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General Astronomy >> General Observing and Astronomy

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Tony Flanders
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Reged: 05/18/06

Loc: Cambridge, MA, USA
Re: Do you create an observing list before Observing? new [Re: aa6ww]
      #5653135 - 01/30/13 08:13 PM

I tend to find observing rather frustrating unless I have some clear objectives. Mind you, I don't always stick to those objectives. It would be counterproductive not to follow down a line of enquiry that springs up spontaneously. However, without some kind of list to fall back on, I tend to fall into observing ruts.

At the moment, that's less of an issue simply because I have so many other commitments that I don't get much time to observe. So repeating old observations feels more like reinforcement than routine. I still enjoy chasing down all the season's available Messier objects. Maybe once I can find them all by memory in every instrument I own I won't feel that way. But I'm still a ways off from that goal.

In the past, I have worked on observing lists such as the Herschel 400, which I found very rewarding. I still have a few such lists in the background, and of course there's always the NGC/IC -- a list that will keep anybody busy for a lifetime.

However, since I'm an editor at Sky & Telescope, I use it as my primary source of observing targets these days. I try to track down all the objects in the columns that I edit regularly (Deep-Sky Wonders and Going Deep). A few of those are simply beyond my particular combination of equipment, skill, and sky conditions; however, these articles are written by true masters (mistresses?), and the objects are incredibly imaginatively selected. Then there's the double stars and variable stars, and the events of the month. What with one thing and another, I never run out of things to see.

Tony Flanders
Associate Editor, Sky & Telescope


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CelestronDaddy
scholastic sledgehammer
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Reged: 08/22/09

Re: Do you create an observing list before Observing? new [Re: aa6ww]
      #5653149 - 01/30/13 08:24 PM

Ralph - I like to prepare beforehand what I plan to observe. I use AstroPlanner V2, various books / atlases and usually Sky&Telescope. I'll print out a list in the order of what I want to observe. I find this works best for me. 73's .... Tony

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ensign
scholastic sledgehammer


Reged: 12/16/08

Loc: Southwestern Ontario
Re: Do you create an observing list before Observing? new [Re: Tony Flanders]
      #5653154 - 01/30/13 08:30 PM

I like to make a list of interesting or challenging objects to observe in any given session, generally using the Night
Sky Observer's Guide and skyAtlas 2000.

This leads to a more enjoyable observing session.

But since this isn't a competitive sport, I don't always stick strictly to the list and like to observe "old friends" as well.


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Dennis_S253
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 11/22/11

Loc: West Central Florida
Re: Do you create an observing list before Observing? new [Re: ensign]
      #5653217 - 01/30/13 09:08 PM

Right now I'm working on the Messier's and Globulars and I definitely use a list and charts. This is the first year that I'm actually keeping a viewing log also.

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JayinUT
I'm not Sleepy
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Reged: 09/19/08

Loc: Utah
Re: Do you create an observing list before Observing? new [Re: ensign]
      #5653320 - 01/30/13 10:09 PM

Let's see. I do work a list, and I work that list by constellation by season. So, yes, I work a list. Right now it is the Herschel 400 II and then I add some of the hard to find objects that are in that constellation or objects that appeal to me personally. I like to know what I am observing and then to learn in detail afterwards. Some times though, to take a break, I'll pop after the eye candy in the area my memory just to ensure I can still find and remember the eye candy items. Each to their own devices or lists on this.

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fvandrog
member


Reged: 09/07/12

Re: Do you create an observing list before Observing? new [Re: Jon Isaacs]
      #5653601 - 01/31/13 04:38 AM

Quote:


I often have a few new objects to check out but I never write anything down. My favorite objects are those that I have serendipitously "discovered" in my wanderings about the night sky.





That's the way I tend to do it as well. While looking for one of the couple of objects I have in mind coming over something 'curious' and then figuring out what it is.


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CounterWeight
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Reged: 10/05/08

Loc: Palo alto, CA.
Re: Do you create an observing list before Observing? new [Re: fvandrog]
      #5653845 - 01/31/13 08:54 AM

Lists and logs... love 'em. Not that I always follow the list - it's more a suggestion, seeing (and temps/comfort)can have a huge say in what actually works for the night, how long I stay on a particular object.

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REC
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Reged: 10/20/10

Loc: NC
Re: Do you create an observing list before Observing? new [Re: mountain monk]
      #5653894 - 01/31/13 09:25 AM

I have "tonight's best" tours in my scope and then go to search stuff in a constellation. I do take notes as to what others are viewing in CN and keep a running list of interesting objects that I want to follow up with. That's the beauty of this forum:)

Bob


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Tom Clark
professor emeritus
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Reged: 11/14/07

Loc: North of Deming, NM
Re: Do you create an observing list before Observing? new [Re: aa6ww]
      #5659649 - 02/03/13 10:07 AM

No lists, no logs! Some of my friends may consider me to be the worst astronomer they know. Ok by me. After 30 years of observing I have yet to log the Messiers, let alone the Hershels, or any other observing list. Why? Just read many of the posts above.

