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General Astronomy >> General Observing and Astronomy

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jgraham
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Reged: 12/02/04

Loc: Miami Valley Astronomical Soci...
Re: When star hopping gets annoying... new [Re: frito]
      #5566722 - 12/11/12 10:54 PM Attachment (18 downloads)

I was a practitioner of the long tradition of star-hopping for many decades before I bought my first GoTo. I was convinced my first night out with it. However, I still make use of the old skills. I recently found a way to combine these two worlds; the simplicity of a fully manual scope with the convenience of GoTo. The motivation for this approach was my biggo homebuilt 16.5” f/6.5. A wonderful scope, but note the lack of sophisticated pointing aids. That combined with a small field of view made using my big baby a bit of a chore. Not a recipe for fun on the few clear nights we get here in Ohio.

Edited by jgraham (12/11/12 11:13 PM)


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jgraham
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Reged: 12/02/04

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Re: When star hopping gets annoying... new [Re: jgraham]
      #5566724 - 12/11/12 10:54 PM Attachment (15 downloads)

After trying several blends of finders, my trusty Telrad, setting circles, and laser pointers I hit on an idea. While using my laser pointer I found that I could easily see the beam in my finder and even the scope itself. Then it occurred to me that the laser didn’t have to necessarily be on my Dob, but it could be on any scope nearby. The original thought was to mount a laser pointer on an cheapy ETX-60. However, after digging through spare parts I came up with an old Meade 2045s (4” f/10 SCT spotting scope) on a DS-2000 mount with a #494 GoTo controller and an Orion laser pointer. I use the DS-2045s to point to the target and illuminate it with the laser pointer. I then locate the beam in the finder of my 16.5” and follow it out to the end. Voila! A Point-To system. The nice thing about this approach is that it is relatively simple, inexpensive, and I can use it with any scope. Sooooo, you can keep your Dob and use it with a Point-To laser designator whenever you want. The best of both worlds!

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KidOrion
professor emeritus


Reged: 07/07/07

Loc: Carbondale, IL
Re: When star hopping gets annoying... new [Re: frito]
      #5566866 - 12/12/12 12:45 AM

Star-hopping, to me, is like fishing.

Sometimes you spend a lot of time in the boat only to catch nothing. Sometimes, you only catch minnows or debris. Sometimes, though, you reel in a fine catch that's well worth the effort and occasional frustration. No matter what you catch, though, you're surrounded by nature and everything seems at peace.

\this analogy was better in my head


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avarakin
Carpal Tunnel
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Reged: 07/13/09

Loc: Parsippany NJ, USA
Re: When star hopping gets annoying... [Re: KidOrion]
      #5566882 - 12/12/12 01:10 AM

One way of star hopping without preparation is this:
1. If you are looking for M objects, print Telrad Messier finder charts and then just point your scope according to chart. This works most of the time even in light polluted skies
2. If you are after H400 list, then Triatlas B is your best friend: you open a page with a constellation which you can nicely see (not too high not too low) and then look for H400 objects on the page, they are marked bold and there at least 2-3 of them on a page. Then you just star hop to them. Triatlas B has stars down to Mag 11 so it gives enough stars to hop

If you are not doing M or H400 list and just futzing around, then you need to prepare for this

Alex


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Jon Isaacs
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Reged: 06/16/04

Loc: San Diego and Boulevard, CA
Re: When star hopping gets annoying... new [Re: george golitzin]
      #5566965 - 12/12/12 04:21 AM

Quote:

I agree completely. That moment when you give up the current chase, and sit back and look up, is really vital--it reconnects one to the sky, and provides an opportunity to relearn, or to learn better, the map of the stars overhead. Then, having relaxed a bit and refreshed your star-memory, maybe on the next go-round you won't turn north when you mean to turn south!

-geo




GOTO can be GOOD...


- "Reconnecting with the sky"

- I hear Javier's, excitement, expectations, his frustration, his impatience. Out under a dark night sky for the first time in several months, he was excited and hopeful of locating some new objects. When that did not seem to be, disappointment, confusion...

- "Reconnecting with the night sky"

"Make new friends but keep the old" Most any time I am under dark skies I begin by just enjoying my old friends, working from memory and just taking in the visual pleasure.. This might last the entire evening..

