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BrooksObs
professor emeritus


Reged: 12/08/12

Re: Veteran Amateurs: Past vs Present new [Re: Tony Flanders]
      #6082224 - 09/15/13 02:54 PM

Tony is correct that the future of productive amateur astronomy is likely to be in the area of CCD brightness imaging and spectroscopy.

However, his statement overlooks several key factors. For instance, in variable star observing there have been countless thousands of amateurs who over the years have made very meaningful contributions through visual means at a relatively quite modest cost. This will not be true in the future for those using CCDs. The expensive equipment necessary, together with the steep, complex and protracted learning curve and available free time required (the AAVSO had to hold special seminars for the purpose of training CCD observers) to gain real reliability will deter all but a tiny percentage of amateurs from participation. Further, without mastering such obstacles, CCD observations are - at best - often really no better than their visual counterparts, whether or not +/-0.001 accuracy might be claimed. And since their spectral response isn't truly the same as the human eye, I feel that many CCD lightcurves are not going to be directly compatible with the 100 years of previous visual data and lightcurves. Personally, I see a lot of muddy waters ahead in this area.

BrooksObs

Edited by BrooksObs (09/15/13 05:15 PM)


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Sarkikos
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Reged: 12/18/07

Loc: Scotophobe Maryland, USA
Re: Veteran Amateurs: Past vs Present new [Re: BrooksObs]
      #6082257 - 09/15/13 03:13 PM

Quote:

And since their spectral response isn't truly the same as the human eye, I feel that many CCD lightcurves are not going to be directly compatible with the 100 years of previous visual data and lightcurves. Personally, I see a lot of muddy waters ahead in this area.

BrooksObs




This makes sense. I would think that the lightcurves of the older and newer data need to be compatible for the magnitudes to be useful. Unless maybe this can be taken into account and the magnitudes adjusted accordingly?

Mike


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amicus sidera
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Reged: 10/14/11

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Re: Veteran Amateurs: Past vs Present new [Re: BrooksObs]
      #6082783 - 09/15/13 08:39 PM

Quote:

Naturalists, Pete? Yes, a very tiny percentage of us has made marvelous advances through technologically. However, what I've observed in recent years has been much more of a disturbing shift by a far, far larger segment of today's hobbyists from being actual participants in some fashion to more of just a group of gawkers. Many don't know, or even care to know, the sky at all and are helpless without their GoTo scopes to show them things. Neither are they versed in observing methods, instead more interested in telling others about the latest high-end eyepiece purchase they used last night, or maybe an addition to the list of scopes they own (and don't use). Admittedly, Cloudy Nights discussions are usually pretty good, but have you visited most other astronomy-related sites? They often give the impression of dealing with a room full of uniformed juveniles.

When someone whose only involvement in a pursuit is simply as a hapless witness, that isn't much of a "hobbyist" in my book and definitely not any sort of a naturalist's approach that I'm aware of.

BrooksObs




Well-stated.

While there is certainly a place in amateur astronomy for those who wish to pursue the avocation in a purely casual manner, I feel that those who do so are missing out on the fullness of experience on offer; while such individuals might be quite content with their current level of involvement, it is for their edification and added enjoyment that I would apprise them that with a bit more study and a little less reliance on technology, handsome dividends will almost certainly be paid them.

Fred


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Gil V
professor emeritus


Reged: 09/09/12

Re: Veteran Amateurs: Past vs Present new [Re: amicus sidera]
      #6082987 - 09/15/13 11:02 PM

I like the fact that even after 30+ years, the DIY aspects of this hobby have grown. People are making some amazing stuff on their own now. You can do a lot in this hobby without spending a ton of cash.

What I do not like is that if I started this hobby today, I'd never learn my way around the sky.


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Sarkikos
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Reged: 12/18/07

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Re: Veteran Amateurs: Past vs Present new [Re: amicus sidera]
      #6083007 - 09/15/13 11:11 PM

I'm happiest when I'm at a dark site, in the midst of nature, and I'm actually observing those wonderful objects in the sky. Fiddling around with the equipment, swapping eyepieces in and out, waiting to see the ISS fly overhead, and talking shop with others, really just gets in the way. Of course, those activities can be enjoyable in small amounts, but they are definitely not why I'm there.

Mike


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brianb11213
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Re: Veteran Amateurs: Past vs Present new [Re: Sarkikos]
      #6083253 - 09/16/13 03:28 AM

Quote:

I'm happiest when I'm at a dark site, in the midst of nature, and I'm actually observing those wonderful objects in the sky. Fiddling around with the equipment, swapping eyepieces in and out, waiting to see the ISS fly overhead, and talking shop with others, really just gets in the way. Of course, those activities can be enjoyable in small amounts, but they are definitely not why I'm there.