"I am WORKING on this list or that list." Sorry, for way to many years I worked in a stressful career. After work, I just want to relax, and astronomy is one way to do that. A night under the stars can be a beautiful, relaxing experience, or you can turn it into another job. I prefer to enjoy myself as a beach bum does on the beach, except I prefer to be a star bum…

When away from home, attending star parties with our travel scopes, or doing sidewalk astronomy under the wonderful skies of many of our national parks, we enjoy showing strangers what the night sky looks like in large amateur telescopes. Sure, we occasionally get out the star charts and look up some new things to observe when we have some time to kill, but most of the time we do not plan ahead. When going to a strange sky, we first learn where the best part of the sky is, and stay in that area. No use spending time in the light polluted part…

At star parties we enjoy spending time with our scopes, but also enjoy walking around the observing fields, meeting other astronomers and sharing views with them. To me, it seems sad to see someone spending all their time 'working' on their observing list or programs. Each to their own.

At home in our observatory, Jeannie and I occasionally spend a night alone, exploring new places, but far more often we enjoy having friends over and sharing the universe with our big scope. Most astronomers never get a chance to objects in large telescopes, and we find it far more fun than looking at tiny dim smudges just so we can cross it off a list. Just not our thing.

Oh well! Each to their own. Enjoy the sky your way - just make sure you are relaxing and having a good time, not working your tail off. We have met way to many frustrated astronomers who are busy working…


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FirstSight
Duke of Deneb
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Reged: 12/26/05

Loc: Raleigh, NC
Re: Do you create an observing list before Observing? new [Re: Tom Clark]
      #5659686 - 02/03/13 10:32 AM

Quote:

"I am WORKING on this list or that list." Sorry, for way to many years I worked in a stressful career. After work, I just want to relax, and astronomy is one way to do that. A night under the stars can be a beautiful, relaxing experience, or you can turn it into another job. I prefer to enjoy myself as a beach bum does on the beach, except I prefer to be a star bum…




One of the stragest often-heard terms in amateur astronomy is "planetary work", e.g. someone will say "when I'm doing planetary work...". Whenever I hear another amateur stay that, I have to stifle the urge to make a snide reply: "You getting paid a dollar a minute for that?"


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FirstSight
Duke of Deneb
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Reged: 12/26/05

Loc: Raleigh, NC
Re: Do you create an observing list before Observing? new [Re: FirstSight]
      #5659701 - 02/03/13 10:42 AM

I'll often go out with a list in mind, sometimes even a thoughtfully prepared list compiled by scanning e.g. "Night Sky Observer's Guide", "Deep Sky Wonders" etc. for well-placed areas of the sky. However, like many of you, I'll often wander off-reservation long before I get halfway through my list, and start hunting and pecking for whatever's in the nearby region of where I'm already at, peeking at "Pocket Sky Atlas", and if I'm observing at home by myself, sometimes compromising night vision in one eye for the benefit of enough light I can actually see the chart well with. Or, I might get distracted by realizing some "shiny object" I hadn't thought of is well-placed, and go way over there from wherever I had just been. Now...um...where was I again? Dunno, well ok, let's lookee here at what might be nearby...

Anyhow, though I've sometimes gone out with earnest, disciplined intentions, I have never, ever actually finished a pre-compiled observing list, and not just because some of the objects turn out to not be visible under the given night's sky conditions. Call it astro-ADD, or whatever, but I'm easily distracted into looking at whatever strikes me at the moment might be an interesting idea.


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JimMo
I'd Rather Do It Myself


Reged: 01/08/07

Loc: Under the SE Michigan lightdom...
Re: Do you create an observing list before Observing? new [Re: FirstSight]
      #5659967 - 02/03/13 01:09 PM

I feel the same way as Tom and Chris when I get a rare chance to go out to a dark site. Astronomy is an avocation, not an occupation.

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Madratter
Postmaster


Reged: 01/14/13

Re: Do you create an observing list before Observing? new [Re: FirstSight]
      #5660030 - 02/03/13 01:50 PM

Quote:


One of the stragest often-heard terms in amateur astronomy is "planetary work", e.g. someone will say "when I'm doing planetary work...". Whenever I hear another amateur stay that, I have to stifle the urge to make a snide reply: "You getting paid a dollar a minute for that?"




I guess you don't work on the house either. Work does not necessarily imply paid. Check the dictionary.

