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Observing >> Deep Sky Observing

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aa6ww
scholastic sledgehammer
*****

Reged: 10/23/11

Loc: Sacramento, Calif.
Do you generally observe alone or with friends?
      #5647350 - 01/28/13 02:15 AM Attachment (45 downloads)

I'm kinda curious if astronomers out here generally observe alone or in groups or with a single friend or two. The more I get involved in the skies and whats out there, the more I find myself wanting to observe by myself. I have a few astronomer friends but when we are together, they are more of a distraction to me and talk to much about things unrelated to what we are doing, or they play with the phones and blow out their eyes, and generally are wishy washy about astronomy and just wait for me to find what I'm looking for, then they try to find it also. Usually they are very unprepared for a night of observing and forget something or get hungry and lately, seem to annoy more more than help compliment my experience. I know this doesn't sound very fun, so for that reason, I find myself enjoying myself in my back yard just by myself, sometimes listening to the end of a basketball game on the radio, and gearing up for a night of astronomy and research by myself till early morning.
The company of someone else at night is nice, but more often than not, I find others I observe with to be more of a distraction to me.
When I go to star parties in the mountains however, I like to go by myself because people out there generally do their own thing and leave me alone, and I can usually tell within a few hrs who is a serious astronomer trying to get involved in deep space, and who just wants to go out and talk and waffle around the sky and pester others as to what they are doing.

Is this common, or am I just blessed with these fortunate types of friends?
Do people generally observe by themselves or with friends or in groups?
thanks for any inputs...

.... Ralph

..attached is my back yard set up I get lost in with my C14 and 4" refractor on top. The portable walls are 10' wide by 7.5' tall.


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stratocaster
sage
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Reged: 10/27/11

Re: Do you generally observe alone or with friends? new [Re: aa6ww]
      #5647363 - 01/28/13 02:39 AM

I enjoy viewing with others if they're serious about what they're doing themselves. If we chat about something it typically is about the object we're looking at (or going to look at), equipment, or something else that is astro-related. Before dark is when we can shoot the breeze about other things.

There was a dark sky weekend about 6 months ago where I had my 10" dob and 102mm refractor set up. I had probably only been observing for about 1/2 hour when some guy from San Diego comes up and asks me what I'm looking at. So he started talking to me and asked about two or three questions. In very short order I gathered he had been in the hobby for quite some time himself, but then he just kept on talking...and talking...and talking...and talking. After 20 minutes or so I had to interrupt him to tell him I was going to go back to observing. I was pretty torqued that he was so self absorbed. Dark sky weekends don't happen very often. And I when they happen I want to spend time observing.

I don't generally mind helping, showing, or explaining things to visitors who are interested in what's going on and have questions about things astronomical. I kind of view that all as part of the hobby. On an occasion or two I have to catch myself from attempting to "over explain" things, though, and just keep my own mouth shut.

However, when the outreach portion of an evening ends I'm for the most part all business trying to track down objects I haven't seen before - and I'm only now just starting to log my observations. So I get pretty engrossed. Not much time for chit-chat unless I come up for air.


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Rich (RLTYS)
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Reged: 12/18/04

Loc: New York (Long Island)
Re: Do you generally observe alone or with friends? new [Re: aa6ww]
      #5647448 - 01/28/13 06:13 AM

Generally I observe alone.

Rich (RLTYS)


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Tony Flanders
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Reged: 05/18/06

Loc: Cambridge, MA, USA
Re: Do you generally observe alone or with friends? new [Re: aa6ww]
      #5647508 - 01/28/13 07:37 AM

Quote:

I'm kinda curious if astronomers out here generally observe alone or in groups or with a single friend or two.




I do them all fairly regularly, but observing alone is the one that I value most. The reasons are both practical and aesthetic.

Although there's certainly a lot to learn by comparing views with other people, it's hard to get much work done -- or maintain focus -- when there are other people around.

And for me the real thrill of stargazing is when it's just me and the stars. Other people disrupt the magic. Not as badly as (say) listening to music would, but badly enough.

Because most people observe mostly in their backyards, it's a fair bet that the majority of stargazing is done alone.


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JimMo
I'd Rather Do It Myself


Reged: 01/08/07

Loc: Under the SE Michigan lightdom...
Re: Do you generally observe alone or with friends? new [Re: Tony Flanders]
      #5647542 - 01/28/13 08:06 AM

I usually don't have to worry about others around here as there just aren't that many willing to drive 50 to 70 miles to observe. At the Lake Hudson dark sky site it's usually just myself and maybe one or two others most nights. I actually prefer when there is at least one other person for security reasons even though I've never had any trouble when by myself. I do find I get the most out of my observing when I am alone but can get spooked when the coyotes suddenly start howling.

If it's a weekend night with warm weather and no Moon all bets are off as there can be loads of others and a lot of time is spent catching up with folks you haven't seen in a while. These are nice once in a while but I mostly prefer when I can observe in solitude with one or two like minded friends.


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Feidb
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 10/09/09

Loc: Nevada
Re: Do you generally observe alone or with friends? new [Re: JimMo]
      #5647703 - 01/28/13 09:53 AM

Safety in numbers. I only observe with other people for safety reasons around where I live.

