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General Astronomy >> General Observing and Astronomy

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BoldAxis1967
sage
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Reged: 10/11/12

Loc: Kentucky
Re: Joy of Visual Observing new [Re: microstar]
      #5976145 - 07/17/13 02:40 PM

I agree. Well stated.

This is an interesting discussion. We seem to be attempting to describe some of the intersections of emotion and intellect; these are challenging concepts to put into words.

LB


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JoeR
Pooh-Bah
*****

Reged: 03/07/10

Loc: Columbus, OH
Re: Joy of Visual Observing new [Re: BoldAxis1967]
      #5976168 - 07/17/13 02:54 PM

I do a lot of imaging but I always make a point to have plenty of observation time too. As rewarding as AP is there's no comparison to seeing it live in real time before your eyes. On really long sessions at dark skies I bring two scopes, one for imaging and one for good old fashion star hopping. I love the goto but I like finding things on my own as well. It's a thrill of its own to be crusing around a patch of sky and that faint DSO suddenly comes into view.

One aspect I find fascinating about stargazing is we are viewing the same night sky as the old astronomers did hundreds of years ago. Aside from the planets positions, everything is exactly as it was long ago.


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festa_freak
member


Reged: 12/22/11

Loc: Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
Re: Joy of Visual Observing new [Re: MikeBOKC]
      #5976193 - 07/17/13 03:20 PM

The best part for me is the quest to find new things. I have an intelliscope but sometimes I look at my chart and seek out a new object. It's a quest and I must complete it, and there is a great reward at the end.

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ensign
scholastic sledgehammer


Reged: 12/16/08

Loc: Southwestern Ontario
Re: Joy of Visual Observing new [Re: BoldAxis1967]
      #5976252 - 07/17/13 03:54 PM

Quote:

We seem to be attempting to describe some of the intersections of emotion and intellect;




When we call ourselves "Homo Sapiens" we flatter ourselves. "Wise man" indeed. Homo Passionis or Homo Sensus (emotional man) might be more accurate.


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Mike B
Starstruck
*****

Reged: 04/06/05

Loc: shake, rattle, & roll, CA
Re: Joy of Visual Observing [Re: JoeR]
      #5976308 - 07/17/13 04:23 PM

Quote:

...we are viewing the same night sky as the old astronomers did hundreds of years ago. Aside from the planets positions, everything is exactly as it was long ago.



It might seem so, at first blush. Yet actually, things are changing up there quite a bit. Several double stars' orbital geometry widens & narrows over the years, such that "splitting" them as doubles grows easier (or harder, requiring larger and/or better optics to accomplish!)... even during a few years.

Then there are momentary occultations of stars by asteroids, new comets swinging into view, or sometimes even smashing into view (Jupiter, again & again!). I witnessed myself the Comet Shoemaker-Levy impacts on Jupiter back in 1994! Left quite an impression... on both Jove, and *me*!

Then there's the slow but unyielding expansion of supernova-based nebula, like the M1 crab nebula, and i'm sure others. Or highly visible supernovae popping up in other galaxies, like M51.

So there's a LOT happening out there... it can be quite dynamic!

Quote:

- if you are open to the experience you can lose yourself in a universe beyond our everyday experience.



Seems to me this seemingly "simple" aspect could generate its own thread.
1) as above,
2) a realm relatively untouched & unpolluted by man,
3) a realm far beyond the scope, scale, and grasp of any human imagination,
4) a pursuit that engenders peaceful contemplation & tranquility- yeah, you can bring your earbuds & heavy-metal if so inclined... but it's STILL more relaxing than same enjoyed in rush-hour traffic or traipsing thru mall!
5) not only a pursuit of the grand & beautiful, but it's totally free from fees, taxation, regulation, etc! Yeah, it *can* be limited by weather, location, and personal budget, as well as intruded upon by light pollution, aircraft blinkies, and the occasional human reminder of a satellite flitting thru one's view- these limits are really modest, and with time & planning, can be entirely overcome!
6) others?


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JRiggs
member


Reged: 07/08/13

Loc: Western New York
Re: Joy of Visual Observing new [Re: Mike B]
      #5977659 - 07/18/13 10:49 AM

I've been a visual observer for nearly fifty years. I started when I was 11 years old and have been active pretty much ever since. I did astrophotography for a time but have always returned to visual observing. As many of the responses have noted, it is the "experience" of the night sky that is so compelling to the visual observer. Call it a mystical response if you like. The imagers I have come in contact with seem to miss this aspect completely.

