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Observing >> Deep Sky Observing

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IVM
scholastic sledgehammer


Reged: 01/07/08

Loc: Western New York
Why is CCDing really so vastly superior to visual?
      #5768526 - 03/31/13 10:59 AM

The topic has been repeatedly brought up. What I heard, however, compared what is achievable with the two approaches. Yet lately I was given an opportunity to think more about it and realized that what is achievable is not the whole story – what is actually achieved depends at least as much on the drive for perfection. In this regard, amateur photographers and visual observers are on a very unequal ground. What I say applies to detection of detail in nebulosity (including galaxies); if construed more generally, as has been discussed on these pages, the question in the subject of this post may even be considered ill-posed.

The skill required to a) point a scope at a detailed galaxy, slap a camera on the focuser, and get a photographic image of a fuzzy blob, and b) point a scope at a detailed galaxy, put the eye to the eyepiece, and get a visual image of a fuzzy blob, is virtually the same these days. To get from a fuzzy blob to a detailed image when doing photography is a technical challenge: getting the equipment to work. To get from the fuzzy blob to a detailed image when doing visual is a personal challenge: getting yourself to see. Neither may be inherently more difficult. Yet unlike visual observers, photographers these days are never satisfied with a fuzzy blob.

One reason that I see is that to be unsatisfied, one needs to compare and have challenging examples to follow. Comparing visual observations is obscure stuff; sure there are websites with sketches and detailed descriptions, but this is all rather arcane and quite a bit of additional work to wade through. Often when looking at somebody’s sketch, I am at first lost as to which part of it corresponds to which part in mine, and will often remain lost for some time or forever. Indeed perception is individual, depends greatly on the sky conditions and equipment, and sketches are rarely precise enough. With the more prevalent verbal descriptions it is even worse, if you try to compare the details seen in a complex object.

By contrast, photographers these days compare their results whether they want it or not, because the best astrophotography is mainstream information. Even their non-amateur spouse will point to them how deficient their images are compared to what they have seen elsewhere.

“Worse”, at least half of that beautiful photography that everyone has seen is from giant professional observatories, the space telescope, and their teams of image processing professionals. By comparison, visual professional astronomy has not been in existence for a hundred years. So even if you find a visual description, wade through it, and figure out how it compares with yours, you will be comparing with another amateur, which in principle as well as on average cannot be as challenging as comparing with professional output.

Finally – and I really wonder if this is the crux of the matter – it seems to be the nature of man to be demanding of a machine. Which inner drive is applicable to achieving perfection in photography, but not in visual observing.

Some combination of these factors may be responsible for the fact that unlike the typical visual observer, an amateur astrophotographer is never satisfied with his results (especially not with getting fuzzy blobs), as well as for the fact that astrophotography is commonly declared – and, as practiced, on average actually is – more difficult than visual observing.


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jgraham
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Re: Why is CCDing really so vastly superior to visual? new [Re: IVM]
      #5768614 - 03/31/13 11:36 AM

Interesting thoughts, though I'm a bit puzzled by the title posing the question why one method is superior to the other. I have been blessed to have been active in this hobby for over 50 years and I've seen a lot come'n go both in terms if equipment, observing styles, and hot topics. Wow, what a neat hobby. Personally, I have never viewed different observing styles as being mutually exclusive, but rather to be richly complementary, particularly modern imaging. In my day one of the purposes of imaging was to make the invisible visible and this has never been more true given the spontaneity possible with modern imaging techiques. Many years ago I almost gave up on advanced visual deepsky observing being frustrated with what I could see with my modest homemade equipment under light polluted skies and tired of the ordeal of driving out to dark sky sites. Then I discovered what I could see from my back yard (red zone skies) with a small telescope (4.5" f/4) and a simple CCD camera (a little Meade DSI). With renewed excitement I honed my visual observing gear armed with new first-hand knowledge of what these objects really looked like and where they were located. Nowadays I often re-image old friends to see if I can squeeze out a bit more detail or pick out one more background galaxy, and then move on to meet new friends. I do exactly the same on the visual side, seeing if I can see that little red star I didn't notice before orthat little companion galaxy that I didn't notice before or that knot of stars in a far-flung arm of M33.

Soooo, I don't see one being superior to the other, but natural partners is a wonderful dance. As I grow old and my eyes begin to fade I susect that my last observing will be done with a camera, but hopefully that is a ways off yet.

Have fun!


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IVM
scholastic sledgehammer


Reged: 01/07/08

Loc: Western New York
Re: Why is CCDing really so vastly superior to visual? new [Re: jgraham]
      #5768647 - 03/31/13 11:48 AM

John, thank you for your comment. The reason I post is that I am fascinated by the ways in which the universe is being viewed, and there is still lots to understand about these ways and how they evolve.

I understand that the title was a bit puzzling. What I implied with it was that digital imaging does not automatically yield better results compared with visual. It is superior in practice - my thesis goes - because it sets off the drive for perfection in all its practitioners that visual observing does in only a few.