At some time, it feels like the right moment to start off on a search for something new. When I do this, I may have some region and objects already in mind but I may just decide, hey, Fornax looks interesting, I wonder what new objects I can find tonight. At that point, I walk away from my telescopes, position my chair to have an unobstructed view of the region and get my binoculars. I get my charts, Sky Safari Pro these days, it used to be Planetarium for the Palm, before that, I used paper charts. I sit there and just enjoy identifying the stars in the region, learning/relearning that part of the sky. At some point I scan the region with the binoculars, familiarizing myself at a deeper level. This might take 15 minutes and is most enjoyable, learning, connecting with the night skiy is enjoyable. Once I am familiar with the region, I spend a few minutes which the chart/program deciding on some interesting targets, move back to the telescope and start hunting. This past weekend, once I was started, I had great fun with the brighter (Mag 9-mag 12) Galaxies in Fornax...

- GOTO is the solution for many and Javier might enjoy stargazing more with a GOTO mount or at least DSCs. But as they say, "the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence." Using a GOTO mount can also be a frustrating, disappointing experience. Last month a friend called me long distance, his Nexstar 8SE mount was acting up and he was at his wits end trying to fix it. In the end, I was able to figure out that nothing was wrong with it, in his impatience, he had not correctly remembered the alignment procedure. And GOTO mounts break down ruining an evening or an entire trip. When I used to share a secret spot with three guys with a 12 inch LX-200 GPS, the mount failed a few times and they were dead in the water, a lost night, a lost weekend.

- Patience is probably the most important virtue required for this hobby... The night sky throws us so many curve balls that playing the night by ear, just patiently plodding ahead is the most satisfying path...

Jon


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TexasRed
scholastic sledgehammer


Reged: 05/17/11

Loc: East Texas
Re: When star hopping gets annoying... new [Re: Jon Isaacs]
      #5566986 - 12/12/12 05:12 AM

Am I the only one here who enjoys star hopping backwards? These days, I find myself reading about interesting targets, deciding to try observing them and using my GoTo to find them initially. Then I ask myself how I'd find them again in a scope without GoTo and shine my green laser pointer into the finder to see exactly where the GoTo has taken me. I check the charts and the view in my 9x50 RACI finder and binoculars and then plot a course back to the nearest bright star. Only then do I feel like I've really "found" the object, as well as seen it. The next time, I might star hop to it, just for the fun of it, or I might not, but at least I'll know where it is.

All that might seem like useless activity to someone who relies on GoTo, but after years of star hopping, I just don't feel like I've really observed an object until I feel like I could find it myself. I just enjoy using GoTo to skip over the frustrating "Where the heck is it? And how will I know for sure when I've found it?" phase.


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izar187
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 09/02/06

Loc: 43N
Re: When star hopping gets annoying... new [Re: TexasRed]
      #5567087 - 12/12/12 07:40 AM

In general the real secret to star hopping is detailed charting. Whether home printed, book bound or electronic.
Everything has coordinates. Which makes it pretty easy to be on target, if one has enough field stars to help identify the target area.
Seeing the target area may be significantly aided by a magnifying finder, rather than unit power finder.
Seeing the target itself is of course dependent on a whole bunch of other stuff.


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ThreeD
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 12/23/08

Loc: Sacramento suburbs
Re: When star hopping gets annoying... new [Re: Javier1978]
      #5567228 - 12/12/12 09:41 AM

I've never had a GOTO scope but my first scope was "push to" XT8i. I was great for the first 6 months as I saw enough eye candy from my light polluted backyard that I got hooked. I soon thereafter began star hopping and never looked back. I do however feel your frustration.

This last summer, after a long stretch of either being unable to observe at my darksight or being too busy helping others at said site to make a dent in my observing list, I found myself there without having made the proper preparations. I didn't even have a proper list -- just a few challenge objects which I had noted but not planned for. What a bust. I've never had problems star hopping in the past but I just wasn't getting anywhere that night.

Finally I sat down in frustration and, as someone ,mentioned previously, I looked up and just took in the wonder of it all with my naked eyes. After a while I was nice and relaxed and I decided to take in views of some old friends (aka bright eye candy). In the end I saw nothing new but it was a nice session -- not my typical session but still nice.

Maybe a GOTO would be right for you but I suspect that you just need either prepare a little better or have a contingency plan.


