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General Astronomy >> General Observing and Astronomy

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mistyridge
Post Laureate
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Reged: 10/28/05

Loc: Loomis, CA
Re: Why do People Stay or Leave the Hobby? new [Re: Dave Hederich]
      #5494047 - 10/29/12 02:52 AM

I got intersted at an early age with a 60mm refractor Christmas gift at age 10 and even more interested when in highschool with the launch of sputnik. This got me motivated to grind and polish and construct an 8" newt mounted on a GEM. which was a big scope in the late 1950s especially for a highschool student. From that point I have been active and inactive on and off until I retired. Now I can devote as much time as needed following various interests within the hobby, currently planetary imaging, at least for this year.

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bunyon
Post Laureate
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Reged: 10/23/10

Loc: Winston-Salem, NC
Re: Why do People Stay or Leave the Hobby? new [Re: mistyridge]
      #5494230 - 10/29/12 08:42 AM

I think a definition might be in order: can someone who maintains an interest in astronomy but who doesn't find the time or money to be an active observer/imager be said to have left the hobby?

I got my first scope in 1983 at the age of 12. I'd be reading Astronomy and S&T for a couple of years before that and have maintained a subscription to one or the other since. I have never not owned a scope. When the net came around, astronomy sites were the first bookmarked. However, there were long periods, occasionally a couple of years at a stretch, where I did not take a scope out. There were periods where I fell far behind in my reading.

Looking at the comments above, I'd have to say many of you would say I was "out of the hobby" though I don't consider myself to have ever not been an amateur astronomer. I would only consider someone to be out of the hobby if they come to a point where they are simply not interested in what is going on and even if they suddenly won the lottery and their kids were all raised and their spouse gave them leave to spend as much time as they liked out with a scope they still wouldn't.

It's a hobby, life will intrude and most of us, I hope, have more interests than astronomy.


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Rick Huber
sage
*****

Reged: 01/03/04

Loc: South of Cincy Ohio
Re: Why do People Stay or Leave the Hobby? new [Re: bunyon]
      #5494243 - 10/29/12 08:53 AM

The gods do not deduct from man's allotted span the hours spent in fishing. ~Babylonian Proverb

I think the same goes for amateur astronomers..


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Tony Flanders
Postmaster
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Reged: 05/18/06

Loc: Cambridge, MA, USA
Re: Why do People Stay or Leave the Hobby? new [Re: JayinUT]
      #5494300 - 10/29/12 09:37 AM

Here are some random thoughts.

Broadly speaking, I think people are drawn to astronomy for three different -- though overlapping -- reasons:

  • nature study
  • science fiction
  • techno-geek


In fact, just about all serious amateurs that I know combine all three, but in very varying degrees.

Science fiction is the most tenuous, because it really has nothing to do with astronomy. Science fiction is all about fantasy; astronomy is reality. Nonetheless, it's an empirical fact that a very large fraction of all amateur astronomers are or have been science fiction fans. Obviously no accident!

As for people dropping out, there are two very different categories here. Most people who think they might be interested in astronomy drop out almost immediately, when they find out it doesn't live up to their expectations.

Using a telescope isn't easy, even if it has Go To. And if you approach astronomy with nothing but sci-fi expectations, you're bound to be disappointed. No light sabres and space ships, and precious few knock-you-socks-off views. Like any serious hobby, astronomy requires effort; it's not passive entertainment.

But as I said earlier, once people have gotten past that initial (and quite substantial) learning hump, they never really drop out of astronomy. They may stop observing for a while, but the potential to resume is always there.


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FJA
Sketcher Extraordinaire
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Reged: 11/17/04

Loc: 50.65° N, 1.15° W
Re: Why do People Stay or Leave the Hobby? new [Re: Tony Flanders]
      #5494346 - 10/29/12 10:05 AM

1. What drew you to the hobby?

Various things really - a dark starry sky seen from the ocean chief among them, plus my love of Star Trek (and other science fiction) which also got me interested in space and astronomy.

3. If you've quit the hobby for a significant amount of time why did you leave?

I quit it for a while in the early 2000's, lack of money forced me to sell my scope and I just lost interest for a while.

4. What drew you back to the hobby?

I just can't stay away. I love astronomy.