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MikeBOKC
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Re: Why is CCDing really so vastly superior to visual? new [Re: IVM]
      #5768825 - 03/31/13 01:37 PM

Yes I think shutterbugs are bigger perfectionists overall than eyeball astronomers, but as with al generalizations, there are notabl exceptions. Just ask the owner of a big Dob how much time, money and effort he spends on collimation, with some laser tools that run into the hundreds of dollars. I also think there is one other thing that tends to separate visual onservers from APers . . . I suspect we eyeball folks have a more romantic, idealized view of the hobby. You constantly see posts here about how "I saw Saturn for the first time and it almnost brought me to tears" or how some pursue a holy grail objectlike the horsehead. I jsut don't hear that kind of "golly gee" emotion from AP folks, who tend to talk in jargon about subs and processing time. Sure AP is technicaly more challenging, but it also brings a certain level of emotional detachment for many, who spend more time behind a keyboard than an eyepiece. If you doubt this, take an AP guy to a public outreach event. Set up and ask people if they'd like to look at the moon through your visual scope. Then offer to escort them over to see the AP guy's processing software . . . no comparison.

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BillFerris
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Re: Why is CCDing really so vastly superior to visual? new [Re: IVM]
      #5769099 - 03/31/13 04:10 PM

It isn't. - Bill in Flag

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IVM
scholastic sledgehammer


Reged: 01/07/08

Loc: Western New York
Re: Why is CCDing really so vastly superior to visual? new [Re: BillFerris]
      #5769174 - 03/31/13 04:50 PM

Bill, in general I agree with you. As specified in the OP, however, here I mean bringing out details in nebulous objects. In this specific sense, digital imaging (as it is commonly practiced) is superior in my opinion.

Mike, I agree with you. And this romantic attitude is an additional impediment for the development of the visual skill. Indeed, to contemplate (romantically, one may say) what it is that we are looking at when we see a galaxy through the eyepiece engenders a pretty strong emotion - and this emotion is almost equally strong whether or not we are discerning any detail.


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Carol L

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Reged: 07/05/04

Loc: Tomahawk, WI 45N//89W
Re: Why is CCDing really so vastly superior to visual? new [Re: BillFerris]
      #5769512 - 03/31/13 07:08 PM

Quote:

It isn't.




+1


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buddyjesus
Carpal Tunnel
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Reged: 07/07/10

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Re: Why is CCDing really so vastly superior to visual? new [Re: Carol L]
      #5769811 - 03/31/13 10:23 PM

I think both convert photons into fun. whatever floats your boat.

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Feidb
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Reged: 10/09/09

Loc: Nevada
Re: Why is CCDing really so vastly superior to visual? new [Re: Carol L]
      #5769831 - 03/31/13 10:36 PM

Anyone can take a picture if they can afford it. Not as many of us can appreciate what they see through an eyepiece. It's a different mentality.

I'll elaborate on my statement above by saying that anyone who can afford it can take an image. It may be a bad one, it may be good, it may be accidentally good, or it may be technically good after much practice and expense.

On the other hand, someone can spend phenomenal amounts of money on a visual telescope and never be happy. They will want the best of the best of the best and it will never meet their expectations. Though their equipment is top of the line, they only see their money's worth maybe one night a year. The rest of the time the conditions don't allow it to perform any better than the commercial equipment around them. These people are just as obsessive and unhappy as the APers striving for perfection, just in a different way. Or, they may be happy buying equipment all the time. There ARE those that like buying equipment more than actually using it.

Then there are those of us who visually observe because we love to VISUALLY OBSERVE. That's what we do. We purchase what we can afford, are happy with what we have, and don't obsess over specs. We get our joy out of stepping up to the eyepiece and gazing at that swirling galaxy. Or, we go for the next faint fuzzy we can barely detect by nudging the scope, to see something wrong with the sky background and know we've detected an object at the limit of our seeing skill.

One isn't superior to the other as far as this hobby is concerned. Sure, scientifically, AP would be considered da bomb, but we're talking about our hobby, aren't we? Each is a different way of enjoying or not enjoying the hobby! Some people get off on self-torture. Others get off on pure pleasure.


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GlennLeDrew
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Re: Why is CCDing really so vastly superior to visual? new [Re: Feidb]
      #5769942 - 04/01/13 12:07 AM

With a camera one can capture great sheets of faintly illuminated dust clouds which are utterly beyond visual detection. That's just one example of why imaging can be vastly superior to eye alone. Think of all we would be completely unaware of had it not been for imaging technology in one form or another.

