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General Astronomy >> General Observing and Astronomy

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dcriner
member


Reged: 06/08/10

Joy of Visual Observing
      #5968137 - 07/12/13 09:35 PM

I have never gotten into astro photography. I enjoy simple backyard observing, primarily of the solar system, and sharing views with friends, neighbors, and neighbor kids. It must be a quirk of human nature, but I could show people the most exquisite photos of the moon, Saturn, etc. - and I wouldn't get near the response as when they look through the telescope. I can't explain it, but I feel the same way.

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desertstars

*****

Reged: 11/05/03

Loc: Tucson, AZ
Re: Joy of Visual Observing new [Re: dcriner]
      #5968199 - 07/12/13 10:17 PM

I think it's the doing, the inter-action with the telescope itself, and with an enthusiastic observer. Half of any outreach event is the sight of the telescopes pointed to the heavens and the eagerness of their owners to share. A field full of scopes is an impressive sight, and being allowed to look through them is exciting for a person new to the experience. For myself, I've never gotten over the thrill of finding and seeing these things for myself.

Imagers I know express similar sentiments, from their end of the continuum.


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MikeBOKC
Post Laureate
*****

Reged: 05/10/10

Loc: Oklahoma City, OK
Re: Joy of Visual Observing new [Re: dcriner]
      #5968265 - 07/12/13 10:57 PM

While some signs like the heavy imager-oriented ads in S&T and other marketing tactics would suggest that a lot of astronomers are heavily or exclusively into imaging, I suspect far far more are primarily or exclusively visual observers. I know in the local club it appears to me anyway to be at least 70-30 visual to imagers. My rough bet would be that a similar percentage holds true here on CN.

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star drop
contra contrail
*****

Reged: 02/02/08

Loc: Snow Plop, WNY
Re: Joy of Visual Observing new [Re: MikeBOKC]
      #5968279 - 07/12/13 11:08 PM

Purely visual for me. I like to see the real thing.

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Jim_Smith
super member
*****

Reged: 11/16/12

Re: Joy of Visual Observing new [Re: star drop]
      #5968305 - 07/12/13 11:32 PM

Always visual even i had the option for photo ($) Jim

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Sorny
professor emeritus


Reged: 03/15/12

Loc: Southern MN
Re: Joy of Visual Observing new [Re: Jim_Smith]
      #5968433 - 07/13/13 01:45 AM

Pictures are pretty, but there is something special about seeing something with the ol' MK1 eyeballs.

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derangedhermit
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 10/07/09

Loc: USA
Re: Joy of Visual Observing new [Re: Sorny]
      #5968508 - 07/13/13 03:22 AM

Photos can be awe-inspiring, and getting them right takes real skill and talent.

My wife and I are visual only, to the extent that I say the term "visual observing" is redundant. Observing is observing; imaging is imaging.


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FJA
Sketcher Extraordinaire
*****

Reged: 11/17/04

Loc: 50.65° N, 1.15° W
Re: Joy of Visual Observing new [Re: derangedhermit]
      #5968523 - 07/13/13 03:43 AM

Purely visual for me too. I appreciate great images, like everyone else, but imaging's too fiddly for me, I had a go at it a few years ago and after a couple of hours fiddling about with the telescope, the CCD camera and the computer, I was ready to chuck the CCD and the computer in a skip - and probably would have done only they belonged to our local astro society! Put simply, I don't have the necessary patience required to be a successful imager. I love daytime photography and wide angle night sky shots with my DSLR but dedicated astro-imaging's not my thing.

There's something about purely looking through the eyepiece...I can't explain it but there's a "magic", for want of a better word, about it that I don't get when looking at the object on a computer screen.


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derangedhermit
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 10/07/09

Loc: USA
Re: Joy of Visual Observing new [Re: FJA]
      #5968534 - 07/13/13 04:24 AM

The universe is an awesome distillery of wonder. Deep space is a giant joy-seasoned barrel therein, flavored with grace and peace. As photons leave a sun's surface they begin to steep: miniscule transient flashes marinating in glee. Once appropriately aged, perhaps ten thousand years for a showy open cluster, or ten million years, more suitable for the majestic swirl of a galaxy, each tiny drop is delivered to one of the waiting watchful. Our uplifted eyes imbibe this heavenly elixir, and the essences dissolve into our minds and hearts, forever changed and grateful.

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Kraus
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 03/10/12

Loc: Georgia.
Re: Joy of Visual Observing new [Re: derangedhermit]
      #5968598 - 07/13/13 07:40 AM


I too did astrophotography. Guiding, focusing, film processing, etc. were quite the task. I just stopped. I was so wrapped in the astrophotography thingy, I missed an object's real beauty.

So I observe.


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Greyhaven
Carpal Tunnel
*****

Reged: 05/11/04

Loc: Greater downtown Maine
Re: Joy of Visual Observing new [Re: FJA]
      #5968615 - 07/13/13 08:06 AM

Faith
I have to agree visual observing is the most satisfying form of enjoying the night sky. I do some DSLR imaging but lack the funds needed for quality images. That means most of my images are now just used as inserts in my observing logs,solar system and Messier objects that can be done with short exposures. I would use sketches but there is a distinct lack of talent in that area.
Be Well
Grey


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omahaastro
sage


Reged: 08/30/06

Loc: Omaha, NE
Re: Joy of Visual Observing new [Re: Greyhaven]
      #5968623 - 07/13/13 08:13 AM

<like />

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Qwickdraw
Carpal Tunnel
*****

Reged: 03/03/12

Loc: Ann Arbor, MI
Re: Joy of Visual Observing new [Re: omahaastro]
      #5968637 - 07/13/13 08:32 AM

Let's compare it to watching a good football game on the television or actually going to the game. Which is more exciting and interesting?

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kfiscus
Carpal Tunnel
*****

Reged: 07/09/12

Loc: Albert Lea, MN, USA
Re: Joy of Visual Observing new [Re: Qwickdraw]
      #5968659 - 07/13/13 08:47 AM

Taking the football game analogy another step.

Or watching the game vs. getting a great still photo from the sidelines. Both could be a person's choice and thrill but it's going to be hard to do both at the same time.


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karstenkoch
professor emeritus


Reged: 04/21/12

Loc: GMT+9
Re: Joy of Visual Observing new [Re: kfiscus]
      #5968839 - 07/13/13 11:07 AM

I'm a 99% visual observer. Sometimes I dabble in widefield photography just to see what happens. Rarely do I impress myself with my images. But, I can stare at a double star in one of my scopes for a long time in awe. And, I can also stare at some of the amazing images taken by others for a long time in awe. Regardless of whether you choose to image with your retina or observe with your CMOS, in either case we are doing very similar things: enjoying the beauties of the cosmos, participating in their existence with our awareness of it, and pondering our place in it all. That's what unites observers, imagers, naked eye astronomers of past millenia, and future travelers to the objects of our attention. And, if I could be one of those travelers, I would want to look, cause my images just wouldn't do it justice

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Mike B
Starstruck
*****

Reged: 04/06/05

Loc: shake, rattle, & roll, CA
Re: Joy of Visual Observing new [Re: derangedhermit]
      #5969272 - 07/13/13 04:30 PM

Quote:

There's something about purely looking through the eyepiece...I can't explain it but there's a "magic", for want of a better word, about it that I don't get when looking at the object on a computer screen.



You mean the "looking glass", Alice? I quite agree!

Quote:

...forever changed and grateful.



Nicely put, Lee.

I sometimes observe alongside a couple of "imagers". What they do i find enjoyable... prob'ly more so 'cuz THEY are doin' it instead of me. When their rig is clickin' & hummin', they'll come over to MY scope to do some visual.

All-in-all, a very fun experience!


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nmitsthefish
super member


Reged: 06/17/13

Loc: Northern Berkshires, MA
Re: Joy of Visual Observing new [Re: Mike B]
      #5969482 - 07/13/13 07:13 PM

The way I feel is that for imagers, having a collection of great captures is similar to those who keep photo albums of their life, their children, or their friends. It's nice to go through them all and think what a great shot I remember that night. I would love to have a great setup for imaging but I'm just getting started and I need to really get to know my "friends" before worrying about taking pictures of them. I wanna be able to tell others what they look like, where they live, and how they make me feel before having photo shoots with them =). Ok so if my personification of the heavens is kinda creepy please let me know so I can seek help.

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Starman1
Vendor (EyepiecesEtc.com)
*****

Reged: 06/24/03

Loc: Los Angeles
Re: Joy of Visual Observing new [Re: Mike B]
      #5969496 - 07/13/13 07:23 PM

There is something about sitting at the scope and looking through an eyepiece at an object in the field that lets me know I am looking at a magnified image of a small section of the night sky, and I love the night sky.

The night is a very special time: the air feels different, and the quietness of the world is almost palpable. If the sky is clear at the same time, and you are under dark skies, that special experience just continues all the way up.
If you're lucky, the 3-dimensionality of the Universe you can see comes through.

I also like the fleeting nature of what you see at the very limit of your vision. The very faintest image comes in and out so you want to be looking when it winks in. We observe in an art gallery of natural objects--one in which the halls are filled with smoke. Sometimes, the halls are nearly clear and we see farther and fainter, and more clearly, the artworks of the natural universe. Other times, the halls are filled with wispy smoke and we barely make out the details and features we saw the last time we were here. That variability makes us want to continually experience the night sky anew. On that one night when nature has ripped away all the haze between us and the universe, we want to be there to see it.

And no two objects ever look alike. There is always something different. With over 11,000 objects in my log, I do have many with similar descriptions; or even the same because my notes tend to be cryptic. But when I go back and re-view the objects, they always impress me as being different than I remember, or than my notes described.
I keep running into new "Wow, look at that!" objects all the time. When does that stop? I don't know. I won't live long enough to see every object visible in my scope, but I would like to have a "favorites" list that doesn't keep getting continually larger. Or maybe I don't.

Why don't many people enjoy the view, and switch eyepieces to see if the object looks different at different powers, or switch filters for the same reason? Why don't they appreciate the grandeur of looking at a small faint spot the light from which started on its journey to use when all life on Earth was unicellular and in the ocean? Or a bright "star" which is really a quasar, whose light started toward Earth before there was life here?

