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General Astronomy >> General Observing and Astronomy

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Perigny270
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Reged: 10/23/11

Loc: Temiscaming, Quebec
Re: Aperture versus experience new [Re: HCR32]
      #5807603 - 04/18/13 08:14 PM

My best evening of looking at Jupiter was last year when I decided to set up my backlash settings. I aimed at Jupiter with my 13mm and fiddled all evening. Boy, did I see lots of detail that night. The virtues of patience all came out. And I understood how much the more experienced astonomers could see so much. You cannot be in a hurry. And BTW I appreciated the value of my observer's chair.

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Asbytec
Guy in a furry hat
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Reged: 08/08/07

Loc: La Union, PI
Re: Aperture versus experience new [Re: Perigny270]
      #5807855 - 04/18/13 10:35 PM

You know, before I got my 6" Mak I was primarily deep sky with large Dobs and 10/11" SCTs. A quick look a Jupiter now and then, man, I missed so much in those scopes. I see so much more in my 6" these days because the planets have become my primary focus. I study them instead of just glancing.

So, no idea what I was missing earlier. I just know the planets are stuffed with features in that smaller 6" aperture. So, from inexperience to experience, there is a 4" aperture advantage right there. Maybe more so, because I never "observed" the level of detail in those larger scopes that I can see in a 6" MCT.

Dang it! Wish I had known, but deep sky was my primary interest at the time. No regrets, kind of...


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Astrodj
professor emeritus
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Reged: 08/24/11

Loc: Missouri
Re: Aperture versus experience new [Re: David Knisely]
      #5807935 - 04/18/13 11:31 PM

Quote:

I got "trained" early on, being forced to put up with observing with a little 2.4 inch f/11.7 refractor for a number of years as a youngster. This experience taught me how to push myself and learn how to eek-out objects and the very faintest detail using proper dark adaptation, averted vision, proper power selection, and other viewing techniques. This was true of several of us in our club who also started in the late 1960's with the small refractors and then eventually worked up to the larger apertures some time later. When I 'graduated' from my little refractor to my 8 inch f/7 a few years later, the amount of detail I could see was astounding, so all that "training" really paid off. Indeed, one night a few years ago, I had my 100mm f/6 refractor out on my driveway testing the 8.5-12mm Speers-Waler eyepiece I was reviewing, and abruptly saw the dust lane in M104, which surprised the heck out of me. Some others I observe with could not see the feature in that aperture, so I began to notice this difference more and more. I could really notice this one night when we were observing the Horsehead at one of our club's star parties. It was quite faint, but after seeing it several times before, I had little trouble getting it in my Nexstar 9.25 inch SCT with the H-Beta filter. However, a friend with a 10 inch couldn't see it in my scope. He hadn't come up through the ranks (started with a 10 inch), so his observing experience hadn't been as fully developed. Eventually, he gained at least some of that experience and closed our observing "gap", but I find that even now, I still tend to have a small but definite edge over others in our group who didn't start out "small". It might be a 20% to 25% gain in "effective observing aperture", but it is hard to judge an exact level of improvement, as levels of observing experience vary widely. On planets, the difference due to experience is less noticeable, but may still be there, especially when looking at the finest low-contrast detail. Clear skies to you.




Great thread Pete,

I had a similar "starting out" experience to David's. 11 years old, 3" f/10 Edmund newt, useless finder, sliding cardboard tube focuser, wobbly mount that wouldn't point straight up without tilting the whole scope/mount together.

I observed for four years with that scope and learned much. Then I got my 10" f/7 newt and was, like David, blown away with what it could reveal.

I too think how you start off can impact the training of the eye. By the time I got my 10" I was already observing individual targets for 20 minutes to an hour before moving on to something else.

I had also developed a very deft hand at focusing, and recentering objects. Modern dobs are a breeze compared to a scope like I started with in this regard.

One of my current scopes is a 5" newt with what is generally accepted as a very poor focuser, and it is. I would have killed for that focuser on my first scope though, so I don't mind it so much compared to what others say. I still have a very deft touch.

And I still have a trained eye. I developed both when very young and they still serve me well.

I look through other people's scopes on the field all the time and see details clearly they can barely detect. These are people with bigger scopes than I will likely ever own who have been observing for 10 or more years in many cases. I get told I "must have very good eyes" all the time and I did when I was young, but now they are just average eyes.