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hbanich
Pooh-Bah
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Loc: Portland, Oregon
Re: Why is CCDing really so vastly superior to visual? new [Re: Feidb]
      #5769973 - 04/01/13 12:41 AM

Which is better, a motor or a sailing boat? A bicycle or a motorcycle? Depends on what you’re trying to do, or prefer doing, so there are no absolutes in these choices any more than there are between CCD imaging and visual observing. As buddyjesus mentioned, both convert photons into fun - this is a hobby after all and hobbies are by definition an enjoyable pastime.
Pushing limits isn’t fun for everyone, especially in a hobby, and imputing motives on why some do and others don’t isn’t really helpful, much like the tired value comparisons between those who use goto and those who push their scopes manually. Or refractor versus reflector or any number of other comparisons that tend to become value driven way too quickly. Yuck!
That’s not to imply there are no important differences in these comparisons, but beyond noting what they are I find that trying to place absolutes on them creates artificial hierarchies that can ignore important variables.
Sure, with the proper equipment and a little practice anyone can take an image that will surpass in detail what the most dedicated, talented, experienced and well equipped visual observer could ever see under perfect conditions. Ok, but that’s just the nature of these two particular beasts.
Which is preferable? Which way more naturally drives someone toward perfection? Perhaps another way to think about this is when is a drive toward perfection enjoyable in a hobby? I think that’s up to each of us to decide based on what we enjoy.
And what’s perfection anyway? That’s different for each of us too. I see it as whatever makes you excited to get out under the stars.


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Tom Polakis
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Re: Why is CCDing really so vastly superior to visual? new [Re: IVM]
      #5770415 - 04/01/13 10:07 AM

Why is the sense of smell so vastly superior to the sense of taste? I could go on to explain why, but it would be wasting everybody's time.

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galaxyman
Vendor - Have a Stellar Birthday
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Reged: 04/04/05

Loc: Limerick, Pa
Re: Why is CCDing really so vastly superior to visual? new [Re: Tom Polakis]
      #5770468 - 04/01/13 10:37 AM

Superior in detail, though not so thoroughly to human emotion.

There is an innate drive in all of us to conquer a challenge or go beyond what may deem possible.

Yes, imaging can be challenging, but to actually "see" beyond one's perceived capability is a natural quality in at least most of us.

Another is upgrading visual equipment as in larger telescopes or just a new telescope. New and better telescopes, eyepieces and other visual accessories gives us a way to see the night sky anew. Look at the faces of people at NEAF for instance when they a purchasing a new telescope or even a new eyepiece, and you see what I mean.

Our Galaxy Log series brings both together, that both Frank (the imager) and I (the observer) see as not so much one superior to the other, but a challenge and mostly a great satisfaction to both.



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.
Celestron 10x60mm Binos


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blb
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Reged: 11/25/05

Loc: Piedmont NC
Re: Why is CCDing really so vastly superior to visual? new [Re: Tom Polakis]
      #5770476 - 04/01/13 10:45 AM

Why is CCDing really so vastly superior to visual? Is it? I mean realy is it? They are different and you can gain different information from each but is one realy superior to the other? Is CCDing superior to radio? How about inferred? They are all different and give different information. I think if you think one is superior to another then that tells us more about you than weather one type of observing is superior to another.

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IVM
scholastic sledgehammer


Reged: 01/07/08

Loc: Western New York
Re: Why is CCDing really so vastly superior to visual? new [Re: blb]
      #5770566 - 04/01/13 11:30 AM

Thank you all for sharing your views. I realize that it might offend some on principle, but I indeed meant to "impute motives" to digital imagers and visual observers. To these groups taken collectively of course; on average. After all, there are laws of collective behavior whether or not there is free will.

It is interesting in this connection to read about the struggles of the nineteenth-century visual observers of the deep sky to compare their observations. And scientific drawing in that time was a rather precise art - one which is no longer practiced. Still it seems that most prominent observers were bewildered about how to deduce reliably the form and nature of their objects from the disparate observations. All was settled by the ease of comparison of photographs just a few decades later. If our (the humanity's overall) visual perception of the universe has changed since that time - and I believe it has dramatically - it is almost exclusively because our visual perception became guided by the astrophotography data.

By themselves and together with their equipment, practically nobody today is a better visual observer of the deep sky than Lord Rosse was with his Leviathan, and hardly anybody is a better scientific sketcher than his assistants were. We see more because of photography, and photography in astronomy has historically overtaken visual observation not because it was initially superior, but because the ease of comparison set off the drive for perfection in its practitioners that the historical visual observers lacked. The technological potential of photography was immanent in the technique and was immanently superior to visual, but the initial results of astrophotography were not superior to visual. It is the kind of motives that I "impute" when talking about modern amateurs that made the difference then.


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nytecam
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Re: Why is CCDing really so vastly superior to visual? new [Re: IVM]
      #5770599 - 04/01/13 11:45 AM Attachment (10 downloads)

There so many facets to our hobby it's absurd to suggest any one is superior to another or for anyone to be crestfallen for not following a particular route. The important point is to enjoy whatever you're doing and maybe share some of that enthusiasm with fellow astronomers via these pages.

For me, in a hobby spanning 60yrs plus, things evolve. Nowadays, due to poor eyes and even poorer LP city skies, I resort to CCD imaging in very brief exposures from my yard obsy to get my deepsky fix - sample from Friday night through cloud gaps below.