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Achernar
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Reged: 02/25/06

Loc: Mobile, Alabama, USA
Re: Do you generally observe alone or with friends? new [Re: aa6ww]
      #5647796 - 01/28/13 10:53 AM

Most of the time, I observe by myself. I'm a lone wolf by nature and astronomy is my way to take a break from everyone else. Only at public outreach events or at the monthly club star parties do I observe with others, and the local club's members are mostly folks who have been amatuer astronomers for many years like myself.

Taras


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ensign
scholastic sledgehammer


Reged: 12/16/08

Loc: Southwestern Ontario
Re: Do you generally observe alone or with friends? new [Re: Achernar]
      #5647853 - 01/28/13 11:15 AM

I see benefits in both. If you observe with people at similar levels of experience, it can be interesting to trade notes. Keeping conversations short and focused on observing helps (don't want to hear about your sick cat and your vet bills - let's go for coffee to get to know each other).

Helping folks new to stargazing is legitimate as well, but the noobs need to allow stargazers to do what they came out to do.

There is a certain magic in being alone under dark skies too. Just me and my scope.


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deepskydarrell
member


Reged: 03/09/08

Loc: Abbotsford, BC Canada
Re: Do you generally observe alone or with friends? new [Re: ensign]
      #5648042 - 01/28/13 12:34 PM

You guys hit it on the head. Great points from all. But remember, there are way fewer of us viewing "Deep Sky Observing" than there are reading all the other forums on Cloudy Nights. It appears we're a rare breed when compared to all the other types of observers. This took me a long time to realize --- the majority of observers aren't into the serious observing and collecting that we are. Many? are most happy just rounding up the usual suspects / objects and leaving the tracking on and then just visiting.

Observing alone is great but having one serious, quiet sidekick along is even better.

DSD.


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Dave MitskyModerator
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Reged: 04/08/02

Loc: PA, USA, Planet Earth
Re: Do you generally observe alone or with friends? new [Re: deepskydarrell]
      #5648294 - 01/28/13 02:10 PM

When it comes to going deep, I usually observe with one or more fellow CAS members, since we plan on trips to various distant dark sites via the club web site. Occasionally, some chatting goes on but, for the most part, it's all business.

At one time, I did a lot of solo DSO observing from the ASH Naylor Observatory but the skies are just not very dark there anymore. It's becoming increasingly more difficult to see M74, M101, or NGC 3628 through the club's 17" classical Cassegrain.

The skies at my home are pretty bright so, with a few exceptions, my targets are mainly the Moon and the bright planets. Every once in a while my wife will come outside to take a look.

Dave Mitsky


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LivingNDixie
TSP Chowhound
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Reged: 04/23/03

Loc: Trussville, AL
Re: Do you generally observe alone or with friends? new [Re: Dave Mitsky]
      #5648480 - 01/28/13 03:23 PM

Personally I am about 50/50 when it comes to alone versus group observing. I tend to observe more when I am alone, but tend to stay later when in a group. Having a list of objects for the evening really helps.

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wky46
Carpal Tunnel
*****

Reged: 12/12/05

Loc: west Ky.
Re: Do you generally observe alone or with friends? new [Re: aa6ww]
      #5648500 - 01/28/13 03:31 PM

Alone, I'm not what one would call a 'club' or necessarily a 'people' person. What would be ideal for me would be to have a family member, friend or close neighbor into astronomy and go to dark sites with them on occasion but it doesn't look like that's ever going to happen. Be cool though to look through some different scopes, so I do want to attend a star party in the future...Phil

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Feidb
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 10/09/09

Loc: Nevada
Re: Do you generally observe alone or with friends? new [Re: LivingNDixie]
      #5648520 - 01/28/13 03:39 PM

I observed solo for 25 years because #1, it was in my back yard in either Spain, Turkey or where I lived in the states. #2 I was solo because I didn't know any other observers.

In Oklahoma in the 90's, I got involved in some groups but still did the majority of observing in my back yard. In Indiana at the turn of the millenium, I observed strictly with groups because I couldn't even see the sky from my back yard and was in a club anyway. Once I got to Las Vegas, I had to go to remote places because of the LP and with the hazards from critters, mechanical issues and crazies, safety in numbers. I'd never go out alone around here but don't have to. I've missed a few great opportunities, but also had peace of mind. That's life.

A more elaborate explanation of my first response!


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mountain monk
Carpal Tunnel
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Reged: 11/06/09

Loc: Grand Teton National Park
Re: Do you generally observe alone or with friends? new [Re: Feidb]
      #5648690 - 01/28/13 04:53 PM

Alone--unless I am introducing someone to observing, and that's only a couple times a year. I love the solitude and silence. Recently two wolves visited us. I sat on the deck hoping they would sing while I watched the Moon but, alas, they were silent and moved on north. Now, they would be great companions for a night sky!

Dark skies.

Jack


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The Planetman
professor emeritus
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Reged: 01/27/06

Loc: Western KY
Re: Do you generally observe alone or with friends? new [Re: Feidb]
      #5648712 - 01/28/13 05:00 PM

It's about 50/50 for me too. I do like observing by myself sometimes. I like my 80's music lightly playing in the background and sometimes it's nice not having to deal with anyone.
When I observe with friends however, we are all a pretty serious bunch; often sharing our observations and/or asking for confirmation on something. We do take an occasional group break to chat and grab a snack. 95% of the time, our subjects are astronomy related.