I don't know if there is an answer to your question Pete, at least not one better than the ones above in the thread. I do know that I "see" more than much less experienced folks do through their own scopes.

At the same time, there are a bunch of folks in this forum that could show me a thing or two through mine!


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chaoscosmos
sage
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Reged: 01/26/13

Loc: Mission Viejo CA
Re: Aperture versus experience new [Re: Astrodj]
      #5808043 - 04/19/13 01:11 AM

While acknowledging all that has been said here, it doesn't necessarily take too much astronomical observing experience to enjoy viewing stars of unending variance of brightness, color, and pattern in a wide field across the night sky. In that case I think an awareness, curiosity, and appreciation of nature is just about all one needs.

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Jon Isaacs
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Reged: 06/16/04

Loc: San Diego and Boulevard, CA
Re: Aperture versus experience new [Re: chaoscosmos]
      #5808125 - 04/19/13 04:51 AM

Quote:

While acknowledging all that has been said here, it doesn't necessarily take too much astronomical observing experience to enjoy viewing stars of unending variance of brightness, color, and pattern in a wide field across the night sky. In that case I think an awareness, curiosity, and appreciation of nature is just about all one needs.




Ray:



I envy those just getting started, the big thrills, the excitement, the learning and understanding, it's all in front of them...

Jon


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jpcannavo
scholastic sledgehammer
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Reged: 02/21/05

Loc: Ex NYCer, Now in Denver CO!
Re: Aperture versus experience new [Re: azure1961p]
      #5808211 - 04/19/13 07:04 AM

Proving to be a great thread Pete!

In drawing attention to these flowers of highly cultivated skill, we diminish nothing, exclude no one, and in fact highlight something so lacking in our culture: The ability to slow down, experience deeply, wait, ponder, be awed, and walk through life embracing the art of being unjaded.

So many analogies here to being a musician, where we often savor, and reflect on (and sometimes agonize over!), the process of developing technique, while simultaneously appreciating (an sometimes envying!) the sensibility of those less preoccupied with virtuosity, but no less devoted.

It's all good, its all part of the same thing.

Joe


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kenrenard
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 12/13/12

Loc: Dunmore, PA
Re: Aperture versus experience new [Re: jpcannavo]
      #5808230 - 04/19/13 07:26 AM

Pete,
I have found this thread very interesting. Being a novice observer today I see more than last year when I only had 6 months observing. I think sketching helped quite a bit. I also believe time looking at the object is the difference. I read in Stephen O'Meara's books that he spends 3 to 4 hours per object over several nights to get the most detail out. With me having a young family and not the best weather it wouldn't be practical for me to devote that time to one object. But, I can devote 20-30 minutes!

I did notice something watching experienced observers work. They move slower and take more time to look. I see this at my club viewing nights. Some folks look and say I got it and move on. Others look and study and contemplate. I am not saying there is anything wrong with either technique, just slower sees more.

I still have no idea how Stephen O'Meara, Jay Freeman, and Sue French see what they do!

When I read Freedman's accounts of the Hershel 400 with a 55mm I am spellbound. I don't think 15 inch would have helped me on some objects

Ken


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azure1961p
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Reged: 01/17/09

Loc: USA
Re: Aperture versus experience new [Re: kenrenard]
      #5808319 - 04/19/13 08:55 AM

Thanks guys Im glad this topic is well received.

Joseph, I think the worst thing in the world is to come to the end of ones life and realize it went be in a rush of experience that never slowed down to "smell the roses" as they say. I've grown up with some people still living and passed - its a sad thing when you see it. Particularly, workaholics I think suffer greatest here with the test coming as retirement sets in and instead of time to do the things that was always pushed aside, dysfunction sets in and they waste away. I wouldn't be at all surprised if senility and/or dementia were fueled (sometimes) by such people's perception of what a meaningful life was or ought to be and how they that it isn't.
Ok digression over. At anyrate I would imagine the naturalist in general has a sense of what it means to slow down and appreciate the more meaningful things in life the others are often numb too. Observing just happens to be a great example of this.