One night I suddenly got the idea of distance in my mind as I saw the bulge in the Milky Way extending to alpha and beta Librae, and viscerally felt the enormous size and distance to that bulge. For a brief moment I was a speck of dust on a small ball of rock orbiting a small star an immense distance from the core of the galaxy. It was enough for me to spend the rest of my life looking for that same feeling again. It happened when I was 12, and had my first scope, and sat outside by a lake learning the constellations with a paper planisphere. I had read all about the Milky Way and how big it was and how deep into it the Messier objects were that I was observing with my 4.25" scope.

I knew where home was. And it was under the stars, looking up.


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gunfighter48
sage
*****

Reged: 03/18/13

Loc: Mill Creek, Washington
Re: Joy of Visual Observing new [Re: Starman1]
      #5969529 - 07/13/13 07:53 PM

I'm a visual observer also. I can't afford to do AP!! I'm an equipment geek, never met a eyepiece, mount, tripod, etc. that I didn't like. If I got into AP I'd want the best equipment I could buy but couldn't afford, and I would buy it anyway!

But like the rest of you I'm awed by the views thru my scopes. Saturn, the Moon, Jupiter, Mars, Trifid nebula, Andromeda, are thrilling thru the eyepiece in real time. There's just nothing that beats real time observing IMO.

One evening after work I had setup my Meade 2080 for a coworker to look thru. I thought Jupiter was up that evening but it turned out to be Saturn. My coworker was just astonished that he could see Saturn at all thru my scope. His comment was "you have this painted on your eyepiece don't you". The seeing was so steady that night the we were able to see the Enke division!! A photo just wouldn't have had the same impact on him or me.

I love looking at astro photos but it's cheaper to buy magazines and books for that than buying more expensive equipment. There needs to be a 12 step program for equipment geeks!!!!!!!!!!!


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microstar
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 01/05/08

Loc: Canada
Re: Joy of Visual Observing new [Re: Starman1]
      #5969533 - 07/13/13 07:57 PM

Well I'm 95% into imaging. I do find comparisons between imaging and "just looking at pictures" a bit condescending though I'm afraid. For some of us imaging captures as much of a sense of wonder as the eloquent expressions of the joy visual observing. It's not like snapping pics on your phone. After hours collecting light and calibration frames, processing, and coaxing an image out of the shadows you know that small wonder of the universe in a way that is akin to how an artist knows her work in a way that no casual observer can experience. Visual or imagers can experience the grace of wonder in various ways and this unites us much more than separates us. I'm for allowing each observer, visual or Mallincam or DSLR or long exposure CCD, to find their own path to the wonders of the universe.
...Keith


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nmitsthefish
super member


Reged: 06/17/13

Loc: Northern Berkshires, MA
Re: Joy of Visual Observing new [Re: microstar]
      #5969545 - 07/13/13 08:09 PM

Quote:

After hours collecting light and calibration frames, processing, and coaxing an image out of the shadows you know that small wonder of the universe in a way that is akin to how an artist knows her work in a way that no casual observer can experience.




I like that analogy and I totally agree, I hope my post didnt sound condescending either. Perhaps I should've compared it to an artists portfolio as well as a photo album, which, in the art of photography, is synonymous anyway.


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CelestronDaddy
scholastic sledgehammer
*****

Reged: 08/22/09

Re: Joy of Visual Observing new [Re: dcriner]
      #5969570 - 07/13/13 08:26 PM

I've been a visual astronomer since the 1970's. I get real enjoyment from just observing and spending time eyeball to eyepiece looking at all types of objects. Even enjoy binocular and naked eye astronomy ....

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nmitsthefish
super member


Reged: 06/17/13

Loc: Northern Berkshires, MA
Re: Joy of Visual Observing new [Re: CelestronDaddy]
      #5969577 - 07/13/13 08:29 PM

http://youtu.be/pV58YptFTK0

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CelestronDaddy
scholastic sledgehammer
*****

Reged: 08/22/09

Re: Joy of Visual Observing new [Re: nmitsthefish]
      #5969638 - 07/13/13 09:18 PM

Impressive video

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Otto Piechowski
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 09/20/05

Loc: Lexington, KY
Re: Joy of Visual Observing new [Re: dcriner]
      #5969655 - 07/13/13 09:31 PM

I continue to observe visually for two reasons.

When we observe the stars with our eyes, we are consuming star light; the electro-magnetic energy of the light strikes the eye and is changed into the electrical chemical energy of the eye/brain system; turning into an image within the brain. We are changing one form of stored energy into another form of stored energy, just as when the apple is eaten and digested. We are actually consuming light.

The light from a distant star is created within that star, is part of the substance of that star. So when we observe the stars with our eyes, we are touching the star.


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CelestronDaddy
scholastic sledgehammer
*****

Reged: 08/22/09

Re: Joy of Visual Observing new [Re: Otto Piechowski]
      #5969665 - 07/13/13 09:37 PM

Otto, Interesting... Never thought of it that way

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karstenkoch
professor emeritus


Reged: 04/21/12

Loc: GMT+9
Re: Joy of Visual Observing new [Re: CelestronDaddy]
      #5969716 - 07/13/13 10:22 PM

Keith, I'm visual, but I still hear you! To me visual astronomy is usually not about looking at colorful 3D-like scenic vistas like those from the Hubble, though I would LOVE THAT if it we true. Rather, visual is often about looking at something that may be exceedingly small or faint and comprehending in your mind's eye what it is that you are seeing. It is the work of the HST team and other imagers like you that enrich the observing sessions of us visual folk by helping us to really "see" what we've got in the crosshairs.

Don, you really captured the feeling and essence in your post of what I love about observing. I was gazing at Venus shining in the West this week just after sunset and really saw it in a different light (he, he). It was still too light to see Polaris, but I noted in my mind where I knew it to be in the sky. Then, I reoriented my view so that Polaris was "up" and the plane of the ecliptic was "horizontal" from my perpsective. Looking at Venus that way and imagining the orbits of the Earth and Venus as lanes on a racetrack around the Sun, I could really feel/see/understand how I was looking backwards from the Earth at another planet that was catching up to us on the inside track. Then, I could imagine how at the moment it passed us it would be exactly between us and the Sun. And, I didn't need a telescope or camera to see any of this ... I just needed to be outside looking up!


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Mike B
Starstruck
*****

Reged: 04/06/05

Loc: shake, rattle, & roll, CA
Re: Joy of Visual Observing new [Re: CelestronDaddy]
      #5969720 - 07/13/13 10:28 PM

Totally agree! Good analysis... i think i'll remember that one for later retrieval.

Or, stated more poetically:
Quote:

Our uplifted eyes imbibe this heavenly elixir, and the essences dissolve into our minds and hearts, forever changed and grateful.




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Otto Piechowski
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 09/20/05

Loc: Lexington, KY
Re: Joy of Visual Observing new [Re: CelestronDaddy]
      #5969721 - 07/13/13 10:28 PM

As with all good ideas, this is not my own. I got it from somewhere else.

"The light from a distant star is created within that star, is part of the substance of that star. So when we observe the stars with our eyes, we are touching the star."

It actually goes further; because time "stops" for anything traveling at the speed of light, including for light itself; from the perspective of the light of the star which our eyes touch; we touch that stuff of the star--at the surface of the star.


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Mike B
Starstruck
*****

Reged: 04/06/05

Loc: shake, rattle, & roll, CA
Re: Joy of Visual Observing new [Re: karstenkoch]
      #5969733 - 07/13/13 10:37 PM

Quote:

Then, I reoriented my view so that Polaris was "up" and the plane of the ecliptic was "horizontal" from my perspective.



Precisely! And with Saturn up there and not too far to the left, your mind's eye can connect-the-dots to establish the ecliptic- Saturn, Venus, Sol. Then all it takes is a li'l imagination to project oneself upwards, where the curve of the horizon becomes obvious, and the fact that we're standing on the *BLEEP*-eyed edge of a large ball, witnessing the universe, becomes more clearly depicted.

Maybe the word Don was looking for, as that 12 year young astronomer, first grasping the scale & magnitude of our galaxy, might be "epiphany"?


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karstenkoch
professor emeritus


Reged: 04/21/12

Loc: GMT+9
Re: Joy of Visual Observing new [Re: Mike B]
      #5969750 - 07/13/13 10:51 PM

Before the internets jump on my error, it would have been more precise for me to say the "north ecliptic pole in Draco", but "polaris" is close enough for gubment work

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Feidb
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 10/09/09

Loc: Nevada
Re: Joy of Visual Observing new [Re: Mike B]
      #5969790 - 07/13/13 11:27 PM

At first, I was a strict visual observer out of necessity and economics. When I finally had the wherewithal to attempt AP (astrohphotography), I took my requisite blurry picture of Jupiter and the moon and decided I neither had the interest nor the funds to do it. I'd rather look at the real thing, not memorex. There were plenty of other people to spend phenomenal amounts of money and time with shrinking apertures to take those sometimes still blurry images on first film and be disappointed when they were developed, and then when CCD's came along, be able to fold, spindle and mutilate the images and turn out something rather decent.

They could collect hundreds if not thousands of beautiful images. Yet I began to notice that a lot of these imagers were more concerned with the technology, the process and the results than what they were actually imaging. Just not my thing. I could look at their images and appreciate them more than they could. (I'm generalizing here).

Back in 2009, I'd become quite jaded to organized amateur astronomy. I found increasingly that the hobby seemed to be dominated by the AP crowd not only in the magazines and ads, but in the clubs. What were most of the articles about? What were most of the meeting presentations about? Who were the people who showed up at those meetings usually interested in?

The final straw came when I was at a star party at my favorite dark sky site at Redstone Picnic Area on the north shore road of Lake Mead, Nevada. There was a fair group of people there and at the time, it wasn't any club event, just a bunch of people together from all over Las Vegas.

As the night progressed, though there were a few Dobs around, including mine, the conversation was dominated entirely with AP this and AP that, model this and model that, image this and image that. It was like Chinese water torture! Good thing I was busy finding faint fuzzies, though it was hard to tune some of it out. Despite having the largest aperture by far, not a single person came over and asked for a look until one guy finally approached. A newbie (new amateur is the new politically correct term) and asked me how I took photos with my scope! When I explained that I couldn't take photos with it and had no interest in taking photos with my scope, he almost choked. It was like I'd just dropped an extremely dirty word in front of a bunch of third graders at show and tell. He clammed up and walked away.

That incident was a-typical of the attitude I'd been seeing from many new amateurs for quite some time. They'd come into the hobby automatically assuming the goal of EVERY amateur was to take images. If you weren't already taking them, you were saving up for the gear to take them.

