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Observing >> Deep Sky Observing

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ZRX-Steve
sage


Reged: 03/31/08

Loc: Phoenix, Arizona
Re: Mallincam Xtreme vs large dobs new [Re: nytecam]
      #5585359 - 12/23/12 10:45 AM

I have a ten year old daughter, and my passion is astronomy outreach. With the exception of planets, it's hard to get viewers excited about faaaaint, grey fuzziness. Mallincam fits that spot so well. The wow factor for outreach is fantastic. Plus, if you are having problems with an image, bump up the integration, bump up the sensitivity and voila! Good image.

No averted vision or averted imagination necessary!


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jgraham
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Reged: 12/02/04

Loc: Miami Valley Astronomical Soci...
Re: Mallincam Xtreme vs large dobs new [Re: ZRX-Steve]
      #5585410 - 12/23/12 11:20 AM

The weather here as iffy last night with a bright moon and haze. I got out my wide field imaging gear and spent the evening observing faint emission nebula with my monochrome CCD operating in live mode with an H-alpha filter. We get so few clear nights here that it's nice to have options to get the most out of each one. At the moment there are no more clear nights in the forecast. I'm glad I was able to spend a pleasant evening in the comfort of my house observing with my gear sat outside collecting a heavy coating of frost.

Now, if we get one of those cold, clear, moonless nights I'm bundling up and getting my LightBridge 16 out, but it is nice to have options.

Have fun!


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David Knisely
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Reged: 04/19/04

Loc: southeastern Nebraska
Re: Mallincam Xtreme vs large dobs new [Re: Dwight J]
      #5585628 - 12/23/12 01:30 PM

Dwight J wrote:

Quote:

Well David, you aren't "seeing" that image of M81 either. CCD imaging requires hours of processing and a large investment in equipment. That SBIG camera costs ten grand, the mount twelve grand, etc. Not really a form of electronically assisted observing.




I never said that I was "seeing" M81 with Rick's image. However, the quality of Rick's images (and the fact that he has targeted a few objects for me in specific requests) kind of makes me a little less enthusiastic about what I might be able to achieve. However, a lot of Rick's results are more about his abilities rather than some costly camera, as he rarely uses the full resolution of it (bins a lot). There is absolutely nothing wrong with using something like a Mallincam to enhance the experience of amateur astronomy, but in the end, it is imaging. Clear skies to you.


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skyguy88
sage


Reged: 11/13/06

Loc: Prescott, AZ
Re: Mallincam Xtreme vs large dobs new [Re: ZRX-Steve]
      #5585631 - 12/23/12 01:32 PM

Quote:

I have a ten year old daughter, and my passion is astronomy outreach. With the exception of planets, it's hard to get viewers excited about faaaaint, grey fuzziness. Mallincam fits that spot so well. The wow factor for outreach is fantastic. Plus, if you are having problems with an image, bump up the integration, bump up the sensitivity and voila! Good image.

No averted vision or averted imagination necessary!




I agree completely and would add that beyond the wow factor you can explore an object and its significance in much greater depth because you are not busy coaching each individual and defending your scope. That yields deeper engagement with visitors and a richer experience..and it's more fun for the presenter.

Another important benefit is that visitors all see your targets in focus, which, I suspect, is often not the case with ep outreach.

Bill


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Astrojensen
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Reged: 10/05/08

Loc: Bornholm, Denmark
Re: Mallincam Xtreme vs large dobs new [Re: skyguy88]
      #5585680 - 12/23/12 02:03 PM

Especially younger people in the audience seem to like the electronic approach to observing. That said, I also think it is important to show them the sky the old fashioned way, ideally with a low-cost telescope, so that they don't get the impression that astronomy is a ridiculously expensive hobby. It can be, but it doesn't need to be. Many people are also totally unaware that you can see a lot with a small telescope.

