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Ultimate DOs/DON'Ts Veteran Viewers Suggestions

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#1 celestial_search

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Posted 25 November 2004 - 11:24 AM

Happy Thanksgiving everyone (and happy day to everyone outside the U.S.)!
My new C-11 of course did not arrive Wednesday. UPS says it will now be Monday. :bawling: And of course the night was perfect for viewing. :o
However, I've been culling the Cloudy Nights Forums for the ultimate Do's and Don'ts suggestions/tips, but have not been too lucky building a list. So,

What do you suggest as your top tip/"secret" of observing (viewing, transporting scope, ...) and your top DON'T (other than the obvious such as DON'T LOOK at the SUN!). Also, as far as possible, not a particular telescope-related tip (i.e. more "generic"). There is a wealth of experience out there, but surfing for over four hours so far I have not compiled a very long list. I'm looking for the "creme de la creme" of your do's/don'ts. Thanks for any suggestions!
Frank

#2 Matthew E

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Posted 25 November 2004 - 11:32 AM

my advice is ONLY collimate your scope on cloudy nights, unless its a quick adjustment of the primary.

#3 rustynpp

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Posted 25 November 2004 - 11:52 AM

always wear more clothes than you think you are gonna need.

never forget to step away from the telescope for a few minutes and just look up.

#4 markf

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Posted 25 November 2004 - 11:53 AM

Dress WARM! Actually, dress hot. If it's going to be 50 degrees outside, dress like it were 40 or 30 degrees. Observing is not what one would call a "high energy" activity, it gets cold quick. I feel silly wearing my heavy coat for fall weather, but it's nice and comfy that way! (and it has a hood I can pull over my head to really block out some light!)

Also, practice setting up and tearing down your scope. Seems obvious, but when you're at a dark sight, you really can's see much! You might want to start from the beginning: pack everything up as if you were leaving. Then unpack, setup, then tear down and pack. That way, when you're in the field, in the dark, you'll know where everything is and goes, and you won't leave behind your favorite eyepiece, or lens cap, etc. :grin:

Mark

#5 markf

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Posted 25 November 2004 - 11:58 AM

Nick,

JINX! On the warm clothes bit! :roflmao:

Mark

#6 rustynpp

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Posted 25 November 2004 - 12:05 PM

:lol:

#7 lighttrap

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Posted 25 November 2004 - 12:43 PM

Do have appropriate clothing on or nearby.
Don't assume that you'll be as comfortable at 2am in what you were comfortable wearing at 8pm.
Do gain familiarity with your equipment, and have it pretty well collimated before venturing out.
Don't assume that it came in optimal condition just because it's new.
Do plan your observing session, or at least become familiar with what you are likely to see, and in what part of the sky, and at what time, prior to your observing session.
Do familiarize yourself with your charts and atlas before expecting to use them in the field with a red light.
Do have all your accessories collected and organized, and Do remember to bring them.
Do remember to bring fresh batteries for anything that requires batteries.
Depending on what type scope you have, Do remember to bring a stool or chair to observe with. Even if you don't use it for observing, (which is highly recommended if possible), you may find that sitting occasionally really helps, anyway.
Do keep your expectations low and reasonable.
Don't expect Hubble images, and Don't expect to see unreasonable numbers of objects in one session.
Do expect your observing skills to increase with time.
Don't expect to start right out seeing to the limits of your equipment.
Do spend a good amount of time really learning the limits of your equipment before upgrading or changing.
Do take advantage of the generally better seeing conditions from midnight to dawn.
Do take advantage of dark sky sites as often as possible
Do take advantage of any local astro clubs if possible
Do remember to relax and have fun. :lol:

#8 Guest_**DONOTDELETE**_*

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Posted 25 November 2004 - 12:56 PM

If you suspect its not in optimal condition what can you do about it?

#9 Matthew E

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Posted 25 November 2004 - 01:03 PM

sorry i dont understand your question? if its not optimal , then its not collimated. You should do you collimation on non-observing nights, as collimation can\will take longer than you want when you first start out.

