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General Astronomy >> General Observing and Astronomy

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jerwin
scholastic sledgehammer
*****

Reged: 05/17/12

Loc: Romeoville IL
What has been your astronomy evolution?
      #5684321 - 02/16/13 09:50 PM

What has been your astronomy evolution. I feel like for me I started out small and cheap (because I didn’t know any better, and didn’t realized how much I’d enjoy it) Then I moved up in aperture and filled in some gaps in the 1.25 eyepiece collection.

Then I took a big jump in aperture, going from a 5 to 11. I later moved from (cheap) 1.25 to (cheap) 2” eyepieces. Finally decided quality eyepieces with a larger FOV were better than cheap eyepieces. I got a solar scope for daytime viewing (though work interferes with that more than I’d like). I then started traveling to darker skies whenever I have the chance (though work often interferes with this more than I’d like too ). Traveling “forced” me to buy some nicer cases for transportation. I picked up some canon IS binoculars to keep in my truck for those nights I’m away from my equipment but the sky cries out to be explored. Now I decided to pick up a 6” refractor for contrast. Though I haven’t got it yet.

I feel like my bank account is begging for a break so I’m hoping to grant it its wish for a while, but it’s still got me wondering what’s next. If binoviewers are the next natural progression or if premium mirrors, and/or 16-18” dobs are next. If I’m going to progress from 82 degree to 100 degree or 120 degree. Maybe the doublet refractor will make me want a triplet? My Lunt LS60 already has me wanting a LS80. Maybe a dome in the back yard on this list, or packing up and moving to darker skies.

Just wondering what others progressions have been. I can’t be alone here, right?


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herrointment
Post Laureate
*****

Reged: 03/12/11

Loc: North of Hwy. 64
Re: What has been your astronomy evolution? new [Re: jerwin]
      #5684380 - 02/16/13 10:50 PM

In three years I've progressed from no eyepieces to I can barely lift the case, and from no scopes to 2 cats two refractors and two newts.

I'm thinking about storage solutions presently.


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jerwin
scholastic sledgehammer
*****

Reged: 05/17/12

Loc: Romeoville IL
Re: What has been your astronomy evolution? new [Re: herrointment]
      #5684409 - 02/16/13 11:09 PM

This is the only hobby that has me hanging onto every box, I about need a shed just fo those.

Jim


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Tony Flanders
Postmaster
*****

Reged: 05/18/06

Loc: Cambridge, MA, USA
Re: What has been your astronomy evolution? new [Re: jerwin]
      #5684747 - 02/17/13 08:28 AM

I haven't spent much money on equipment in the last 5 years. My only big purchase was a parallelogram mount for binoculars.

With my 12.5-inch Dob, I have maxed out in terms of the aperture that's practical for my current lifestyle. That might change some day. But meanwhile I have lots more to do with that 12.5-incher.

Ultrawidefield eyepieces and binoviewers leave me cold. I look through the ones that other people own, appreciate the views, say "Oh yes, that's nice," and then go back quite happily to the eyepieces that I already own.

There is only one serious hole in my eyepiece collection: a wide-field that maximizes the FOV for my 1.25-inch scopes. I'll probably buy one of those sometime in the next decade ...

I also really need a 1.25-inch O III filter to replace the one I lost. Meanwhile, I make do with my 1.25-inch UHC and my 2-inch O III. Again, I suspect I'll plug that gap within the next decade.

I would love to own the Canon IS 15x50 binocular, but the current price is almost exactly twice what I'm willing to pay. And I would love to own a high-quality big binocular (70 or 80 mm). But all the available units either have inadequate eye relief or their minimum interocular distance is too wide for me, or both.

I would also love to get into serious astrophotography. But I simply don't have the time given my current lifestyle.

Time, not equipment, is the factor that limits me.


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star drop
contra contrail
*****

Reged: 02/02/08

Loc: Snow Plop, WNY
Re: What has been your astronomy evolution? new [Re: Tony Flanders]
      #5684760 - 02/17/13 08:42 AM

I started with 10x50 binoculars and then moved to reflectors of 3", 4.24", 13.1", and 25". Now I am busy watching clouds, and shoveling their droppings, for months on end. Four to six eyepieces has been my spread for over thirty five years.

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MikeBOKC
Post Laureate
*****

Reged: 05/10/10

Loc: Oklahoma City, OK
Re: What has been your astronomy evolution? new [Re: star drop]
      #5684867 - 02/17/13 10:03 AM

Well my astronomy evolution has often followed the technological advances in the hobby. From star hopping to go to, from plossls to Ethos, from mono to bino. I believe in taking advatange of advances in every aspect of life, as long as it is useful. Probably the biggest advance was the availability of reasonably priced instruments for solar viewing which was pretty much restricted to the academic professionals 30 years ago. That said, I am not hasty in being a first adopter. I read reviews and comments on CN before I invest in new gizmos, and I make sure they are compatible with my needs. I am grateful for all the advances in this hobby that have vastly expanded possibilities for astonomers.

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leviathan
sage


Reged: 11/29/11

Loc: Azerbaijan
Re: What has been your astronomy evolution? new [Re: MikeBOKC]
      #5685114 - 02/17/13 12:20 PM

I started with 50mm monocular when I was a kid. During university years I moved to another city and was too busy with education and work. About 4 years ago I bought myself first telescope - 114mm newtonian. After 2 years I sold it and bought used 8" SCT and new GEM for it. Then after I got more and more experienced I bought few nice EPs, UHC filter and other accessories. Now I'm thinking of keeping current setup for quick and mobile observations and possibly for astrophoto, and getting another 14-16" Dob for dark skies outside of city.

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csa/montana
Den Mama
*****

Reged: 05/14/05

Loc: montana
Re: What has been your astronomy evolution? new [Re: jerwin]
      #5685140 - 02/17/13 12:39 PM

My astronomy evolution has been very slight. I started with an 8" dob, and now have my 16" dob; housed in a beautiful ROR dobservatory. I was gifted by a fellow CN'r, a Vixen 80mm refractor for my grab n go. I have this scope setup for solar viewing also.

I've slowly gotten my eyepiece lineup to where I'm very happy with them, only looking at perhaps replacing one in the future.

I couldn't be more content with my current setup, and really don't drool over anything bigger/better!