I enjoyed your points Joseph. As well I appreciated accounts and testimony of others here. The leap from humble beginnings to full fledged pro grade is something we all enjoy it would seem. The most humble beginnings I can think of is Walter Scott Houston's childhood creation of a telescope- eyeglass specs in a paper mâché tube. That my first *real* telescope had a low power that was my first scopes high power was utterly intoxicating to me as a new teen.

Pete


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RussL
Music Maker
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Reged: 03/18/08

Loc: Cayce and Lancaster, SC
Re: Aperture versus experience new [Re: HCR32]
      #5808440 - 04/19/13 10:37 AM

I can only say, letting myownself be the inexperienced observor from decades ago to now with more experience, that one night a few years ago I began to see the dust lane in the Sombrero from a red zone with an ST80. Had it not been for the wisdom gained from experience it would've never been apparent. Mainly, wisdom gained over time has taught me to use averted vision better and to keep looking for long periods of time as the atmosphere changes. Even though my young eyes could've seen more decades ago I see more now simply due to things I've learned through the years.

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Qwickdraw
Pooh-Bah
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Reged: 03/03/12

Loc: Ann Arbor, MI
Re: Aperture versus experience new [Re: azure1961p]
      #5808619 - 04/19/13 12:54 PM

Quote:



Obviously the expert will see more.

Pete




I dont think that is a given at all. eyesight, LP and maybe other factors will come into play. The "expert may see less but know what he is looking at more so than the novice. Being able recognize what you are seeing does not necessarily mean you see more.


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Astrodj
professor emeritus
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Reged: 08/24/11

Loc: Missouri
Re: Aperture versus experience new [Re: chaoscosmos]
      #5808750 - 04/19/13 02:11 PM

Quote:

While acknowledging all that has been said here, it doesn't necessarily take too much astronomical observing experience to enjoy viewing stars of unending variance of brightness, color, and pattern in a wide field across the night sky. In that case I think an awareness, curiosity, and appreciation of nature is just about all one needs.




100% true Ray. My two boys 13 & 11 observe with me a lot. One is into OC's and Nebulae, the other is a double star lover. They are both novices but get as much enjoyment from viewing as I do. Everything is still so fresh to them.

I answer questions and ask some of my own about what they see and have a great time with that. Their take on things is very entertaining and interesting.

I don't worry too much about fine details I can see (with them or anyone else for that matter) unless it comes up naturally somehow. I just want them to enjoy it and remember it as something fun, exiting, and relaxing.

The music analogy mentioned previously also fits well.

So does fishing. You don't have to be Babe Winkleman or Jimmy Houston to enjoy fishing. A kid that can't even tie a hook can enjoy it as much as anyone.


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TexasRed
scholastic sledgehammer


Reged: 05/17/11

Loc: East Texas
Re: Aperture versus experience new [Re: Astrodj]
      #5809802 - 04/19/13 11:13 PM

Since experience enables us to see more, Sue French must be a very well-preserved 125 year-old. I think she can see H II regions in M33 through an empty toilet paper tube. When she says she sees something clearly through her 4", I wonder if I'll be able to glimpse it through my 12". When she says she only glimpses something through her 4", I know it's going to be beyond my capabilities entirely with my 12". I hope she's an organ donor and her eyes go to a deserving amateur astronomer.

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Qwickdraw
Pooh-Bah
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Reged: 03/03/12

Loc: Ann Arbor, MI
Re: Aperture versus experience new [Re: HCR32]
      #5810183 - 04/20/13 07:39 AM

Quote:

I had a first timer look at Jupiter through a 6" at about 180x and didn't know what he was looking at to the point where he had to google an image of Jupiter to spark off he's imagination. I couldn't believe it. Some people need things to slap them in the face. My guess would be 10" for experience, 16" for novice.




I have had similar experiences but as it turns out many “first looks” are done with the eye not at the FP and they really cant see anything. I also think when pressed to explain what/if they are seeing anything many may say they see something when they actually don’t but say yes because of the expectation.


