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General Astronomy >> General Observing and Astronomy

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mountain monk
Carpal Tunnel
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Reged: 11/06/09

Loc: Grand Teton National Park
Re: Which kind of observer are you? new [Re: WesC]
      #6179418 - 11/06/13 02:44 PM

I detest lists, always have. Like Jon, I am a sailor on the cosmic sea, most often a solo sailor.

Dark skies.

Jack


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bangbangexplode
member


Reged: 09/26/13

Re: Which kind of observer are you? new [Re: WesC]
      #6179439 - 11/06/13 02:57 PM

I feel like I don't fit into either category. I haven't been approaching the hobby systematically (at least not yet) at all. I normally go out with a planisphere and atlas and find out what's available to see and just go from there. Every time I observe I'm usually looking at a lot of things that I have seen before. I like going back to objects I've sen before to take a quick peek. After I exhaust my "friends" I go on to finding some new stuff, such as objects I've read about in S&T, Astronomy magazine or the internet.

When I do find something new I write it down and later on I go back inside and push a map tack through the object's location on my sky map. That's really the only way I've been keeping track and I do enjoy watching the number of "found" objects grow.


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Carol L

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Reged: 07/05/04

Loc: Tomahawk, WI 45N//89W
Re: Which kind of observer are you? new [Re: bangbangexplode]
      #6179528 - 11/06/13 03:53 PM

Now, I stroll around the sky and take my time.

But as a Newbie, I worked through lists and flew from object to object.
Like a kid at Toys R Us - grabbing everything in sight.


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Perigny270
super member


Reged: 10/23/11

Loc: Temiscaming, Quebec
Re: Which kind of observer are you? new [Re: Carol L]
      #6180116 - 11/06/13 10:31 PM

Jon Isaac put it very well. I,too, enjoy visiting old friends. And I enjoy finding new ones. I bumped into M67 the other night - what a beautiful sight. Like finding an unexpected waterfall while hiking. Just stop and gaze for awhile. A log-book brings back memories of good times. Like looking at photo album when a friend comes around. I guess this makes me more like the Caribean type!

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buddyjesus
Carpal Tunnel
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Reged: 07/07/10

Loc: Davison, Michigan
Re: Which kind of observer are you? new [Re: WesC]
      #6180267 - 11/07/13 12:50 AM

I take my time at the eyepiece now that I picked up sketching. Been a peeker for years though. I always try to hit one new object at least a night still, but often they aren't on a checklist(though I do have a few that I am working on at a leisurely, non-competitive rate.

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Jon Isaacs
Postmaster
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Reged: 06/16/04

Loc: San Diego and Boulevard, CA
Re: Which kind of observer are you? new [Re: buddyjesus]
      #6180419 - 11/07/13 07:03 AM

Quote:

I take my time at the eyepiece now that I picked up sketching. Been a peeker for years though. I always try to hit one new object at least a night still, but often they aren't on a checklist(though I do have a few that I am working on at a leisurely, non-competitive rate.




Sketching is definitely a different Paradigm. I think it is the best way to really observe an object, one is forced to really look and pay attention. I have tried it, some people are not very good at drawing things and I am one of those people..

Jon


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Greyhaven
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Reged: 05/11/04

Loc: Greater downtown Maine
Re: Which kind of observer are you? new [Re: Michael Rapp]
      #6180577 - 11/07/13 09:17 AM

Michael
I guess I would consider myself a life long observer. I just finished an on line writing course and as a final assignment we were asked to write about something that has interested you for years and why. This was my submission:


My first love affair started on May 10,1963, Mother's Day weekend, in the tiny hamlet of Greenwood City, Maine. A green pasture spread out before my eyes, rolling hillocks dividing the pasture into tiny bivouacs for the army of rapidly arriving groups of Boy Scouts. I was about to meet my first love, although I did not know it at the time. I was the newest member of the Hooting Owl patrol and about to embark on my first intimate embrace under the night sky. The Hooting Owls had met earlier and determined that we would use this spring time camping trip to seize the opportunity to claim the Holy Grail of scout camping. We would spend the weekend out under the open stars, with no tents or lean-to shelters, just sleeping in the open. It was our stern resolve to brave the Maine wilderness. We surveyed the pasture surrounding our troops camping area and the patrol leader chose an area suitably distant from the troops main camp to enforce our claim of independence. Still, we would stay within easy running distance should we be forced to flee any black bears or rampaging bull moose and warn the troop of the danger it was in. The intrepid Hooting Owls were settling in for the night, silently, one by one, each scout disappeared into his sleeping bag, feet, legs, chest and finally head and pillow were drawn into the safety and warmth of the bag. The not too distant campfires slowly died giving up their battle against the night. I would have to greet the lovely lady of the evening alone. Ah! She did not make me wait for long, slowly like a dancer, she unveiled herself to me. The Milky Way was there as promised, complete with her rich star fields and dark patches of dust and shed cool light on the slumbering campers. Silently, I toured the star studded vistas of my mistress. Mars, the warrior planet, nestled snugly between the constellations Leo and Cancer, was slowly sinking in the western sky and its dim red glow assured me of its correct identification. The Little Dipper was hanging by the North Star and Cassiopeia rotated overhead keeping time more surely than the finest clock. The dew settled in the pasture coating the sleeping scouts, grass and spider webs with beads of water. The waning gibbous Moon cleared the tree tops and each precious drop of dew caught the moonlight and reflected its brilliance a thousand fold. The pasture mirrored the glow of the universe as far as I could see. Thus began my lifelong affair with the night sky. Now, as an old man, I sometimes sit in my small observatory, look up and have to wipe the tears from my eyes as I gaze upon her young unchanging face knowing she has watched me from my childhood to near my end, patiently waiting until we can finally be joined.

I guess this describes "Which kind of observer I am"
Be Well
Grey


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Michael Rapp
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Re: Which kind of observer are you? new [Re: Greyhaven]
      #6180661 - 11/07/13 10:01 AM

Nicely written Grey. You brought back a memory for me, which curiously, also deals with Scouts. I remember being on a campout and like yours, for some reason, we forwent the tents.

I've always been a light sleeper and cots just aren't the most comfortable things. I distinctly remember waking up essentially each hour and watching the Big Dipper make its way around the pole. I was only 8-10 years old at the time, but -- other that it being exceptionally beautiful -- I felt as if I had been let into a secret that few people truly grasped: I had experienced almost kinesthetically that the earth rotates under the stars. It was very powerful.


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jrbarnett
Eyepiece Hooligan
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Reged: 02/28/06

Loc: Petaluma, CA
Re: Which kind of observer are you? new [Re: mountain monk]
      #6181018 - 11/07/13 01:00 PM

Rarely do we sailors of the real sea set out without "lists" (itineraries, plots, plans, etc.). Doing otherwise gets you dead as often as not.

http://i812.photobucket.com/albums/zz44/healeygreen/photo.jpg

Of course, I've never once feared drowning whilst at the eyepiece.

- Jim


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jrbarnett
Eyepiece Hooligan
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Reged: 02/28/06

Loc: Petaluma, CA
Re: Which kind of observer are you? new [Re: Michael Rapp]
      #6181038 - 11/07/13 01:11 PM

Well, I think each piracy analogy is silly and in-apposite to be honest. Unlike plunder which is tangible and singular, and therefore can have only unique ownership, your "hoarding" of an experience such as observing the Horsehead, in no way affects the ability of others to do the same. Experiences in astronomy are not subject to diminishment through plurality of users.

Also, the primary function of the Barbaries was not plunder, but rather slaving. They captured Christian European slaves for the slave markets of North Africa. From the 16th to 19th century, corsairs captured an estimated 800,000 to 1.25 million people as slaves. That's a very significant minority percentage of the European population at that time. Entire swaths of the northern Mediterranean coast were uninhabited out of fear of Barbary slaving raids. So I'd say his characterization of Barbary pirates and their motivation is historically inaccurate as well.

I think that in astronomy there are many more than two types of observers, as well as many more than two types of motivation. His analogy makes me say "Pffffffffffffffft!"



- Jim


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PeterR280
Pooh-Bah
*****

Reged: 05/27/13

Re: Which kind of observer are you? new [Re: WesC]
      #6181113 - 11/07/13 01:49 PM

Nothing wrong with lust and leisure.

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hfjacinto
I think he's got it!
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Reged: 01/12/09

Loc: Land of clouds and LP
Re: Which kind of observer are you? new [Re: WesC]
      #6181161 - 11/07/13 02:12 PM

If I image one object for 4 hours I guess I'm a luster

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The Mighty Mo
professor emeritus


Reged: 10/12/13

Loc: South of North, North of South...
Re: Which kind of observer are you? new [Re: hfjacinto]
      #6181189 - 11/07/13 02:28 PM

I find myself to be both kinds of visual observer. I like finding and logging as many objects as I can, while evaluating them in my notes. Those that really capture my attention, get saved in my "Favorites" lists, which are then categorized by Asterism, Cluster, Galaxies, Nebula, and Stars. That way, for nights like tonight, where the objects in my Working List of unobserved items aren't up until later, I'll spend some quality time with many of the accessible items in my favorites.