Me too. Couldn't have put it better.


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skysurfer
sage


Reged: 10/05/09

Loc: NL, N 52 E 6
Re: Veteran Amateurs: Past vs Present new [Re: brianb11213]
      #6083326 - 09/16/13 06:43 AM

Since jan 1966 I have this hobby.

Then:
- Small scopes (3-4cm in aperture) and 7x50 binos, since 1973 an 8cm f/6.3 short achromat
- Norton's Star Atlas my only star chart (which I still have both on print and on PDF on my smartphone)
- darker skies back home

Now:
- Larger scope (recent upgrade from 25 to 40cm Dobson) but smaller scopes used frequently
- Much more knowledge of deep sky objects thanks to internet and several sky charting apps which means I observed more DSO's the last 3 years (not only with the Dob but also with the 8cm scope I have since 1973) than the 44 years before
- Ability to travel to southern locations and other locations to avoid the cloudy and light polluted Holland with a 10cm Genesis and 15x70 binos.


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Geo31
Carpal Tunnel
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Reged: 01/28/13

Loc: Kingwood, TX
Re: Veteran Amateurs: Past vs Present new [Re: Sarkikos]
      #6083338 - 09/16/13 07:03 AM

Quote:

What is better today:

- Dob mounts instead of GEMs




Seriously? Ugh. As an old-school, old fart, I've never much liked Dobs unless we're talking serious aperture. But... absolutely to each their own.

Oh, and don't you realize that Dobs have been not only been around, but popular for 35 years or more? They are not a relatively new phenomenon. I retreated to the fringes of this hobby (not active but always still interested) about 35 years ago and I remember the article in S&T that essentially introduced Dobs to a wider audience than the San Francisco Sidewalk Astronomers. When I sold my 10" mirror and most of the parts to assemble an OTA it was to someone building a Dob and again, this was 35 years ago or more.


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Sarkikos
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Reged: 12/18/07

Loc: Scotophobe Maryland, USA
Re: Veteran Amateurs: Past vs Present new [Re: Geo31]
      #6083431 - 09/16/13 08:53 AM

My neck of the woods must have been behind the times. All my observing buddies way back when - I started in the early '70's - had some type of GEM. No Dobs in sight for many years after that.

I've tried mounting an 8" and then a 10" Newt OTA on a GEM. Been there, tried it, didn't like it. The biggest Newt I will ever put on a GEM is a 6". Even then it is not ergonomically optimal, to put it mildly. Focuser gets in uncomfortable positions, I often need to stand to observe. (Even with my 10" Dob, I can remain seated at ALL positions of the OTA.) These problems can be corrected to some extent with rotating rings. But that's one more gizmo to futz around with when I really just want to look at that beautiful stuff in the sky.

Also, GEMs tend to be heavier than Dob mounts. Actually, very much so, especially when the counterweights are considered.

GEMs are not bad for 'fractors and Cats, which are what go on my GEM mounts now, and that only when I want tracking.

A good Dob mount allows smooth motion and easy manual tracking - some call it nudging - even at high magnifications. My next upgrade will be to about a 14" Dob with automatic tracking. Hopefully I'll be able to remain seated at all positions of the telescope.

But to each their own. After all, this is still a hobby for our own individual enjoyment. At least that's what it is for me. I'm not doing this to please anyone else. YMMV.

Mike


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BrooksObs
professor emeritus


Reged: 12/08/12

Re: Veteran Amateurs: Past vs Present new [Re: Geo31]
      #6083449 - 09/16/13 09:05 AM

Quote:

Quote:

What is better today:

- Dob mounts instead of GEMs




Oh, and don't you realize that Dobs have been not only been around, but popular for 35 years or more?




Guys, as a matter of fact the so-called Dobsonian design is hardly something new, or even recent, let alone the creation of John Dobson, something he always readily pointed out. Although few amateurs are aware of it today, these classic "gun-type mounting arrangements" for Newtonian telescopes were in common usage among amateur astronomers during the latter half of the 19th century...and even commercially available.

Amateur astronomy is one of the few hobbies I'm aware of that so consistently manages to forget its own history and the accomplishments of those who came before them.

BrooksObs


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csrlice12
Postmaster
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Reged: 05/22/12

Loc: Denver, CO
Re: Veteran Amateurs: Past vs Present new [Re: BrooksObs]
      #6083782 - 09/16/13 11:55 AM

One day, Pizza commercials will have telescopes that point the right direction........