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Feidb
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 10/09/09

Loc: Nevada
Re: What has been your astronomy evolution? new [Re: MikeBOKC]
      #5685145 - 02/17/13 12:42 PM

I started with a 60mm refractor but realized I couldn't see much of anything, and wanted more. Couldn't afford a larger scope so instead I built one, an 8-inch which I ground and polished.

I used to obsess over equatorial mounts and clock drives so I could observe at high power and maybe take photos until #1: I realized I had no interest at all in taking photos, #2: I rarely used high power anyway and then wide field eyepieces came along.

I discovered the Dobsonian mount and realized I could make almost the entire telescope (literally) out of junk, and actually DID.

I wanted to see deeper into the heavens but once again, couldn't afford a larger scope so I stumbled onto a large 16-inch blank for free and voila, ground and polished a brand spankin' new 16-inch f/6.4 Dobsonian reflector, made entirely out of JUNK, with a manual clock drive (my hand) along with a wide angle low power eyepiece.

I found that all along my true calling was deep sky observing and had been growing into finding and logging as many deep sky objects as my larger aperture could find. Straining the optics for the faintest fuzzies I could and enjoying the magnificent splendor of the brighter ones that gave up from subtle to spectacular details.

I learned a lot about eyepieces and what they can and can't do and what is necessary and what isn't, and what is worth the money and what isn't. I also learned what NOT to talk about in public concerning eyepieces and learned some bitter lessons about certain brands which I don't like that I need to keep my opinions to myself. This has garnered me everything from hate mail to actual physical assault.

I've now settled with a newer 16-inch f/4.5 which is a more compact version of my home-built scope (which is sitting in my shed out back). I have all the eyepieces I'll ever need, I have the only electronics I'll ever need, a green laser pointer, and am working on several different catalogs of deep sky objects which will take me a long time to complete, if ever.

I write occasional articles for various astronomical publications as well as my own web site and am currently secretary of my local club.

I also do the occasional presentation on subjects ranging from observing galaxies to eyepieces.

That's how I've evolved.

My love for the hobby, whether solo or with others has never waned and I've never been bored with it, not for a split second in 47 years. I'm happy.


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drbyyz
sage
**

Reged: 11/04/12

Re: What has been your astronomy evolution? new [Re: Feidb]
      #5685231 - 02/17/13 01:30 PM

Like many I started with a cheap 60mm refractor as a kid and was able to see just enough to get me hooked. After reading tons of books and magazines and saving every penny I could find, I bought a nice like 6" Dob from Orion. Had that for many years until I managed to convince my uncle to help me finance my current scope, the 8" SCT. That was back in 2001. Since then that scope has been in and out of storage as I've moved around the country for work. Currently it's out of storage since I live in an area with decent skies and a quick drive to great skies. Starting to upgrade the eyepieces for the first time ever. I've had the Series 4000 plossls since I bought the 8" and while they were great EPs, I'm definitely enjoying the process of upgrading them.

As far as future evolution. I'm going to continue upgrading the eps and accessories. Looking at the Stellarvue F50 RACI finderscope as my next purchase. The next scope is a long time off though I think, and I'm thinking big. If I settle down under dark skies somewhere, then possibly a 16" SCT. If I'm still going to be transporting my scope, then probably a 16"+ Dob. Or both.


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bumm
sage


Reged: 01/07/11

Loc: Iowa
Re: What has been your astronomy evolution? new [Re: drbyyz]
      #5685259 - 02/17/13 01:46 PM

I'm kinda odd... I've always loved the night sky, but as a kid, I didn't have a "mentor," and was never confident learning the constellations. In high school, I started taking late night walks, and eventually began recognizing my own patterns. I realized then that I could learn the "real" constellations. I pulled out my old planisphere I got when I was seven in 1957, bought Menzel's Field Guide, and had a ball! All I wanted to do was know the sky like the ancient navigators. However, I like most, I got interested in seeing DSO's... Progressed from my dad's 7X35's and an antique spyglass of an inch and quarter aperture up though a 20X50 monocular, a 60mm refractor, 11X80 binoculars, and finally, in 1977, my C8, which is perfect and I still love.
However, while I'll never get rid of my C8, I find myself going back more and more to naked eye stuff... constellations, "standard" and archaic, obscure asterisms, and naked eye views of anything I can coax out of the night sky. I just love the night, and the night sky...
Marty

Edited by bumm (02/17/13 01:50 PM)


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David Castillo
Carpal Tunnel
*****

Reged: 09/09/06

Loc: Carmel Valley, Ca
Re: What has been your astronomy evolution? new [Re: bumm]
      #5685322 - 02/17/13 02:16 PM

I have evolved away from the chase for more aperture and have stopped with a 16" Dob, I am satisfied the with my Hyperion set and TMB's eps enough to halt the flow of cash from my wallet. I have also evolved into a sky snob- I don't haul out all my equipment unless the seeing and transparency are good.
----
Dave


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Madratter
Postmaster


Reged: 01/14/13

Re: What has been your astronomy evolution? new [Re: David Castillo]
      #5685752 - 02/17/13 07:00 PM

I was going to write quite an epistle, but it boils down to this. I ended up with a big telescope (20" f/5) which I still have and love now that I got the mirror recoated. But I have rediscovered the joys of smaller apertures. And I have actually been using my 4" and 6" achromats more often than the big scope. And I really think you could spend a lifetime and not exhaust what a good 6" telescope can show you.

That doesn't mean I'm giving the big dob away.


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jerwin
scholastic sledgehammer
*****

Reged: 05/17/12

Loc: Romeoville IL
Re: What has been your astronomy evolution? new [Re: Madratter]
      #5685852 - 02/17/13 08:00 PM

My heart goes out to all of you finally decided to "settle" on your 16 and 20 inch dobs.

Actually it's good to know that there is a point where you think you went big enough. I'm still not there at 11 inches, but anything larger will take a good inve$tment, so I'll have to think about that one a little more.

Jim


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GeneT
Ely Kid
*****

Reged: 11/07/08

Loc: South Texas
Re: What has been your astronomy evolution? new [Re: herrointment]
      #5685943 - 02/17/13 08:55 PM

Quote:

In three years I've progressed from no eyepieces to I can barely lift the case, and from no scopes to 2 cats two refractors and two newts. I'm thinking about storage solutions presently.




Thanks for helping the economy.


