. In short, scopes designed to enhance classical astronomy, rather than replace it with computerized technology."- J.C.

Well said Joe. What a great definition of "post-modern astronomy." I think I may have been the first to coin the term, or at any rate, to apply it to out esteemable hobby, and I did it in a very "tongue in cheek" way. You have gone a step further in your eloquent elaboration. Your explanation is most erudite. So what did I mean in the first place when I referred to my post-modern telescope? Why post-modern and not just modern? I was really speaking more tangentially about the way I perceive my telescope and how I perceive the world and what lies beyond the world through its lens, than directly about it's hardware. So I applaud you for putting your words to those elemental thoughts.

Post-modernity has been used extensively in the social sciences and humanities since the 1980s in describing the general social or cultural situation of society, particularly in the context of an urban, post-industrialized, Western World. We therefore live in and have transitioned into a post-modern world.

Overall, post-modernism describes conscious adoption of late 20th century philosophies, social mores and cultural traits in our art, literature, and lifestyle. Since post-modernity also accepts the unconscious influences of postmodern traits in all aspects of society from organizational structure and governance to familial structure to popular culture and consumerism; and since existentialism places great importance on these unconscious or "external" influences, it has become an important part of post-modern philosophy. By noting these traits and aspects embedded in our perceptions and evaluations, existentialism along with post-modern deconstructionism, stands in criticism against them. Hence, some may take my words as somewhat iconoclastic in my criticism of (amateur) astronomy since the 60s and 70s.

I guess I am a post-modern existentialist in that I seek a viewpoint by which to both understand and be critical of the subliminal disconnect between what is overt and and what is hidden, the elemental and superficial threads in the tapestry of my day to day, typically mundane life experience, which is often perceived through oblique perception rather than acute rationalization. Such is how I perceive my life and form my worldview; hence the extension of these ideas into what I see going on in the pop-culture of consumerist amateur astronomy today.

Thus, what we remember in the 60s and 70s was truly popular modern astronomy; we have seen it transformed by the post-modern. By extension, your definition is perfect. Lets hope this one gets through the censors.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Glen A W
professor emeritus


Reged: 07/04/08

Loc: USA
Re: Observing in the 60's and 70's new [Re: terraclarke]
      #5644646 - 01/26/13 04:01 PM

That is a great post, Terra. I think that once we had the 8" SCT and some other things like decent eyepieces, we had much of what was really needed. The newer gizmos are pretty neat too, but not as necessary as that base equipment.

I have been surprised at how the general funk of the society has permeated even our little interest here. Whether it is the obscene level of marketing or the hobby as a pose rather than a real interest, we have taken a hit from all of it. One wonders where all this will go next!

GW


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
bremms
Carpal Tunnel
*****

Reged: 08/31/12

Loc: SC
Re: Observing in the 60's and 70's new [Re: Glen A W]
      #5644684 - 01/26/13 04:28 PM

Our culture seems to be so taken with instant gratification that the subtly of things including the universe and nature seems to be lost. There is definitely a counterculture that is really trying. Finding the joy in looking a the night sky or even just watching a couple of squirrels frolicking in the trees seems to be lost on most of the current generation. Build nearly everything I can. Telescopes, an entire car including the ECU. I have a good number of younger friends that really like doing things the "old" way. We really need to be mentors to the younger generation. It's what we teach out children and how we live that makes a difference. I might not like the disconnectedness and apathy of the youth, but it's our job to teach them.
My three year old was very funny the other night. We were looking at Jupiter, the Moon and a few double stars. He says to me "Daddy you are really good at this". Told him " Thank you, I've been doing this a long time". He says " I like it.. It's fun"


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
mikey cee
Postmaster
*****

Reged: 01/18/07

Loc: bellevue ne.
Re: Observing in the 60's and 70's new [Re: bremms]
      #5644844 - 01/26/13 06:15 PM