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Madratter
Postmaster


Reged: 01/14/13

Re: Do you generally observe alone or with friends? new [Re: The Planetman]
      #5648724 - 01/28/13 05:07 PM

There are some activities I much prefer doing with others (Golf, playing guitar in a band). But when it comes to astronomy, I'm a lone wolf. I enjoy occasionally showing things to others. But I really enjoy the peacefulness of being out under the stars by myself.

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drbyyz
sage
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Reged: 11/04/12

Re: Do you generally observe alone or with friends? new [Re: Madratter]
      #5648765 - 01/28/13 05:23 PM

I tend to observe alone. But I think this is mainly just because I haven't found anyone to observe with. However, I do have plans to attend my local astronomy club's next session and a user on here that lives near by has even contacted me about getting together.

I would imagine they both have their benefits. I do love the peacefulness and solitude of observing alone, but I'm also a social creature so I think I would have fun observing with others. A happy mixture of both would be nice.


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mountain monk
Carpal Tunnel
*****

Reged: 11/06/09

Loc: Grand Teton National Park
Re: Do you generally observe alone or with friends? new [Re: drbyyz]
      #5648840 - 01/28/13 05:54 PM

I would add:

The dividing line for me when I am away from home and alone is whether or not I have cellphone access. I've had enough medical problems in recent years that I don't really like being alone when out of cellphone contact--and my wife really doesn't like it. Just another consideration.

Dark skies.

Jack


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MDB
super member


Reged: 06/06/12

Loc: Idaho
Re: Do you generally observe alone or with friends? new [Re: mountain monk]
      #5648901 - 01/28/13 06:26 PM

Jack, like you I tend to be a lone wolf too.....except a couple of years ago on Uhl Hill (not far from you near Spread Creek) I discovered I was not a lone wolf at all but one of several. When the Sun came up I could see what all the commotion had been about as there were still two black wolves on an elk carcass on the shore of Elk Ranch Res.

Mike


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Madratter
Postmaster


Reged: 01/14/13

Re: Do you generally observe alone or with friends? new [Re: mountain monk]
      #5648923 - 01/28/13 06:36 PM

Quote:

I would add:

The dividing line for me when I am away from home and alone is whether or not I have cellphone access. I've had enough medical problems in recent years that I don't really like being alone when out of cellphone contact--and my wife really doesn't like it. Just another consideration.

Dark skies.

Jack




I see the necessity of that, but I would definitely turn the ringer off.


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Doug Culbertson
Post Laureate
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Reged: 01/06/05

Re: Do you generally observe alone or with friends? new [Re: MDB]
      #5648926 - 01/28/13 06:36 PM

Alone 100% of the time. My home is still in a borderline yellow/green zone, so on a good transparent night I get around mag 6.0 or so. I would still like to find a darker site to travel to, but my searches have proven fruitless as far as a dark clearing with public access is concerned.

When I did belong to a club the only advantage was the darker site that they had. Otherwise, it seemed that observing nights were social nights more than anything.


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CelestronDaddy
scholastic sledgehammer
*****

Reged: 08/22/09

Re: Do you generally observe alone or with friends? new [Re: Doug Culbertson]
      #5649013 - 01/28/13 07:20 PM

I now observe by myself. When my daughter was still at home she was my observing buddy, a real trooper. Time has moved on and now she is married living in another part of the state. I have a friend who will probably get a telescope soon so we'll probably start observing together at some point. Good thread.... Tony

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khoferer
super member


Reged: 11/03/04

Loc: Charleston, IL
Re: Do you generally observe alone or with friends? new [Re: CelestronDaddy]
      #5649039 - 01/28/13 07:29 PM

In recent years its been alone except for the critters wandering through the yard. I live in a rural area and built a small observatory which makes getting out convenient. When I started this hobby I was in a club and have many fond memories of the observing sessions at the club's dark sky site. It is nice to compare views occasionally.

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Carol L

*****

Reged: 07/05/04

Loc: Tomahawk, WI 45N//89W
Re: Do you generally observe alone or with friends? new [Re: khoferer]
      #5649128 - 01/28/13 08:05 PM

I always observe alone from my rural 40 acres.

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JayinUT
I'm not Sleepy
*****

Reged: 09/19/08

Loc: Utah
Re: Do you generally observe alone or with friends? new [Re: Carol L]
      #5649236 - 01/28/13 08:52 PM

Alone about 30% with 1 to 3 friends 70%. My friends are serious observers so we observe for several hours, and then visit or share views or confirm a faint object then back to observing. It is fun to share laughs and make memories with others. Solitary is good also and all my observing, and well 90% is at dark sites.

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MikeRatcliff
Carpal Tunnel
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Reged: 06/12/04

Loc: Redlands, CA
Re: Do you generally observe alone or with friends? new [Re: Feidb]
      #5649461 - 01/28/13 11:12 PM

Quote:

Safety in numbers. I only observe with other people for safety reasons around where I live.




Same with me (California desert), not counting the backyard which isn't that good for deep sky.

I enjoy the company too. We trade views on interesting stuff, and we help each other think of good stuff or in finding things. After a while we tend to drift into our own programs.