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Raginar
Post Laureate
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Reged: 10/19/10

Loc: Rapid CIty, SD
Re: Why do People Stay or Leave the Hobby? new [Re: Grandpa Jim]
      #5494407 - 10/29/12 10:38 AM

Quote:

I'm old enough to have left "High School" behind long ago, and I don't like the behavior...............




I totally relate to what you're saying. It's the "did you google this first" attitude.

If you need some help, send me a PM .


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Messyone
sage


Reged: 05/02/12

Loc: Down Under
Re: Why do People Stay or Leave the Hobby? new [Re: JayinUT]
      #5494978 - 10/29/12 04:59 PM

I started in the mid 70's as an 8 year old. My dad had a book on navagating which had a double page star chart. He would take me outside and work out what was what. That was enough to get me in. My father was a scientist so getting a scope was an good thing...a Tasco 60mm f13. Spent years looking up with that small scope. Gave it away for a couple of decades while life got in the way but always looked up. Back in it again now I have time to put into it, just wish I lived in a better part of the world weather wise.
Matt


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Carol L

*****

Reged: 07/05/04

Loc: Tomahawk, WI 45N//89W
Re: Why do People Stay or Leave the Hobby? new [Re: JayinUT]
      #5495039 - 10/29/12 05:30 PM

1. What drew you to the hobby?
Basically it was curiosity - i just wanted to learn/know.

2. What keeps some in the hobby long term and why do others quit?
All of my hobbies/interests take turns getting put on the back burner.
It doesn't mean i don't like them any more or that i'm 'quitting'.
It just means that they get put on the back burner for a while.

3. If you've quit the hobby for a significant amount of time why did you leave?
Ask the cloudgods.


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FJA
Sketcher Extraordinaire
*****

Reged: 11/17/04

Loc: 50.65° N, 1.15° W
Re: Why do People Stay or Leave the Hobby? new [Re: Carol L]
      #5495150 - 10/29/12 06:53 PM

Quote:

3. If you've quit the hobby for a significant amount of time why did you leave?
Ask the cloudgods.




Yeah, most of 2012...so far.


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Alan Grant
member


Reged: 04/20/10

Loc: Deseret Territory
Re: Why do People Stay or Leave the Hobby? new [Re: FJA]
      #5495237 - 10/29/12 08:03 PM

Another great thread Jay, hope all is well in Herimann and Chief Greenshirt hasn't got you.

What drew me to the hobby?
Sleeping out in the backyard as a kid and wondering, 'what is all that up there?"

What keeps me in?
A small, easy to use, intuitive telescope that can be used virtually instantly. This gets me out of the house more often and I am basically lazy.

I couldn't consider ever quitting, nights with the stars are too endearing.


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ZeroID
sage


Reged: 04/21/10

Loc: Auckland, New Zealand
Re: Why do People Stay or Leave the Hobby? new [Re: Alan Grant]
      #5495464 - 10/29/12 10:45 PM

What got me in ?
As a youngster a fascination with space and rockets and similar stuff.
More recently ? I guess I've always (like most say) had an interest but cheaper and better hardwrae and finally some time to devote to it.
Why do people stay/leave ?
This obsession is not for everyone. It is a rather committed hobby that tends to exclude those who cannot be bothered.
What keeps me in ?
Several things. The childhood space fascination is still there but the challenge both technically and mentally to build and find and learn is the real driver. My job fails to challenge me now after redundancy and the like so I put most of my efforts into astronomy because it isn't easy.
Will I ever leave?
Not really, As I age I will scale back my efforts I guess but the interest will be there till the day I die I reckon.


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JayinUT
I'm not Sleepy
*****

Reged: 09/19/08

Loc: Utah
Re: Why do People Stay or Leave the Hobby? new [Re: Alan Grant]
      #5495467 - 10/29/12 10:46 PM

Hey Alan! Glad to hear from you. I hope we can get out come New Moon on either my land or the Forest Land. Chief Green Jacket hasn't gotten me, he's endearing. Yes, the weather since I'd say July hasn't been very good for observing. I've been in the backyard several times with the new scope and that has been rewarding with doubles and open clusters. Now for a long night with November new moon if the forecast will cooperate. The great news is Daylight Savings is Sunday so we gain an hour of sleep and can get out earlier to observe! I'll let you know my plans if your interested as we get closer. I have to say, I've enjoyed reading the many and varied comments in this thread. Now back to the posting.