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Loren Toole
sage
*****

Reged: 03/23/04

Loc: New Mexico USA
Re: What has been your astronomy evolution? new [Re: jerwin]
      #5685951 - 02/17/13 09:00 PM

Astronomy suddenly caught my attention during the Apollo moon landings, I had always been interested but not motivated to really take it seriously before that time. I did have a 3 inch reflector in the mid 60s that my aunt gave me, but only used it to occasionally view the moon, mainly around full moon, for some reason. I went to college in 1969, and began to investigate the idea of building a serious scope. During the summer of 1970, I finally built a 8 inch f7 reflector from commercial (Coulter) optics. The mount was constructed from 2 inch steel pipe and fittings, making it heavy and awkward to move around. While the views were astounding to me, I had to downsize within a few years or my interest would have waned.

By 1972 I purchased a 3 inch f16 Unitron refractor on a transportable altazimuth mount. This served as my main scope for at least the next 15 years. I used Norton's and Webb's object lists during that time, learned the sky, saw a lot. By the early 90's, I had exhausted the Unitron, and moved up to a 4 inch f5 Televue Genesis. I still have that scope, use it mainly for video imaging but I'm working on a 12.5 inch f6 reflector now, hoping to have that project together by retirement. I didn't mention a sudden jog about 7 years ago to binoculars, up to 20x80s. I tend to alternate viewing now between the TV, a C8 and binos.

Addendum: no mention of eyepieces, that would take another couple of long paragraphs. Televues and off brands, they've evolved with my taste for better wide field images.

Edited by Loren Toole (02/17/13 09:18 PM)


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GeneT
Ely Kid
*****

Reged: 11/07/08

Loc: South Texas
Re: What has been your astronomy evolution? new [Re: jerwin]
      #5685953 - 02/17/13 09:01 PM

Four inch, F10 Dynascope reflector, to an 8 inch Discoverer, to an 8 inch Dynamax, to a 13.1 inch Coulter Dob, to a C8, to a 20 inch Obsession, to a 12.5 inch Portaball, to/and an 18 inch Obsession Ultra Compact. They are all sold except my keeper--the 12.5 inch Portaball. I bought a Tom O Platform for the telescope.

When I started out in this hobby, all I could afford were the eyepieces that came with the telescope. I bought a few extra Celestrons eyepieces for the C8. I thought the eyepieces performed fairly well even though they were the inexpensive ones. I then moved up to some TeleVue Panoptics and Plossls. I now view with Naglers and the new Delos eyepieces. My pride and joy is a 5mm Pentax XO.


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Dennis_S253
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 11/22/11

Loc: West Central Florida
Re: What has been your astronomy evolution? new [Re: GeneT]
      #5686039 - 02/17/13 09:49 PM

Well I had my 4" B&L SCT for 20+ years I guess. I never viewed much though. Sure I'd check out Jupiter and Saturn when they was around. Maybe check out the moon from time to time. My Dad had a 8" Meade reflector when I was growing up, but I was always to busy with a band or girls to go out and view with him much. I wish now I would have. Anyway, a few years ago I started viewing a little more. I realized my 4" had some serious limitations. Not so much the size, but quality. Also, because it was terrible trying to look north. I quess if you wanted to stand on your head you could do it. I bought a complete set of Meade 4000 Plossls. I got a Meade 114mm on a goto ds2000 mount that I found out later one on the motors had a broken piece so it don't work right. Then I picked up a C150-HD and have been happy so far with it. I think that 6" will keep me happy for quite some time. Of course, if I hit the lotto that would change quik I believe.

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galaxyman
Vendor - Have a Stellar Birthday
*****

Reged: 04/04/05

Loc: Limerick, Pa
Re: What has been your astronomy evolution? new [Re: Dennis_S253]
      #5686332 - 02/18/13 01:16 AM

From a 60mm f/15 (though good) refractor to a 8” f/9 refractor, and a 6” f/8 Edmunds newt to a 22” f/4.5 dob.

I will say had fun with all of them, and can still remember as a kid waking up just before dawn to catch Venus or Mercury in the 60mm refractor. Also at 13 years of age and my first view of the Ring Nebula with the 6” newt, that put me on this long path as an avid DSO observer.

Karl
E.O.H.


Chesmont Astronomical Society - www.chesmontastro.org
Galaxy Log - http://www.youtube.com/user/GalaxyLog4565?feature=mhee
HASB - http://www.haveastellarbirthday.com
Telekit (Swayze optics) 22" F/4.5 Dob
Homemade (Parks Optics) 12.5" F/4.8 Dob
TMB/APM 8" f/9 Refractor”The Beast”. One great DEEP SKY achro
ES 6" f/6.5 achro. Good one
Celestron Omni XLT 102 refractor.
Celestron 10x60mm Binos


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galaxyman
Vendor - Have a Stellar Birthday
*****

Reged: 04/04/05

Loc: Limerick, Pa
Re: What has been your astronomy evolution? new [Re: Tony Flanders]
      #5686336 - 02/18/13 01:22 AM

Quote:

I haven't spent much money on equipment in the last 5 years. My only big purchase was a parallelogram mount for binoculars.

With my 12.5-inch Dob, I have maxed out in terms of the aperture that's practical for my current lifestyle. That might change some day. But meanwhile I have lots more to do with that 12.5-incher.



Tony a 12.5” dob is a great size scope, that I just posted about mine briefly on my new Galaxy Log blog.

As I mention a lifetime of great views in that size scope.

Karl
E.O.H.


Chesmont Astronomical Society - www.chesmontastro.org
Galaxy Log - http://www.youtube.com/user/GalaxyLog4565?feature=mhee
Galaxy Log Blog - http://galaxylog.blogspot.com
HASB - http://www.haveastellarbirthday.com
Telekit (Swayze optics) 22" F/4.5 Dob
Homemade (Parks Optics) 12.5" F/4.8 Dob
TMB/APM 8" f/9 Refractor”The Beast”. One great DEEP SKY achro
ES 6" f/6.5 achro. Good one
Celestron Omni XLT 102 refractor.


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kansas skies
sage


Reged: 12/02/12

Loc: Kansas, USA
Re: What has been your astronomy evolution? new [Re: galaxyman]
      #5686869 - 02/18/13 11:58 AM

I've owned quite a few telescopes, but nothing bigger than 8". I think my most profound evolution in this hobby would lean more toward the learning of patience and advancing my skills in the art of observation. I realize now that I can see a whole lot more with a whole lot less than I could when I started.