Mike


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Ptarmigan
Lagopus lagopus
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Reged: 09/23/04

Loc: Arctic
Re: Do you generally observe alone or with friends? new [Re: aa6ww]
      #5649495 - 01/28/13 11:34 PM

Generally alone.

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kfiscus
Carpal Tunnel
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Reged: 07/09/12

Loc: Albert Lea, MN, USA
Re: Do you generally observe alone or with friends? new [Re: Ptarmigan]
      #5649530 - 01/28/13 11:55 PM

Only with my observing buddy. We have the same DSO interests, seeing abilities, tastes in music.

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stevecoe
"Astronomical Tourist"
*****

Reged: 04/24/04

Loc: Arizona, USA
Re: Do you generally observe alone or with friends? new [Re: kfiscus]
      #5649626 - 01/29/13 01:53 AM

It used to be 50-50 but as time as gone on I have become more along the lines of 20% alone and 80% with members of my club. The Saguaro Astronomy Club is filled with many memebers who enjoy coming out under dark Arizona skies and enjoying the views and the other people. I understand what a rare thing that is in today's world.

We take a break around 11 PM, sit around someone's table and enjoy some chatting and cookies, then back to the sky. We have long ago learned not to play music to one another or flash white about.

Clear skies to us all;
Steve Coe


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aa6ww
scholastic sledgehammer
*****

Reged: 10/23/11

Loc: Sacramento, Calif.
Re: Do you generally observe alone or with friends? new [Re: stevecoe]
      #5649640 - 01/29/13 02:18 AM

This has become a very nice thread. I'm finding out that my viewing situation isn't much different than many out here. I honestly would rather do my observing with someone else if I could find someone similar to me who can really focus on the sky, not do lots of talking, and comes ready to observe for the entire night, but its next to impossible to find this type of person with experience and knowledge I want to observe with who can add to my knowledge and compliment what I'm doing, instead of always just needing help.

Some time ago, just for fun, I created a group on Facebook called Active Amateur Astronomers Worldwide, hoping I could get astronomers to have a real time link with other astronomers if they were out also. so they would be able to share their real time experiences with others doing the same thing at the same time. This has been successful during solar and lunar Eclipses, and when following events happening in the sky at any given time. Watching Jupiter's GRS transits, or occulations, or even during Solar flairs, seems to spark a flurry in this group, since many now have smart phones they have access to immediately.
I notice sometimes it even inspires people to get out and observe something that someone else says they are going to hunt for on any given night.
All of this is just to join like minded people together, but on a global scale who are out observing at the same time with others.
Hopefully this will pick up more interest when the weather warms up and people get excited about astronomy again this spring time. Anyone interested in this can request to join. I'm hoping with the new comets heading this way, having a real time link will become more valuable and usable in the months to come


...Ralph

Edited by aa6ww (01/29/13 02:48 AM)


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starrancher
Carpal Tunnel
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Reged: 06/09/09

Loc: Northern Arizona
Re: Do you generally observe alone or with friends? new [Re: aa6ww]
      #5649665 - 01/29/13 03:14 AM

A man alone is easy prey . When observing at a remote location , I find it tough to give the eyepiece the attention that is needs for serious observation due to what could possibly sneaking up behind me . It really becomes a worthless venture to me because of that . Plus I enjoy a bit of comraderie with one or two fellow astronomers . Even if I was observing in the safety of a backyard , I still enjoy a bit of comraderie . If they flake out early , I'll keep at it till I'm ready to quit , but out in the boonies , the mountain lion can pounce without notice . Even if I'm packin a piece , I really can't concentrate well enough to make it worth while with the threat if a wildlife attack .

Edited by starrancher (01/30/13 04:02 PM)


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ErixAdministrator
Toad Lily
*****

Reged: 12/25/04

Loc: Texas, USA
Re: Do you generally observe alone or with friends? new [Re: starrancher]
      #5650089 - 01/29/13 11:25 AM

The majority of observing I do is in solitude from my rural location where I do my 'serious' observing.

About 5% of my observing is public outreach and even less, private star parties. In those instances, it has been more about sharing the views and trying out equipment rather than having the opportunity to concentrate on targets.


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Achernar
Postmaster
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Reged: 02/25/06

Loc: Mobile, Alabama, USA
Re: Do you generally observe alone or with friends? new [Re: starrancher]
      #5650198 - 01/29/13 12:23 PM

Most of my observing I do alone at home in the driveway, so large predators are not a concern. However, any two-legged predator would be very unwise to molest or threaten me, or anyone else for that matter because Alabama is a stand your ground state. A number of thugs learned that the hardway in Mobile since stand your ground laws came into effect. When I observe in remote areas with other, we all arrive and depart at the same time. That policy has prevented one of us from being in a dire situation due to car trouble in a remote area in the dead of night. Even if I go to a remote area armed, I do not remain there alone after everyone else leaves.

Taras


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David Knisely
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Reged: 04/19/04

Loc: southeastern Nebraska
Re: Do you generally observe alone or with friends? new [Re: MikeRatcliff]
      #5650592 - 01/29/13 03:33 PM

While I do a lot of serious observing alone, I often leave a message for a friend of mine in a nearby town and he will show up if he can. We observe a lot together, as his 8 inch f/5 complements my 14 inch f/4.6 for observing larger objects that won't fit in the field of my scope. In addition, he also means one other person for security purposes (2nd vehicle, 2nd cell phone, and other considerations). Clear skies to you.