I fired off a rant on my local club's e-mail message forum and took some heat from the AP crowd! Needless to say, I ruffled some feathers but at the same time, I drew the attention of one of our member's at large, Roger Ivester. He and I got to talking and discovered we are both, like many of you, strict visual observers. We have NO interest in AP. From that, we started the Observer's Challenge.

The intent of the Observer's Challenge was to encourage visual observing and for the participants to actually LOOK at the objects, and not just go "oh nice" and move on. On the other hand, since we actually had nothing against APers, we allowed anyone to participate, including them. To this day, four years later, we are still going strong with a mix of visual, APer's and a video participant.

Still, the main core of the Observer's Challenge is visual observing, which is ALL I do. Some of you have given your philosophical reasons for why you perfer visual. You've pretty much covered mine, more eloquently but I'll add this.

I'd rather see a poorer, dimmer representation of the real thing, live, not Memorex, than a processed image. Though images are pretty and can show much finer detail, which I still appreciate, it's like vinyl records. I love having that album and cover art, but there's nothing like seeing the band in person. A different experience. More immediate, details are heard, but plenty of details in the music are missed that you can go back over on an album. Yet the band is right in front of you, just like that faint fuzzy in the eyepiece.

By the way, I've seen a different experience with AP even now. If you look at the Orion Telescope site, for instance, when someone posts an image, there will be hundreds of hits gushing about how great the image is. However, when someone posts a drawing about something they saw visually, you'll be lucky to see twenty hits. I still think AP has a huge edge over visual, at least in some circles.


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jgraham
Postmaster
*****

Reged: 12/02/04

Loc: Miami Valley Astronomical Soci...
Re: Joy of Visual Observing new [Re: Feidb]
      #5969831 - 07/14/13 12:25 AM

Variety is the spice of life. I enjoy getting in some serious eyepiece time as much as anybody and I also haveva lot of fun with my cameras and even using my cameras to observe with. (These old eyes just don't work as good as they used too,) Enjoy whatever facet of this wonderful hobby that you like and have the heart to let others do the same by whatever means that they choose.

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Javier1978
scholastic sledgehammer


Reged: 02/12/09

Re: Joy of Visual Observing new [Re: jgraham]
      #5969898 - 07/14/13 01:50 AM

After observing for one year, I decided to try AP and after a while I became obsesed with it. I was always wanting something more, my equipment was never enough. Combine that with a very limited budget and you will be very unhappy with the hobby for sure.

Also, I´m not really into technology, so I did AP with a quite cheap and simple equipment (never had a Go to mount in my life or used a computer in the field), with some decent results for that equipment ( http://www.cloudynights.com/ubbthreads/showflat.php/Number/5021704 )

Well, after three years or so I reallized that that way of doing AP wasn´t funny any more and I just didn´t want to spend more money in the hobby to buy a good mount, so I sold my equiment and got a 8" dob for pure visual. The last year have been a joy with my beloved dob. I have three chinese plossls and a barlow and I think I´m done with the equipment (I really liked the 13 mm Ethos when I tried it, yet I don´t desire it, my plossl are just fine for me)

But I have to say I don´t think AP is all about equipment or technology. For me it was kind of magical to hear that subtle noise of the shutter closing after a 5 minutes exposure and run to see in the little display of my camera that colorful little piece of universe that I had captured, what a beauty, what a joy! The same joy that I have seeing Saturn or Fornax cluster today.

AP is a beautiful hobby and I don´t think I "failed" with it. For me, it was extremely demanding with the equiment I could afford and stop enjoing it. Sometimes I miss it...

Clear skies.

Edited by Javier1978 (07/14/13 01:58 AM)


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steveyo
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Re: Joy of Visual Observing new [Re: Javier1978]
      #5970066 - 07/14/13 08:31 AM

I'm purely a "looker", and an avid "sharer", too. (Pssst, hey kid! Wanna see somethin' cool?) Digesting photons sent from distant places is pure joy, about which many previous posters here have waxed poetically. Showing someone a picture of Saturn has none of the impact, the gasping reaction, compared to their first live view of the ringed planet. I still feel that way myself, and continue to gasp over something or other every time I observe.

But there's something magical and thrilling about AP and deep space photos, too. I get chills thinking about the feeble light from those too-dim-to-see details and DSO still trickling in enough to impress their effect onto film or digital light recording media. Coming in from observing, I often google up those gorgeous photos of the objects I've just seen. ...oh...that's what it really looks like..


Edited by steveyo (07/14/13 08:35 AM)


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Skylook123
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Re: Joy of Visual Observing new [Re: steveyo]
      #5970195 - 07/14/13 11:00 AM Attachment (16 downloads)

For me, the title of this thread says it all. While I really, truly, appreciate and admire the art produced by AP practitioners, the best I can phrase my point of view is that a processed image is something I look AT, and am occasionally astounded by the beauty of the product, the alternative in a live view through an eyepiece is something I am part OF. I liken it, at times, to seeing life happen versus viewing Forrest Gump. Hard to trust an image any more, especially with the application of the Hubble Palette to photographic images - it just ain't there.

As with steveyo above, I am an avid "sharer"; 95% of my telescope experience is public outreach. I phrase it "seeing through others' eyes". But as much as I truly enjoy purely visual observing (don't get me too wrong: both my wife and I have taken award winning pics through the use of telescopes, more like a chore than observing), I can appreciate others' point of view and admire their work. Not for me, though. Nothing beats the elation of getting the collimation just right on my 18" Teeter or 10" SCT at a public event, and seeing the look on a first time observer's face when they see a DSO for the first time. And to be at the Grand Canyon Star Party embedded among a half-dozen other volunteers, and hearing the visitor reactions at any number of objects in view, is what keeps me going in this hobby. Right up there with personally seeing something new to me, like the being shocked by the Blinking Planetary Nebula the first time I saw it. Or, this year, when waxing moon was in its first few days at GCSP in the early evening, seeing the Lunar Poodle and Sea of Tranquility with the Apollo 11 landing site for the first time, heck, I was as giggly as the visitors.

I have branched out a bit, though, and have started down the video path. Not for personal use: nothing beats the dynamic range of the human eye and brain working together in real time. But using a Mallincam Junior is not really AP, since the max integration time is four seconds, and what it does for visually and physically handicapped visitors, and children as well, at the scope unveiled a whole new point of view for me. The reaction of the public to M4, Saturn, and the Moon at GCSP when seen live on the monitor was astounding. For these "hit and run" visitor experiences, live video made the teaching and show and tell experience much easier.

I was sold on video use for public outreach by my wife's reaction. She taught physics and earth sciences for many years, won awards for her work in teaching astronomy, but has a congenital defect in night vision. After several surgeries replacing corneas and lenses, it turns out she has a membrane over the rods in her retina and can't focus eyepiece views. It left her literally in tears, because she can not see all the things she had been teaching. As a result, when she helps me by running the SCT at a public event, I need to put the object in the field of view (she can see bright planets and double stars in the eyepiece, nothing else). My first night in the yard learning the Mallincam for GCSP use, I had M13 on a 13" LCD monitor. She came outside just when I got it in view and said, "So THAT'S what people are talking about!" Live view, just relayed to a monitor. I had the same reaction with some kids at GCSP who had been having a traumatic night going from scope to scope and not able to figure out the use of an eyepiece. When they saw a two and a half inch view of Saturn on the monitor, you couldn't dynamite them away from the table. Same with the core of M4. Live, visual, overcoming limitations that was stealing the joy we feel at the eyepiece. Here is a shot of a daytime outreach my granddaughter Karina and I did at GCSP. We set up a Lunt 60mm solar scope at the Kaibab Learning Center to show the sun to about 15 three to seven year old day care children. Behind me, our lead Interpretive Ranger Marker Marshall had a spotting scope on the moon. In the image on the screen, the orange ball of the sun, with five filament strings, prominence feathers all around, and several storm areas on the disk, were entrancing the students. They never would have gotten the view through an eyepiece since they were so young. No processing, running live at 1/2000 second shutter speed. But about a five inch image helped the visual experience for the kids. But that's the limit for me...visual observing is real life, AP is art. I use the Mallincam to bring the real time visual experience to those who can't make use of the eyepiece.

Edited by Skylook123 (07/14/13 11:03 AM)


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AngryHandyman
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Re: Joy of Visual Observing new [Re: Skylook123]
      #5970339 - 07/14/13 12:39 PM

I absolutely love looking at images taken by others, I'm glad they're willing to share the results of their craft. AP is what initially got me curious about astronomy before I had a scope but a year and a half into my astro journey and I've learned more about my preferences and for me visual observing is what I want to spend my time doing. The sense of wonder I get sitting at the eyepiece is what keeps me coming back for more while beautiful images taken by others satisfies my original curiosity that drew me into astronomy in the first place. Maybe sometime in the future I'll try my hand at it, never say never, but for now it's just me, my scopes and the sky!

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BigC
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Re: Joy of Visual Observing new [Re: AngryHandyman]
      #5970809 - 07/14/13 05:29 PM

The advantages of visual are immediated gratification with much less work.It is also the difference between watching a National Geographic park video and being at the park in person.

I can certainly see the advantages of video astronomy aswell .

The APers give us great pics and,their examples of stunning pics sell lots of AP gear which sits unused once the would[be APer discovers that good pics are not too difficult but great pics require a large investment of time and money.

I can grab/drag a scope out pretty quickly for visual but often don't have the time foe taking pics.Maybe once or if the "observatory" ever gets built....


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Mxplx2
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Re: Joy of Visual Observing new [Re: BigC]
      #5971105 - 07/14/13 07:55 PM

I used to go on vacations armed with a camera and take pictures of everything I came in contact with. The trouble was I didn't get to SEE where I was until I got home and looked at the pictures.

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Jon Isaacs
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Re: Joy of Visual Observing new [Re: Starman1]
      #5971151 - 07/14/13 08:28 PM

Quote:

The night is a very special time: the air feels different, and the quietness of the world is almost palpable. If the sky is clear at the same time, and you are under dark skies, that special experience just continues all the way up.




Every so often I spend an evening doing astrophotography. At the end of the evening, I realize I have spent the evening looking at a computer screen rather than enjoying that quiet, unique, serenity of an evening with a telescope.

Jon


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Skylook123
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Re: Joy of Visual Observing new [Re: Mxplx2]
      #5971288 - 07/14/13 10:11 PM

Quote:

I used to go on vacations armed with a camera and take pictures of everything I came in contact with. The trouble was I didn't get to SEE where I was until I got home and looked at the pictures.