Bill


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Mike E.
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 01/26/10

Loc: Moonstone Observatory
Re: What has been your astronomy evolution? new [Re: galaxyman]
      #5687007 - 02/18/13 02:11 PM

To make a long story short.......

1.) My Dads binoculars when I was a kid in 1965.
2.) A small fixer-upper refractor.
3.) A 4.5" reflector.
4.) Sears 3" refractor (my dream scope as a kid).

Fast forward 3 decades

5.) Intes-Micro 5" Maksutov
6.) 60mm Carton refractor
7.) Questar 7 LWT (dream scope for 26 years)
8.) Zeiss 63mm refractor

Still have most of them, more than I need. I Would like to down size to three; keeping the Questar & Zeiss, and adding a Mag 1 Portaball in the future.


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Curt James
newbie


Reged: 01/26/13

Re: What has been your astronomy evolution? new [Re: galaxyman]
      #5687565 - 02/18/13 07:01 PM

I got a Celestron 127EQ for my bithday last year. Along with a set of cheap EP's and a cool book to read. I was instantly hooked, as I have been fascinated with the skies all my life.

Next, I bought a pair of 10X50 binoculars to replace a pair of 7X50's lost in a series of moves.

Next I was at a telescope store and saw this real cute little tabletop Dob.

I had to have one. I have had a blast with all of these and have got several other people slightly interested also.

Last night I ordered an Orion SkyQuest 10" Dob. I absolutely cannot wait to get it.

It is now time to stop spending and spend time enjoying. I've always been a fan of winter. I love this time of year. But I have found that there's not nearly as much to see up there this time of year. Anxiously awaiting the arrival of spring to start going up to the mountains and not freezing overnight.


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jerwin
scholastic sledgehammer
*****

Reged: 05/17/12

Loc: Romeoville IL
Re: What has been your astronomy evolution? new [Re: Curt James]
      #5687886 - 02/18/13 09:47 PM

Curt, welcome to cloudynights. I have a 10 dob, very nice scope.

Clear skies
Jim


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edwincjones
Close Enough
*****

Reged: 04/10/04

Re: What has been your astronomy evolution? new [Re: jerwin]
      #5688402 - 02/19/13 07:31 AM

start small,
went big,
now returning to small

edj


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kenrenard
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 12/13/12

Loc: Dunmore, PA
Re: What has been your astronomy evolution? new [Re: edwincjones]
      #5688435 - 02/19/13 08:03 AM

I started with my at the time five year old with a sky scanner 100.
I bought a pair of Nikon 10 X 50 binoculars.

We moved up to a 8 inch dob.

I then got a small AT72ED to have a different perspective than the big 8 inch.

Now I am saving up for a pair of 10 X 30 IS Binoculars.

Some day maybe a larger dob 12-15 inch.


Ken


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csrlice12
Postmaster
*****

Reged: 05/22/12

Loc: Denver, CO
Re: What has been your astronomy evolution? new [Re: kenrenard]
      #5688519 - 02/19/13 09:15 AM

As a kid, had a Tasco 60mm, now facing retirement; so I just kind of jumped in with all four paws. Did a lot of reading on sites like this one though before I bought anything. Only piece I ever got rid of was a 1.25" diagonal that came with the XLT that I gave away.

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Tony Flanders
Postmaster
*****

Reged: 05/18/06

Loc: Cambridge, MA, USA
Re: What has been your astronomy evolution? new [Re: jerwin]
      #5688648 - 02/19/13 10:50 AM

Stepping back from the question a bit, I'd say that a stargazer's evolution is all about what they observe and how they observe it. Equipment is an important part of the equation, but ultimately it's an adjunct, not the essence.

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YetAnotherHobby
sage
*****

Reged: 09/02/09

Loc: Central CT
Re: What has been your astronomy evolution? new [Re: jerwin]
      #5688831 - 02/19/13 12:43 PM

60mm refractor on a GEM - tag sale item, mostly frustrating, unwilling (or too lazy) to teach myself how to use it.

...fast forward 20 years....

8" CAT on goto mount - first successes in finding objects. Ignited the hobby for me.

Picked up an ETX80 thinking I would use it when camping.

12.5" dob - WOW! Aperture rules! Spent the time to learn the night sky well enough to star-hop to Messier objects...

Stellacam II - hard to use on the SCT fork mount.

6" achromat on a manual GEM - should make photography easier because it tracks better and has no clearance issues....but the combination of gymnastics and manual finding were more challenging than I anticipated.

11" SCT on a goto GEM - find stuff easily, no clearance issues, big aperture, computer control possible.

Skyshed POD - an 11" SCT on a GEM takes a while to set up and tear down, especially when everything is stored in the basement. Was getting out less and less.....

Today - I use the 11" in the POD exclusively since it is permanently setup, but for dark sky trips I take the Dob.

Eyepieces? Mostly cheap Plossls and one cherished Hyperion was what I used until recently. NEAF made Televue too tempting, so I now own two, a 27mm Panoptic and 17mm Nagler. Love them in the dob. The Leo Triplet is stunning.

Stellacam is wonderful under light pollution since I can "see" a whole lot more than I can by eye. Adds a lot of complexity which can be aggravating when it isn't cooperating. But it's like getting a 3X aperture gain, albeit without the clarity of image.

Love the simplicity of the manual dob. Star hopping is it's own reward when I am in the mood for it.

The achromat almost never gets used. Oughta sell her!

The ETX comes in handy when there isn't much space on a camping trip but the skies will be dark...so it gets out a couple times a year.

The 8" SCT is my first love - I can't bear to part with it, but it's not getting any use.

At this point I am not actively looking for gear to buy. I have everything I want to get a lot of enjoyment out of the hobby. More aperture? Too hard to move around. Better optics? Those last few percentage points are too expensive to be worthwhile (to me). Astrophotography? I have enough equipment to experiment with it, but to go any further looks like a bottomless pit of time and money. Not for me.


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Ed Wiley
scholastic sledgehammer


Reged: 05/18/05

Loc: Kansas, USA
Re: What has been your astronomy evolution? new [Re: YetAnotherHobby]
      #5689647 - 02/19/13 08:14 PM

1956 -- 60mm refractor
1958 -- add binoculars and find something besides solar system objects
1960 -- 6" Dynascope (loved that scope! Carried me through college.)
(1966-1976): binoculars--Air Force, graduate school, family etc. Much moving, no time for scopes, just binocs.
1976 -- 8" Cave Cass (loved that scope, donated to the local school system.)
Present: what you see on the bottom plus a newly acquired C11 edge.