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csrlice12
Postmaster
*****

Reged: 05/22/12

Loc: Denver, CO
Re: Joy of Visual Observing new [Re: JRiggs]
      #5977866 - 07/18/13 12:50 PM

My eyes are giant black holes sucking in photons by the billions, and they're mine (like water, you can never see the same photon twice)....the other guy got some nice pictures.....

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ev2
member


Reged: 07/01/13

Loc: Light Polluted Sunnyvale, CA
Re: Joy of Visual Observing new [Re: Starman1]
      #5978237 - 07/18/13 04:19 PM

Quote:


If you're lucky, the 3-dimensionality of the Universe you can see comes through.

I also like the fleeting nature of what you see at the very limit of your vision. The very faintest image comes in and out so you want to be looking when it winks in. We observe in an art gallery of natural objects--one in which the halls are filled with smoke. Sometimes, the halls are nearly clear and we see farther and fainter, and more clearly, the artworks of the natural universe. Other times, the halls are filled with wispy smoke and we barely make out the details and features we saw the last time we were here. That variability makes us want to continually experience the night sky anew. On that one night when nature has ripped away all the haze between us and the universe, we want to be there to see it.
[...]
One night I suddenly got the idea of distance in my mind as I saw the bulge in the Milky Way extending to alpha and beta Librae, and viscerally felt the enormous size and distance to that bulge. For a brief moment I was a speck of dust on a small ball of rock orbiting a small star an immense distance from the core of the galaxy. It was enough for me to spend the rest of my life looking for that same feeling again.




You've hit the nail on the head for me (with eloquent and beautifully descriptive prose).

As much as I like toying with imaging, I don't take it seriously enough to sink huge sums of money into it; 90% of the time, I'd rather just observe visually. Looking at the sky at night really does help me put things in perspective:

Quote:


“Look again at that dot. That's here. That's home. That's us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every "superstar," every "supreme leader," every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there-on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.
-- Carl Sagan





As a practicing buddhist, it helps me to remind myself of just how small and insignificant we all are, that nothing is permanent (one day, the Earth will cease to exist). Suddenly all my problems - *our* problems - can fade from my mind, if only for a few chilly hours on a clear night.


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NedM
newbie


Reged: 05/30/13

Re: Joy of Visual Observing new [Re: ev2]
      #5986226 - 07/23/13 02:56 PM

I have been a visual astronomer for nearly two decades, I am really leaning toward investing in an imaging set-up. I will probably always have my Fujinon 16X70's at the ready while the imaging is in motion.

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galexand
sage
*****

Reged: 07/10/12

Loc: Bloomington Indiana
Re: Joy of Visual Observing new [Re: dcriner]
      #5986821 - 07/23/13 09:20 PM

I'm a visual observer. This is trivial, but one of the things about visual observing that blew my mind...I was looking at Stellarium to try to locate my first couple Messiers (M57, M39), and I noticed that all the stars on the chart had a color, I thought it was useless information, telling me the spectral types of the stars or something. Made me think of boring abstractions, like the Hertzsprung-Russell diagram.

Then I noticed that the stars in the eyepiece were the same color as the chart!!! Stars have colors!!! You don't have to be Hubble to see it!

Out of this world, man, out of this world.


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Tom S.
member


Reged: 02/16/07

Loc: Benicia, Calif.
Re: Joy of Visual Observing new [Re: star drop]
      #5987122 - 07/23/13 11:40 PM

Quote:

Purely visual for me. I like to see the real thing.




The notion of "the real thing" breaks down on closer examination.

But I understand the feeling you're talking about when you see something in an eyepiece vs. in a photo.


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Tom S.
member


Reged: 02/16/07

Loc: Benicia, Calif.
Re: Joy of Visual Observing new [Re: derangedhermit]
      #5987132 - 07/23/13 11:48 PM

Quote:

The universe is an awesome distillery of wonder. Deep space is a giant joy-seasoned barrel therein, flavored with grace and peace. As photons leave a sun's surface they begin to steep: miniscule transient flashes marinating in glee. Once appropriately aged, perhaps ten thousand years for a showy open cluster, or ten million years, more suitable for the majestic swirl of a galaxy, each tiny drop is delivered to one of the waiting watchful. Our uplifted eyes imbibe this heavenly elixir, and the essences dissolve into our minds and hearts, forever changed and grateful.




Very (passionately, drippingly) poetic. Maybe more a reflection of your own psyche than of the outside universe, but I love your description! You could have written lines for Carl Sagan. I'll be more fired up the next time I go out and look up.