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hbanich
Pooh-Bah
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Reged: 06/17/05

Loc: Portland, Oregon
Re: Do you generally observe alone or with friends? new [Re: David Knisely]
      #5650655 - 01/29/13 04:11 PM

I'm lucky to share observing styles and attitude with my good friend Chuck, and we’ve observed together probably 80% of the time for the past 22 years. I like taking breaks and talking about what we're observing and inviting each other for a look at a particularly notable object. We often notice slightly different details and so we both end up seeing a little more than we might have by ourselves. Mostly we’re just comfortable with each other.

I always observed alone until 1991 when I went to my first start party and discovered the joys of observing with other knowledgeable people, many of whom are still my friends. That’s not to say I don’t find some people irritating or on a different enough wavelength that we don’t get along very well. I’m sure there are those that don’t want to observe with me either! Different strokes.

When I do observe by myself now the first thing I notice is Chuck's absence. Part of that is that I suddenly feel more exposed to the real and imagined dangers of the night but for the most part I miss his excellent company. I do enjoy observing alone but, for me, having a good friend to share the sky with is priceless.


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peter k
sage


Reged: 02/03/07

Re: Do you generally observe alone or with friends? new [Re: Doug Culbertson]
      #5651245 - 01/29/13 09:57 PM

Quote:


When I did belong to a club the only advantage was the darker site that they had. Otherwise, it seemed that observing nights were social nights more than anything.




Thanks a lot, Doug! Well, at least I enjoyed your company at Star Hill back around the turn of the century.

But seriously, I enjoy observing with other serious observers. Have learned a lot of stuff from observing with the likes of CNers Steve Gotlieb, George Golitzin among many others. (I might have even learned something from Doug once.) My group observing nights usually consist primarily of quiet solo time at the scope punctuated by occasional discussion of obscure or unusual objects, view comparisons, and equipment kibitzing.

These days I mostly observe solo though, primarily because most other Big Island observers insist on setting up in the tourist-headlight-polluted Mauna Kea Visitor's Information Station parking lot, while I prefer the darker, touristless dirt site across the road.


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Astrodj
professor emeritus
*****

Reged: 08/24/11

Loc: Missouri
Re: Do you generally observe alone or with friends? new [Re: aa6ww]
      #5651469 - 01/30/13 12:36 AM

"This has become a very nice thread. I'm finding out that my viewing situation isn't much different than many out here. I honestly would rather do my observing with someone else if I could find someone similar to me who can really focus on the sky, not do lots of talking, and comes ready to observe for the entire night, but its next to impossible to find this type of person with experience and knowledge I want to observe with who can add to my knowledge and compliment what I'm doing, instead of always just needing help. "

Ralph,

You sound like my kind of observing pal. In my forty plus years of observing I have been fortunate to have a few cherished observing buddies. A typical night would be each of us with our own set up, usually very different from each other equipment-wise, each with a separate observing plan.

Over the course of the night we would occasionally share views that were worthy of interrupting the other person's activities, otherwise we would just kind of do our own thing. Sometimes we would target the same object and compare views, but mostly we would pursue our own agenda.

Often times we would spend hours and maybe exchange a dozen words, all the while enjoying each others company immensely.

Other than that type of situation, I prefer to be alone, or with my two younger boys who have developed an interest which I try to keep stoked.

Too bad Missouri is so far away!


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Doug Culbertson
Post Laureate
*****

Reged: 01/06/05

Re: Do you generally observe alone or with friends? new [Re: peter k]
      #5651879 - 01/30/13 09:28 AM

Quote:

Quote:


When I did belong to a club the only advantage was the darker site that they had. Otherwise, it seemed that observing nights were social nights more than anything.




Thanks a lot, Doug! Well, at least I enjoyed your company at Star Hill back around the turn of the century.

But seriously, I enjoy observing with other serious observers. Have learned a lot of stuff from observing with the likes of CNers Steve Gotlieb, George Golitzin among many others. (I might have even learned something from Doug once.) My group observing nights usually consist primarily of quiet solo time at the scope punctuated by occasional discussion of obscure or unusual objects, view comparisons, and equipment kibitzing.

These days I mostly observe solo though, primarily because most other Big Island observers insist on setting up in the tourist-headlight-polluted Mauna Kea Visitor's Information Station parking lot, while I prefer the darker, touristless dirt site across the road.




Hey Peter! PM sent.


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Alvin Huey
Carpal Tunnel
*****

Reged: 10/18/05

Loc: NorCal
Re: Do you generally observe alone or with friends? new [Re: Doug Culbertson]
      #5652071 - 01/30/13 11:14 AM

Those who know me...I observe very deep and with at least one friend when at a remote site. Safety in numbers. I use my 22" f/4 at remote locations. I used to observe myself and always pack. Never know. I had one close call 20 years ago...that is enough. Not worth it. I will never observe alone at a remote site.

When I do observe with friends, we do chat and once in a while share views. Then we just observe. We go out until 1 (winter) to 3AM (summer). I have a life outside of astronomy, which is a very small part of my life, and need to be active the next morning, so I don't observe all night unless at a star party or have absolutely nothing planned the next morning. It is what it is.