I've honed my Meade scope to suit and explore my pics on download much as a visual DSO observer would do live at the EP. Dedicated astroimagers after hours of exposure seek 'perfection' and gloat over colour palette, technique etc oblivious to actual content such that a new supernova in the field, for example, becomes 'invisible'

Peace


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buddyjesus
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Re: Why is CCDing really so vastly superior to visual? new [Re: nytecam]
      #5771039 - 04/01/13 03:18 PM

nice catch on the m65 sn nytecam

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

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Re: Why is CCDing really so vastly superior to visual? new [Re: buddyjesus]
      #5771525 - 04/01/13 07:32 PM

Modified from the Road Not Taken by Robert Frost:

Two roads diverged under a darken sky,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim
Because it was grassy and wanted wear,
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that night equally lay
In space no view was worn out.
Oh, I marked the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way
I doubted if I should ever come back

I took for me the road less traveled and that was the visual road. For others it is the imaging road that is less traveled so they choose that. It's a choice, no biggie. Yet I think for me, it will be many paths, many avenues of visual observing before and if I return or try to return to the path of imaging. I fear by then, it may be too late except perhaps a mallincam.


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azure1961p
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Re: Why is CCDing really so vastly superior to visual? new [Re: JayinUT]
      #5771647 - 04/01/13 08:28 PM

I'm not getting the OP really. Clearly CCDs have it head, shoulders and ankles over the best visual on deepsky. But there is an ethereal nature you can't capture in an image. Globular clusters fail miserably and the Veil does on that note too. Visual is our experience with the genuine article - the sheer presence of the observation is something no CCD image can manage. It collects more data - but there in lies the problem - IT - isn't I and it can never bridge that .

Not to say imaging isn't a thorough rewarding blast - merely that visual is into itself. Its not a competitor, but merely a different avenue when spiritual reward is of account.

Pete


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Feidb
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 10/09/09

Loc: Nevada
Re: Why is CCDing really so vastly superior to visual? new [Re: azure1961p]
      #5772033 - 04/02/13 12:30 AM

I appreciate a good image as well as the next person, but I prefer the less perfect ones, the ones that are closer to what one might see visually. A lot of the images submitted to our Observer's Challenge are like that. I really admire Nytecams images. They are not Hubble shots, not overprocessed and more real to me.

Yet, I have no interest in ever going that route or spending that kind of money. Photos may help confirm something I saw through an eyepiece or give me a slight moment of awe as in a Hubble image occasionally does, but otherwise, I'm a lot happier at the eyepiece. Neither is superior to the other in the context of enjoyment of the hobby except within our own minds and motivations.

In the context of the original question, CCDing isn't vastly superior to visual observing as far as the hobby is concerned because it's such an individual thing. However, as far as scientifically, or for literally gathering photons, well, of course.


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IVM
scholastic sledgehammer


Reged: 01/07/08

Loc: Western New York
Re: Why is CCDing really so vastly superior to visual? new [Re: Feidb]
      #5772419 - 04/02/13 09:24 AM

Thank you all for additional comments, and for some beautifully crafted passages about our hobby. I am really getting more than my money's worth for my lengthy post with a sensationalist title. Thanks to your responses I am sharpening my argument and will present it to you again one day

Pete: I meant - as a hypothesis - that if photographers exhibited the relaxed attitude toward their results that visual observers tend to exhibit, photography would not be superior to visual in detecting nebulous details, because the technological potential would not be realized.


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curiosidad
sage


Reged: 06/09/11

Re: Why is CCDing really so vastly superior to visual? new [Re: Feidb]
      #5772428 - 04/02/13 09:30 AM

Hello,
I prefer my vastly inferior visual observing of.. for example ,the MilKy Way !


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azure1961p
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Reged: 01/17/09

Loc: USA
Re: Why is CCDing really so vastly superior to visual? new [Re: curiosidad]
      #5773998 - 04/02/13 08:52 PM

Thanks !

Prte


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azure1961p
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Re: Why is CCDing really so vastly superior to visual? new [Re: curiosidad]
      #5774000 - 04/02/13 08:53 PM

Thanks !

Pete


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stevecoe
"Astronomical Tourist"
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Reged: 04/24/04

Loc: Arizona, USA
Re: Why is CCDing really so vastly superior to visual? new [Re: azure1961p]
      #5774663 - 04/03/13 03:04 AM

I have a 500 hour exposure of the Orion Nebula. I can't show it to you because it is inside my brain, but I can tell you about it. It does get better with every telling;-)

It is also interesting because it was made with a wide variety of instuments from naked eye to binoculars to telescopes up to 36 inches in aperture. From a variety of locations and among many friends and some nights just me. I might not be able to show it to you, but I can tell you how to start your own.

BTW, I also have them of the Lagoon, Trifid, Veil and Eta Carina...it is, after all, a really BIG universe. And, a beautiful one. I love the universe and the good news is that it loves me back.

