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General Astronomy >> General Observing and Astronomy

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MikeBOKC
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Reged: 05/10/10

Loc: Oklahoma City, OK
Are you an observing perfectionist?
      #5673909 - 02/11/13 11:47 AM

I quite often see posts on CN from visual observers who declare such things as "I always check collimation at the beginning of a session and several times throughout" and "I use this specific eyepiece on this specific object because only it shows it to the best advantage."

This strikes me as observing perfectionism, a desire to extract the absolute maximum possible view from equipment . . . and it also seems a bit futile on occasion given the variabilities associated with seeing, light pollution, transparency, etc.

For example, owning a CPC I am aware that SCTs usually hold collimation pretty well. I check it every two or three outings with a star test but I am not driven to make meticulous fine-tuning adjustments every time I set up in oursuit of absolutely perfect results. With the truss Dob, yes . . . but I am quite happy with a good collimation via the laser tool and don't feel driven to constantly recheck it through the night.

Just a general thought and discussion starter . . . can we get bogged down in observing perfectionism to the point where all that fiddling with equipment gets in the way of an enjoyable night?


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csrlice12
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Re: Are you an observing perfectionist? new [Re: MikeBOKC]
      #5673946 - 02/11/13 12:16 PM

What with the weather over the past year, my gear is perfectly collimated (I know, I've checked it a few times); just waiting to be taken to a dark site...and be collimated......

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Dennis_S253
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Reged: 11/22/11

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Re: Are you an observing perfectionist? new [Re: csrlice12]
      #5674036 - 02/11/13 01:06 PM

It really depends what I'm going to be looking at. When I set up I do a quick star test. If it looks ok, I continue to view. If I'm going to focus on a planet, I want to make sure I'm collimated well. When viewing a object, I do like to try different EP's just to see which gives me the best view. I wouldn't call that perfectionism. It only takes a couple seconds to do a quick star test anyway.

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David Knisely
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Re: Are you an observing perfectionist? new [Re: MikeBOKC]
      #5674095 - 02/11/13 01:46 PM

With my XX14i, I have to collimate everything each time I set it up because it never goes together quite the same way. The secondary usually stays-put, but the primary mirror gets bumped around a bit and the trusses are not all quite the same length, so it takes a little tweaking to get things back to where the on-axis images are halfway decent. At f/4.6, good collimation is mandatory if you want good high-power views of objects (especially the planets), so if you don't get the collimation spot-on, you aren't getting all out of the scope that you might. Usually, it stays pretty much collimated all night long, but at set-up, I need to adjust things for a bit. With my SCT, it holds pretty well, so other than an occasional slight tweak after a long trip to the observing site, I don't have to do too much to it. Clear skies to you.

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csrlice12
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Re: Are you an observing perfectionist? new [Re: David Knisely]
      #5674106 - 02/11/13 01:53 PM

Truthfully, I've only adjusted the secondary once, the rest the time, I've only had to tweek the primary, which is pretty easy with the glatter....but then, it's rare for the secondary to get messed up.......

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Jon Isaacs
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Re: Are you an observing perfectionist? new [Re: csrlice12]
      #5674167 - 02/11/13 02:35 PM

I am definitely not a perfectionist but I do check the collimation each and every night. For years my main and largest scope was my 12.5 inch F/4.06, slight misalignment's are very noticeable with that scope so I just learned to do it as part of the setup for the night. It's no biggie, it takes a couple of minutes.

Eyepieces, I tend to use them like the gears on my bike.. Pick a good one to start off in and then change gears/eyepieces as seems appropriate. For any object, there is no one "best view," each view is different and in any event, the views change night to night.

Jon


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Tony Flanders
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Re: Are you an observing perfectionist? new [Re: MikeBOKC]
      #5674354 - 02/11/13 04:24 PM

I will admit that I don't always check the collimation on my 7-inch Dob -- and I'm perhaps lazier than I ought to be about getting the collimation precisely right on my 12.5-inch.

This is partly because the seeing in my area tends to be mediocre, so my scopes rarely perform to their limits in any case. And the 7-inch holds collimation remarkably well.


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GeneT
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Re: Are you an observing perfectionist? new [Re: MikeBOKC]
      #5674478 - 02/11/13 05:13 PM

I am not an observing perfectionist because seeing is one of the most important factors affecting images. I do collimate every time, and I do buy the best equipment I can afford (note I said that I can afford--I always recommend enjoying this hobby within our means.) I did not have to collimate my C8 at every outing like I do my 12.5 inch Dob. In short, collimation, cool down, fans, good optics will plus up the views--when there is good seeing.

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RAKing
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Re: Are you an observing perfectionist? new [Re: MikeBOKC]
      #5674502 - 02/11/13 05:27 PM

What's this "collimation" thing you speak of? Just kidding! I checked the collimation of my STF-Mirage Mak when I got it a couple years ago. It got here all the way from Moscow in perfect shape and it's still perfect.

I am a little fussy about polar alignment with my GEM, but after that, I fire it up and enjoy the view. I will rack the focuser in and out once or twice during the night, but that is mainly done to judge the seeing.

Cheers,

Ron


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City Kid
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Loc: Northern Indiana
Re: Are you an observing perfectionist? new [Re: MikeBOKC]
      #5674546 - 02/11/13 05:58 PM

If I'm going to be doing "serious" ( ) observing I collimate the scope. When I'm just going to spend a short period of time in my backyard then a lot of times I don't bother unless I'm going to be observing planets. When all I do is move the scope to the backyard the collimation is usually very close anyway.

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Dave74
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Re: Are you an observing perfectionist? new [Re: City Kid]
      #5674560 - 02/11/13 06:08 PM

I check the collimation everytime. Why not? Let's say I don't do it and I start viewing and the views aren't so hot. What's the first thing I'm going to check? The collimation. I eliminate a bad collimation as a factor right out of the gate and can then just accept the views for what they are.