A few years ago I read about a psychological study of tourists taken over an extended period of time. Different nationalities were involved. The subject of the study was the effect of taking pictures on memories retained of the trip. The result was that at the end of the spectrum of people who took many, many pictures, they remembered the pictures. The other end, little or no photography, they remembered the nuances of the trip.


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brianb11213
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Re: Joy of Visual Observing new [Re: Jon Isaacs]
      #5971649 - 07/15/13 04:13 AM

Quote:

Every so often I spend an evening doing astrophotography. At the end of the evening, I realize I have spent the evening looking at a computer screen rather than enjoying that quiet, unique, serenity of an evening with a telescope.



Yeah, that's about the size of it. Imaging may well give results which are better technically but visual observing is much more fun. If I had to do imaging only, I'd give up.


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azure1961p
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Re: Joy of Visual Observing new [Re: Skylook123]
      #5971767 - 07/15/13 07:22 AM

Quote:

Quote:

I used to go on vacations armed with a camera and take pictures of everything I came in contact with. The trouble was I didn't get to SEE where I was until I got home and looked at the pictures.




A few years ago I read about a psychological study of tourists taken over an extended period of time. Different nationalities were involved. The subject of the study was the effect of taking pictures on memories retained of the trip. The result was that at the end of the spectrum of people who took many, many pictures, they remembered the pictures. The other end, little or no photography, they remembered the nuances of the trip.




Interesting study and it makes sense. I agree with it too but like wise those who sketch or take log notes or diary I am sure reap the experiences well too.

Pete


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azure1961p
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Re: Joy of Visual Observing new [Re: Otto Piechowski]
      #5971770 - 07/15/13 07:27 AM

Quote:

I continue to observe visually for two reasons.

When we observe the stars with our eyes, we are consuming star light; the electro-magnetic energy of the light strikes the eye and is changed into the electrical chemical energy of the eye/brain system; turning into an image within the brain. We are changing one form of stored energy into another form of stored energy, just as when the apple is eaten and digested. We are actually consuming light.

The light from a distant star is created within that star, is part of the substance of that star. So when we observe the stars with our eyes, we are touching the star.




Not if you are using a diagonal flat or reflector. In these cases the photons strike the glass reflective surface - warm it ever so slightly as a result. That's the end of that photon - it never reaches your eye. A photon of similar value is then reflected up the tube and into the eyepiece.

Pete


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nmitsthefish
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Re: Joy of Visual Observing new [Re: azure1961p]
      #5971834 - 07/15/13 08:45 AM

Quote:

Not if you are using a diagonal flat or reflector. In these cases the photons strike the glass reflective surface - warm it ever so slightly as a result. That's the end of that photon - it never reaches your eye. A photon of similar value is then reflected up the tube and into the eyepiece.




I don't know if that is necessarily true. It sounds like you are referring to circlon theory, in which case it would be the same through any pane of glass including a refracting lens. Anything else I've read on photon reflection/refraction does not mention this phenomenon so I don't know how accepted this theory is. It totally could be true but are there any other sources that can confirm that?


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microstar
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Re: Joy of Visual Observing new [Re: Skylook123]
      #5971948 - 07/15/13 10:13 AM

Quote:

Quote:

I used to go on vacations armed with a camera and take pictures of everything I came in contact with. The trouble was I didn't get to SEE where I was until I got home and looked at the pictures.




A few years ago I read about a psychological study of tourists taken over an extended period of time. Different nationalities were involved. The subject of the study was the effect of taking pictures on memories retained of the trip. The result was that at the end of the spectrum of people who took many, many pictures, they remembered the pictures. The other end, little or no photography, they remembered the nuances of the trip.




Again, astrophotography is about like tourists snapping pics on a vacation as a symphony is compared to a kid with a kazoo. An astrophoto can take 20+ hours of work. By the time you are done you know every subtle nuance of that region of the universe, the color of every star. It's also not the same looking at someone else's images because we usually only have time to look at it for a few seconds and only gather a course impression - to the imager it was a labour of love. We are just appreciating the wonders of the universe in different ways, so why does it have to become "visual is pure and deep and spirit-transforming but imaging is shallow"? I appreciate that many (most?) agree that we are united by a sense of wonder - that is ultimately why we share this forum. I love the descriptions in this thread of the existential connection to a mysterious and unimaginable universe because I share that sense of wonder even though I'm 95% imager/5% visual.
...Keith


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csa/montana
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Re: Joy of Visual Observing new [Re: desertstars]
      #5971979 - 07/15/13 10:35 AM

Quote:

For myself, I've never gotten over the thrill of finding and seeing these things for myself.





I agree! The excitement of finding & seeing these beautiful night sky beauties has never faded away for me. Even viewing old favorites, that I've seen many times, is still as thrilling as when I saw them for the first time!


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FJA
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Re: Joy of Visual Observing new [Re: csa/montana]
      #5972001 - 07/15/13 10:50 AM

Quote:

Quote:

For myself, I've never gotten over the thrill of finding and seeing these things for myself.





I agree! The excitement of finding & seeing these beautiful night sky beauties has never faded away for me. Even viewing old favorites, that I've seen many times, is still as thrilling as when I saw them for the first time!




I totally agree, I like to see as much as I can and, each session, I hunt out objects that I've not seen before but, at the beginning and end of my observing sessions I like to go and say 'hello' to some old friends and they never get boring.

We're all different and each to their own but when I see posts on the net, or hear it at the local club, from beginners who want to dive straight into imaging I wish they'd stop and consider visual observing first. Too many people seem to want to dive straight into AP without giving visual a chance,no doubt hoping they'll be able to somehow get great images from the word go. I suppose that, being a bit of a die-hard visual observer, I can be accused of bias but a lot of newcomers to the hobby think AP is the only way to go when in reality, it isn't.


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WesC
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Re: Joy of Visual Observing new [Re: FJA]
      #5973000 - 07/15/13 07:43 PM

No offense intended guys, but all of this analogy being passed around about observing being the experience and AP being like taking a photo of a game or concert or a national park vs actually being there in person is simply incorrect. Think about it... in those contexts the photograph is less than the experience of being there, because you can actually GO to a park or a concert or a game and see, hear, smell, taste and feel everything... but astronomy is exactly the opposite. We can't ever BE there, we can only SEE from a great distance and we are severely limited by our weak human eyes, the turbulent atmosphere, light pollution and our equipment. And in most cases, except for meteorites and satellites, there isn't even any motion to detect by looking visually because things move to very, very slowly.

This is where the camera sensor has a distinct advantage.

You simply cannot see with your human eye and a telescope... no matter how dark the sky or how big the aperture... the range of light that a CCD camera can capture. You can't look longer and capture more light like a camera can. You can't enhance the speed of motion in the planets and asteroids and comets to learn more about them like a camera and computer can. The camera can ALWAYS see more and deeper than the human eye, especially considering wavelengths beyond human visibility that make up much of the universe's structure. From this we have learned a massive amount more about the universe than from purely visual observations. The camera and computer are just another observing tool, just like the telescope and eyepiece.

This is not to say that there is anything wrong with pure visual astronomy, but I don't think its fair to use false analogies to defend it (like that is even needed) as though AP is some kind of disconnection from the universe like looking through your iPhone camera at a live concert. Its not the same thing at all. Its expensive, its difficult and its not for everyone, but that doesn't mean its a lesser thing. I suspect a lot of the people who got into AP were probably disappointed with how little they could actually see visually and wanted more.


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BigC
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Re: Joy of Visual Observing new [Re: WesC]
      #5973117 - 07/15/13 09:05 PM

I certainly wasn't belittling AP.

Perhaps a different analogy:

visual is like running track,whereas AP is like riding motocross!!?

Seroiusly, "seeing" the detail captured by the camera is simply a "second-hand" experience .In its way it is little different from viewing an infared,UV, or X-ray. Something that the human eye cannot see has neen made available in representional form.This doesn't mean it is not valuable.


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Mike B
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Re: Joy of Visual Observing new [Re: BigC]
      #5973208 - 07/15/13 10:01 PM

Dare we say that "visual astronomy" leans more touchy-feely, whereas electronically assisted astronomy tends more techie?

Electronically (or chemically for old school ) collecting photons, in a mechanical, artificial manner, is no question more efficient; the human eye-brain (yes, technically "chemical" ) is soo very limited. So if one is intent on maximizing their photon count, and retaining hard evidence of having done so, you'll be wanting a camera. Kind of like where gas-chromatography is far superior at determining chemical constituents than human taste/smell is.

If, on the other hand, you've slaved over a grill to produce the perfect steak, from marination to presentation, you'll not likely be stuffing it into a GC, but rather into your own mouth! Who cares about accurate test results or trace element counts? And if you & your spouse are in a restaurant with said steak, enjoying an anniversary (my 32nd is this Thursday, btw ), complete with whispered sweet-nothings, there's probably no better way to frost the moment than by dragging a camera crew & their boom-mics along with. Oh yeah, you'll have a thorough & accurate record of the proceedings... for what that might be worth. Of course, this might be entirely appropriate if you're filming an installment of "The Bachelorette", featuring a private & romantic meal.

So i s'pose it depends on what one's intent is, there under the stars. If dining on starlight, then go visual, and savor the flavor of the ages, rolling those photons around in your eyeballs before finally swallowing! If catching photons in bulk, otoh, bring all the mechanical help you can muster.

As far as sheer "discovery" goes, the technical has for some time outpaced the human, tho the random human still shines thru... and even those humans using cameras are being outdone by even MORE technically advanced surveys, some not even ground-based and/or manually implemented. So this discussion isn't about scientific values... just personal sentiments.

As such, we visual folks have the likes of Stephan O'Meara to strive after, trying to see what he sees. You imager types have the HST to tilt windmills for. We wish you all the best, and look forward to seeing your results.


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guangtou
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Reged: 03/27/10

Re: Joy of Visual Observing new [Re: Mike B]
      #5973691 - 07/16/13 08:14 AM

I am a very serious visual amateur and a very casual two-bit photographer. I usually set up a camera on a tripod with a wide angle lens facing the direction of the sky I am observing, add dew heater and remote timer and then leave it alone. Then I set up my binoculars. After my eyes have dark adapted I want to keep them that way.

The way I observe is I close my eyes and then open them at the ep and try to make a mental picture of what I see. I close my eyes again after my initial study and try to remember the details, open my eyes again and repeat the process. The pic isn't for sky and telescope. There's always a chance something amazing will happen!