Clear skies;
Steve Coe


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GlennLeDrew
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Re: Why is CCDing really so vastly superior to visual? new [Re: stevecoe]
      #5774727 - 04/03/13 06:03 AM

Steve,
I wonder to what extent various images of M42 have augmented your own personal '500 hour exposure.'

Anyone restricted to visual only, no matter how long he stared at M42 (to say nothing of the far more numerous fainter nebulae) with any conceivable telescope, could divine its nature as readily as with but a short look at a color image.

Would we have ever visually discovered the fascinating cometary globules in the central 'hole', radiating away from the white dwarf in the Helix nebula (NGC 7293)? Now that we are aware of them, has anyone seen a hint, I wonder? And if so, might not the foreknowledge supplied by imaging have been a help (if not leading to so-called 'averted imagination?')

No matter how long one has gazed through the eyepiece, the end result is still really an impression of less than one second. The accumulated experience will have led to seeing more, of course. But nowhere near to that which the camera can reveal.

Imaging must necessarily be considered vastly superior to a visual view when it reveals things our limited vision cannot. And when it is used for the quantifying of phenomena, such as brightness variation in stars and asteroids, for but one example.

The visual-only acolyte may tend to emphasize the zen of observing, the being in more direct contact with the cosmos, and even the almost 'spiritual' aspect. All valid, for we are emotional creatures. But from an objective viewpoint, imaging in many (not all!) respects is superior.


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Astro One
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Reged: 02/20/13

Loc: San Bernardino County, CA.
Re: Why is CCDing really so vastly superior to visual? new [Re: galaxyman]
      #5782453 - 04/06/13 07:21 PM

Well said, Karl.

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ensign
professor emeritus


Reged: 12/16/08

Loc: Southwestern Ontario
Re: Why is CCDing really so vastly superior to visual? new [Re: Feidb]
      #5783464 - 04/07/13 10:12 AM

A recent experience would tend to contradict the title of this thread. I've seen several photos of comet panstarrs lately sent around by email. Last week I managed a peek at the comet through my 9" scope. The view was undoubtedly superior in terms of detail and grandeur to any of these ccd images.

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IVM
scholastic sledgehammer


Reged: 01/07/08

Loc: Western New York
Re: Why is CCDing really so vastly superior to visual? new [Re: ensign]
      #5783512 - 04/07/13 10:41 AM

Most of the photos of this comet that I saw in mainstream information channels looked like someone's first attempt at photographing a celestial object. So indeed the detail seen was about the same as visible to a casual visual observer - my original point!

(Of course my remark is only general, Mike - I don't know what quality photos you may receive by email or if your peek at the comet was casual Even a casual look with experience can beat someone's first attempt at digital imaging. My original point!)


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HiggsBoson
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Re: Why is CCDing really so vastly superior to visual? new [Re: IVM]
      #5784827 - 04/07/13 09:28 PM

IVM

I find you topic interesting. In my view visual and photography are almost orthogonal pursuits. One can do one or the other or both without conflict. For me, seeing Saturn in my own 6” Newtonian is a visceral experience not matched by any photograph. The quality of the image is not very good when compared to those of space born assets but those photos actually enhance my experience because my mind’s eye knows what I am seeing. Similarly, seeing fuzzy suggestions of detail in Andromeda via my optics aided eye provides the same impact not present when I see a detailed photo.

Developing the ability to make those photos is a different challenge. I have done many types of photography including through optical and electron microscopes, many types of video and motion pictures. Astrophotography is by far more technically demanding than those above. However, being hard to do does not imply it is somehow nobler or has greater value than visual observing, quite the contrary.

I am not much of an observer. I take the scope outside for less than an hour about 15 times per year. This is not an obsession for me. I do find it satisfying that I ground and polished a mirror, designed and executed a simple mount. This rig has no motors, wires or batteries yet it shares with me a view of the night sky. I point it, as best I can, with my two hands and explore with my mind.

When I first decided to get a telescope I started with the refractors and moved into the SCTs. Then I settled on the 10” RC from RC Optical Systems. When I realized that this system high tech system was optimized for photography, I decided to build my own simple Newtonian. The RCOS would not be very portable and I would spend most of my time assembling and transporting the thing with the remaining time sitting in front of a computer rather than looking up. I am glad I had my epiphany in time.

Edited by HiggsBoson (04/07/13 09:29 PM)


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aa6ww
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Re: Why is CCDing really so vastly superior to visual? new [Re: Feidb]
      #5786281 - 04/08/13 03:59 PM

Quote:


On the other hand, "clip clip clip"

Then there are those of us who visually observe because we love to VISUALLY OBSERVE. That's what we do. We purchase what we can afford, are happy with what we have, and don't obsess over specs. We get our joy out of stepping up to the eyepiece and gazing at that swirling galaxy. Or, we go for the next faint fuzzy we can barely detect by nudging the scope, to see something wrong with the sky background and know we've detected an object at the limit of our seeing skill.

Some people get off on self-torture. Others get off on pure pleasure.