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evilmedic13
member


Reged: 06/23/12

Loc: Chicago,Il
Re: Why do People Stay or Leave the Hobby? new [Re: JayinUT]
      #5495663 - 10/30/12 01:17 AM

1. What drew you to the hobby?

The wonders of what's up in the sky. Not much for an inner city kid, but enough to get my attention and make me want to know.
2. What keeps some in the hobby long term and why do others quit?

Don't know or care, that's for others to answer on their own.
3. If you've quit the hobby for a significant amount of time why did you leave?

I never "quit", life got in the way. I couldn't afford a decent scope for a majority of my life. I used a pair of 8x40 whenever I could. Plus, living in an apartment far away from work, and dark skies, didn't help. 72-108 hr work weeks back then really kept me from exploring anything other than my eyelids, and girls. . It really didn't help that I never owned a computer until 2006, either.

4. What drew you back to the hobby?

My wife bought me a 120mm scope for my 1st fathers day present. She remembered I was saving up for scope, a few months before she got pregnant , so that I could do AP. The scope money immediately became our rainy day/future plans fund. I'm an avid photographer, that was my main hobby for many years. I spent many a night taking astro photos when it met the conditions that were right for my equipment. What better way to learn, than to merge a hobby I was really good at with one I was so-so at? The perfectionist in me would force me to learn the sky deeply, so that I could photo the best objects to the best of me ability. Little did I know that AP was such an 800lb gorilla of a hobby. Yet, my regular photo gear still makes most of my astro gear look cheap. I've yet to have the brown santa show up at the door with a medium size box(compared to scope/mount boxes) that has a high 4 figure price tag attached to it, and that was 50% off. The closest was my SCT, and the wife didn't make a peep, because she said the size equaled the price.
For me, the future of this hobby will be great. The job I have allows me the ability to purchase just about anything I need to pursue whatever I want, and gives me the time off to do so. While my motorcycle aren't ridden nearly as much as I wish, due to my wifes schedule making me seem like a single, and only, parent most of the time. It gives me a lot to look forward to, especially in the future
My son loves looking at the moon through the refractor, I purchased the 11" SCT late in the summer. I can't wait for him to get older, so that we can go out on trips and look at the universe together. Until he's old enough to really understand what he's viewing, I will treasure watching him grow. I see me leaving him some darned good when it's my time to join the stars
. Hopefully, he'll think of me when he looks through it, just like when my Mom and I would go out into our yard late at night the summer before she died. I still think of her whenever I see a pretty sunrise, 25 yrs later.


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csrlice12
Postmaster
*****

Reged: 05/22/12

Loc: Denver, CO
Re: Why do People Stay or Leave the Hobby? new [Re: evilmedic13]
      #5496465 - 10/30/12 04:37 PM

What drew me? Curiosity as a kid. Luckily, I lived in a small rural area where the skies were dark. It was also the 60s and the space race was in full swing--and 2001, A Space Odessy had just came out. And my parents got me a Tasco 60mm for Christmas.

What keeps some in the hobby long term and why do others quit? Life has it's own plans, regardless of what we want.

3. If you've quit the hobby for a significant amount of time why did you leave? Pretty much left the hobby after I grew up and left home---like I said above, Life has it's own plans....

4. What brought me back? I'm looking at retirement in another 3-4 years, and decided that it was time to take up a hobby to fill the hours (seems more like seconds though). Truthfully, I thought back and remembered the fun and excitement that toy scope brought me. Honestly, it makes me feel like a kid again; and the skies are as wonderous as ever (but gotta travel to get away from the lights now). Also, I can afford better toys now...