But in the backyard, I always observe myself as the skies aren't that great (NELM 4.5-5.0) and it is not worth anyone's time to run over to my house. I use a 6" refractor at home.

Ralph...Very nice setup - I like it. I may adopt some of your ideas for my backyard.

Edited by Erix (02/01/13 12:01 AM)


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Jeff Morgan
Postmaster
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Reged: 09/28/03

Loc: Prescott, AZ
Re: Do you generally observe alone or with friends? new [Re: starrancher]
      #5652364 - 01/30/13 01:43 PM Attachment (8 downloads)

Quote:

A man alone is easy prey . When observing at a remote location , I find it tough to give the eyepiece the attention that is needs for serious observation due to what could possibly sneezing up behind me . It really becomes a worthless venture to me because of that . Plus I enjoy a bit of comraderie with one or two fellow astronomers . Even if I was observing in the safety of a backyard , I still enjoy a bit of comraderie . If they flake out early , I'll keep at it till I'm ready to quit , but out in the boonies , the mountain lion can pounce without notice . Even if I'm packin a piece , I really can't concentrate well enough to make it worth while with the threat if a wildlife attack .





Good point. I live in northern Arizona which is both mountain lion and bear country. Last year there were three bear attacks near Payson. A human alone is a possible meal, two humans are a threat.

And of course for us near the border, human and drug traffickers are a real possibility, especially in the low desert. For those of you thinking that idea is paranoid, go to the Saguaro Astronomy club website and read the cautions on remote sites and observing.

Then there is the medical aspect. A couple of summers ago I had an accident where a portable pier with 275 pounds of equipment toppled over. Without the leverage to upright the pier, I threw myself under the mount to save the equipment. My leg took the impact from the equatorial head, just above the knee. I was quite fortunate to have friends to help get the equipment off of me (and equally lucky my leg was not broken). And with friends present, I was able to observe through their scopes until the swelling and the pain got he better of me.

I'll go alone but much prefer the company of a few friends.


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azure1961p
Postmaster
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Reged: 01/17/09

Loc: USA
Re: Do you generally observe alone or with friends? new [Re: Madratter]
      #5653450 - 01/31/13 12:00 AM

Almost always alone but a cool neighbor drops in now and again. I love it - her enthusiasm is wild and reminds me how special the pursuit truly is. This summer I want my daughter to have more ocular time.

Ralph - hope your buddies don't read that post!!!!!

Pete


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ErixAdministrator
Toad Lily
*****

Reged: 12/25/04

Loc: Texas, USA
Re: Do you generally observe alone or with friends? new [Re: azure1961p]
      #5655372 - 02/01/13 12:07 AM

Quote:

...her enthusiasm is wild and reminds me how special the pursuit truly is. ..!

Pete




This is one of the things I love most when sharing the views with others.


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star drop
contra contrail
*****

Reged: 02/02/08

Loc: Snow Plop, WNY
Re: Do you generally observe alone or with friends? new [Re: Erix]
      #5655397 - 02/01/13 12:41 AM

I have observed alone for years, all of it within seventy five feet of our house or closer. Since joining Cloudy Nights I have had an observing buddy much of the time.

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Gary Riley
sage


Reged: 12/01/11

Loc: White Bluff, TN
Re: Do you generally observe alone or with friends? new [Re: star drop]
      #5655450 - 02/01/13 01:28 AM

I generally observe by myself.

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WaterMasterAdministrator
Moat Keeper
*****

Reged: 02/17/10

Loc: Southeast Idaho, USA
Re: Do you generally observe alone or with friends? new [Re: Gary Riley]
      #5655484 - 02/01/13 01:56 AM

I enjoy observing with others a few times a year at star parties, but a major part of this hobby for me is solitude.

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jeff heck
Pooh-Bah
*****

Reged: 01/16/06

Loc: stl,mo.
Re: Do you generally observe alone or with friends? new [Re: WaterMaster]
      #5656624 - 02/01/13 03:51 PM

The more the merrier I always say, but a night of solitude under the stars ranks high on my list of favorite things.

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Old Rookie
sage


Reged: 09/05/08

Loc: North Central Ohio
Re: Do you generally observe alone or with friends? new [Re: aa6ww]
      #5656880 - 02/01/13 06:03 PM

I can focus more when only 2 or 3 friends are around observing also. More than that like on a club night and it's a waste of time. A lot of our members like to look through the larger scopes when someone else is driving. I don't mind spending a little time providing views but before I know it, I've blown a couple of hours on some Messiers rather than going deep off of some list. I only observe two or three times a month so my observing time is valuable to me. As for the safety factor, one does what one can to be prepared.

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IVM
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 01/07/08

Loc: Western New York
Re: Do you generally observe alone or with friends? new [Re: Old Rookie]
      #5657207 - 02/01/13 09:54 PM

Interesting thread.