I fit into this category. Having observed with larger scopes for years, I now find a fascination out of using smaller higher quality gear and seeing how much I can see just in my back yard suburban skies. Galaxies are much more of a challenge, but open clusters and double stars and even planets fascinate me more now, where as before, I use to just be obsessed with trying to go as deep as I could with larger gear.
I don't care for astrophotography at all however, I call it astrophotoshop. There's too much manipulation of something very basic, some people are very good at it, and that's a skill in itself, but its not for me.
Everyone does have their own reason for enjoying this hobby. I still prefer to go out from sundown to sunset, and make a full weekend out of a Saturday night, even if I'm just in my back yard all by myself with my sports talk on the radio and running two laptops and playing the science guy for one night a week or one night a month.
I like hunting for objects using star hopping skills. I tried GoTo but it was very boring and felt like I was just searching for objects using Google.
I'm finding myself liking the quality views in refractors more also, and spend a great deal of my time with my 4" and 5" refractors, where my larger SCT get very little use, at least when I'm by myself.

Its all for fun and very relaxing and rewarding for me. My family appreciates my passion for astronomy also, and likes that I can be at home in my back yard and enjoying my time.

.. Ralph


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Re: Why is CCDing really so vastly superior to visual? new [Re: Astro One]
      #5786395 - 04/08/13 04:53 PM

Quote:

Well said, Karl.




Thanks Steve

Hey even Frank once in a while sticks an eyepiece in his 18" f/4.5 dob, and even took part in the observation of Ngc 253 in the Galaxy Log video 11.2012 using his 4.7" f/5 refractor (he of course also imaged it that was used for the video). Though his love is imaging, there is still a place in his heart of looking through an eyepiece once in a while.


Karl
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ES 6" f/6.5 achro. Good one
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Re: Why is CCDing really so vastly superior to visual? new [Re: galaxyman]
      #5786792 - 04/08/13 08:31 PM

I took the question to mean, "Why do images reveal so much more than can be seen by eye?" Not, "Why is imaging a better pursuit than looking?"

A great many responses seem to be formulated on the latter interpretation, which is an *entirely* different question.


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IVM
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Re: Why is CCDing really so vastly superior to visual? new [Re: GlennLeDrew]
      #5786932 - 04/08/13 09:39 PM

You are correct, Glenn!

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galaxyman
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Re: Why is CCDing really so vastly superior to visual? new [Re: GlennLeDrew]
      #5787222 - 04/09/13 01:10 AM

For Glenn I took this part of the original post when I first commented:

Finally – and I really wonder if this is the crux of the matter – it seems to be the nature of man to be demanding of a machine. Which inner drive is applicable to achieving perfection in photography, but not in visual observing.


Karl
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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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Re: Why is CCDing really so vastly superior to visual? new [Re: galaxyman]
      #5787469 - 04/09/13 06:49 AM

Even the crudest, most amateurish, unprocessed DSO image can easily reveal much for which the visual observer would require an aperture easily several times larger. And with just a modicum of attention to technique, the still-inexperienced imager can capture stuff utterly beyond visual detection with any aperture.

The emphasis on a picture of untold toil by masters of the craft tweaking an image with all manner of software and sophisticated techniques bordering on the magical in order to bring out the contribution from every collected photon is overblown.

Back in the good ol' film days, for instance, using a 135mm f/2.8 telephoto, no filter, and ordinary Ektachrome 100 slide film, I unambiguously captured the excessively faint emission nebula Sh2-126 in a single 10 minute exposure. A magnifier was all it required to see the dim red cloud on the slide.

This nebula, about 7 degrees in extent, is illuminated by the O9 star 10 Lacertae, the hottest (but not quite brightest) star in the interesting Lac OB1 association. I suspect this nebula will never be seen visually without electronic enhancement, or averted imagination. Yet a piggybacked camera with a small lens on inefficient (!) photographic film captured it. This is what one might consider a snapshot, really, which any bumbling klutz could replicate with supreme ease using today's superior--and not necessarily sophisticated or expensive--gear.


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galaxyman
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Re: Why is CCDing really so vastly superior to visual? new [Re: GlennLeDrew]
      #5787709 - 04/09/13 09:52 AM

Of course Glenn I agree, though remember those first low pixel CCD images in print (Astronomy & S&T)? They showed detail, but were pretty ugly

Globs for instance were far better in say my 12.5" dob and a Nagler eyepiece, then what I saw in these early images.

Anyway, I was going in a more "metaphysical" evaluation of the two, which I guess broadened the spectrum of the post.

I'm personally not enamored with doing imaging, though down the road that may change, but for now hand me a quality scope and eyepieces to observe under clear dark skies.

I may not be able to see detail as in those fantastic images we see daily, but that's not what observing and astronomy is about…far from it.

I know you agree with that.


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.
Celestron 10x60mm Binos


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IVM
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Re: Why is CCDing really so vastly superior to visual? new [Re: GlennLeDrew]
      #5787848 - 04/09/13 11:21 AM

Quote:

Even the crudest, most amateurish, unprocessed DSO image can easily reveal much for which the visual observer would require an aperture easily several times larger.