In the end, I think anyone who does outreach should do it in a way that he or she is familiar with, be it imaging or visual. That way you are most familiar with the subject and can give the best presentation.


Clear skies!
Thomas, Denmark


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Astrojensen
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Reged: 10/05/08

Loc: Bornholm, Denmark
Re: Mallincam Xtreme vs large dobs new [Re: Astrojensen]
      #5585685 - 12/23/12 02:06 PM

BTW, I feel a little guilty for starting a huge discussion. All I wanted to say with my first post was that imaging and visual observing are so different that they are hard to compare, nothing more. But perhaps it had turned out like it has anyway, even if I hadn't written it.

But lots of good posts here.


Clear skies!
Thomas, Denmark


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IVM
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 01/07/08

Loc: Western New York
Re: Mallincam Xtreme vs large dobs new [Re: Astrojensen]
      #5585839 - 12/23/12 03:49 PM

Reading some of the above (and it is a thought-provoking reading) I am beginning to think that those of us who are visual observers dabbling in or switching to video (that would include myself a couple years back) are doing outreach to ourselves, so to speak, having tired of our objects' faintness and difficulty of observing!

But the extreme faintness is an important aspect that makes our objects look "out of this world". (Remember that a nebulous object's surface brightness is the same when observed from any distance. This is demonstrated by the Andromeda Galaxy and by our own Milky Way galaxy - the Great Nebula in Andromeda is equal in surface brightness to the neighboring Milky Way in the sky. And both are gone in polluted skies.) So faintness is a cosmic attribute, and learning to see faint objects and faint detail is learning to see the cosmos like it is. This is what I like in visual observing, and this is what observing with a camera removes from the experience. (We could dim the monitor to 10% at any time of course, but that would be crazy.)

That said, all this talk nonetheless just reminds me that photography as a process is extremely enjoyable and rewarding, and that the modern technology allows it to be near-real-time for that extra enjoyment factor even in the case of astrophotography, and that maybe I should drag out my little CCD or my cooled Stellacam III soon again.


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starrancher
Carpal Tunnel
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Reged: 06/09/09

Loc: Northern Arizona
Re: Mallincam Xtreme vs large dobs new [Re: Astrojensen]
      #5585919 - 12/23/12 04:45 PM

All in all , good discussion with things learned and maybe broadened even my sometimes narrow way of thinking a bit .
Maybe .
Me be severely old fashioned .
Although I do like my go to mounts .


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azure1961p
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Reged: 01/17/09

Loc: USA
Re: Mallincam Xtreme vs large dobs new [Re: Ira]
      #5586319 - 12/23/12 09:47 PM

Ira,

Visual observers of deepsky prize the natural skotopic vision views. I'm with you on the Mallin
- I don't love it but Im getting your drift in attenuation control and all but it's still not the same thing as visual -eyepiece only. It's simply different vision altogether and it removes the first person experience. I think they are both cool frankly but challenging people who haven't observed thru a vid cam in real time as being uncredible is missing the point of why they prefer no electronic middleman serving it artificially. It simply lacks the presence of the strict visual experience where an ocular is the only thing separating them.

Pete

Edited by azure1961p (12/23/12 09:48 PM)


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azure1961p
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Reged: 01/17/09

Loc: USA
Re: Mallincam Xtreme vs large dobs new [Re: ZRX-Steve]
      #5586366 - 12/23/12 10:19 PM

Quote:



No averted vision or averted imagination necessary!




Great for getting a child interested and a dandy way too but to avoid averted vision observing is extinguishing part of the magic in visual pursuit. You can have both.