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Geo31
Carpal Tunnel
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Reged: 01/28/13

Loc: Kingwood, TX
Re: Veteran Amateurs: Past vs Present new [Re: Sarkikos]
      #6083870 - 09/16/13 12:36 PM

Quote:

My neck of the woods must have been behind the times. All my observing buddies way back when - I started in the early '70's - had some type of GEM. No Dobs in sight for many years after that.

I've tried mounting an 8" and then a 10" Newt OTA on a GEM. Been there, tried it, didn't like it. The biggest Newt I will ever put on a GEM is a 6".

<snip>

But to each their own. After all, this is still a hobby for our own individual enjoyment. At least that's what it is for me. I'm not doing this to please anyone else. YMMV.




Totally agree with you Mike (and noted so in my post). It's a purely personal thing and of course everyone is entitled to their own preferences. Cheers!

Dobs certainly predate the article in S&T in the late 70s, but I'm not sure how much before that. It was the article in S&T that started the trend.

FWIW, I'm not a big fan of GEMs either. I always prefered the fork mount, especially for large scopes. I went to Stellafane in 75 and 76 and most of the larger newts were mounted this way.

[edit] I just reread my prior response. Please accept my apology for the tone. It wasn't intended that way. Sometimes we write things thinking one way and it seems to come out another. No tone or attitude was intended.

Quote:

Guys, as a matter of fact the so-called Dobsonian design is hardly something new, or even recent, let alone the creation of John Dobson, something he always readily pointed out. Although few amateurs are aware of it today, these classic "gun-type mounting arrangements" for Newtonian telescopes were in common usage among amateur astronomers during the latter half of the 19th century...and even commercially available.




Alt-Az mounts have of course been around for quite some time. What make the "Dobsonian" unique (a point that has been lost through the years and basically any newt on a simple Alt-Az mount is referred to as a Dob) was the use of large, low mass (thin) mirrors. It brought aperture that previously was generally unheard of in amateur hands to the "masses" (so to speak).

Edited by Geo31 (09/16/13 12:44 PM)


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Sarkikos
Postmaster
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Reged: 12/18/07

Loc: Scotophobe Maryland, USA
Re: Veteran Amateurs: Past vs Present [Re: Geo31]
      #6083887 - 09/16/13 12:44 PM

"Dobsonian" type mounts were originally used for cannon, probably long before Newton invented the Newtonian.

Mike


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Geo31
Carpal Tunnel
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Reged: 01/28/13

Loc: Kingwood, TX
Re: Veteran Amateurs: Past vs Present new [Re: Sarkikos]
      #6084059 - 09/16/13 02:31 PM

Quote:

"Dobsonian" type mounts were originally used for cannon, probably long before Newton invented the Newtonian.

Mike




Dobsonian refers to a telescope configuration. What you have called Dobsonian above is simply Alt-Az. They were almost certainly used by Ptolemy for visual observation long before Galileo first pointed a telescope to the heavens.

I've said my apologies. Didn't mean to start a wizzing contest. Just pointed out that Dobsonian telescopes have been around nearly as long (or as long in many cases) people on CN have been looking through telescopes.

http://www.sidewalkastronomers.us/id1.html

Dobsonians have probably been around at least since the mid-70s and probably much earlier.

Here's an interesting article about John Dobson. From this I think it's safe to say that what we know as a Dobsonian telescope dates back to the 60s or before. I think it's also safe to say the term "Dobsonian Telescope" was coined sometime in the 70s.

http://www.sidewalkastronomers.us/id32.html

Again, while Alt-Az astronomical devices pre-date the telescope, what we know as a Dobsonian telescope dates from the 60s or 70s and was popularized by the easily portable, thin mirror, large aperture scopes at that time.


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Sarkikos
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Reged: 12/18/07

Loc: Scotophobe Maryland, USA
Re: Veteran Amateurs: Past vs Present new [Re: Geo31]
      #6084117 - 09/16/13 03:01 PM

Quote:

Quote:

"Dobsonian" type mounts were originally used for cannon, probably long before Newton invented the Newtonian.

Mike




Dobsonian refers to a telescope configuration. What you have called Dobsonian above is simply Alt-Az. They were almost certainly used by Ptolemy for visual observation long before Galileo first pointed a telescope to the heavens.




Well, yes, that's why I made the point of putting "Dobsonian" in quotes, to imply that I wasn't using a strict definition of the term. Sorry if I didn't make that clear. Obviously I didn't.

But look at some old depictions of cannon mounts. I swear if you were to take that cannon off, rig up some altitude bearings for a Newt OTA of equivalent girth, and set that Newt into the mount, you'd have yourself a Dobsonian.