"Amateurish" and "unprocessed" would be high praise for the images that beginning CCDers get. I think they get "featureless" instead, same as beginning visual observers. They just know better than to share those true first images and quickly improve their skill. This should not apply if they are expert photographers to begin with (not astro-photographers), but I guess in these days of point-and-shoot this should be rare. Basically I posit that by the time a CCDer shares his or her "first image", he or she has expended as much directed effort improving his or her technique as only few of the visual observers ever expend.

Edited by IVM (04/09/13 11:45 AM)


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GlennLeDrew
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Re: Why is CCDing really so vastly superior to visual? new [Re: IVM]
      #5788024 - 04/09/13 12:46 PM

Perhaps I should have been more specific. In my mind I was imagining the beginner who is not so ambitious, and starts with the less demanding 'piggyback' kind of imaging, as did I. You just clap camera to mount, open the shutter for the requisite time, and enjoy the image. Even a wide angle, or for that matter fisheye lens brings out such visual challenges and impossibilities as Barnard's Loop, the lambda Orionis cloud and the humongous Gum nebula, to name but a few.

As Clint Whitman, one of the mavens skulking about the Refractor and Classics forums has practically trademarked, "So easy a (aveman can do it!"


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Re: Why is CCDing really so vastly superior to visual? new [Re: IVM]
      #5788044 - 04/09/13 12:56 PM Attachment (8 downloads)

Ohhh, everybody is different, so it is hard to generalize. I'll never forget my first night out with my shiny new Meade DSI. I know that my gear was totally inadequate, but I cobbled together what I thought would give me the best shot at success; an Orion StarBlast, one of my smallest and fastest scopes, on a DS-2000 mount, the only tracking mount I owned at the time (also my first tracking mount and my first GoTo mount). I figured that the short focal length of the StarBlast would be more forgiving of the DS-2000’s tracking ability. I decided to go for broke and went after M1 as my first target, I was utterly stunned and shocked at what I saw; a tiny easily recognizable Crab Nebula, something that I had never seen before in any of my scopes. I immediately slewed over to M42, and spent the rest of the night in heaven. If’n I recall right I posted a couple of images from the first night and in fact they may have been the first images taken with a DSI posted on Cloudy Nights. Those were exciting days (nights) right up there with my first view of Saturn. (A little boy in the early 1960s using his Dad’s mountless Sears 50mm refractor wedged just-right in a chain-link fence.)

My gear has slowly been migrating into three groups with some overlap between them; visual, imaging, and camera-assisted observing. Visual tends to be the simplest, imaging tends to be the most sophisticated, camera-assisted observing tends to be older, simpler imaging gear.

My original imaging gear from way-back. I used this for about a year and had a great time with it.


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Re: Why is CCDing really so vastly superior to visual? new [Re: Carol L]
      #5788097 - 04/09/13 01:23 PM

Quote:

Quote:

It isn't.




+1




+1 The validity of the grand assumption behind the OP's question depends on what is meant by "vastly superior" and who is meaning it. I am a 100% visual observer. And I say that visual observing is vastly superior to CCDing. I have absolutely 0% interest in spending my time and money taking pictures. I want to see objects with my own eyes ... through a nice telescope or binoculars, of course!


Mike


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IVM
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Re: Why is CCDing really so vastly superior to visual? new [Re: Sarkikos]
      #5788431 - 04/09/13 03:08 PM

Mike, what is meant was defined rather narrowly and deliberately in the OP (as revealing nebulous detail). Who is meaning it? I like some aspects of CCDing and deep-sky video but have been so far at least 95% visual myself.

John and Glenn, maybe my premise (that the true first images are so bad they are not better than first visual looks) was indeed wrong. I certainly did not consider piggybacking. Or may it be that you two had been experienced daytime photographers (not the point-and-shoot kind) when you made those first astro images? On nights when our observing field is full, I constantly hear beginning imagers swear loudly. They are getting fuzzy blobs. So surely did I. In fact I recall that my first visual galaxy views were very distinctly better than my first CCD images. DETAIL WITHIN the spiral arms of M81 was among my very first visual views. M51 I imaged during the same outing was an unrecognizable blob.


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Re: Why is CCDing really so vastly superior to visual? new [Re: Sarkikos]
      #5788744 - 04/09/13 05:17 PM

The post title is somewhat loaded and produced the response and feelgood factor the forum expects
Quote:

..... I am a 100% visual observer. And I say that visual observing is vastly superior to CCDing. I have absolutely 0% interest in spending my time and money taking pictures. I want to see objects with my own eyes ... through a nice telescope or binoculars, of course! Mike


Lucky you Mike to be so uncompremising but sometimes imaging can save-the-day as it did for me last night. Couldn't even spy Regulus naked eye in the murk but got it in finder if extremely dim - then goto NGC 2554 in Cancer and the mag 15 SN was there in a few seconds exposure so I was happy. Eyeballing wasn't an option

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Re: Why is CCDing really so vastly superior to visual? new [Re: nytecam]
      #5788770 - 04/09/13 05:30 PM

Yes, Nytecam. Note to myself: do not give a loud title to a lengthy post Especially if it sounds like something entirely different that had already been discussed on the forum. I am just such an inexperienced internet discussant. Sorry all for the confusion and agitation I inadvertently caused

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Re: Why is CCDing really so vastly superior to visual? new [Re: IVM]
      #5789045 - 04/09/13 08:11 PM

"Or may it be that you two had been experienced daytime photographers..."