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GeneT
Ely Kid
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Reged: 11/07/08

Loc: South Texas
Re: Which kind of observer are you? new [Re: Michael Rapp]
      #6181446 - 11/07/13 04:50 PM

I don't fit either broad category. I plan for a half dozen objects to spend about half my viewing time allocation, then free-wheel the rest.

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mountain monk
Carpal Tunnel
*****

Reged: 11/06/09

Loc: Grand Teton National Park
Re: Which kind of observer are you? new [Re: GeneT]
      #6181733 - 11/07/13 07:53 PM

Jim,

Hah! Great photo!

Dark skies,

Jack


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star drop
contra contrail
*****

Reged: 02/02/08

Loc: Snow Plop, WNY
Re: Which kind of observer are you? new [Re: mountain monk]
      #6181900 - 11/07/13 09:49 PM

The second kind of observer. Long deep looks searching out the faint structure and sometimes detecting some color.

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tomcody
Carpal Tunnel
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Reged: 07/06/08

Loc: Titusville, Florida
Re: Which kind of observer are you? new [Re: jrbarnett]
      #6182615 - 11/08/13 10:09 AM

Quote:


I think that in astronomy there are many more than two types of observers, as well as many more than two types of motivation. His analogy makes me say "Pffffffffffffffft!"



- Jim



+1
As to the photo, If you ever start AP imaging, I hope you don't photoshop your AP photos like that.
Rex


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Starman1
Vendor (EyepiecesEtc.com)
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Reged: 06/24/03

Loc: Los Angeles
Re: Which kind of observer are you? new [Re: Michael Rapp]
      #6182672 - 11/08/13 10:36 AM

Quote:

In Stephen O'Meara's 2007 book, Deep Sky Companions: Hidden Treasures, he makes (in keeping with the theme of the book) an analogy between pirates and visual deep sky observers.

He describes two tendencies, one he likens to the Barbary pirates in which observers "are primarily interesting in finding and accumulating as many deep-sky objects as possible. They enjoy the challenge of the hunt and are satisfied when their plan of attack succeeds. They are not interested in spending time 'on board' each target, examining it carefully and diligently. After the capture, they figuratively toss the treasure on deck, kick it aside, and sail right on to the next." He adds, "The more treasures they collect, the bigger their bounty, and the happier they become."

The other tendency, he likens to "the pirates who sailed the Caribbean and North American waters during the golden age of piracy, whose essence of attack was a mix of lust and leisure." For observers of this persuasion, "the hunt is part of a larger adventure. When we 'capture' a deep-sky object, we do spend time 'on board.' We feel the need to sift deeper, to plumb the depths of each 'hold,' knowing that if we do, if we remain patient, we will be rewarded by the sight of even more riches."

Stephen is very clear that both approaches are perfectly fine, after all, this hobby is about having fun. Stephen, of course, counts himself among the latter group. Indeed, when writing his first book in the Deep Sky Companion series, he relates that he often spent as many as three nights on a single object!

These two observing patterns are probably best thought as a continuum rather than an either/or demarkation.

For myself, I've spent the majority of my first twenty years in astronomy squarely on the extreme of the first group. It was all about the lists and getting those pesky "beginners" Messiers out of the way so I could work on the "real" astronomy held in the Herschel 400.

It has only been in the last two years that I've gotten myself to slow down and observe objects. Still, it's hard for me to do. No matter how I try to approach it, the more objects I see a night, the more accomplishment I feel.

Much of this is undoubtably due to my personality type. If you're familiar with the Meyers-Briggs, I'm an INTJ and the relevant metric here is the J. J (Judgmental) types love lists. We live by our todo lists. I bring this up to highlight that neither of O'Meara's two approaches are right or wrong, they are just different and where you fit on the continuum may simply reflect your personality and preferences.

Where do you reside? Have you drifted from one camp to another over time (and perhaps forcefully) as I have? Are you right in the middle?



I saw all the Messiers my first summer under the stars at age 12. It was about learning how to use my mount. Plus, I observed nearly every clear night.

About 2 decades later I decided to start recording my observations. By now, I had seen a lot of objects with NGC prefixes, and many of them were so uninteresting, I wanted to record my notes so I wouldn't go back to them and waste my time.

A decade later, when I got my first computerized telescope, my "log" was up to about 3000-3500 objects (viewed with 6" and smaller). My approach to observing was always leisurely, with not more than 10 to 20 new objects each session (I view all night when I observe, so that IS a leisurely pace).