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Tom S.
member


Reged: 02/16/07

Loc: Benicia, Calif.
Re: Joy of Visual Observing new [Re: kfiscus]
      #5987214 - 07/24/13 12:54 AM

Quote:

Taking the football game analogy another step.

Or watching the game vs. getting a great still photo from the sidelines. Both could be a person's choice and thrill but it's going to be hard to do both at the same time.




That's a great analogy. I like watching sports on TV because you can see close-up slo-mo replays and admire details that you have no way of seeing from the bleachers.

But the real-time experience and social context of the bleachers are equally cool.

If visual vs. AP is your quandary, then that's a better dilemma to have than deciding how to divide up a can of beans for a family of 5.


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Tom S.
member


Reged: 02/16/07

Loc: Benicia, Calif.
Re: Joy of Visual Observing new [Re: karstenkoch]
      #5987222 - 07/24/13 12:57 AM

Quote:

Regardless of whether you choose to image with your retina or observe with your CMOS, in either case we are doing very similar things: enjoying the beauties of the cosmos, participating in their existence with our awareness of it, and pondering our place in it all. That's what unites observers, imagers, naked eye astronomers of past millenia, and future travelers to the objects of our attention.





AMEN!

Well said. Karsten distills it to the essence.


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Tom S.
member


Reged: 02/16/07

Loc: Benicia, Calif.
Re: Joy of Visual Observing new [Re: nmitsthefish]
      #5987233 - 07/24/13 01:08 AM

Quote:

for imagers, having a collection of great captures is similar to those who keep photo albums of their life, their children, or their friends. It's nice to go through them all and think what a great shot I remember that night.




Absolutely true.

Your photo of your kid or of NGC-whatever will disappear into the sands of time with the trillions of other images captured each year but...

...for you (and maybe your family or a few others), the photo can solemnize your fleeting experience and help you sustain a wonderful memory.

Nothing wrong with that.

- Tom S.


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Tom S.
member


Reged: 02/16/07

Loc: Benicia, Calif.
Re: Joy of Visual Observing new [Re: Starman1]
      #5987240 - 07/24/13 01:19 AM

Quote:

One night I suddenly got the idea of distance in my mind as I saw the bulge in the Milky Way extending to alpha and beta Librae, and viscerally felt the enormous size and distance to that bulge. For a brief moment I was a speck of dust on a small ball of rock orbiting a small star an immense distance from the core of the galaxy. It was enough for me to spend the rest of my life looking for that same feeling again. It happened when I was 12, and had my first scope, and sat outside by a lake learning the constellations with a paper planisphere. I had read all about the Milky Way and how big it was and how deep into it the Messier objects were that I was observing with my 4.25" scope.

I knew where home was. And it was under the stars, looking up.




Bravo! Don P. articulates it perfectly.

This is the best CN thread I've seen in a while. People are baring their souls! Putting into clear writing the deeply felt but amorphous core of amateur astronomy!

- Tom S.


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Starman1
Vendor (EyepiecesEtc.com)
*****

Reged: 06/24/03

Loc: Los Angeles
Re: Joy of Visual Observing new [Re: galexand]
      #5987280 - 07/24/13 01:55 AM

Quote:

I'm a visual observer. This is trivial, but one of the things about visual observing that blew my mind...I was looking at Stellarium to try to locate my first couple Messiers (M57, M39), and I noticed that all the stars on the chart had a color, I thought it was useless information, telling me the spectral types of the stars or something. Made me think of boring abstractions, like the Hertzsprung-Russell diagram.

Then I noticed that the stars in the eyepiece were the same color as the chart!!! Stars have colors!!! You don't have to be Hubble to see it!

Out of this world, man, out of this world.




In the Hertzsprung-Russell diagram, when a globular cluster is mapped, there are a lot of older stars that "turn off" the main sequence to the upper right of the chart when helium burning starts. I link to an HR diagram illustrating the place the horizontal branch can be found:
here

When a lot of stars are plotted, you see a nearly-horizontal clustering of the stars on the chart. This is called the "horizontal branch" and it represents the majority of stars in these old clusters.
Some observing guides, like the Deep Sky Field Guide of Uranometria 2000.0, list the magnitude of the horizontal branch. It tells you a LOT about the visual appearance of the cluster. If you wish to resolve the cluster well, you need to see stars of the magnitude of the horizontal branch.