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Tom Polakis
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Re: Joy of Visual Observing new [Re: WesC]
      #5973843 - 07/16/13 10:31 AM

Quote:

No offense intended guys, but all of this analogy being passed around about observing being the experience and AP being like taking a photo of a game or concert or a national park vs actually being there in person is simply incorrect. Think about it... in those contexts the photograph is less than the experience of being there, because you can actually GO to a park or a concert or a game and see, hear, smell, taste and feel everything... but astronomy is exactly the opposite. We can't ever BE there, we can only SEE from a great distance and we are severely limited by our weak human eyes, the turbulent atmosphere, light pollution and our equipment...




Actually, the analogy is spot on. People aren't talking about going out to the stars; they are merely describing the visceral experience that it not the same when you look into a computer display. I do a lot of both imaging and visual observing, and the two pursuits are very different. As you point out, you can go fainter, and learn a lot more about astronomy by imaging. And it's obviously superior if you want to make measurements. What you don't get, at least in my experience, is that sense of a commute with nature.

I think that is the attraction that the OP and many others in this thread are describing, and the analogy of seeing something live versus seeing it on a display couldn't be more valid. I can be there under the sky, albeit many light years away from the subjects, and it couldn't be more different from looking at a display.

Tom


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jgraham
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Re: Joy of Visual Observing new [Re: Tom Polakis]
      #5973906 - 07/16/13 11:09 AM

"we visual folks"... "You imager types"...

Somewhere in all of this the idea of being an amateur astronomer free to enjoy all that this hobby has to offer has gotten lost. There is no One True Way. As someone who has been in this hobby for over 50 years and am still learning something new every day I can tell you that there is a huge overlap between different observing styles and interests.


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Michael Rapp
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Re: Joy of Visual Observing new [Re: jgraham]
      #5974132 - 07/16/13 01:18 PM

Quote:

Somewhere in all of this the idea of being an amateur astronomer free to enjoy all that this hobby has to offer has gotten lost.




There is a great deal of truth in this and I've even found myself in this trap.

A few months ago I was wrestling with whether I wanted to be an imager or do visual astronomy. It is a false dichotomy as I, thankfully, found out.

I now do both. My visual interests are in the solar system, binocular observing, double stars, and rich-field viewing of open clusters. My imaging (Mallincam) is almost entire galaxies and nebulae, with an occasional globular thrown in.

What led me down to the either/or trap is limited time. If I only have limited time, I need to choose one or the other. Once I got out of that line of thinking, I started to have much more fun in astronomy and enjoy what both approaches have to offer and how they complement one another.


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Gastrol
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Re: Joy of Visual Observing new [Re: Michael Rapp]
      #5974194 - 07/16/13 01:43 PM

I did film AP a long time ago. But ever since getting back into the hobby a couple of years back I've been strictly visual. I just like the minimalist aspect of the hobby now, spending the entire evening with the dob at a dark site, for instance. Set up, and observe.

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Steve OK
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Re: Joy of Visual Observing new [Re: Michael Rapp]
      #5974221 - 07/16/13 01:56 PM

I'm glad to see this discussion coming around to the point made by Michael and John in the previous two posts. I hate to see this framed as an "Us vs. Them" issue. Since early on, I've been fascinated with astrophotography. I learned how to develop film and make prints as a result, which led to a side "hobby" of photography in general. Looking at my early work, like images of Saturn taken with the 6" Newt I built the summer I turned 16, still reminds me of that budding passion. Life and work got in the way for a couple of decades until the first crop of DSLRs hit the market. With one of those in my hands, the obsession was re-ignited. For a while, the only thing I did under dark skies was make images. I could spend a week at my dark site without looking through an eyepiece. Now, after a decade of that, I am calming back down and rediscovering the wonder and beauty of visual astronomy. Both aspects, visual and imaging, are important to me. I love them them both, and they complement each other. Working for hours on an image of M42, for example, leaves it imprinted in my memory so that when I see it through the scope I recognize details that I had previously missed...a tiny star in a certain place, subtle dark regions here or there that are now familiar. I am a "full immersion" amateur astronomer...visual, imaging, deep-sky, lunar, planetary, double star, solar. It's all good!

Steve


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desertlens
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Re: Joy of Visual Observing new [Re: Steve OK]
      #5974252 - 07/16/13 02:10 PM

Quote:

It's all good!




Agreed. I'm a visual observer only. I've been a photographer all of my life and decided against AP because I didn't want to deal with the complexity. That being said, we all make personal choices and there are no absolutes. I'm thankful for those observers whose beautiful AP work is very common these days. They are doing me a favor and having some fun for themselves.


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Mike B
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Re: Joy of Visual Observing new [Re: Steve OK]
      #5974378 - 07/16/13 03:09 PM

Quote:

I hate to see this framed as an "Us vs. Them" issue... Both aspects, visual and imaging, are important to me. I love them them both, and they complement each other... It's all good!



Well stated!

Quote:

"we visual folks"... "You imager types"...



I hope it's understood that my comment, and tone, were somewhat tongue-in-cheek. It really is 'all good'!

Quote:

Working for hours on an image of M42, for example, leaves it imprinted in my memory so that when I see it through the scope I recognize details that I had previously missed...a tiny star in a certain place, subtle dark regions here or there that are now familiar.



The same effect can be enjoyed by sketching!


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MikeBOKC
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Re: Joy of Visual Observing new [Re: Michael Rapp]
      #5974615 - 07/16/13 04:59 PM

This may seem like heresy to some (what doesn't when you venture into the visual vs. AP swamp?) but I do not consider video astronomy via Mallincam or other similar instruments to be AP. In fact it is really more like using a somewhat different eyepiece to do right-now visual observing, since most people I see who use video rigs are basically looking at what their scopes are aimed at in real time on a screen. Yes, taking those images and storing them and processing them later is more an AP activity, but to me using a video rig in the field for simultaneous observations of just another form of visual astronomy.

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Starman1
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Re: Joy of Visual Observing new [Re: dcriner]
      #5974695 - 07/16/13 05:40 PM

Though I can't be certain of the intent of the original poster, once again people who love visual observing are being held to task for expressing that love. Every time someone in these forums makes a point to mention how much they love it, one or more astrophotographers chime in to defend their interests, as if expressing a love of visual observing, and its joys, is somehow a put-down of AP.
Then the people who do both chime in to say it's all good. And this pattern repeats and repeats in thread after thread.

Let's be clear about it: visual observing and astrophotography are both about astronomy. Visual observers look through an eyepiece, and APers take photographs. There is an art to both.

But they are as different as apples and oranges.

One is "in the moment" and "intensely personal", while the other has the character of "delayed gratification" and "the attempt to create art". Both are wonderful ways for human beings to spend their times, but they are not the same.

Visual observing:
--requires the best night vision you can develop
--requires techniques of viewing details at the limit of your vision
--can be done fairly quickly
--can always capture the momentary fluctuations in transparency and seeing
--requires much less technology in the field--no cameras, computers, phones, tablets, batteries, guiding equipment
--is a much less expensive pursuit (or CAN be, not necessarily IS)

Astrophotography:
--requires time and patience, and knowledge of exposure time and wavelengths to capture.
--requires knowledge of computers and programs to capture, stack, and process images
--results, usually, in lowest common denominator resolution and seeing, so can be quite frustrating.
--requires a lot of technology in the field and knowledge of how to use it.
--is (often) an expensive pursuit.

Quite often, someone is attracted to both areas of amateur astronomy. In a way, that's like the visual observer who is heavily into astrophysics versus the visual observer who appreciates the art but has no interest in paint (astrophotography as an interest has the same dichotomy) I think we naturally tend to enjoy exercising more than one area of our brains, and amateur astronomy allows us to do it in multiple ways.

This thread, however, was ostensibly about the "Joy of Visual Observing", not the "Joy of Astrophotography". What is it about visual observing, and looking through an eyepiece, that is so satisfying to some and not to others? What does visual observing provide that AP does not for the visual observers who don't even feel tempted to do AP? What is it about looking through the eyepiece that is soul-stirring in a way that the very best astrophotos cannot match? Why does time stand still and seem to pass at a different rate when we are involved in the art of seeing?

These are philosophical questions that can be asked in many different way, but, as visual observers, we would answer in many different ways.

The answers, though, point out some truths about human beings: we are visual-oriented aesthetes and we enjoy pursuits that require a cultivation of skills and knowledge. We seek satori, each in his own way.

As a visual observer, I "recharge my personal battery" with hours under the stars; in a way that AP or even looking at pictures on a screen cannot do. Viewing the Universe through an eyepiece resonates in a way that pictures, no matter how good, cannot. I can't say exactly why that is so. It just is.


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GeneT
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Re: Joy of Visual Observing new [Re: dcriner]
      #5974762 - 07/16/13 06:23 PM

I'm a visual observer only guy. I love technology and I am amazed with the excellent photographs that many obtain with relatively modest telescopes. For one thing, I don't have enough patience for photography. There is a lot of fiddling around during set up, and time involved in post processing. Our hobby is split in several segments, with some doing it all.

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GeneT
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Re: Joy of Visual Observing new [Re: Starman1]
      #5974785 - 07/16/13 06:36 PM

Quote:

As a visual observer, I "recharge my personal battery" with hours under the stars; in a way that AP or even looking at pictures on a screen cannot do. Viewing the Universe through an eyepiece resonates in a way that pictures, no matter how good, cannot. I can't say exactly why that is so. It just is.




My views exactly!


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sopticals
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Re: Joy of Visual Observing new [Re: Starman1]
      #5974789 - 07/16/13 06:37 PM

Quote:



As a visual observer, I "recharge my personal battery" with hours under the stars; in a way that AP or even looking at pictures on a screen cannot do. Viewing the Universe through an eyepiece resonates in a way that pictures, no matter how good, cannot. I can't say exactly why that is so. It just is.




My sentiments exactly. Nicely put Don. Thanks.

Stephen.(45deg.S.)


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GeneT
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Re: Joy of Visual Observing new [Re: csa/montana]
      #5974792 - 07/16/13 06:42 PM

Quote:

The excitement of finding & seeing these beautiful night sky beauties has never faded away for me. Even viewing old favorites, that I've seen many times, is still as thrilling as when I saw them for the first time!