Evolution: The big step was finding stuff that did not consist of Luna and the bright planets, aka, star hopping. Learning to properly collimate. Finally, into citizen science work and being lazy by adding DSCs and finally go-to.

Ed


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kenrenard
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 12/13/12

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Re: What has been your astronomy evolution? new [Re: Tony Flanders]
      #5689648 - 02/19/13 08:16 PM

Quote:

Stepping back from the question a bit, I'd say that a stargazer's evolution is all about what they observe and how they observe it. Equipment is an important part of the equation, but ultimately it's an adjunct, not the essence.




Tony,
I think this is an interesting topic. Just last night I viewed the moon in a different way than I had before. I know many folks dive into different aspects of stargazing. Whether double stars, deep space, lunar, planetary.

When I first started I thought I needed more and more gear. A bigger scope would show me more. While in some respects this is true, nothing can buy experience, skill and enjoyment.

I spent some evenings just scanning the sky with binoculars seeing what I can see. When I first started I discounted the views from binoculars. Or even a small telescope, much less naked eye.

As I learn more I see things differently and certainly have more objects to view whether from my light polluted yard or a dark sky. I think it's all about enjoying the night sky not accumulating more astronomy toys. Sometimes too much equipment actually detracts from our stargazing enjoyment.

Ken


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Jon Isaacs
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Re: What has been your astronomy evolution? new [Re: Tony Flanders]
      #5689751 - 02/19/13 09:22 PM

Quote:

Stepping back from the question a bit, I'd say that a stargazer's evolution is all about what they observe and how they observe it. Equipment is an important part of the equation, but ultimately it's an adjunct, not the essence.






Good point. My equipment has changed over the years but the very essence of the observing experience has not changed... my equipment is just better suited for doing the things I like to do.

My first scope was a 60mm refractor that cost $5 at a garage sale, it was a spur of the moment purchase and I just wanted to see what I could see. I was essentially ignorant, it had one eyepiece, I don't know what it was. Early one morning I stumbled across the Orion Nebula, the rest is history.

That's what I do these days, I have better equipment, know a lot more, have developed my observing skills but I am still doing the same thing, I just like to go out at night and look around and see what there is to see.

Jon


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Special Ed
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Re: What has been your astronomy evolution? new [Re: kansas skies]
      #5689779 - 02/19/13 09:37 PM

It's interesting reading these individual accounts of the pursuit of AA.

My father was Air Force so I've always looked at the skies. When I was a kid in Alaska I thought that the Northern Lights were normal.

As I grew up I taught myself the constellations. Later on I received a pair of 7x35 binoculars as compensation for a construction estimate. This literally changed my view of the heavens.

Decades later, I have an observatory (the best accessory there is) and a pier mounted 14 inch CAT.

Quote:

I've owned quite a few telescopes, but nothing bigger than 8". I think my most profound evolution in this hobby would lean more toward the learning of patience and advancing my skills in the art of observation. I realize now that I can see a whole lot more with a whole lot less than I could when I started.

Bill




I think Bill is talking about something key here. Tony Flanders (and others) recognize it as well.

I've come to have a deep and abiding respect for the observers of yore. And also for contemporary observers--some of whom post right here on CN.

Someone (I forget who) said--the more I know. the more I realize how much I don't know. That's where I'm at in my evolution.


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Jay_Bird
Carpal Tunnel
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Re: What has been your astronomy evolution? new [Re: Special Ed]
      #5690115 - 02/20/13 02:03 AM

Here’s how I see my evolution in terms of some steps we might all relate to:

The ‘hook’. What drew us into the hobby?

For me it was the exotic/romantic star names and lore that tied the night sky I saw back to antiquity.

The ‘apprenticeship’. What did we do next?

For me it was looking at all I could see from suburban sky (not a bad sky by today’s standards) and learning to use yard sale and newspaper classified ‘scopes up to 8-inch and family binoculars. Authors like Robert Jastrow, Guy Murchie, Patrick Moore, Peter Brown and more, the ‘seasonal star charts with planisphere’, and some 1940’s observing guides notably “New Handbook of the Heavens. While Comet Kohoutek disappointed, Comet West did not. Apollo ended but Viking, Skylab and Pioneer were exciting. A regional club had some middle-aged members with the patience for a high school beginner. At one outer suburb club night, my home-based sky study paid off – someone accustomed to using setting circles forget charts and books, and let me star hop his C-8 to several globulars and finally M51 with a glimpse of the Whirlpool’s spiral structure.

The ‘trade’, if this follows apprenticeship… Do we specialize or excel in some aspect?

Maybe this stage never arrived for me. I think it does for say, imagers, or dedicated amateur-pro science observers like ALPO, AAVSO, etc., but I don’t “do” or specialize in a particular thing, and am not much of an expert.

After a 15-20 hiatus of naked eye or occasional binocular use, living in more light polluted areas, punctuated by a brief interlude in better skies when a 10-inch sonotube Dob let me finally see more DSO, I moved to the southwest USA and suddenly an 80mm travel scope on a camping trip equaled the 6-8 inch views I recalled from younger days back east. Now an old C-8 offers reliable tracking and abundant detail and light grasp. A new 6-inch Newt is a nice blend of light grasp and FOV for rich field use deeper than the travel scope can show.

Contentment or … What do find we enjoy most in time, or what keeps us coming back?

This comes from moments in the backyard with binoculars or grab-and-go, a dark spot on routine walks where an angled row of trees block every streetlight with an open southward view extending back past the zenith for the dog or kids and me to pause and admire, and longer but less frequent backyard sessions with larger scopes.

Outreach, especially at park settings with daytime natural beauty, or occasionally at local schools, is the public side of the hobby for me. Interest stays up from some effort to keep learning at a slow steady pace: more lunar features and geology, more proficient star hopping, new DSOs at dark sky trips, meteor showers, now some solar observing, and tracking the motion of brighter asteroids or following comets. News from current robotic exploration to discuss at outreach keeps interest up in sun, moon and planets too.

Hoping to give someone new a 'hook' into astronomy, or sharing that beginner sense of wonder, makes this fun.


Edited by Jay_Bird (02/20/13 01:01 PM)


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SteveNH
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Re: What has been your astronomy evolution? new [Re: Jay_Bird]
      #5693365 - 02/21/13 07:19 PM

How have I evolved in my hobby of astronomy?