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FirstSight
Duke of Deneb
*****

Reged: 12/26/05

Loc: Raleigh, NC
Re: Why do People Stay or Leave the Hobby? new [Re: Alan Grant]
      #5496860 - 10/30/12 08:48 PM

With me, the night sky and astronomy has been a latent interest ever since childhood, courtesy of my maternal grandmother who, when sitting out in lawn chairs in her yard in a small eastern North Carolina town on clear summer evenings as dusk turned to dark, would vividly describe the beautiful brilliance of Halley's comet, which she saw back in 1910 when she was a young teenager. For my birthday when I was 11, she gave me a cheap "department store" reflector that had a single built-in plastic eyepiece and focuser, really just a toy scope, but it gave what then seemed nice views of the moon and many more stars than could be seen naked-eye. Alas, during a period of disuse a couple of months later, my mom tucked the scope away in the back of a closet out of mind and somehow over the next several weeks it disappeared before I thought of it again. My interest remained latent for nearly twenty years until I was living in Oregon and happened to come across a young man with a home-built reflector in a neighborhood park one night, where he showed me a view of a globular cluster. WOW! I went to a few public outreach events, including in the relatively dark skies up at Mount Hood, where I saw Andromeda for the first time in someoene's huge light bucket (probably only around 15", but to my unfamiliar senses it seemed improbably huge! I bought a used astronomy text and began devouring it.

Soon thereafter, my wife and I moved to Raleigh, NC to a house in a leafy yard and neighborhood not very well-suited for astronomical observing, due to tree canopy, slopes, and streetlights. The astro book somehow got lost in the move. And then, we bought a vacation house down at Sunset Beach, NC in 1995 and on one of my trips down there from Raleigh sometime around 2002, I stopped in Wilmington to browse a wonderfully eclectic, genteel consignment store that mostly sold furniture, but there among the lamps, chairs and tables was...a used MEADE POLARIS REFRACTOR, complete with tripod, eyepieces, and a barlow! I knew little about telescopes and Meade except that it was a brand name I vaguely familiar with as a maker of quality astro equipment, and so the asking price of $75 for this fine scope seemed an impossibly wonderful bargain to my ignorant sensibilities, never realizing that this particular model was what I would later on come to understand was a classic example of the dreaded "department store telescope" the owner was unloading precisely because he had realized how badly it had disappointed his own eager expectations to do astronomy with it. For the next three years or so, I intermittently struggled to make use of it, but increasingly it sat disused in the back of my bedroom closet at the beach. The latent flame of my interest in astronomy had pretty much flickered out until...

...fast forward to late spring 2006, when I had accumulated a few hundred dollars discretionary income from soccer refereeing, when on a whim I went to a public observing session of the Raleigh Astronomy Club and discovered there was actually a brick-and-mortar astronomy shop in Raleigh in the second floor of an office building near me ("Big Bang Astronomy"), so off I went one day the next week, and came home with a brand new Orion XT8 with its two included eyepieces (10mm and 25mm plossls). THE OTHER KEY FACTOR was that we had moved in spring 2005 to a different house that had a nice stretch of open sky relatively sheltered from lights by well-placed trees and lush landscaping, with a flat driveway and level front yard! It snowballed from there; here I am.

FAVORABLE OPPORTUNITY to observe and acquire suitable equipment is the key. YOU KNOW WHAT THE OTHER WAS? My discovery of the Cloudy Nights website, which is the base from which my serious, permanent education and interest (and equipment acquisition addiction) has taken off like kudzu on a southern roadside.

Out there are plenty of folks who will never really have the right combination of circumstances to facilitate developing their latent interest in astronomy. Living in a housing situation that lacks a suitable setting to do astronomy from without a car trip of five to fifty miles. Lacking knowledge of what sort of equipment is suitable for entry to the hobby, and which sort of equipment is ill-fitting or an outright hobby-killer (e.g. the Meade Polaris refractor). Lacking knowledge of such a tremendously helpful, educational resource such as Cloudy Nights. Lack of knowledge of suitable retailers to purchase suitable equipment from. And so on. FAVORABLE OPPORTUNITY is key to growing interest. UNFAVORABLE CIRCUMSTANCES (too difficult too often to create chances to observe) can kill it.


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Raginar
Post Laureate
*****

Reged: 10/19/10

Loc: Rapid CIty, SD
Re: Why do People Stay or Leave the Hobby? new [Re: FirstSight]
      #5497087 - 10/30/12 11:38 PM

CN has caused me to spend serious money in astronomy. It's like it's owned by a business or something .