My sites Spruce Knob (WV) and Cherry Springs (PA) are civilized compared with what I hear about desert and western mountain sites. There are some black bears roaming around at night and an occasional rowdy company (rarely). The drunks never actually molested me and with my experience I judged them totally innocuous if distracting; the bears seem far less predictable. In a sense it is a decision being alone at night in such areas, because as a biologist I think that chances of effectively resisting a deliberate, predatory nighttime bear attack (this is different from a daytime attack that for the bear is usually a knee-jerk reaction to a human intruder) are slim regardless of what you pack. The fact that nothing like that has happened here probably in the last 100 years does not bring solace considering that it may simply reflect the fact that nobody here has been out alone after dark. I don't remember when I last developed real jitters, although it surely did happen when I started some years ago. The solution then was to play Herschel's music, at some volume. This was not so much to keep the wildlife at bay - music theoretically cuts both ways in this regard - as to drown out the paranoia-inducing sounds of the night forest and to feel better just from asserting my presence.

I enjoy solitude, and on other occasions I enjoy having a few serious observers (or at least quiet campers) around. I am less often alone now that there is another dedicated amateur observing at my site even off-season. We talk and share views a couple times a night, and that is great.


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azure1961p
Postmaster
*****

Reged: 01/17/09

Loc: USA
Re: Do you generally observe alone or with friends? new [Re: IVM]
      #5657305 - 02/01/13 10:42 PM

Oh I agree - music , radio etc. even the news is actually rather relaxing. There's a different pace about those nights in the removed areas. I've got the cautious thing too but more for humans and inquisitive troopers. I find that locating a truly undisturbed spot is in competition with drunks and lovers lane. I never kno if I truly found the right spot or I'm due for an intrusion. The police are friendly always though - lol - even at 3am.

Pete

Edited by azure1961p (02/01/13 10:45 PM)


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Astro One
member
*****

Reged: 02/20/13

Loc: San Bernardino County, CA.
Re: Do you generally observe alone or with friends? new [Re: aa6ww]
      #5723074 - 03/09/13 10:11 PM

Generally alone. About 30% of the time with others. I do this in remote desert locations in California. At my house there is lots of LP and with a small back yard there isn't a decent view of the sky. I admire the guy in Sacramento that has his back yard beautifully set up! The posts here have been very interesting reading, and I've learned some things. I'd love to have one or two readily available observing friends. I do belong to a local club and get out with fellow club members occasionally. Problem with this for me is my local observing friends are often only available on Friday or Saturday nights. As I am retired and can go on any night I often go alone. In fact, tomorrow I am leaving for three nights at Eureka Dunes in Death Valley. I am all packed except my ice chest. Yes, it is a bit risky but I go well prepared. In my past I've done a lot of backpacking and some of it alone, I always prefer company but not enough to go to a big campground with the potential of local LP, like RV'ers who want to burn an outside light all night long and walk around with white light flashlights. This trip to Eureka Dunes is pretty exciting to me, I have been to Mahogany Flats, also in Death Valley, numerous times, but the Eureka Dunes are in a black zone, rather than gray. Also, I plan to hike to the top of the dunes. About the only non-human predators in our desert areas are the rattlesnakes and scorpions, and they aren't out until the weather warms up. People are generally more dangerous than the flora and fauna. I love the solitude of being out alone, but if your reading this and live in my area don't hesitate to contact me.
Steve


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Kraus
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 03/10/12

Loc: Georgia.
Re: Do you generally observe alone or with friends? new [Re: Astro One]
      #5723642 - 03/10/13 10:54 AM


Usually just me and Big Bertha. I've really not met anyone interested or knowledgeable in the night sky.


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russell23
Post Laureate
*****

Reged: 05/31/09

Loc: Upstate NY
Re: Do you generally observe alone or with friends? new [Re: Kraus]
      #5723835 - 03/10/13 12:33 PM

I always observe alone from my rural backyard. I teach, coach basketball, and have a wife and 4 daughters. Anytime I'm out in the backyard observing by myself is a rare moment of peaceful quiet in my life.

If I want to talk about observing or equipment I can come here.

My worst wildlife encounter has been with a possom scrabbling around only 5 feet behind where I was sitting - not a real problem since they slip under the nearest object and hide there for hours on end if you scare them. There are some blackbears and coyotes that wander through the back of our 20 acres at times so I do avoid observing back there because our property slopes up and flattens out of sight of the house and frankly it is a bit creepy hearing the coyote pack only 100 yards away. The properties adjacent to ours back there are hundreds of acres of forest and fields.

Dave


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Mta472
super member


Reged: 02/28/06

Loc: CT
Re: Do you generally observe alone or with friends? new [Re: aa6ww]
      #5724048 - 03/10/13 02:45 PM

Since I live alone w my bull dog, I generally observe alone. I have a Meade 12 inch SCT and I am 65 y.o.,,,,
so I built a plywood, triangular platform for it with 4 inch LOCKABLE brake wheels underneath.
WHY lockable wheels?
I keep the big boy in my garage and wheel it out onto a DOWNHILL driveway. Then lock all three wheels before I release hand grip and THEN ITS OFF TO SEE THE STARS!!!

2009 was a GREAT year from light polluted CT where I live.

I have monthly charts + in 2009 I saw 141 different galaxies!!!

OH WHAT A YEAR THAT WAS.

God was kind with weather He gave me ALL year.