Like with many others, it began with being awed at the breathtaking view of Saturn's rings through a 60mm telescope; a clean, sharp, tiny little ring etched around a tinier yellow dot, all just floating there inside a stark black void, with the illusion of suspended time. I stared in wonder, and felt the universe was calling me. I had to see more.

Fast forward 48 years - finally beginning to understand how little we knew of galaxies at the turn of the century, and the significance of those familiar names like Hubble, Einstein, Slipher, Henrietta Levitt that I had always read about.

I now observe with more of an understanding of our place among the stars - it's like finding your bearings for the first time; but I still stare in wonder, and still have to see more.


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csrlice12
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Loc: Denver, CO
Re: What has been your astronomy evolution? new [Re: SteveNH]
      #5693457 - 02/21/13 08:07 PM

"Fast forward 48 years - finally beginning to understand how little we knew of galaxies at the turn of the century, and the significance of those familiar names like Hubble, Einstein, Slipher, Henrietta Levitt that I had always read about."

It's when we look back 48 years and don't know more then that we're in trouble...both as individuals and as societies.


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Glen A W
professor emeritus


Reged: 07/04/08

Loc: USA
Re: What has been your astronomy evolution? new [Re: galaxyman]
      #5694640 - 02/22/13 12:42 PM

Mine went something like Moon-planets-galaxies-comets-more comets-even more comets-variable stars-photoelecrtic photometry-CCD imaging-deep sky visual observing. GW

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Glen A W
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Reged: 07/04/08

Loc: USA
Re: What has been your astronomy evolution? new [Re: Glen A W]
      #5694655 - 02/22/13 12:49 PM

While I am at it, I should say I started with a 60mm, which I got more love out of than anything. Then 4.5" reflector and 4" achro refractor. Too small to really give it to me. A C14 was too much trouble and never cooled down and I kept it only a few months.

Now I use a 10" CG Newt and a Vixen 260, with a Skywatcher 100ed and ETX80. I am unlikely to buy scopes again unless my current stable gets damaged somehow. I am totally happy with these scopes mentioned. Everything I want to do is covered and I am very lucky to have them! The particular examples are as good as I can get, and that makes a big difference, too. GW


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Starman1
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Loc: Los Angeles
Re: What has been your astronomy evolution? new [Re: Glen A W]
      #5694986 - 02/22/13 03:30 PM

I started out in 1963 with a 4.25" Edmund reflector.
Looking for better optics, that became a 4" refractor in 1970.
I had a dozen pairs of binos and at least a dozen or more scopes by the time I finally got to an 8" in 1993. So I had had a plethora of small scopes.
The 8" became a 12.5" in 2004 and a seriously high-end 12.5" in 2012 (scope #22).
Like Tony, that is my "cap" in aperture, given my lifestyle, desire for portability, and the huge number of objects visible in that aperture that i won't live long enough to see.

But, I've always had a second or third scope along the way. I acquired a 5" Maksutov in 2001 that had superb optics, and I've kept that and upgraded the mount a few times.
And a widefield 4" refractor makes a nice "big object" instrument to look at the horde of named asterisms (like the Coathanger) that are too large for typical scopes.

I went from a basket full of cheap eyepieces to a barrel full of medium price eyepieces and now to a case full of the high-end ones. But my eyepiece addiction (ocularholosim) is pretty much conquered, and 6 eyepieces pretty much does everything I want the eyepieces to do. It took over 300 eyepieces to arrive at that point, though, and sometimes I get to thinking I should "re-collect" some of them, but then my daydream ends.

It's really about time. If I observed 40 hours or more per month, I could justify just about anything. But I get in maybe 8 to 9 hours a month, and my time is spent more in preparing for observing, and observing, and recording my observations, than it is with thinking about new equipment.

But I just got some 9mm 120 degree eyepieces, and I HAVE to try one out before they disappear. Unlike Tony, I love 100 degree and wider eyepieces, even for observing the Moon and planets. They make planetary and lunar observing possible at 456X in a non-motorized dob, and I love the big panoramic views I get through them.

Having stuck with small scopes for years, and learning to observe really faint stuff with small scopes and cheap eyepieces has made me really appreciative of a great larger scope with high-end eyepieces. I would still be observing even if I had had to stick with the smaller scopes, but I'm grateful that such beautiful equipment was developed.

More than anything in the equipment, though, it is the observing that keeps me going back out to the desert and mountains every month. There are so many objects I haven't seen! And it's knowing that one of them will become a favorite that keeps me pushing, always, to view new objects every time I'm out. And that is the most important evolution that has happened in my observing: from a backyard lunar/planetary observer to a dedicated deep-sky observer seeking to push out the edge of the universe that's visible. I haven't made the "billion light year club"....yet.
But if a 12.5" can reach out that far, I'll keep trying (Quasars don't count).


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buddyjesus
Carpal Tunnel
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Re: What has been your astronomy evolution? new [Re: Starman1]
      #5695605 - 02/22/13 08:46 PM

First I was a peeker, then I was a starer, then I started sketching. haha

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sg6
professor emeritus


Reged: 02/14/10

Loc: Norfolk, UK.
Re: What has been your astronomy evolution? new [Re: buddyjesus]
      #5696638 - 02/23/13 01:45 PM

Scopes:
ETX 70 back around 2000 then nothing for a few years,
WO Megrez 90,
ETX 105,
HEQ5, EQ5 (the HEQ5 is a bit too big for ease of use),
WO GT-81.

Eyepieces: TV plossls, WO SWANS, UK equivalent of A-T Paradigms, few Antares W70's and a general assortment of other plossl's.

Future: Not sure, wouldn't mind a big reflector just to try but no great urge to have one.


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Chucky
sage
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Reged: 04/16/10

Loc: Dublin, Ohio
Re: What has been your astronomy evolution? new [Re: sg6]
      #5700029 - 02/25/13 03:15 PM Attachment (18 downloads)

For me, it started this way. Thanks Dad and Mom. Best birthday gift I've ever had! Circa 1966. I must have been well ahead of my time......as the picture shows I was starting my Tasco 50 on an artificial star setup in our front yard.

Still have this scope. Box and all accessories.