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StarStuff1
Post Laureate
*****

Reged: 04/01/07

Loc: South of the Mason-Dixon Line
Re: Why do People Stay or Leave the Hobby? new [Re: Raginar]
      #5498616 - 10/31/12 10:40 PM

During the 50's I was a kid fascinated by sci-fi and horror movies. One night the family was at a drive-in theater. "It Came from Outer Space" was the flick on the screen. Then the monster eye appeared (and you knew it would because of the "wooooieeee!!!" music) I would curl up in a ball on the rear floorboard with my eyes tightly closed. My father reached around and grabbed my leg causing me to cry out. He thought it was funny. I was scared and crying. This happened a couple of more times during the film and I became convinced to learn what I could about space to see if aliens really existed.

After several visits to the library and trying to view the sky with a toy 30mm refractor I became the butt of jokes about astronomy and space. Then Sputnik and other man made sattelites were launched and the Space Race was on. Finally a 75mm refractor on a spindly alt-az mount arrived for Christmas around 1962. Saturn, Jupiter and the Moon were unbelievable. Then one afternoon there was this bright thing in the western sky around sunset. No one knew what it was but I HAD A TELESCOPE. It was a satellite, Echo IIRC. My friends and family were impressed.

I was hooked. But then came high school, college, marriage, the military, kids, etc. Astronomy was put on the back burner. I did grab the 75mm refractor out from under my bed and set it up for the first Moon landing. Unfortunately, I have not seen that scope since.

Fast forward to the late 1970s. Those fabulous photos of the gas giant planets taken by Voyager were splashed everywhere. COSMOS came on TV and I watched every episode. My wife said I needed a hobby. At the time I was a Sales Manager for a large retailer, a company commander in the National Guard, an officer in the Jaycees and a father as well as a husband. I had no time for a hobby!

But when a local planetarium offered a beginning astronomy course I signed up. It was only one meeting a week for four weeks but by the time it was over I was hooked again. Several of us "graduates" decided we wanted to form an astro club. With the able assistance of the planetarium director we formed Bays Mountain Astronomy Club and it is still going strong today.

My interest in astronomy has stayed pretty intense. Traveling to Mexico and Aruba for total solar eclipses. Trips to many star parties as far away as the Florida Keys. Teaching astronomy labs at the local university for over a decade. Being a member of two astro clubs. ATMing, outreach, etc.

I must admit there have been a few bumps on the road. Trips to distant places for star parties or just observing have been cut in half due to the cost of gas. Light pollution has been a big problem but technological advances such as light pollution filters, astro video cameras and image intensifier eyepieces (IIEs) have provided many pleasurable observing sessions under less than favorable circumstances.

The photos and other data we have gotten from satellites we have launched to other worlds in the Solar System have been nothing short of astounding. The internet with CN and the astro mags are enablers of useful info and support.

As long as I am physically able I will be an "amateur" astronomer. It is much more than a hobby to me.


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

Reged: 06/24/03

Loc: Los Angeles
Re: Why do People Stay or Leave the Hobby? new [Re: JayinUT]
      #5499737 - 11/01/12 06:59 PM

Quote:

I think there are many reasons for many of us to have gotten into the hobby. I guess with this post I am asking 4 things.

1. What drew you to the hobby?



I love science and love learning about scientific things. I also enjoy art. And I love pursuits I can do by myself or with others as I choose. It was a natural I would be drawn to bicycles and astronomy and music.
Quote:


2. What keeps some in the hobby long term and why do others quit?



I haven't seen everything yet, and I still enjoy the challenge of seeing objects through a telescope--finding them and then examining them. I've always been surprised at how much I can see. Others may quit because they see less than they expected to. I've always seen more than I expected to. I started when there were no satellite or spacecraft photos of anything and you had to look to see anything. Very few people attached a camera to a telescope and all the images were black & white in the magazines, and not very long exposures at that.
Quote:


3. If you've quit the hobby for a significant amount of time why did you leave?



Not applicable. This is my 49th year with a telescope and my 55th year of looking (first look was seeing Sputnik in 1957).
Quote:


4. What drew you back to the hobby?



I could see observing a little less for a few years and then coming back with a vengeance. I've done that over the years. but I can't envision quitting unless I go blind.
Quote:


I'm really interested in hear why some leave and have come back and why some stick through the hobby no matter what, and why some just leave and never come back. Some of the answers are pretty clear I think, but I just want to hear what others think. What are the signs of someone getting ready to leave the hobby?