I'm hardly a perfectionist. I like the routine of checking the collimation prior to viewing. Puts me in the mood.


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David Castillo
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Re: Are you an observing perfectionist? new [Re: Dave74]
      #5674686 - 02/11/13 07:43 PM

I'm not a perfectionist, but I do like to have my scopes well collimated every time I use them. I know what a good image is at the ep, and I like getting good performance out of my equipment.
----
Dave


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Old Rookie
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Reged: 09/05/08

Loc: North Central Ohio
Re: Are you an observing perfectionist? new [Re: David Castillo]
      #5674718 - 02/11/13 08:00 PM

Not a perfectionist by any means. I check the collimation at the start of the night and away I go. Close is good enough!!

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David PavlichAdministrator
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Re: Are you an observing perfectionist? new [Re: Old Rookie]
      #5674891 - 02/11/13 10:10 PM

One of the great advantages to having an obs is the fact that the scope doesn't get bumped around, so collimation rarely goes haywire. I use an SC and if done properly, making your final adjustment by tightening the screw, collimation usually remains a constant.

David


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Tony Flanders
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Re: Are you an observing perfectionist? new [Re: Dave74]
      #5675338 - 02/12/13 07:02 AM

Quote:

I check the collimation everytime. Why not? Let's say I don't do it and I start viewing and the views aren't so hot. What's the first thing I'm going to check?




I suppose that makes sense. For whatever reason, checking collimation is instinctive -- part of my drill -- for setting up my 12.5-inch, but not quite with my 7-inch.

If the views aren't so hot, I do a star test. That instantly reveals whether the dominant problem is thermal (inside the scope or in the atmosphere) or collimation.


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Jon Isaacs
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Re: Are you an observing perfectionist? new [Re: David Knisely]
      #5675358 - 02/12/13 07:30 AM

An observing perfectionist:

In my mind, David Knisely and Tony Flanders are two "observing perfectionists." It is not that they have perfect equipment, both have good equipment but the fanciest, it's not how much attention they pay to setting up their equipment.

Rather it is the detail and care they both use in preparing themselves for observing. This is the key to making the sorts of observations David and Tony make, they pay attention to the little things that make big differences. At the top of the list, dark adaptation.

The key to seeing more is not fancier equipment, it's becoming a better observer, developing one's skills at the eyepiece. That is where striving to be more perfect pays the biggest dividends.

Jon Isaacs

Edited by Jon Isaacs (02/12/13 07:34 AM)


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Bob S.
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Re: Are you an observing perfectionist? new [Re: Jon Isaacs]
      #5675376 - 02/12/13 08:04 AM

I am not sure that I would label collimating a scope as an attempt at perfectionism. However, whenever I am using a Newtonian, I like to collimate it to rule-out the scope's mirror alignment as a contributing variable to how the views are. During a long session lasting several hours with steadily dropping temperatures, I will do a touch-up of the collimation to insure that the scope is providing optimal performance for the given conditions. I am not sure why someone would not care about being able to see all that is available for a given observing session? If that is perfectionism, then I guess I am a perfectionist. Bob

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FirstSight
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Re: Are you an observing perfectionist? new [Re: Bob S.]
      #5675415 - 02/12/13 08:57 AM

Quote:

I am not sure that I would label collimating a scope as an attempt at perfectionism. However, whenever I am using a Newtonian, I like to collimate it to rule-out the scope's mirror alignment as a contributing variable to how the views are.




Yes, exactly. Collimation is a nice bit of observing foreplay that helps set the right mood, both by paying ritual homage to the good condition of your equipment, and by giving soothing assurance that you've properly taken care of minimizing any impediments to the observing experience that are within your control, at least tonight. A piece of wisdom I got from my late father-in-law, who was a humble plain-spoken farmer up near Pilot Mountain, NC was that you can tell a lot about a man by how he takes care of his tools.

As to the observing part, I do enjoy the challenge of patiently searching for and recognizing objects (especially faint galaxies) which I find easier to do when I'm observing alone than at some kind of group session where the pleasure of socializing comes at the expense of some of the focus and discipline. However, I'm not so good at strictly sticking with a planned observing list, except maybe I'll have a very small handful of things I'm especially determined to go for if conditions prove suitable.


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Jon Isaacs
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Re: Are you an observing perfectionist? new [Re: Bob S.]
      #5675647 - 02/12/13 11:32 AM

Quote:

I am not sure that I would label collimatinga scopeasanattempt at perfectionism.




Exactly. Collimating a scope is standard operating procedure. Perfectionism is something else.

Jon


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kenrenard
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Re: Are you an observing perfectionist? new [Re: Jon Isaacs]
      #5675863 - 02/12/13 01:28 PM

Jon,
I think you make a good point of preparation. When I first started a year ago I went out and just looked around to see what I could find. I now plan ahead of time what I want to look at. Sure, I take detours every night but not having any plan is pretty bad for a beginner. I am sure more seasoned folks can just look around the sky and plan where they would like to go and what looks good. For me I need to know what's is up in the area of sky that views best. I know south and east are much better almost twice as good as North and West from my house. I think dark adaptation helps as does spending time really looking at the object. I used to go too fast and move right to the next object now I find looking for longer periods bring out much greater detail.

I think this is where most beginners either get it or fail. They simply don't spend enough time looking at an object and just say " Well this is all I can see". It really does take time and patience to see some of the detail you experienced folks talk about.

I'm glad I have been able to read advice from seasoned observers on what they see. It certainly helps a beginner in looking for detail. Things like averted vision and wiggling the scope have shown more detail than a quick inexperienced look will.


Ken


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