Several months ago, Jupiter peered over the horizon. A few months ago, the same for Saturn. Old favorites such as M13, the Ring, M42 and so on appear and reappear every year. I have been looking at these and other objects every year--for the past 55 years. Not only are these objects as exciting for me now as those many years ago, viewing these old friends keep me connected with the memories of my past, and give me hope for more in the future.


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CelestronDaddy
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Re: Joy of Visual Observing new [Re: Starman1]
      #5974802 - 07/16/13 06:50 PM

Don - Nice post! I'm in agreement....

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microstar
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Re: Joy of Visual Observing new [Re: CelestronDaddy]
      #5975354 - 07/17/13 01:08 AM

Our brains like to classify things into categories, but they aren't so good at coming up with the things that connect us. I agree with the posters who say we aren't so different. Even if we focus on differences, there is lots of variation within visual and imager categories, including visual observers who just love to compare equipment in search of the perfect scope/eyepiece combination and who don't really observe in the way Don describes, and within the imager category there are observers of computer screens who are touched by the wonder of what they produce and the mystery of he objects they reveal. No one group has the monopoly on joy. Imagers should not feel the need to apologize for commenting on a visual thread and vice versa. There's lots of room in the inner and outer universe for every perspective.
...Keith


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Re: Joy of Visual Observing new [Re: Starman1]
      #5975443 - 07/17/13 04:02 AM

Don, I totally agree with every part of your post.

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brianb11213
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Re: Joy of Visual Observing new [Re: FJA]
      #5975463 - 07/17/13 05:32 AM

Great post, Don, but:

Quote:


Astrophotography:
...
--results, usually, in lowest common denominator resolution and seeing, so can be quite frustrating.




Actually, high resolution imaging of moon & planets usually outresolves what can be seen in the same scope, by utilising "lucky imaging" or selective snapshotting of the rare instants of steady seeing.

I still greatly prefer the experience of visual observing to the hours of fighting recalcitrant technology which imaging (whether of the high resolution planetary or deep sky variety) entails.


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Jon Isaacs
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Re: Joy of Visual Observing new [Re: Starman1]
      #5975476 - 07/17/13 05:52 AM

Quote:

But they are as different as apples and oranges.

One is "in the moment" and "intensely personal", while the other has the character of "delayed gratification" and "the attempt to create art". Both are wonderful ways for human beings to spend their times, but they are not the same....

As a visual observer, I "recharge my personal battery" with hours under the stars; in a way that AP or even looking at pictures on a screen cannot do. Viewing the Universe through an eyepiece resonates in a way that pictures, no matter how good, cannot. I can't say exactly why that is so. It just is.






Don:

I think you have perfectly captured the essence of the visual experience...

Thanks so much.

Jon


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Mark Costello
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Re: Joy of Visual Observing new [Re: Starman1]
      #5975584 - 07/17/13 08:56 AM

Hi, Don. That's a good post there. The only remark I would make on your list of visual observing

"Visual observing:
--requires the best night vision you can develop
--requires techniques of viewing details at the limit of your vision
--can be done fairly quickly
--can always capture the momentary fluctuations in transparency and seeing
--requires much less technology in the field--no cameras, computers, phones, tablets, batteries, guiding equipment
--is a much less expensive pursuit (or CAN be, not necessarily IS)"

... is that poking along over one object making notes and drawings seems to improve my night vision and ability to see details at the limit of my vision....

Best regards,


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Starman1
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Re: Joy of Visual Observing new [Re: Mark Costello]
      #5975728 - 07/17/13 10:38 AM

Mark,
Sketching can definitely teach one to see.
As can having a checklist of things to look for on every object so you don't forget to look for particular details.
But, in terms of speed, this is still not the stacking of multiple 30-90 minute shots, which a number of my AP friends seem to do. Several of them typically photograph only 4 or 5 objects over an entire dusk-to-dawn night.
Even taking the time to record my notes, that would take an hour when visual observing.
I did say visual observing CAN be faster.

Brian,
Despite the capturing of lucky "frozen seeing" images, the best planetary photography I've seen still has a "soft" focus compared to the images I've seen with my own eye. I have seen small details on Jupiter, for instance, that appeared sharper than Hubble photos of the planet, albeit less colorful and in not quite so great a detail. The softness of focus is one of the reasons that I mentioned the "LCD" of stacking images. A particular image may be just as sharp, but never, when stacked, as sharp as visual images can get.
The exception to that is the Moon. I have never seen visual views of the Moon as sharp as Wes Higgins lunar photographs. I suspect you'd have to be in orbit to see visual views as detailed as his photos.


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mountain monk
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Re: Joy of Visual Observing new [Re: Starman1]
      #5975756 - 07/17/13 11:02 AM

What a marvelous set of posts, Don. Thanks. So nice to see people here talk about observing...

Dark skies

Jack


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REC
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Re: Joy of Visual Observing new [Re: csa/montana]
      #5975772 - 07/17/13 11:11 AM

+1

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Tom Polakis
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Re: Joy of Visual Observing new [Re: Starman1]
      #5975782 - 07/17/13 11:17 AM

Quote:

Despite the capturing of lucky "frozen seeing" images, the best planetary photography I've seen still has a "soft" focus compared to the images I've seen with my own eye. I have seen small details on Jupiter, for instance, that appeared sharper than Hubble photos of the planet, albeit less colorful and in not quite so great a detail. The softness of focus is one of the reasons that I mentioned the "LCD" of stacking images. A particular image may be just as sharp, but never, when stacked, as sharp as visual images can get.
The exception to that is the Moon. I have never seen visual views of the Moon as sharp as Wes Higgins lunar photographs. I suspect you'd have to be in orbit to see visual views as detailed as his photos.





Don, as a fellow visual observer, I was agreeing with your posts until I read what you wrote about details on Jupiter. The exception is not only the moon, but any planet. Here is an image of Jupiter by Damian Peach.

Jupiter by Damian Peach

I don't think the most ardent visual planetary observer will claim to be able see the sub-arcsecond detail in that image. You could still maintain that the visual view is more aesthetically pleasing, but I'll remain dubious that you can see more detail than a well-made image provides.

Tom


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Starman1
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Re: Joy of Visual Observing new [Re: Tom Polakis]
      #5975936 - 07/17/13 12:50 PM

Tom,
You're right with that photo. Most photos aren't quite at that level, though.
I've looked a lot at Christopher Go's images and many others. I just find the images somewhat "soft" compared to the visual view in good seeing.
It's hard to say when obviously the photo resolves some small details that are beyond the visual view, but most planetary images display tremendous detail as if the image is just a trace out of focus.

I've seen some views of Jupiter that were crisper and sharper than 99%+ of planetary images I've seen. One night, the GRS had a white swirl within it that was so sharp you could see wind shear tearing it apart in places. Obviously, that level of detail was momentary. But, rather than the somewhat softer focus of most photos, it was crystal clear and sharp. I don't doubt I was seeing my 12.5" resolve to its limit (at 456X, 36X/inch).
And I've see this more than once.

I'll grant you that a high resolution camera, on a night like I described, might have recorded many images that display even more detail even more sharply. Inevitably, though, those images are stacked with those that aren't quite as sharp.
It would be interesting to see Peach's image without the false color that accentuates contrast.


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EJohnson
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Re: Joy of Visual Observing new [Re: Starman1]
      #5975960 - 07/17/13 01:04 PM

I really enjoyed reading this thread. I am in the visual camp, but have held my camera up to the eyepiece. The images that I snapped were perfect for me and helped excite some family members as to what I was seeing. But real AP is probably more than I can handle right now. The folks who are doing it and sharing their work inspire me to get out there and see it myself, even though it will never look like the image I saw. But the image I see through the eyepiece is the image I want! Thanks for great comments!

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ensign
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Re: Joy of Visual Observing new [Re: BigC]
      #5975987 - 07/17/13 01:18 PM

Quote:

I certainly wasn't belittling AP.

Perhaps a different analogy:

visual is like running track,whereas AP is like riding motocross!!?





Perhaps "Visual is like sailing, AP is like driving a motorboat. You can get a thrill from either one."

I started with through-the-eyepiece visual but found myself chasing the ads in magazines and the photos on deparment store telescope boxes. I wanted to see those beautiful, colorful objects theough a telescope eyepiece.

It took a short time for me to realize that this was simply not reality. You're not going to see views like that in an amateur scope through an eyepiece.

I adjusted my expectations accordingly and found that although the reality was different, it was still good - in some ways even better. While there was less "wow" factor, there was a deeper, subtler beauty that I began to (and still do very much) appreciate.

Then I stumbled across the Video Astronomy forum and went down the Mallincam rabbit hole, having a great time seeing those detailed, color images using a humble 8" SCT.

Now I am back to through-the-eyepiece, and would gladly sell my whole video astronomy rig to the first person who came along with a reasonable offer. However, knowing myself as I do, at some point in the future I would probably regret that and want to take up video observing again.

Sorry for the rambling post. I guess my point is that it's all good and a matter of personal preferences, time, capabilities, budget, temperament, etc.

Clear Skies


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BoldAxis1967
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Re: Joy of Visual Observing new [Re: Starman1]
      #5976040 - 07/17/13 01:50 PM

Quote:


As a visual observer, I "recharge my personal battery" with hours under the stars..




An interesting statement that I believe applies to many of us, but what exactly does this mean?

After I have an interesting session under the stars I feel satiated. I feel that I have experienced something spiritual and I have accomplished something using my equipment and my limited but growing knowledge of the celestial sphere. For several days after such a session I am on a “natural high”. Maybe certain areas of the brain, the pleasure center, have established this emotional and intellectual gratification?

When I invite friends over to observe I notice there are two types of observers. Group A are those that look for 30 seconds or less. Group B will look for several minutes some even as long as 15 minutes. Some even ask for a different eyepiece. Last weekend a couple of people from Group A, who observed with me about a month earlier, showed up as part of a social drop-by to chat with the property owners for a few minutes. They had no interest in observing a globular cluster, they were “good”. One person from Group B was present and was hogging the eyepiece. Several days later the Group B person tells me that it was “too cool” and cannot stop thinking about the objects that she observed. She is now thinking about getting a telescope.

What could be the difference in these two groups? Maybe Group B people have their pleasure centers in the brain (limbic system) more responsive or stimulated. The release of certain neurotransmitter (e.g. serotonin) helps create this fascination and/or satiation.

Of course this “recharge” is much more involved but there is something of a recharge, a gratification and maybe even something similar to an addiction that seems to be a driving force.