Todays star parties are indeed different than back in the 60's and 70's. Back then we would all be showing off to each other another object that we finally had star hopped to in the sky. Claiming that my scope was outdoing the other guys and vice versa. Today most bring everything including the kitchen sink only to cuss the fact that they forgot their eyepiece case or monitor filter. I get so tired of people fussing and cussing with their GoTos. They literaly argue the entire session with each other as to why they believe this or that is the problem. I quit going to these out reach events because most kids are there because they like getting out of the classroom.....only to horse around and behave like they had no upbringing period. I've had kids push the one at the eyepiece then he grabs the scope and dang nears topples it over. Very few actually see and enjoy their experience at the eyepiece. A lot of times at the meetings the out reach organizers would pass around letters. The teachers would require that the students send thankyous to the club. Good God I can't believe the horrible spelling and grammar. They would spell in phonetics at a level I still can't wrap my brain around! Whew! Mike

Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
will808
member


Reged: 03/07/11

Loc: Haymarket Va
Re: Observing in the 60's and 70's new [Re: mikey cee]
      #5644902 - 01/26/13 06:50 PM

At Hopewell observatory of which i'm a member we had to discontinue visits from a local environmental group because they were charging people to visit our site!..We sure as hell werent charging them anything...

Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
rmollise
Postmaster
*****

Reged: 07/06/07

Re: Observing in the 60's and 70's new [Re: mikey cee]
      #5644914 - 01/26/13 06:57 PM

Quote:

Todays star parties are indeed different than back in the 60's and 70's. Back then we would all be showing off to each other another object that we finally had star hopped to in the sky. Claiming that my scope was outdoing the other guys and vice versa. Today most bring everything including the kitchen sink only to cuss the fact that they forgot their eyepiece case or monitor filter. I get so tired of people fussing and cussing with their GoTos. They literaly argue the entire session with each other as to why they believe this or that is the problem. I quit going to these out reach events because most kids are there because they like getting out of the classroom.....only to horse around and behave like they had no upbringing period. I've had kids push the one at the eyepiece then he grabs the scope and dang nears topples it over. Very few actually see and enjoy their experience at the eyepiece. A lot of times at the meetings the out reach organizers would pass around letters. The teachers would require that the students send thankyous to the club. Good God I can't believe the horrible spelling and grammar. They would spell in phonetics at a level I still can't wrap my brain around! Whew! Mike




See if you recognize yourself...


http://uncle-rods.blogspot.com/2010/10/public-outreach-with-ben-weaver.html


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
will808
member


Reged: 03/07/11

Loc: Haymarket Va
Re: Observing in the 60's and 70's new [Re: rmollise]
      #5644965 - 01/26/13 07:27 PM

I used to love showing the sky to groups and still do with my neighbors...just last year the moon was at first quarter & someone who had never looked through a telescope before stayed at the eyepiece for 30 minutes...that's the old gratification again.

Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
mikey cee
Postmaster
*****

Reged: 01/18/07

Loc: bellevue ne.
Re: Observing in the 60's and 70's new [Re: rmollise]
      #5645211 - 01/26/13 10:21 PM

Easy for you to say. You make a livin' off of them. Mike

Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
AllanDystrup
sage
*****

Reged: 09/27/12

Loc: Denmark
Re: Observing in the 60's and 70's new [Re: Datapanic]
      #5645437 - 01/27/13 03:58 AM Attachment (2 downloads)

terraclarke: "...which is often perceived through oblique perception rather than acute rationalization..."

<oblique smile/> well, an elusive nebula - as the dharma - is best perceived using indirect vision. The zen of visual astronomy.

Astronomy performed as direct experience, immersion and absorption in the universe, is a kind of meditation that doesn't work well through a computer screen or a camera -- ask any professional astronomer.

Allan


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Pages: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | (show all)


Extra information
3 registered and 14 anonymous users are browsing this forum.

Moderator:  Rich (RLTYS), Brian Risley, Chuck Hards 

Print Thread

Forum Permissions
      You cannot start new topics
      You cannot reply to topics
      HTML is disabled
      UBBCode is enabled


Thread views: 6180

Jump to

CN Forums Home


Cloudy Nights LLC
Cloudy Nights Sponsor: Astronomics