For example at http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/work


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FirstSight
Duke of Deneb
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Reged: 12/26/05

Loc: Raleigh, NC
Re: Do you create an observing list before Observing? new [Re: Madratter]
      #5660044 - 02/03/13 01:59 PM

Quote:

Quote:


One of the stragest often-heard terms in amateur astronomy is "planetary work", e.g. someone will say "when I'm doing planetary work...". Whenever I hear another amateur stay that, I have to stifle the urge to make a snide reply: "You getting paid a dollar a minute for that?"




I guess you don't work on the house either. Work does not necessarily imply paid. Check the dictionary.

For example at http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/work




I don't do recreational work on the house. And amateur astronomers aren't doing any "maintenance" work on planets.

Nevertheless, I'm merely commenting on a curious bit of wording here. Amateur golfers "working" at their swing is a similar curious construction.


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Tony Flanders
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Reged: 05/18/06

Loc: Cambridge, MA, USA
Re: Do you create an observing list before Observing? new [Re: FirstSight]
      #5660339 - 02/03/13 04:54 PM

Quote:

One of the stragest often-heard terms in amateur astronomy is "planetary work", e.g. someone will say "when I'm doing planetary work...". Whenever I hear another amateur stay that, I have to stifle the urge to make a snide reply: "You getting paid a dollar a minute for that?"




One of the most unfortunate things about our culture is that the word "work" has negative connotations. In fact, nothing is more pleasurable or gratifying than working in a way that you enjoy toward a goal that you value.

You're welcome to substitute the word "play" for "work," if you prefer. To my mind, they're virtually synonymous, especially at the highest levels.

Consider gardening. It's recreational by definition; when it's done for money it's called agriculture. And if gardening isn't work, I'd like to know what is!


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Dennis_S253
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 11/22/11

Loc: West Central Florida
Re: Do you create an observing list before Observing? [Re: Tony Flanders]
      #5660670 - 02/03/13 08:23 PM

So yes, I said I was working on the Messier's and Globulars. Maybe I should have said "something else". No I don't concider it work and I'm not in a hurry to get it done. It's something I wanted to do in 2013. I think I can set a goal for myself and still have fun doing it. I don't think whatever word was used, someone will have a negitive comment.
Tony, that gardening comment was very good. Yes it's hard work, but the reward of fresh vegetables. yum yum...Eating a fresh vine ripe tomato. There's nothing like it.


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Undermidnight
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Reged: 05/25/04

Loc: Untermitternacht
Re: Do you create an observing list before Observing? new [Re: Dennis_S253]
      #5663070 - 02/05/13 08:42 AM

Usually for me, I tend to pick a page in my pocket sky atlas and work down the page. Other times I just visit my favorite objects.

Jason


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csa/montana
Den Mama
*****

Reged: 05/14/05

Loc: montana
Re: Do you create an observing list before Observing? new [Re: FirstSight]
      #5663385 - 02/05/13 11:16 AM

Quote:

Quote:

"I am WORKING on this list or that list." Sorry, for way to many years I worked in a stressful career. After work, I just want to relax, and astronomy is one way to do that. A night under the stars can be a beautiful, relaxing experience, or you can turn it into another job. I prefer to enjoy myself as a beach bum does on the beach, except I prefer to be a star bum…




One of the stragest often-heard terms in amateur astronomy is "planetary work", e.g. someone will say "when I'm doing planetary work...". Whenever I hear another amateur stay that, I have to stifle the urge to make a snide reply: "You getting paid a dollar a minute for that?"




I think we all use terms that may not be precise, according to the official meaning. Also, all of us do a lot of "work" in our everyday lives; some includes a paycheck; some necessary evils (cleaning, yard chores, etc.); and many are simply pleasure. We tag the pleasure ( inc. astronomy) as "work", when compared to sleeping on the couch. I'm very tolerant of phrases or words others use; as I hope they are also tolerant of my mis-used words or terms.


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payner
scholastic sledgehammer
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Reged: 03/22/07

Loc: Bluegrass Region, Kentucky
Re: Do you create an observing list before Observing? new [Re: csa/montana]
      #5665233 - 02/06/13 01:13 PM

Well put Carol. Many (most) of us live in a crucible of activity in order to earn a living. At that time every i is dotted and t crossed. It is nice to come in here to Cloudy Nights and take the shoes off!

Best,
Randy


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MessierScott
sage


Reged: 06/18/07

Re: Do you create an observing list before Observing? new [Re: aa6ww]
      #5667182 - 02/07/13 02:22 PM

I always have an observing list. I'd hate to go out and have a perfect conditions night and by midnight be saying "What's next?"

I am usually working on a few Astronomical League programs or other personal projects.

And I make it a goal that every time I am out, I see at least 1 new object every night.


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