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Javier1978
scholastic sledgehammer


Reged: 02/12/09

Loc: Buenos Aires, Argentina
Re: When star hopping gets annoying... new [Re: Dennis_S253]
      #5567257 - 12/12/12 10:04 AM

Quote:

What is the real point of this thread? That you didn't do your homework, or you want a goto system? You know Messier and the other's of the day, they didn't have goto.




No point in this thread, just sharing an experience. I think this kind of feedback makes CN the most interesting forum to read.

Thanks to everyone for the comments. Donīt get my wrong, it was overall a wonderful night, I saw a bunch of old and wonderful objects wich I love to revisit and observe in detail for long time while trying to improve my observing skills.

I mentioned that I didnīt do my homework and thatīs true. I did print detailed charts from stellarium (my altas donīt have detailed asterisms), but I couldnīt do a pre-recognition of the zone at home, so I guess Iīm still not a good starhoper and I need some previous work with my scope.

I think Iīm a patient observer, but as Jon said, when you are out there in a dark sky after months, your expectations grow and grow. I think this is the key of dissapointing moment, the lack of oportunities to observe under realy dark skies.

However, at that moment I did what a lot of you said. Carina was raising and I canīt get tired of that nebula and that zone, so I spent the rest of the night with my old friends that I love.

I think the solution for me might be a push to device as mentioned. As for the sky safari, my cel phone is a dinosaur, but the intelligent scope would be nice, easy an effective when needed.

Edited by Javier1978 (12/12/12 10:44 AM)


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galexand
sage
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Reged: 07/10/12

Loc: Bloomington Indiana
Re: When star hopping gets annoying... new [Re: Javier1978]
      #5567271 - 12/12/12 10:13 AM

I'm also a big fan of star hopping. I use stellarium on my laptop (lots of LP so the laptop screen doesn't bother me), and between a couple different approaches I can locate pretty much anything pretty quickly (zenith still gives me fits though).

But I'm really starting to notice the limitations of sky glow, and I'm trying to take advantage of some of the darker sites around here. Suddenly I find myself in your boat. I don't want to bring (or look at) the laptop, but I do want to find some of the dimmer objects I can't see at all from the city. Plus my time at dark sites is super limited.

Oh and I *hate* planning.

I haven't got much experience with this yet, but I think the solution for me is binocs. I practice hops using the binocs, memorizing various "landmarks" to help me in the EP. From a dark site, even 10x50s will show you the Messier you forgot how to find. And sometimes I do it backwards, I get lost at the scope, so I hunt around for a nearby asterism, and then I look in the binocs for that same asterism to put it in context. Binocs have completely changed the way I star hop.


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csa/montana
Den Mama
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Reged: 05/14/05

Loc: montana
Re: When star hopping gets annoying... new [Re: Javier1978]
      #5567279 - 12/12/12 10:23 AM

Quote:

No point in this thread, just sharing an experience. I think this kind of feedback makes CN the most interesting forum to read.




I agree; those reading this thread could definitely understand your experience, and also both sides of the starhopping/go-to discussion.

I've enjoyed the thread!


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Tony Flanders
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Reged: 05/18/06

Loc: Cambridge, MA, USA
Re: When star hopping gets annoying... new [Re: Javier1978]
      #5567317 - 12/12/12 10:48 AM

Quote:

Last Saturday I went to my dark observing site ... but I got lost with my charts and that became very dissapointing ...




There are nights like that. Most of the time star-hopping just clicks for me, and I find all my targets in a matter of minutes. But every now and then I have nights where everything goes wrong.


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Jon Isaacs
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Reged: 06/16/04

Loc: San Diego and Boulevard, CA
Re: When star hopping gets annoying... new [Re: Tony Flanders]
      #5567346 - 12/12/12 11:08 AM

Quote:

Quote:

Last Saturday I went to my dark observing site ... but I got lost with my charts and that became very dissapointing ...




There are nights like that. Most of the time star-hopping just clicks for me, and I find all my targets in a matter of minutes. But every now and then I have nights where everything goes wrong.




Everything going wrong = Clouds

Otherwise, what more can one ask???