For instance, M4 in Scorpius has a horizontal branch magnitude of 13.4, which makes it resolvable in a 4" scope in dark skies and a 4" or larger scope will see stars across the face of the cluster.
In contrast, M14 in Ophiuchus has a horizontal branch magnitude of 17.1 and it takes a 12.5-15" scope in dark skies to begin to see the majority of the cluster as anything other than a nebula of sorts.
Of course, the very brightest stars are considerably brighter than the horizontal branch magnitude.

So, rather than a boring abstraction, the good old HR diagram tells you a lot about what you're going to see.

By the way, our old favorite, M13 (HB magnitude 15.0, so resolvable in 8" scopes in dark skies), has a lot of red giant stars in it. Get a dark night with good seeing, and they can all-of-a-sudden pop out at you.


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Mr Greybush
scholastic sledgehammer
*****

Reged: 05/16/13

Loc: Virginia
Re: Joy of Visual Observing new [Re: Tom S.]
      #5987317 - 07/24/13 02:47 AM

I personally love both visually and when the rest of my AP equipment arrives to start down the road to a challenge that I am up for taking. The reason why I decided to invest in AP is simple. I have a kidney transplant, I live at home, can't work, and I'm not about to sit on a couch and do absolutely nothing. I still am involved with visual with Star Parties 3 weekends a month. That is why I chose it. Yes its going to be ______ but, at least I am keeping active. I live with a lady who is on dialysis and all she does is sleep, eat, and spend money going to doctors because she doesn't want to get off her _____ and do something. That brings me down a ton both emotionally and physically so I would rather yell cuss scream that a photo didn't come out right or help a child look through an ep looking at the moon with amazement than to end up like that. So you tell me what is wrong that a man with my situation not invest time both visually and AP?? I have the up most respect for anyone who likes astronomy period. To many children, teenagers, and adults don't even care about it anymore. I attended my monthly meeting talking about a new telescope and how they wouldn't have enough people to handle all the data that will be gathered nightly. I think that we as astronomers need to start YELLING, SCREAMING,and what ever it takes to get more people involved because the majority is shrinking smaller and smaller and smaller everyday whether it is a visual astronomer photographer. I think we should be arguing about how can we get more people involved than fighting about who's a visual and who's a photographer.

The telescope I'm referring to is the E-ELT


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Dwight J
scholastic sledgehammer
*****

Reged: 05/14/09

Loc: Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada
Re: Joy of Visual Observing new [Re: Mr Greybush]
      #5987337 - 07/24/13 03:23 AM

It has been my experience that, at least in viewing solar system objects, visual trumps imaging. Where I live we are rarely blessed with good seeing and viewing the planets lets me catch moments of excellent seeing when they occur that exceed whatever I have been able to capture with a camera. My most vivid memories of objects have been from viewing them by eye. The best were Comet Hyukatake stretching over 100 degrees of sky, Saturn and Jupiter on a rare night of excellent seeing til my neck ached, and spiral arms and a host of other details in M 51 and M 101 in a freshly recoated 16" Dob. I have taken images and photos of these objects but they don't compare to the visual impact they had and still have. It is hard to beat a night out in a dark site with large binos scanning up and down the Milky Way, something that imaging just can't replicate. A very memorable night was seeing Comet Hale Bopp and a totally eclipsed moon in opposite sides of the sky with the naked eye, something you just couldn't do with a camera (well maybe a fisheye lens but that would not really compare). I would often take my astrophoto gear and scope to a star party, set it all up, polar align, yada yada and then look at a few things through the 16 inch Dob. That would stretch out to all night visually observing and every subsequent night too. I learned to just leave the astrophoto gear at home. My eyesight is not so good anymore and my back really didn't like hauling out the big scope so they are gone now and I mostly use a Mallincam from my backyard. I still use an eyepiece for the planets and double stars, which again, appear the best visually. Imaging has it's place but it cannot replace visual observing for it's simplicity and long lasting impact. Most if not all imagers started out as visual observers and still are at heart. There is room for both pursuits and video is beginning to provide an overlap between them. I don't want to be a one trick pony.

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Tony Flanders
Postmaster
*****

Reged: 05/18/06

Loc: Cambridge, MA, USA
Re: Joy of Visual Observing new [Re: Dwight J]
      #5987406 - 07/24/13 06:39 AM

Quote:

It has been my experience that, at least in viewing solar system objects, visual trumps imaging.




That was true up to about a decade ago, but at this point planetary webcams do far better than visual observers. They can freeze moments of good seeing too brief for the eye to capture and, more importantly, add them up far more effectively than even the most experienced planetary observers can.

That's not to say that imaging has eliminated or reduced the joys of visually observing the planets. But it's important to set the record straight.


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