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jeff heck
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Reged: 01/16/06

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Re: Aperture versus experience new [Re: Qwickdraw]
      #5811643 - 04/20/13 07:46 PM

My take is experience trumps aperture, plus a good dark site adds to the mix. Experience is the only variable you cannot purchase or drive to, it is earned by making the effort and tallying up the photons. I have the good fortune of observing with some very knowledgeable amatuers, Astrodj being one of them. Last August we met a a green dark site and I was impressed with Dale's ability to see the entire bridge in M51/ngc5195, even though it was not in prime position.
I also pointed the scope at galaxy ngc6946 in Cepheus and asked him to describe what he saw. He could make out two arms, though faint, on this face on spiral. With ngc891 he saw a bit of pale yellow along the darklane. I commented that he must have good eyes, but since then I have learned that experience was the reason, a trained eye. Take time with each object is a good lesson to learn, wait for that moment of clarity and learn to relax at the eyepiece.
Anyway, it pays to join an astronomy club if only to learn from like minded amateurs who will regularly point out details in objects I did not know existed.

Edited by jeff heck (04/20/13 07:52 PM)


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azure1961p
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Reged: 01/17/09

Loc: USA
Re: Aperture versus experience new [Re: jeff heck]
      #5811673 - 04/20/13 08:10 PM

6946 is no easy galaxy !!!! That one fella I kno of here on CN actually began to see clumpy forms with an 8" is boggling but educating to me.

Pete


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Astrodj
professor emeritus
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Reged: 08/24/11

Loc: Missouri
Re: Aperture versus experience new [Re: azure1961p]
      #5812168 - 04/21/13 12:45 AM

It was an incredibly good night Pete, about as good as it gets from a green zone. And Jeff's 16" Teeter with Paracorr and Ethos was blowing me away. He showed me a thing or two that night as well.

So did another fellow with a big ole 16" Meade Starfinder. I learned a few things that night about some DSO's and saw some details I had never seen firsthand before.


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ensign
professor emeritus


Reged: 12/16/08

Loc: Southwestern Ontario
Re: Aperture versus experience new [Re: kenrenard]
      #5813058 - 04/21/13 01:28 PM

Quote:



I did notice something watching experienced observers work. They move slower and take more time to look. I see this at my club viewing nights. Some folks look and say I got it and move on. Others look and study and contemplate. I am not saying there is anything wrong with either technique, just slower sees more.





I think going rapidly through a number of objects is a perfectly reasonable thing to do if you're new to the hobby. I, for one, wanted to see as much as I could as quickly as I could. This is probably like taking a 'survey' type course when you're new to a subject.

Having completed the 'survey', it's perfectly natural to dig deeper, to spend more time in more leisurely and perhaps deeper pursuits.

I find the thrill of the hunt enjoyable now as well as teasing out more detail in familiar objects.


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RussL
Music Maker
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Reged: 03/18/08

Loc: Cayce and Lancaster, SC
Re: Aperture versus experience new [Re: ensign]
      #5814393 - 04/21/13 11:19 PM

I am a musician. It is very important for me to know every note, understand all the theory, and be able to perform a song with precision and accuracy, time after time. I study hard learning songs in these ways. And yet, if I am not careful, there is something else that I may miss, something which is the essence of the song, it's soul and beauty. I must not forget to let the song come alive and live within my emotions---touch me, if you will. It is a place beyond the mechanical acts of studying. I become the song. The chords, notes, the structure are all still there, but thoughtless to me. It can become quite nearly religious at that point.

Analogously, my observing can be at the same level. It is the reason I sometimes go out with just one low-power eyepiece and scan the Milky Way, letting my thoughts wander among the stars. It is one way I truly become ONE with all that is.

Edited by RussL (04/21/13 11:21 PM)


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Tony Flanders
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Reged: 05/18/06

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Re: Aperture versus experience new [Re: TexasRed]
      #5814709 - 04/22/13 07:14 AM

Quote:

Since experience enables us to see more, Sue French must be a very well-preserved 125 year-old.




What counts is the number of eyepiece hours, not years. And more to the point, number of attentive eyepiece hours. Gawking at beautiful objects is fun -- I do it all the time -- but it's not the same as studying them.

Sue is a bit fanatical. Clear, moonless hours are rare in the Northeast, so she tries hard to use each and every one. She's one of the few people I know who schedules her social life around the phases of the Moon.


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GeneT
Ely Kid
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Reged: 11/07/08

Loc: South Texas
Re: Aperture versus experience new [Re: azure1961p]
      #5815764 - 04/22/13 05:28 PM

If the telescope size ranged between 4 and 15 inches, I would say that experience would rule over telescope size. So many people look--but, don't see when starting out.

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