1) They move up in scope size before they have enough experience to "see" through a scope. When they realize they can't see Hubble images no matter how big the scope is, they either get into astrophotography, or give up the hobby.
2) They don't like doing things alone. A club meeting is more fun than observing because they a) can't find anything and don't have the patience to do so, or b) can't see anything when they find it. This could easily be due to light pollution, of which there was very little around when I was young. I saw mag.6.2 stars and the Milky Way in my backyard. Today, probably <5% of telescope users have that kind of sky in the backyard.
3) They realize the impact of light pollution but are unwilling or incapable of driving 50-150 miles to get to a dark sky.
4) They are uncomfortable being alone in the dark.
5) They have poor night vision and so never get comfortable with their surroundings. I told someone once I could see across a field and see the tree line and even the boles of the trees with just the light of the stars. He told me he couldn't see ten feet, even after being outdoors for an hour.
6) Setting up and taking down a scope is too much bother. You do it a few times, and get tired of doing so.
7) You don't know anyone else interested in the hobby and you don't like doing things on your own.
8) It's a slow-paced, time-consuming hobby and you want instantaneous gratification in the 1 hour a month you can allocate to it.
9) You never learn the constellations and you always feel lost because you never know what to view and every object in your computer telescope's database says "Object below horizon"
Etc.
A million reasons to give up.
Quote:


What advice if any do you give to those who want to leave? Oh, to clarify, I'm not leaving the hobby, I'm just waiting for new moon and hoping the weather is good. Again, I am just curious to what others opinions are on this subject.



A. You will never see less than your first views through a telescope. Each and every year, you will see more--at the same power and in the same scope--because you will become trained at seeing. There is no other activity other than observing to develop observing skills.
B.Don't go for the faintest objects, nebulae and galaxies, at first just because that's what the Hubble takes pictures of. Hubble takes pictures of those because they are the hardest objects to see. Start with double stars, star clusters, globulars, bright nebulae like M42 or bright planetary nebulae like M57 or M27. Or get a nebula filter to help see the nebulae
C. If moving and using the scope is intimidating or too much trouble, get a smaller scope. If finding things is too difficult, get a computerized scope. If seeing things is too hard, plan a once-a-month outing to darker skies, even if just for 3 or 4 hours. You'll see so much more, you'll want to see more objects.
D. Go with a friend to observe or get a friend interested.
E. learn to draw what you see and make drawings. I promise you, in a year you'll go back to the drawing you made and compare it to the view you see now and say, "What was I? Blind?" You will be seeing more because drawing what you see is the fastest way to learn how to see.
F. Get a good Moon map and identify every crater with a name. You'll soon have favorites and you'll look forward to seeing them every night because the view is different every night because of shadows.
G. Read more about astronomy (start with the Backyard Astronomer's Guide) so concepts and information are old hat and not something new to memorize. Especially read the magazines if you can. It's fun to learn about things.
H. Remember, it's not work. See one object a night if you want, or 100. There is no right or wrong--it's all up to you.


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ensign
professor emeritus


Reged: 12/16/08

Loc: Southwestern Ontario
Re: Why do People Stay or Leave the Hobby? new [Re: JayinUT]
      #5500601 - 11/02/12 09:34 AM

Quote:

What advice if any do you give to those who want to leave?




If this hobby has become a chore, or you feel obligated to do it, don't feel guilty about leaving. Maybe it's not your thing. Why do it if in isn't any fun? On the other hand, maybe the best thing is to back away, leave it for a time and then try again, possibly using a different approach. For example, if you've been using a goto scope exclusively, try learning ths sky and finding things manually.


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Glen A W
sage


Reged: 07/04/08

Loc: WEST VIRGINIA USA
Re: Why do People Stay or Leave the Hobby? new [Re: Starman1]
      #5503870 - 11/04/12 12:42 PM

4) They are uncomfortable being alone in the dark.


Funny nobody ever mentions this. It is the #1 reason I don't observe more. GW


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