Pete


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Ira
Carpal Tunnel
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Reged: 08/22/10

Loc: Mitzpe Ramon, Israel
Re: Mallincam Xtreme vs large dobs new [Re: azure1961p]
      #5586721 - 12/24/12 07:25 AM Attachment (24 downloads)

Quote:

Ira,

Visual observers of deepsky prize the natural skotopic vision views. I'm with you on the Mallin
- I don't love it but Im getting your drift in attenuation control and all but it's still not the same thing as visual -eyepiece only. It's simply different vision altogether and it removes the first person experience. I think they are both cool frankly but challenging people who haven't observed thru a vid cam in real time as being uncredible is missing the point of why they prefer no electronic middleman serving it artificially. It simply lacks the presence of the strict visual experience where an ocular is the only thing separating them.

Pete




Pete,
I think if I doubted anyone's credibility it was just having to with whether or not they had direct experience doing video astronomy. I, too, used to feel the exact same way about video astronomy. "Why the heck would anyone want to do it? Isn't it just like sitting in front of your computer looking at someone elses's images? It's not observing; it's imaging, etc. etc." If it weren't for the fact that I do star tours and outreach professionally I would never have considered video astronomy. But there is just so much through the eyepiece observing you can do in an hour with a group of 50+ people. So, I went the Mallincam route.

I never expected to be so entranced with it myself. That's why I believe very strongly that if you haven't done it, and just imagine what it's like, you may be (but not necessarily ) very mistaken.

Below is a photo of my current set-up for personal observing, outreach and star tours. It's an iOptron alt-az MiniTower Pro mount with a C8 mounted on the right and a WO 80mm fluorite refractor on the left. My Mallincam is shown at the prime focus of the C8, small video monitor on the tray below the scopes.

I set up and tear down every night in the desert, so I was afraid such a setup would be time prohibitive. But after much trial and error I have figured out how to set everything up in about 30 minutes. The Mallincam takes only about 5-10 minutes to set up.

Last night was the first night I used it with the public. I offered everyone the opportunity to view both through the refractor and, of course, with video. Without exception, after a quick view through the scope everyone sat back down to watch the video screen. No one complained that they could have stayed in their hotel and look at astronomy pictures online.

After everyone left, I came back to enjoy M42 myself. Gosh, how many times have I seen this in 50 years? But, there I sat in the cold desert, entranced, watching this old friend for over 30 minutes as I had never seen it before.

Give video OBSERVING a try. You may never go back.

/Ira


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jgraham
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Reged: 12/02/04

Loc: Miami Valley Astronomical Soci...
Re: Mallincam Xtreme vs large dobs new [Re: Ira]
      #5586993 - 12/24/12 10:59 AM

"You may never go back."

I'm always puzzled why different observing styles are cast as this way or that as though they are mutually exclusive? Weird, and kinda sad.

At one time I had a setup similar to this, only the other way around. I found that the field of view of an e-finder made from a 35mm f/4 achromat fitted with a Type 1/3 CCD was similar to the 6" f/5 Newtonian that it rode on. It was neat to use the live image to see what there was to see in the field and then look for it through the eyepiece. My most common setup is now a camera on an SN6 and binoviewers on a 16" LightBridge.

Enjoy.


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ErixAdministrator
Toad Lily
*****

Reged: 12/25/04

Loc: Texas, USA
Re: Mallincam Xtreme vs large dobs new [Re: jgraham]
      #5587066 - 12/24/12 11:40 AM

I've really enjoyed watching the crowds around the live video feed at our club outreach star parties. It's a great addition to the various telescopes available for people to view with.

The Mallincam has also made viewing possible for an astronomy friend of mine whose health makes it nearly impossible for her to have long sessions directly at the eyepiece. It's great that there are so many options available to enjoy the hobby.


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ensign
scholastic sledgehammer


Reged: 12/16/08

Loc: Southwestern Ontario
Re: Mallincam Xtreme vs large dobs new [Re: Erix]
      #5587103 - 12/24/12 11:56 AM

Quote:

. . . The same is true for video observing and visual observing. Both are very enjoyable activities. But they are not equivalent. The experience of looking into an eyepiece at the image formed by the telescope is different from that of looking at a video display of the telescope image. Please, understand, I am neither saying nor suggesting that one is objectively better or worse than the other. Each activity offers the potential of delivering great joy to the participant.