KEEP lookin up.... ole Mike


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DarkSkys
professor emeritus
*****

Reged: 10/11/10

Loc: In the dark desert of Eastern ...
Re: Do you generally observe alone or with friends? new [Re: Mta472]
      #5725264 - 03/11/13 05:41 AM

I try and get my family to come out and observe with me when I'm home, but it's 90% alone/10% group at home.

I've yet to go observeing away from home alone.The general area I live in, might not be that safe for the lone person at night. :/

I like going to star party's for the darker skies and company mainly, It's about the only time I get to talk to people with this hobby.


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starquake
sage


Reged: 02/02/08

Loc: Nádasdladány
Re: Do you generally observe alone or with friends? new [Re: DarkSkys]
      #5727414 - 03/12/13 03:52 AM

In about 99% of my observing time I observe alone either at my backyard with a sky generally better than 6m, or at our cottage in a starry sky park with a sky about 6.5m or better. The rest of the case I usually observe with others during star parties, or whenever an astro buddy comes for a visit - but thats pretty rare, I'm not a social type of guy. So I prefer to be alone and observe what I want for as long as I want, and not to be disrupted by others. On the other hand I love to show others the less known wonders of deep sky, and actually I have learned a lot even from beginners about objects I've never observed before. I've even started some observing projects based on these inspirations I got from them - eg. my colourful star project.

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DJCalma
member


Reged: 01/17/13

Loc: Northern California
Re: Do you generally observe alone or with friends? new [Re: starquake]
      #5728241 - 03/12/13 02:02 PM

Most of my observing is at home by myself in my "orange zone" skies. Observing with others at star parties once in a while is a lot of fun. Swapping eyepieces, sharing views through various scopes, and just talking about all things astro. However, even though the skies at the star parties I attend are fairly dark (blue and grey zones) I get more serious observing done at home. I feel that having a balance of observing alone, and with friends is a good idea.

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Jeff Lee
professor emeritus


Reged: 09/17/06

Re: Do you generally observe alone or with friends? new [Re: DJCalma]
      #5729075 - 03/12/13 09:37 PM

I normally view with the club at members only star parties, and at a state park that allows us to get permits to use the day use areas after dark.

I don't carry at the park, but when I'm camping, even with the club I do. Just a few weeks ago my brother was walking his dog where we've viewed (normally its humans that are trouble), and on the way back to the car he found cougar tracks that had tracked him and his dog for a half mile (that cougar was very lucky, my brother is a decorated combat veteran who has a CC permit and a .40 SW with a 22 shoot clip), but 10 or 15 miles into the sticks here you should be prepared.

I like the folks in the club and the majority of my viewing time is 5 to 8 multiple day club star parties where 5 to 8 hours of viewing (we just did a March multiday) over 20 some days is enough for me.

I have a large wooded lot near a state park and in the last several year the Coyotes have started to have packs like out in the sticks. They often move along my creek and into my yard, many have shown no fear. I will not shoot them if I don't feel a threat but seeing two or three I also feel better knowing the +P hydroshocks would be a game changer. I've had to throw rocks in the daylight to keep them from coming down my driveway.

Edited by Jeff Lee (03/12/13 10:15 PM)


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aatt
sage


Reged: 07/26/12

Loc: CT
Re: Do you generally observe alone or with friends? new [Re: Jeff Lee]
      #5732518 - 03/14/13 04:27 PM

I generally observe alone in my backyard.Solo under the stars can be a sublime communion with oneself and the universe. I have not really taken my scope out to dark sites very often, but when I have, it has been in a state park or a vacation rental where security has not been a great concern.We have coyotes around in my area but I don't consider them a threat-I'm more afraid of the skunks that amble through from time to time.I AM looking for a good dark site to frequent and safety from people is a factor to consider.I might take a small metal baseball bat for general defense (human and otherwise) in a remote site as I don't do the gun thing.If someone else is packing then a bat might not make much difference or having heat might not either if you are taken off guard as you are glued to the eyepiece...If you are going solo I guess you have to rely on common sense, your own abilities to calmly handle "situations", doing a careful evaluation of the site, having an exit plan and that sense that goes beyond the normal five.Overall, in most locales, the likelihood of a dangerous encounter is generally very low.I have camped and hiked solo in many areas for many years and have very rarely run into people and the ones I have run into have been fine.A couple of years ago a crazy neighbor shot another neighbor with no real provocation in his own 2 acre backyard several houses down-a remote site might be actually be safer than the burbs!

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zee
super member


Reged: 07/04/07

Loc: Arizona (varies)
Re: Do you generally observe alone or with friends? new [Re: aatt]
      #5733241 - 03/14/13 11:24 PM

usually alone. I've found that if I'm going to show people things, they respond best to Saturn, next best to open clusters. I've not found someone interested in staring for five minutes, though I've encouraged that.

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skyquest25
member


Reged: 08/22/12

Loc: United States
Re: Do you generally observe alone or with friends? new [Re: zee]
      #5733808 - 03/15/13 10:26 AM

I like to observe with friends who have an agenda for observing. Don't much care for the astronomer types that like to stand around talking while their scope just sits there. I don't mind observing on my own and do so frequently, it kinda goes with the territory.

I will say that even when observing with friends, it isn't much different as everyone is usually focused properly and you start to forget they are even there. But sure is nice when you want to discuss something your seeing or you both are observing the same object and you can study it under different scopes, eyepieces, etc...


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