LB

Edited by BoldAxis1967 (07/17/13 01:56 PM)


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microstar
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Re: Joy of Visual Observing new [Re: BoldAxis1967]
      #5976086 - 07/17/13 02:13 PM

Don't know about the brain chemistry, but perhaps the difference is between those who look but don't internalize and those who lose themselves when they observe closely. The difference between comparing eyepieces and observing the object; between snapping pictures and creating an image. Probably applies to anything we observe closely and internalize - what some call mindfulness. That's what I like about optics (telescopes or microscopes) - if you are open to the experience you can lose yourself in a universe beyond our everyday experience. Or you might be the type that just looks and moves on with the gratification coming from somewhere else. There's probably something in the psychological literature about this difference in perception.
...Keith


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BoldAxis1967
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Re: Joy of Visual Observing new [Re: microstar]
      #5976145 - 07/17/13 02:40 PM

I agree. Well stated.

This is an interesting discussion. We seem to be attempting to describe some of the intersections of emotion and intellect; these are challenging concepts to put into words.

LB


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JoeR
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Re: Joy of Visual Observing new [Re: BoldAxis1967]
      #5976168 - 07/17/13 02:54 PM

I do a lot of imaging but I always make a point to have plenty of observation time too. As rewarding as AP is there's no comparison to seeing it live in real time before your eyes. On really long sessions at dark skies I bring two scopes, one for imaging and one for good old fashion star hopping. I love the goto but I like finding things on my own as well. It's a thrill of its own to be crusing around a patch of sky and that faint DSO suddenly comes into view.

One aspect I find fascinating about stargazing is we are viewing the same night sky as the old astronomers did hundreds of years ago. Aside from the planets positions, everything is exactly as it was long ago.


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festa_freak
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Re: Joy of Visual Observing new [Re: MikeBOKC]
      #5976193 - 07/17/13 03:20 PM

The best part for me is the quest to find new things. I have an intelliscope but sometimes I look at my chart and seek out a new object. It's a quest and I must complete it, and there is a great reward at the end.

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ensign
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Re: Joy of Visual Observing new [Re: BoldAxis1967]
      #5976252 - 07/17/13 03:54 PM

Quote:

We seem to be attempting to describe some of the intersections of emotion and intellect;




When we call ourselves "Homo Sapiens" we flatter ourselves. "Wise man" indeed. Homo Passionis or Homo Sensus (emotional man) might be more accurate.


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Mike B
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Re: Joy of Visual Observing new [Re: JoeR]
      #5976308 - 07/17/13 04:23 PM

Quote:

...we are viewing the same night sky as the old astronomers did hundreds of years ago. Aside from the planets positions, everything is exactly as it was long ago.



It might seem so, at first blush. Yet actually, things are changing up there quite a bit. Several double stars' orbital geometry widens & narrows over the years, such that "splitting" them as doubles grows easier (or harder, requiring larger and/or better optics to accomplish!)... even during a few years.

Then there are momentary occultations of stars by asteroids, new comets swinging into view, or sometimes even smashing into view (Jupiter, again & again!). I witnessed myself the Comet Shoemaker-Levy impacts on Jupiter back in 1994! Left quite an impression... on both Jove, and *me*!

Then there's the slow but unyielding expansion of supernova-based nebula, like the M1 crab nebula, and i'm sure others. Or highly visible supernovae popping up in other galaxies, like M51.

So there's a LOT happening out there... it can be quite dynamic!

Quote:

- if you are open to the experience you can lose yourself in a universe beyond our everyday experience.



Seems to me this seemingly "simple" aspect could generate its own thread.
1) as above,
2) a realm relatively untouched & unpolluted by man,
3) a realm far beyond the scope, scale, and grasp of any human imagination,
4) a pursuit that engenders peaceful contemplation & tranquility- yeah, you can bring your earbuds & heavy-metal if so inclined... but it's STILL more relaxing than same enjoyed in rush-hour traffic or traipsing thru mall!
5) not only a pursuit of the grand & beautiful, but it's totally free from fees, taxation, regulation, etc! Yeah, it *can* be limited by weather, location, and personal budget, as well as intruded upon by light pollution, aircraft blinkies, and the occasional human reminder of a satellite flitting thru one's view- these limits are really modest, and with time & planning, can be entirely overcome!
6) others?


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JRiggs
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Re: Joy of Visual Observing new [Re: Mike B]
      #5977659 - 07/18/13 10:49 AM

I've been a visual observer for nearly fifty years. I started when I was 11 years old and have been active pretty much ever since. I did astrophotography for a time but have always returned to visual observing. As many of the responses have noted, it is the "experience" of the night sky that is so compelling to the visual observer. Call it a mystical response if you like. The imagers I have come in contact with seem to miss this aspect completely.

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csrlice12
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Re: Joy of Visual Observing new [Re: JRiggs]
      #5977866 - 07/18/13 12:50 PM

My eyes are giant black holes sucking in photons by the billions, and they're mine (like water, you can never see the same photon twice)....the other guy got some nice pictures.....

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ev2
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Re: Joy of Visual Observing new [Re: Starman1]
      #5978237 - 07/18/13 04:19 PM

Quote:


If you're lucky, the 3-dimensionality of the Universe you can see comes through.

I also like the fleeting nature of what you see at the very limit of your vision. The very faintest image comes in and out so you want to be looking when it winks in. We observe in an art gallery of natural objects--one in which the halls are filled with smoke. Sometimes, the halls are nearly clear and we see farther and fainter, and more clearly, the artworks of the natural universe. Other times, the halls are filled with wispy smoke and we barely make out the details and features we saw the last time we were here. That variability makes us want to continually experience the night sky anew. On that one night when nature has ripped away all the haze between us and the universe, we want to be there to see it.
[...]
One night I suddenly got the idea of distance in my mind as I saw the bulge in the Milky Way extending to alpha and beta Librae, and viscerally felt the enormous size and distance to that bulge. For a brief moment I was a speck of dust on a small ball of rock orbiting a small star an immense distance from the core of the galaxy. It was enough for me to spend the rest of my life looking for that same feeling again.




You've hit the nail on the head for me (with eloquent and beautifully descriptive prose).

As much as I like toying with imaging, I don't take it seriously enough to sink huge sums of money into it; 90% of the time, I'd rather just observe visually. Looking at the sky at night really does help me put things in perspective:

Quote:


“Look again at that dot. That's here. That's home. That's us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every "superstar," every "supreme leader," every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there-on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.
-- Carl Sagan





As a practicing buddhist, it helps me to remind myself of just how small and insignificant we all are, that nothing is permanent (one day, the Earth will cease to exist). Suddenly all my problems - *our* problems - can fade from my mind, if only for a few chilly hours on a clear night.


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Re: Joy of Visual Observing new [Re: ev2]
      #5986226 - 07/23/13 02:56 PM

I have been a visual astronomer for nearly two decades, I am really leaning toward investing in an imaging set-up. I will probably always have my Fujinon 16X70's at the ready while the imaging is in motion.

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galexand
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Re: Joy of Visual Observing new [Re: dcriner]
      #5986821 - 07/23/13 09:20 PM

I'm a visual observer. This is trivial, but one of the things about visual observing that blew my mind...I was looking at Stellarium to try to locate my first couple Messiers (M57, M39), and I noticed that all the stars on the chart had a color, I thought it was useless information, telling me the spectral types of the stars or something. Made me think of boring abstractions, like the Hertzsprung-Russell diagram.

Then I noticed that the stars in the eyepiece were the same color as the chart!!! Stars have colors!!! You don't have to be Hubble to see it!

Out of this world, man, out of this world.


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Tom S.
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Re: Joy of Visual Observing new [Re: star drop]
      #5987122 - 07/23/13 11:40 PM

Quote:

Purely visual for me. I like to see the real thing.




The notion of "the real thing" breaks down on closer examination.

But I understand the feeling you're talking about when you see something in an eyepiece vs. in a photo.


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Tom S.
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Re: Joy of Visual Observing new [Re: derangedhermit]
      #5987132 - 07/23/13 11:48 PM

Quote:

The universe is an awesome distillery of wonder. Deep space is a giant joy-seasoned barrel therein, flavored with grace and peace. As photons leave a sun's surface they begin to steep: miniscule transient flashes marinating in glee. Once appropriately aged, perhaps ten thousand years for a showy open cluster, or ten million years, more suitable for the majestic swirl of a galaxy, each tiny drop is delivered to one of the waiting watchful. Our uplifted eyes imbibe this heavenly elixir, and the essences dissolve into our minds and hearts, forever changed and grateful.




Very (passionately, drippingly) poetic. Maybe more a reflection of your own psyche than of the outside universe, but I love your description! You could have written lines for Carl Sagan. I'll be more fired up the next time I go out and look up.


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Tom S.
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Re: Joy of Visual Observing new [Re: kfiscus]
      #5987214 - 07/24/13 12:54 AM

Quote:

Taking the football game analogy another step.

Or watching the game vs. getting a great still photo from the sidelines. Both could be a person's choice and thrill but it's going to be hard to do both at the same time.




That's a great analogy. I like watching sports on TV because you can see close-up slo-mo replays and admire details that you have no way of seeing from the bleachers.

But the real-time experience and social context of the bleachers are equally cool.

If visual vs. AP is your quandary, then that's a better dilemma to have than deciding how to divide up a can of beans for a family of 5.


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Tom S.
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Re: Joy of Visual Observing new [Re: karstenkoch]
      #5987222 - 07/24/13 12:57 AM

Quote:

Regardless of whether you choose to image with your retina or observe with your CMOS, in either case we are doing very similar things: enjoying the beauties of the cosmos, participating in their existence with our awareness of it, and pondering our place in it all. That's what unites observers, imagers, naked eye astronomers of past millenia, and future travelers to the objects of our attention.





AMEN!

Well said. Karsten distills it to the essence.


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Tom S.
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Re: Joy of Visual Observing new [Re: nmitsthefish]
      #5987233 - 07/24/13 01:08 AM

Quote:

for imagers, having a collection of great captures is similar to those who keep photo albums of their life, their children, or their friends. It's nice to go through them all and think what a great shot I remember that night.




Absolutely true.

Your photo of your kid or of NGC-whatever will disappear into the sands of time with the trillions of other images captured each year but...

...for you (and maybe your family or a few others), the photo can solemnize your fleeting experience and help you sustain a wonderful memory.

Nothing wrong with that.

- Tom S.