Jon


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mountain monk
Carpal Tunnel
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Reged: 11/06/09

Loc: Grand Teton National Park
Re: When star hopping gets annoying... new [Re: Jon Isaacs]
      #5567356 - 12/12/12 11:12 AM

+1

Jack


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la200o
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 09/09/08

Loc: SE Michigan, USA
Re: When star hopping gets annoying... new [Re: mountain monk]
      #5567482 - 12/12/12 12:27 PM

I do all three: GoTo, push to (Sky Commander), and star-hop. You often hear, "Using GoTo, I spend more time observing, and less time hunting." This is true, but I'd add, when I star-hop, I spend more time observing the object I've found, since I know if I move off it, I'm going to have to find it again. With GoTo, there's not that motivation to get all I can out of the target.

But all are good. As said above, it's a hobby--no way to do it wrong as long as it's fun.

Bill

Edited by la200o (12/12/12 12:28 PM)


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ensign
professor emeritus


Reged: 12/16/08

Loc: Southwestern Ontario
Re: When star hopping gets annoying... new [Re: Astrojensen]
      #5567557 - 12/12/12 01:08 PM

Quote:

This has become increasingly difficult for me, as the number of clear nights continue to decrease, seemingly. In winter, in can be weeks, even a whole month or longer, between deep-sky nights. The whole sky seems to have changed each time I go out. Constellations that were prominent in the west have now set completely. I find it extremely difficult to plan constellation-specific projects, as I never know when I am able to observe them next time. Now I have observed for so long that I am very familiar with the sky and I can easily spend several hours even without an atlas, finding objects from memory alone. Or I can just bring Uranometria and open a page on a constellation that is well placed and begin, starting with something big and obvious and then checking out the smaller objects nearby. Every so often, I stumble on something nice. Most of my evenings are like this and I am almost always taken by surprise when it suddenly clears for a few, precious hours, and find myself scrambling for maps and eyepieces.


Clear skies!
Thomas, Denmark




Thomas, I feel your pain.

I have decided that I'll take a break from "serious" stargazing (for me, at the moment, that's hunting down the Herschel 400) while there's snow on the ground. Here, in Southern Canada, that's generally mid-December till early March. Our winters are also very cloudy, so I plan to save myself a good deal of frustration by simply taking quick peeks with my grab and go setup during those rare moments when the sky clears up.

The winter constellations are still around in the early spring and I find it much more comfortable to observe in more moderate weather.


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killdabuddha
Pooh-Bah
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Reged: 08/26/11

Re: When star hopping gets annoying... new [Re: frito]
      #5567623 - 12/12/12 01:47 PM


After enuf go-to, don't you learn the sky well enuf to star hop afterward? Unless the LP is extreme, of course. We get sum visceral satisfaction from aiming with a laser and acquiring targets, but that requires knowin where they are. Seems that after long enuf the go-to obsolesces.


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spencerj
Pooh-Bah
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Reged: 11/17/04

Loc: Londonderry, NH
Re: When star hopping gets annoying... new [Re: ensign]
      #5567665 - 12/12/12 02:09 PM

Intersesting how times continue to change. There has always been the "star hop vs. goto" debate. That debate used to be centered around the technology-is-cheating argument.

Now we have "exclusive" star hoppers who rely on a laptop, a smart phone and 3 tablet computers to figure out where to point their scope.

I don't really know what this means. Guess there is no wrong way to skin a cat . . . as long as you end up with a skinless cat.


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Javier1978
scholastic sledgehammer


Reged: 02/12/09

Loc: Buenos Aires, Argentina
Re: When star hopping gets annoying... new [Re: spencerj]
      #5567709 - 12/12/12 02:24 PM

Quote:

Intersesting how times continue to change. There has always been the "star hop vs. goto" debate. That debate used to be centered around the technology-is-cheating argument.

Now we have "exclusive" star hoppers who rely on a laptop, a smart phone and 3 tablet computers to figure out where to point their scope.

I don't really know what this means. Guess there is no wrong way to skin a cat . . . as long as you end up with a skinless cat.




I have never been into the star hopping vs goto discussions. I have been in the star hopping "side" due to practical reasons and I really enjoy it. But I would not hesitate in complementing my observation tools as long as they donīt become unpractical or very expensive. So I guess I agree with your conclusion.

Edited by Javier1978 (12/12/12 02:26 PM)


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Dave74
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Reged: 10/23/12

Loc: Gelatinous, MA
Re: When star hopping gets annoying... new [Re: Javier1978]
      #5567823 - 12/12/12 03:18 PM

Goto is expensive. That's the main reason I don't have it. I don't like the idea of not being able to manually point the scope, either. But if it had been free, I'd probably have it.

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