I think this sentiment hits the nail on the head. It certainly resonates with my experience. I've had a Mallincam for quite some time now and I've derived a good deal of enjoyment from it. Over the past season, I've spent most of my time observing with my new Edge HD strictly through eyepieces. I've enjoyed this as well. Pure visual and video observing are different in many ways. But they're both good. What a wonderful time to be into this hobby!


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jgraham
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Re: Mallincam Xtreme vs large dobs new [Re: ensign]
      #5587147 - 12/24/12 12:26 PM

I've been giving some thoughts to the original question of comparing big Dobs with video and this is what I came up with...

First of all, I was sold on camera-assisted the very moment I started using my original CCD camera. My very first target was M1 with a cobbled-together Orion StarBlast on a DS-2000 mount and a Meade DSI. I was utterly shocked how I could easily see the nebula with this simple setup using 15 second exposures when it was practically invisible from my back yard with my homebuilt 16.5" f/6.5 Newtonian. I've long since adopted my cameras as an observing aid and they never fail to amaze me with what they can show with the most modest equipment, even my little ETX-60. As a bonus, when using my cameras to observe I operate my telescopes from inside my house where it's warm and dry in the winter and cool and comfy in the summer.

Camera-assisted observing allows me to see fainter and in much greater detail than I could ever see visually, plus I can easily grab a photographic record of my observations. I find it so enjoyable to go on what I call an NGC-hop around a section of sky, stopping to look at every deep sky object shown on whatever star atlas I'm using.

Throughout all this I never lost my visual observing roots. I pretty much keep my imaging gear setup separately from my visual gear and when the weather is nice I'll set up both. I'll never forget one night that I did this after a long spell of imaging-only and I went to look at some of the objects that I had been observing with my cameras. I was struck by how different they looked visually, to the point that they bore almost no resemblance to their camera counterparts. However, one valuable thing that the images did for me is that they showed exactly where there was detail to be seen that I had previously missed simply because I didn't know to look for it in the first place, thus began a long period of synergism between my visual and camera observing.

About a year ago I decided to make a dedicated effort to pull out all of the stops to spiff up my visual kit within my budget. I realized that my eyes are probably on the verge of declining as I get older and I wanted to do everything I could to see things for myself while I still could. I refurbished my 16.5" and bought a 16" LightBridge (I love my biggo 16.5", but it's a very basic homebuilt scope). I've got a comfy spot in my back yard and a nice basic set of eyepieces and a binoviewer (best money I ever spent).

Here's what I've observed...

Camera assisted observing is great! I can see deeper, darker, and in greater comfort than I ever dreamed. I can easily reach magnitude 18 from from red-zone back yard without breaking a sweat. For pure observing I much prefer a monochrome camera for it's high sensitivity, low noise, and high contrasty.

However...

Observing through my big Dobs I found that the background sky is a deep velvety expanse and not a blotchy blue. Deep sky objects are soft and subtle and not grainy, bright, brash, contrasty, and full of blotchy colors.

Each method has it's own merits and weaknesses, and I've found that the two compliment each other nicely.

I absolutely agree with what was said above, this is a wonderful time to be an amateur astronomer.


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BillFerris
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Reged: 07/17/04

Loc: Flagstaff, Arizona, USA
Re: Mallincam Xtreme vs large dobs new [Re: Ira]
      #5587247 - 12/24/12 01:33 PM

Quote:

Give video OBSERVING a try. You may never go back.

/Ira




The same can be said of CCD imaging, DSLR astrophotography, lunar/planetary observing, comet hunting and a host of activities within the hobby. It is because this hobby offers such a broad variety of activities that CloudyNights offers amateur astronomers a wide selection of forums. Whether a newcomer to the hobby, an experienced observer, an atm'er or a talented imager, CloudyNights has a forum for you and your interest.