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Tom S.
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Re: Joy of Visual Observing new [Re: Starman1]
      #5987240 - 07/24/13 01:19 AM

Quote:

One night I suddenly got the idea of distance in my mind as I saw the bulge in the Milky Way extending to alpha and beta Librae, and viscerally felt the enormous size and distance to that bulge. For a brief moment I was a speck of dust on a small ball of rock orbiting a small star an immense distance from the core of the galaxy. It was enough for me to spend the rest of my life looking for that same feeling again. It happened when I was 12, and had my first scope, and sat outside by a lake learning the constellations with a paper planisphere. I had read all about the Milky Way and how big it was and how deep into it the Messier objects were that I was observing with my 4.25" scope.

I knew where home was. And it was under the stars, looking up.




Bravo! Don P. articulates it perfectly.

This is the best CN thread I've seen in a while. People are baring their souls! Putting into clear writing the deeply felt but amorphous core of amateur astronomy!

- Tom S.


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Starman1
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Re: Joy of Visual Observing new [Re: galexand]
      #5987280 - 07/24/13 01:55 AM

Quote:

I'm a visual observer. This is trivial, but one of the things about visual observing that blew my mind...I was looking at Stellarium to try to locate my first couple Messiers (M57, M39), and I noticed that all the stars on the chart had a color, I thought it was useless information, telling me the spectral types of the stars or something. Made me think of boring abstractions, like the Hertzsprung-Russell diagram.

Then I noticed that the stars in the eyepiece were the same color as the chart!!! Stars have colors!!! You don't have to be Hubble to see it!

Out of this world, man, out of this world.




In the Hertzsprung-Russell diagram, when a globular cluster is mapped, there are a lot of older stars that "turn off" the main sequence to the upper right of the chart when helium burning starts. I link to an HR diagram illustrating the place the horizontal branch can be found:
here

When a lot of stars are plotted, you see a nearly-horizontal clustering of the stars on the chart. This is called the "horizontal branch" and it represents the majority of stars in these old clusters.
Some observing guides, like the Deep Sky Field Guide of Uranometria 2000.0, list the magnitude of the horizontal branch. It tells you a LOT about the visual appearance of the cluster. If you wish to resolve the cluster well, you need to see stars of the magnitude of the horizontal branch.

For instance, M4 in Scorpius has a horizontal branch magnitude of 13.4, which makes it resolvable in a 4" scope in dark skies and a 4" or larger scope will see stars across the face of the cluster.
In contrast, M14 in Ophiuchus has a horizontal branch magnitude of 17.1 and it takes a 12.5-15" scope in dark skies to begin to see the majority of the cluster as anything other than a nebula of sorts.
Of course, the very brightest stars are considerably brighter than the horizontal branch magnitude.

So, rather than a boring abstraction, the good old HR diagram tells you a lot about what you're going to see.

By the way, our old favorite, M13 (HB magnitude 15.0, so resolvable in 8" scopes in dark skies), has a lot of red giant stars in it. Get a dark night with good seeing, and they can all-of-a-sudden pop out at you.


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Mr Greybush
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Re: Joy of Visual Observing new [Re: Tom S.]
      #5987317 - 07/24/13 02:47 AM

I personally love both visually and when the rest of my AP equipment arrives to start down the road to a challenge that I am up for taking. The reason why I decided to invest in AP is simple. I have a kidney transplant, I live at home, can't work, and I'm not about to sit on a couch and do absolutely nothing. I still am involved with visual with Star Parties 3 weekends a month. That is why I chose it. Yes its going to be ______ but, at least I am keeping active. I live with a lady who is on dialysis and all she does is sleep, eat, and spend money going to doctors because she doesn't want to get off her _____ and do something. That brings me down a ton both emotionally and physically so I would rather yell cuss scream that a photo didn't come out right or help a child look through an ep looking at the moon with amazement than to end up like that. So you tell me what is wrong that a man with my situation not invest time both visually and AP?? I have the up most respect for anyone who likes astronomy period. To many children, teenagers, and adults don't even care about it anymore. I attended my monthly meeting talking about a new telescope and how they wouldn't have enough people to handle all the data that will be gathered nightly. I think that we as astronomers need to start YELLING, SCREAMING,and what ever it takes to get more people involved because the majority is shrinking smaller and smaller and smaller everyday whether it is a visual astronomer photographer. I think we should be arguing about how can we get more people involved than fighting about who's a visual and who's a photographer.

The telescope I'm referring to is the E-ELT


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Dwight J
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Re: Joy of Visual Observing new [Re: Mr Greybush]
      #5987337 - 07/24/13 03:23 AM

It has been my experience that, at least in viewing solar system objects, visual trumps imaging. Where I live we are rarely blessed with good seeing and viewing the planets lets me catch moments of excellent seeing when they occur that exceed whatever I have been able to capture with a camera. My most vivid memories of objects have been from viewing them by eye. The best were Comet Hyukatake stretching over 100 degrees of sky, Saturn and Jupiter on a rare night of excellent seeing til my neck ached, and spiral arms and a host of other details in M 51 and M 101 in a freshly recoated 16" Dob. I have taken images and photos of these objects but they don't compare to the visual impact they had and still have. It is hard to beat a night out in a dark site with large binos scanning up and down the Milky Way, something that imaging just can't replicate. A very memorable night was seeing Comet Hale Bopp and a totally eclipsed moon in opposite sides of the sky with the naked eye, something you just couldn't do with a camera (well maybe a fisheye lens but that would not really compare). I would often take my astrophoto gear and scope to a star party, set it all up, polar align, yada yada and then look at a few things through the 16 inch Dob. That would stretch out to all night visually observing and every subsequent night too. I learned to just leave the astrophoto gear at home. My eyesight is not so good anymore and my back really didn't like hauling out the big scope so they are gone now and I mostly use a Mallincam from my backyard. I still use an eyepiece for the planets and double stars, which again, appear the best visually. Imaging has it's place but it cannot replace visual observing for it's simplicity and long lasting impact. Most if not all imagers started out as visual observers and still are at heart. There is room for both pursuits and video is beginning to provide an overlap between them. I don't want to be a one trick pony.

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Tony Flanders
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Re: Joy of Visual Observing new [Re: Dwight J]
      #5987406 - 07/24/13 06:39 AM

Quote:

It has been my experience that, at least in viewing solar system objects, visual trumps imaging.




That was true up to about a decade ago, but at this point planetary webcams do far better than visual observers. They can freeze moments of good seeing too brief for the eye to capture and, more importantly, add them up far more effectively than even the most experienced planetary observers can.

That's not to say that imaging has eliminated or reduced the joys of visually observing the planets. But it's important to set the record straight.


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Asbytec
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Re: Joy of Visual Observing new [Re: Tony Flanders]
      #5987430 - 07/24/13 07:23 AM

I like the best of both worlds. I visually observe the object then process it in my brain.:)

Having come full circle from a 6" scope, to larger scopes and imaging equipment, back to a smaller scope and visual. Yea, nothing beats rolling up your sleeves and really observing.

That's the passion, man, it's out of this world.

Its really the difference between being an observer and a photographer. I admire for both their abilities, but they are definitely not the same experience.


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azure1961p
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Re: Joy of Visual Observing new [Re: Tony Flanders]
      #5987432 - 07/24/13 07:25 AM

Yeah Id agree with that. I think visual has slipped behind imaging. I can't say Ive ever seen anyone rival CCD imaging visually. What I look forward to one day is an electronic real time eyepiece that rivals the stacked processed images. Malin is just starting to do it crudely but Ill bet within 50 years they'll have it nailed in full color - on both deepsky and planetary.

-have no idea how, just a feeling. At worst there'll be a couple seconds lag time for processing.

Pete
PS:of course Ill be dead by then.


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jgraham
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Re: Joy of Visual Observing new [Re: azure1961p]
      #5987574 - 07/24/13 09:41 AM Attachment (11 downloads)

We live in a very rich time to be an amateur astronomer with many options for observing. Which is 'best' is a very flighty thing. For me, visual observing, camera-assisted observing, imaging, and scientific imaging are each their own unique experience. I see no need to companion positive remarks about one with negative remarks about another. It is also nice to hear about other's experiences and what they enjoy.

This picture is getting kinda old, but I still like it. On long, comfortable spring and fall evenings I often set up for both imaging and visual. One thing I learned early about modern imaging is that it is so spontaneous that it can serve as a valuable companion to my visual observing. The source images make the best darned finder charts and the unprocessed source images are extremely helpful in providing guidance as to what to look for.

Waiting for sunset...


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Tom Polakis
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Re: Joy of Visual Observing new [Re: Starman1]
      #5987877 - 07/24/13 02:04 PM

Quote:

...So, rather than a boring abstraction, the good old HR diagram tells you a lot about what you're going to see...





Good stuff, Don. Here is a link to a table that shows the brightest star (Vtip) and horizontal branch magnitude (Vhb).

Globular cluster table by Skiff


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Starman1
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Re: Joy of Visual Observing new [Re: Tom Polakis]
      #5987943 - 07/24/13 02:55 PM

Thank you, Tom. Great stuff.
Downloaded.
Formatted.
Printed.
Stored in observing folder.


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galexand
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Re: Joy of Visual Observing new [Re: Starman1]
      #5989372 - 07/25/13 11:23 AM

Whoa Don! A lot of that was greek to me, I'm going to have to talk to my mom (she is an astronomer, I am just a star-gazer).

But I think you touched on why I'm not very impressed by M13! I haven't used anything better than 6" from an urban site. I can resolve a few globs (M22 stands out in my memory), but M13 has always just been a very bright blurry star to me. But that makes sense, if M13 is just composed of such a huge number of high-magnitude stars that it is visible even though I can't resolve many of the individual stars.

Thanks.


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Starman1
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Re: Joy of Visual Observing new [Re: galexand]
      #5989627 - 07/25/13 02:00 PM

Quote:

Whoa Don! A lot of that was greek to me, I'm going to have to talk to my mom (she is an astronomer, I am just a star-gazer).

But I think you touched on why I'm not very impressed by M13! I haven't used anything better than 6" from an urban site. I can resolve a few globs (M22 stands out in my memory), but M13 has always just been a very bright blurry star to me. But that makes sense, if M13 is just composed of such a huge number of high-magnitude stars that it is visible even though I can't resolve many of the individual stars.

Thanks.



Greg,
Yeah. A 6" can reach the horizontal branch magnitude in DARK skies, where M13 is well-resolved. But in an urban sky? Your description sounds about right.


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