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csrlice12
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Reged: 05/22/12

Loc: Denver, CO
Re: What has been your astronomy evolution? new [Re: Chucky]
      #5700187 - 02/25/13 04:27 PM

OMG, I'd recognize that Orion "earthquate" alt/az mount/tripod anywheres!!!! My first tasco had that mount...maybe even that same model scope (think mine was a 60mm though).

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Matt Wallin
member
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Reged: 01/29/12

Loc: Portland, OR
Re: What has been your astronomy evolution? new [Re: csrlice12]
      #5700896 - 02/26/13 01:35 AM

I was a fascinated by astronomy and spaceflight as a kid and was a voracious reader of everything Astro. I had an inexpensive 60mm refractor as a kid (in retrospect kind of a POS), I remember sticking mostly to Luna, Jupiter and Saturn, my attempts to see the spectacular M13 and other deep sky objects just never quite looked like I thought it should (of course now I know why!). I learned a fair number of constellations and I am amazed to think back to how good the sky was in my suburban backyard (Milky Way was visible!) but without a mentor, and the arrival of adolescence (girls, girls, girls!) with the exception of some light reading, I mostly put astronomy aside. A couple years ago, two things coincided, my wife was pregnant with my son, and an unusual stretch of clear weather had me looking up in amazement night after night. Something sparked in me and I remembered my childhood awe and passion, it was something that I wanted to reacquaint myself with and hoped to share it with my son. I soon had a real obsession on my hands! Considering the $$$ you can spend on this pastime, I decided to take the often expressed advise to learn the sky for a whole year, with just my 8x40mm binoculars, it was good advise! I quickly filled in most of the gaps in my constellations and I knew the location of (and had tantalizing views of) dozens of Messier objects before I got my scope. My wife saw me looking at a website, contemplating joining the local club, the Rose City Astronomers, and unbeknownst to me signed me up for the club and one of their dark sky weekends for a gift, I'm a lucky guy! After a year of pining, I had saved up for a scope. I knew I was even more obsessed a year later, so I wasn't too concerned about making a big purchase and then losing interest. The star parties I went to with the club convinced me for my interest, deep sky, bigger was the way to go. A 10" Dob seemed like the sweet spot, considering my $$$ and car size, and I still think it was a great place to start for deep sky. Of course I'm already thinking of my next step up, but I know that I have a LOT of exploring and observing to do with this 10". Before I bought a scope, I went to several star parties with my club, I knew that the widefield eyepieces were definitely my thing, I loved the immersive views. I wanted to get eyepieces that would satisfy me for a good while, so I thought I'd start with Explore Scientific 82* eyepieces. I was pretty happy with those, especially when I compared the views I was getting to some of my observing companions' scopes with Plossls and the like. I ended up with the 8.8mm and 14mm 1.25" eyepieces, as well as the TermiNagler wannabe, the 30mm, my first BIG piece of glass, I think it's pretty fantastic! After a lot of internal debate, I decided to fill the gap around 20mm with the ES 100* 20mm, reasoning that it would weight about the same as my 30mm and thus balance nicely. Well...that thing blew me away, the contrast was astonishing! It set off a burning desire, one I hadn't planned on, to get the set. I sold the 8.8mm and 14mm 82*, and now have the ES 100* 14mm, and soon the 9mm (and the 5.5mm whenever it is released). I know some folks can't take in the full 100* or just don't like that wide of field, but it is an incredibly intoxicating vista for me, and I am definitly hooked. I'm hoping that this series of eyepieces will hold me for a very good while. so that I can concentrate my fairly limited astro funds on some other projects, like building an eq platform, getting a nice pair of BA-8 15x70mm binoculars, and eventually building a ~16" Dob.

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Stargaz18
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Loc: Wichita Falls, TX
Re: What has been your astronomy evolution? new [Re: Matt Wallin]
      #5701980 - 02/26/13 04:16 PM

For many many yrs it was "I'd love to get..." Then finally one Saturday my wife calls and says this guy is selling this
big scope in his garage sale. So over I go and what do I find? Celestron C6 with CG-5 mount, GPS included and a JMI case for the OT for $400!!! I knew it was a good deal but at the time didn't know how good of a deal it was. Well from there I sold the scope and mount and bought my present C9.25 and mount. Have invested in a grab n go too, ES ED80.
Am now in the process of completing the ES82 EP series. The future as we all know....skys the limit!!


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OneGear
member


Reged: 12/30/11

Re: What has been your astronomy evolution? new [Re: Stargaz18]
      #5702856 - 02/27/13 02:57 AM

Naked eye observer for decades. I thought an actual telescope an unreasonable extravagance because everyone I asked gave me the impression I needed to spend thousands to see anything worth looking at. Then discovered what binoculars on a tripod could show me.

Finally bought a discount scope against all advice and saw the moons of Jupiter and knew all the so-called "expert advice" I had gathered over the years was a damn lie.

Beware the advice offered. Quite often it costs you far more than anything's worth.

Edited by OneGear (02/27/13 07:55 AM)


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Starman1
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Loc: Los Angeles
Re: What has been your astronomy evolution? new [Re: OneGear]
      #5703283 - 02/27/13 11:07 AM

Quote:

Naked eye observer for decades. I thought an actual telescope an unreasonable extravagance because everyone I asked gave me the impression I needed to spend thousands to see anything worth looking at. Then discovered what binoculars on a tripod could show me.

Finally bought a discount scope against all advice and saw the moons of Jupiter and knew all the so-called "expert advice" I had gathered over the years was a damn lie.

Beware the advice offered. Quite often it costs you far more than anything's worth.



Seeing the moons of Jupiter is possible in binoculars.

As for discount store telescopes, there are some decent ones and some that are complete garbage. You're lucky if the type you got was OK, because most are not.

I don't know why people think you have to pay thousands to get a decent scope. That just may be an impression made by the fact that non-astronomers tend to run into the more active members of our hobby, and those people may have expensive equipment.

Though they're not ideal in any sense of the word, I've always extolled the virtues of the humble 4.5" reflector as a first scope (started out with a 4.25" back in 1963), available for $149-$279. A beginner's scope should at least be able to see all the Messier objects.