Words have significance, but physical reality has more. Well, let's leave that alone. There's probably enough to debate in that statement to last a few hundred years.

Mike


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csrlice12
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Reged: 05/22/12

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Re: Veteran Amateurs: Past vs Present new [Re: Sarkikos]
      #6084130 - 09/16/13 03:08 PM

Also explains why dobs are often mistaken for rocket launchers or morters.......

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Geo31
Carpal Tunnel
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Reged: 01/28/13

Loc: Kingwood, TX
Re: Veteran Amateurs: Past vs Present new [Re: Sarkikos]
      #6084137 - 09/16/13 03:13 PM

Quote:

Quote:

Quote:

"Dobsonian" type mounts were originally used for cannon, probably long before Newton invented the Newtonian.

Mike




Dobsonian refers to a telescope configuration. What you have called Dobsonian above is simply Alt-Az. They were almost certainly used by Ptolemy for visual observation long before Galileo first pointed a telescope to the heavens.




Well, yes, that's why I made the point of putting "Dobsonian" in quotes, to imply that I wasn't using a strict definition of the term. Sorry if I didn't make that clear. Obviously I didn't.

But look at some old depictions of cannon mounts. I swear if you were to take that cannon off, rig up some altitude bearings for a Newt OTA of equivalent girth, and set that Newt into the mount, you'd have yourself a Dobsonian.

Words have significance, but physical reality has more. Well, let's leave that alone. There's probably enough to debate in that statement to last a few hundred years.

Mike




So true Mike. Yeah, I think the written word is getting in the way here. Nuances are being missed all around.

As for the cannon mount analogy, I'm not sure if you know this, but John Dobson uses the same analogy.

Here's another interesting history of the Dobsonian. It jibes with what I remember from that S&T article so many years ago (can I really be that old?).

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dobsonian_telescope

One of the interesting things about the Dobsonian craze is that with the sudden interest in large amateur instruments, also came a revolution in equatorial mounted scopes. Not long after the S&T article made Dobs popular, several companies started producing very large, easily broken down and transported split-ring Eq scopes. It was about that time that I only occasionally kept up with what was going in in amateur astronomy. Some of those huge split-ring Eq scopes have a LOT in common with the Porter Garden Telescope.

I guess we can all agree that the apetures available today were largely unheard of 40 years ago in the hands of an amateur.


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Seldom
scholastic sledgehammer


Reged: 08/05/12

Loc: N of Cedar City Light Dome
Re: Veteran Amateurs: Past vs Present new [Re: Geo31]
      #6084165 - 09/16/13 03:25 PM

So what's the difference between a Dobsonian and an Alt-Az Newt? I'm thinking about F. W. Herschel's 47" scope or the Leviathan of Parsontown. Herschel's had all the characteristics of a big Dob except balance. They certainly had to climb ladders. Can't tell from photos if the Leviathan actually had Azimuth adjustment, but it seems unlikely if the supporting walls were masonry.

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Geo31
Carpal Tunnel
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Reged: 01/28/13

Loc: Kingwood, TX
Re: Veteran Amateurs: Past vs Present new [Re: Seldom]
      #6084246 - 09/16/13 04:12 PM

Quote:

So what's the difference between a Dobsonian and an Alt-Az Newt? I'm thinking about F. W. Herschel's 47" scope or the Leviathan of Parsontown. Herschel's had all the characteristics of a big Dob except balance. They certainly had to climb ladders. Can't tell from photos if the Leviathan actually had Azimuth adjustment, but it seems unlikely if the supporting walls were masonry.




Herschel's 40' scope was certainly a granddaddy of the modern Dob.

Keep in mind, the Dob was not a new "invention." It took several basic things such as the Alt-Az mount, large thin mirror (low mass), simple bearings, and combined them into a previously unheard of level of portability and simplicity for relatively large to large (for the time) apertures. A Dobsonian is probably defined more by the packaging of the telescope than by any one atribute (such as Alt-Az or the fact it's a Newtonian telescope).

It's interesting that there is a Dob in existence that is larger (diameter) than Herschel's telescope (once the largest in the world). It's probably a whole lot easier to operate.


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amicus sidera
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Reged: 10/14/11

Loc: East of the Sun, West of the M...
Re: Veteran Amateurs: Past vs Present new [Re: Seldom]
      #6084400 - 09/16/13 05:43 PM

Quote:

So what's the difference between a Dobsonian and an Alt-Az Newt?




None. Dobson merely had better press in the form of enthusiastic fanbois making certain that the appellation "D*******n" entered the vocabulary of amateur astronomers.

Fred


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