Things looked so different in the 8" LX200 that i wanted to not only re-view all the objects I'd seen before (something not worth revisiting in a smaller aperture becomes a "favorite" in a larger one). I took the time to put together a list of about 15000 objects I though might be visible in an 8", and I decided that I would spend all my time on discovery, i.e. new objects I'd never seen before. Of course, along the way, I found a lot of new favorites.

Not surprisingly, my log grew to ~9300 objects by the time I got rid of that 8" eleven years later.

I quickly realized that the number of objects visible in my 12.5" would exceed the time left I had on Earth, so instead of trying to see everything visible in the aperture, I decided to spend more time on the "favorites" from my log and confine the new objects to maybe 10 or 20 per session (my pattern with the smaller scopes). Plus. discovery has its edge taken away when every new object is really tiny and really faint.

Now, a decade later, I'm only up to 11,000 objects in my log, and I really don't feel pressed to add appreciably to that. I estimate that, lifetime, I have 10,000 hours under the stars, so obviously, though I make and use lists, I have done a lot of "social" observing through the years or I'd have a lot more objects in my log. And I've varied from 75 new objects in a night to none. It just depends where I am and my mood.

I would say that, for a couple decades, I was "systematic" about observing. I did view each object long enough for notes about size, shape, brightness, and other features, so I wouldn't say I rushed. How many minutes does it take to see all you can see of an object on that night in that scope? Sometimes it only takes a minute. Other times it takes 15. But unless you're sketching, spending more than 15 minutes on an object means you've fallen asleep leaning on the eyepiece (guilty!).
Even at 15 minutes per object, though, that's 32 objects over 8 hours.
These days, moving leisurely and chatting with neighbors, I still seem to average 50 or so each night I go out.

What I don't do is what I read a lot of others do: observe for 2 hours then call it a night. When I do that, I'm looking at the Moon or planets or double stars from my patio, and I'm using a 4-5" scope. I haven't kept track of all the hours I've spent observing those objects through scopes, but it's extensive.

So I like the discovery of going where I've not been before and I like visiting old friends. Does the fact I keep track and use lists mean I'm only in the first group? Frankly, I think his dichotomy is artificial and there are more kinds of observers than he suggests. It varies from the person who wades only and just gets his feet wet to the ocean swimmer.
And trust me, you can't drink the ocean.


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karstenkoch
professor emeritus


Reged: 04/21/12

Loc: GMT+9
Re: Which kind of observer are you? [Re: Starman1]
      #6187654 - 11/10/13 10:04 PM

I'm mostly a beachcomber.

I walk slowly looking for seashells to pick up and take a longer look at. Sometimes I'll hit the beach with a picture of a particular seashell that I'm looking for. Sometime's even a short list to find. Right now, I don't have enough observing time in my schedule to work through longer lists. I usually start by finding a few familiar things, then if time permits, I'll use SeaShellSafari to identify a few more targets of interest.


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kt4hx
super member
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Reged: 01/21/09

Loc: Fredericksburg, Va
Re: Which kind of observer are you? new [Re: karstenkoch]
      #6190070 - 11/12/13 07:15 AM

Thanks for the thread Michael. I was thinking on this just a few days ago, trying to remember exactly what it was that Steve said about observers in that book. Anyway, I would definitely fit the "accumlator" category. I rarely work from lists. Most times I don't even know where I am going to observe when I set my gear up. I often just sit in my observing chair for a little bit and look around the sky, and finally focus on one area. Then I pull the atlas and start the process. It is not unusual for me to run through 15 to 20 or more objects in an evening (say 3 to 5 hours +/-). Once I identified 50 galaxies in the Coma-Virgo field in about 2 to 3 hours. Of course in that case I was galaxy hopping rather than star hopping. I have also traditionally been very poor at documenting my observing. In recent years I have gotten much better at keeping notes as I observe, then transferring those to a more permanent record later. I have on occasion worked from a personally generated list, but I rarely work from an established list (Messier, Caldwell, H-400, etc). I just find that too confining, too inside the box for me personally.

There are some objects I consider special to me. First would be M6 and M7, the first objects I have a recollection of observing as a younster in the early to mid 1960s. My first scope was a shakey little reflector (2.5 or 3 inches), and though I didn't know what the two clusters were, they were the most beautiful things I could ever imagine. Every time I went out that summer I spent a long time looking at them. Another specific object I think of fondly is M51. It was one of the first objects I saw with my newly acquired (early 1980s) Coulter 17.5 dob, and the first time I ever saw spiral structure in a galaxy. Those two moments have been etched in my mind forever. I do understand about having friends in the sky. I look upon the stars and the constellations that way. Though I may have strayed away from the hobby for long stretches of time, my old friends remained exactly where I had left them, as if they were just passing the years knowing full well that I would return one day. There is a certain comfort in that.


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