Heh, heh, I've been imaging since the 60's. My first rolls of film (star trails on 120 Tri-X) were developed by the corner drug store. I quickly stepped up to developing my own film; open trays of chemicals in a dark attic. The rest is history...


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GlennLeDrew
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Re: Why is CCDing really so vastly superior to visual? new [Re: jgraham]
      #5789583 - 04/10/13 04:00 AM

I purchased my first camera in '83 (at age 20) and commenced astro-imaging the same year. After initial camera-on-tripod experiments using high speed film, I made a tracker of my own design. I didn't enjoy a period of development as a 'regular' photographer; I dove right into the deep end, so to speak.

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nytecam
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Re: Why is CCDing really so vastly superior to visual? new [Re: IVM]
      #5789636 - 04/10/13 06:09 AM

Quote:

Yes, Nytecam. Note to myself: do not give a loud title to a lengthy post Especially if it sounds like something entirely different that had already been discussed on the forum. I am just such an inexperienced internet discussant. Sorry all for the confusion and agitation I inadvertently caused


IVM - there's no need for any apologies for your post title - it has provoked some interesting and thoughtful replies which we all welcome. This forum took it in the spirit intended. But if you'd have posted it on the CCD Forum for example it would have been taken at facevalue and the response likewise

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Re: Why is CCDing really so vastly superior to visual? new [Re: nytecam]
      #5797337 - 04/13/13 07:04 PM

Compare the eye, and what it sees in the 1/30th second image time frame it downloads to the brain, with what ANY camera sees in 1/30th second.
The eye is VASTLY superior to the camera.

BUT, though the exposure length cannot be modified for the eye, it CAN for the camera. And adding up all those photons does give us a better view of the faint objects we love to view.

The one exception seems to be planets. I have never seen a photo of Jupiter that equals the crisp sharpness that can be seen with the eye in a decent-sized scope. Part of the reason is seeing--with the eye, we WILL catch that 0.2" resolution 3-second period in the middle of a minute of observing. With the camera, we won't. And part of it is the process of stacking will only resolve to the lowest common denominator, and that is probably the equivalent of an average as seen by the eye, and excludes the moments of superb clarity we catch with the eye.

My primary objection to photography is that it takes too long. I viewed 75 galaxies, 6 planetaries, and 2 clusters over the last night I observed (only actually recorded my observations for 20 of those objects). If I were photographing the objects, I might have shot, what, four or five? If you had one night a month to observe under dark skies, which would you do?

And photography is very expensive. A decent CCD camera is $2K-$5K, and that can buy a whole case of high-end eyepieces. I certainly don't cast any stones at those who image, but I often wonder if they really enjoy looking at the sky.

Now, for the person with an observatory in dark skies who photographs with one scope while looking at the sky with a nearby 20" dob, I can only say


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GlennLeDrew
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Re: Why is CCDing really so vastly superior to visual? new [Re: Starman1]
      #5797445 - 04/13/13 08:25 PM

Don,
With something like a Mallincam, a pretty brisk pace can be maintained. Over the course of a night I can image 50 different objects, and that's taking the time to manually point and frame the targets with my non-GoTo mount. If the mount could reliably point for me, I could build a nightly album of easily 100 objects. And for nebulae and galaxies, those 1-2 minute exposures would contain detail and color I could never see.


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chaoscosmos
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Re: Why is CCDing really so vastly superior to visual? new [Re: GlennLeDrew]
      #5799895 - 04/15/13 05:30 AM

I was going to say something similar to what I think Don is referencing. That is, photographs can show vastly more- in a way- but the eye sees nuance that can never be replicated in a photograph. So while visual observing through an eyepiece may see less of what's there in one sense, it sees more of that which it can see. The subtlety of light and clarity can't be replicated in a photograph, but a photograph can show things we couldn't observe without it.

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Re: Why is CCDing really so vastly superior to visual? new [Re: chaoscosmos]
      #5801102 - 04/15/13 05:45 PM

Ray,
True enough. The visual system's huge dynamic range is what's responsible for that special quality of a live view. Our eyes can simultaneously cope with bright and faint objects well outside the range of a camera's single exposure (noisy at the dim end and saturated at the bright end.)

Of course image processing can bring together a range of exposures, so as to expand the dynamic range. But then to see this expanded range in one image, it must be compressed so that both the dim and bright parts fit within the display medium's limited dynamic range. The additional information is there, but in a form rather alien to the way we would experience it if we had the required gain in sensitivity.


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