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Matt Wallin
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Reged: 01/29/12

Loc: Portland, OR
Re: What has been your astronomy evolution? new [Re: OneGear]
      #5703360 - 02/27/13 11:53 AM

The year that I spend learning the sky with my birding binoculars before buying my scope was very, very rewarding. I think that it really fixed the location of many Messier and Caldwell objects for me in a very concrete way. I can point a Telrad right at quite a few of them, and I attribute that to the binocular viewing that I have done. People are blown away when I show them galaxies, nebula, star clusters with their birding binoculars when we are out camping with family and friends. Advice from the experienced should be considered, but it's not the gosphel, people parrot unvarified things with surprisingly great vehemence on a regular basis. Naked eye astronomy is great, but it's a bummer that you missed out on so much more believing that sky-worthy optics were out of your reach.

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csrlice12
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Re: What has been your astronomy evolution? new [Re: Matt Wallin]
      #5703435 - 02/27/13 12:34 PM

The worst scope today, is better then the best scope available to Galileo or Copernicus or any of the early astronomers. Imagine how they would have felt with a 76mm Funscope, which would outperform anything they had....Then imagine what they'd think of a 30" dob....

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Escher
Pooh-Bah
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Re: What has been your astronomy evolution? new [Re: csrlice12]
      #5707384 - 03/01/13 03:36 PM

I'm a big believer in trying things out and reselling - so this is as close as I can remember..

ETX90 around 1998 or 1999 which I later sold and got out of astronomy all together for a few years.

Gave it another try around 2005 or 2006 with a Meade 10"Dob. Sold that too.. But I was hooked... Now is where it took off.

2006 - Meade 2080 (original, not LX3)- Sold
2007 - Orion 10" Dob (2nd try at the DOB - didnt take) - Sold
2007 - Meade LX90 (I think it was 2008) - kept that one for a few months - then got out of astronomy again.

2008 or 2009, not sure - another Meade 2080, also original. See a pattern here?

2010 - sold the 2080 - 1 year break.
2011 - Celestron 127mm Mak, Nexstar I believe - Sold in a week, Meade ETX125 on DIY Mount - Sold in 2 months - Celestron C11 Ultima - ohh that did it... that finally hooked me for good.

2012 - Wait for it... heres the big list:
Sold C11 - Bought Meade 7" Lx200
Bought ES AR127
Bought Lunt LS60
Sold AR127
Sold Meade 7"
Sold LUNT to fund POD
Bought POD XL3
Bought Celestron 8" EdgeHD
Bought Celestron CG5 Manual Mount
Bought Celestron CG5-ASGT Goto
Bought Meade 10" LX200 OTA
Sold 8" Edge to fund Meade 7" Mak OTA
and then...... drumroll..

Sold ALL except the POD for:
CPC1100.

Ahhhhh I have arrived... No plans to sell unless I run across an 11" Edge OTA or a C14 for a song...

There are a couple more in there somewhere, but I did a LOT of experimenting in 2012.. I finally know what I want and what works for me.

Edited by Escher (03/01/13 03:37 PM)


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microstar
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Reged: 01/05/08

Loc: Canada
Re: What has been your astronomy evolution? new [Re: Escher]
      #5709676 - 03/02/13 10:31 PM

Was always interested in science. At age 15 or so the planetarium in my city advertised a telescope-making course. Sounded fun, so every week I took the bus downtown and over 8 weeks ground my own 6" mirror. They sent them away for coating and provided tubes, and a list of places where you could get a focuser, eyepieces, etc. The mirror cell was made of wood and they provided the plans for an equatorial mount, again made out of wood and pipe. My Dad's a carpenter, so he helped me to make all of the wooden parts. I can still remember my first view of Saturn through my ATM scope. Priceless.

Fast forward 30 years... I'd sold the home-built scope long before after storing it in my parents basement then hauling I around for several moves after that. Knowing my interest in astronomy, my wife bought me an ETX90 for Christmas (still have it) - that was 15 years ago now. I went from visual observing with that to an 8" rob, then to an LXD75 / SN8 with a DSI III OSC CCD to try imaging. That stimulated my interest in imaging. In 2008 I built my backyard ROR observatory and several equipment upgrades later I am where I am now. Great hobby and it continues to be a fun ride.
...Keith


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Astrodj
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Reged: 08/24/11

Loc: Missouri
Re: What has been your astronomy evolution? new [Re: microstar]
      #5711761 - 03/03/13 11:49 PM

I started out in 1969 from what would now be termed a "green zone" location with a 3" f/10 Edmund reflector and no clue where or what anything was. I spent 5 years learning what I could see and how to find it. I suppose I spent most of the time at the eyepiece on OC's, doubles, Jupiter, Saturn, Mars, the moon, M31, and solar projection.

When I turned 16 in 1975 I made the decision to order my 10" f/7 Cave, instead of buying a car since I could not afford both. My friends thought I was nuts. I spent the remainder of my high school years expanding my target list to include globulars, planetaries, and many more galaxies, along with my old favorites. Those years were spent in a yellow zone.

I joined the Army out of high school and bought a cheap pair of Tasco 10x50's to look at the sky with during my travels in the military life. No scope unless I visited home. At home on leave my 10" was located in a grey zone with awesome skies, but I didn't get there very often.

After the military time and college my career took me to progressively more light polluted skies but I gradually acquired more and more equipment as time passed.

I now live in a red/white zone and I am quite happy with both my equipment and occasional forays into darker skies.

I have learned over the years to be a careful, patient observer and to just do what I feel like doing at the time, and have found that to be the key for me to get the most enjoyment from astronomy.

I have two interested boys that observe with me a lot. It's a great activity, hobby, pastime, passion, etc.

I love it as much now as I did when I was a kid.

I salute all of you for sharing your evolution/story, Thanks!


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jerwin
scholastic sledgehammer
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Reged: 05/17/12

Loc: Romeoville IL
Re: What has been your astronomy evolution? new [Re: OneGear]
      #5723118 - 03/09/13 10:49 PM

Quote:

Naked eye observer for decades. I thought an actual telescope an unreasonable extravagance because everyone I asked gave me the impression I needed to spend thousands to see anything worth looking at. Then discovered what binoculars on a tripod could show me.

Finally bought a discount scope against all advice and saw the moons of Jupiter and knew all the so-called "expert advice" I had gathered over the years was a damn lie.

Beware the advice offered. Quite often it costs you far more than anything's worth.




I appreciate all the advice that cloudynights and my local astronomy club has given me.

The advice itself is free, what I do with the advice is my own decision for better or worse. I understand that and would never blame anyone but myself for spending money.

I like to take responsibility for my actions, kind of a old school way of thinking I know.

Jim


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