Video and Electronically Assisted Astronomy was created to give video astronomy enthusiasts a forum to share their observations, discuss equipment and techniques. For those who prefer video astronomy to visual observing, V&EAA is the perfect venue to celebrate the joys of that activity.

However, to come into this or another visual observing forum and actively encourage folks to try video astronomy with the enticement that they may never go back, is disrespectful both to folks who enjoy visual observing and those who enjoy video astronomy. While both activities can be greatly rewarding, there are quite different. One, is imaging. The other is visual observing. If you want to recruit people to the activity you enjoy, I suggest you do so in the appropriate forum.

Bill in Flag


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Ira
Carpal Tunnel
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Reged: 08/22/10

Loc: Mitzpe Ramon, Israel
Re: Mallincam Xtreme vs large dobs new [Re: BillFerris]
      #5587310 - 12/24/12 02:21 PM

Obviously, no disrespect meant. Just another one of my many enthusiasms. So sorry if I offended you. So, try video astronomy. It's just so complimentary to visual astronomy.

/Ira


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Ira
Carpal Tunnel
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Reged: 08/22/10

Loc: Mitzpe Ramon, Israel
Re: Mallincam Xtreme vs large dobs new [Re: jgraham]
      #5587314 - 12/24/12 02:25 PM

Quote:

"You may never go back."

I'm always puzzled why different observing styles are cast as this way or that as though they are mutually exclusive? Weird, and kinda sad.

At one time I had a setup similar to this, only the other way around. I found that the field of view of an e-finder made from a 35mm f/4 achromat fitted with a Type 1/3 CCD was similar to the 6" f/5 Newtonian that it rode on. It was neat to use the live image to see what there was to see in the field and then look for it through the eyepiece. My most common setup is now a camera on an SN6 and binoviewers on a 16" LightBridge.

Enjoy.




And I am always puzzled why some people take an expression and warp it into it's most negative possible form. It's a figure of speech, for Pete's sake.


/Ira


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Lorence
scholastic sledgehammer


Reged: 09/15/08

Re: Mallincam Xtreme vs large dobs new [Re: BillFerris]
      #5587385 - 12/24/12 03:17 PM

Quote:

It is because this hobby offers such a broad variety of activities that CloudyNights offers amateur astronomers a wide selection of forums. Whether a newcomer to the hobby, an experienced observer, an atm'er or a talented imager, CloudyNights has a forum for you and your interest.

Video and Electronically Assisted Astronomy was created to give video astronomy enthusiasts a forum to share their observations, discuss equipment and techniques. For those who prefer video astronomy to visual observing, V&EAA is the perfect venue to celebrate the joys of that activity.

However, to come into this or another visual observing forum and actively encourage folks to try video astronomy with the enticement that they may never go back, is disrespectful both to folks who enjoy visual observing and those who enjoy video astronomy. While both activities can be greatly rewarding, there are quite different. One, is imaging. The other is visual observing. If you want to recruit people to the activity you enjoy, I suggest you do so in the appropriate forum.

Bill in Flag




The title of this group is Deep Sky Observing. Care to point out why looking at video image is not considered observing.

When you get right down to it the only real observing is naked eye. Anything else requires some sort of technology. Is there some unwritten law that the technology has to be over a hundred years old before it is acceptable in this group? Should one be excluded from this group because he uses a GoTo telescope? Some say you're not really an observer if you can't find the objects yourself.


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Ira
Carpal Tunnel
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Reged: 08/22/10

Loc: Mitzpe Ramon, Israel
Re: Mallincam Xtreme vs large dobs new [Re: Lorence]
      #5587556 - 12/24/12 05:32 PM

And with this I shall exit this post. I have no desire to provoke a fight. Thank you to those who answered my original question. The information was quite useful to me. And thank you to those who expanded the topic in useful ways.

To all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

/Ira
"Yes, Virginia, there is a sanity clause. "


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