#10 Guest_**DONOTDELETE**_*

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Posted 25 November 2004 - 01:08 PM

I you suspect its not in optimal condition what can you do about it?

optimise it ;-)

seriously though, unless its actually broken i'd wager most suppliers would not entertain a refund, so learn how to optimise your setup - collimate, clean, whatever else 'we' can do (still learning these myself)

#11 Rusty

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Posted 25 November 2004 - 09:33 PM

lighttrap has covered everything exceptionally well.

Of his recommendations, I'd stress:

1. Warm clothing - layered of course, but with emphasis on footwear (I use Navigator boots
https://www.theshoeworks.com/c6.html for winter, and have cut-finger mittens, got at a Totes factory outlet.)

2. Observing chair - this is an often underrated item, but I rarely leave home without it.

3. Assume your new scope will need collimation. It's not difficult, but needs a little practice. Get a set of Bob's Knobs http://www.bobsknobs.com/, and it'll be routine, even if it won't need to be done often.

4. Note that "dim fuzzies" (most DSO targets) are called that for a reason....they're 1. dim, and 2. fuzzy

5. Take some Patience Pills. And align your finderscope before nightfall. I suggest getting a Telrad, Rigel, or Giant Mars Eye finder - it'll make initial alignment SO much easier.

You're going to love that scope - of all the ones I have, the N11 is the one that's going to be here when others come and go...

#12 Guest_**DONOTDELETE**_*

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Posted 25 November 2004 - 09:34 PM

Some really good suggestions here. I'm not a vet, so I won't chime in, but I'd agree with them all.

#13 miniventures

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Posted 25 November 2004 - 09:45 PM

All those suggestions about warm clothes are exceptionally true. For me, it's real important to have a hat and warm, warm boots

#14 BillFerris

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Posted 25 November 2004 - 10:09 PM

Hi Frank,

You've gotten a lot of great tips so far. My top three "Do's" are...

1. Observe objects when they're along your local meridian. That's the imaginary line running north-south through the zenith. Objects are highest above the horizon when along the meridian. You're seeing them through the least amount of atmosphere and where the seeing (atmospheric steadiness) is typically best.

2. Take your time with objects. Spend at least 5- or 10-minutes observing before you move on. You'll see more detail and may even find a surprise or two.

3. Use high magnification. The wide field produced by a low power eyepiece is great for sweeping the sky and finding objects. You may even decide it's the best overall view of an object. But before moving on to the next target, spend a few minutes observing at about 12X per inch of aperture. A lot of deep-sky objects only reveal their best kept secrets at high mags.

Regards,

Bill in Flagstaff

#15 mirage

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Posted 25 November 2004 - 10:31 PM

Probably not so much for Frank, but especially important for newbies flying solo:

DON'T rush to unpack and set up everything without the time and the space to do so in a considered manner. There's nothing worse than losing a tiny piece or damaging a critical component due to a rushed or cluttered assembly experience.

DO read the manuals that come with your equipment. If your equipment doesn't include manuals or the manuals don't sufficiently explain a feature, take the time to research it online before attempting to just 'figure it out'.

DON'T try to clean your optics. If they look dirty, use them anyway - minor dust and smudges often have no visible effect. If you feel they truly do need cleaning, research it thoroughly before making the attempt!

DO take your new gear to a star party sometime soon after receiving it. Don't be intimidated by the feeling that it's too modest or you're not knowledgable enough to run with the 'big guns'. Have someone experienced check it out and assess its performance - veteran eyes can often spot warranty issues that you might not realise are atypical of your instrument, or reassure you that its performance is perfectly acceptable.

#16 Yaquina

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Posted 25 November 2004 - 10:41 PM

DO: Learn the sky and learn how to use your scope.

DON'T: Pull into a star party with your headlights on!

Clear skies, Mike

#17 markf

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Posted 25 November 2004 - 10:46 PM

DO take your new gear to a star party sometime soon after receiving it. Don't be intimidated by the feeling that it's too modest or you're not knowledgable enough to run with the 'big guns'.


Hehe, for sure don't be intimidated :). First public outing I took my scope to, I was definitely feeling "inadequate" so to speak. My little 5" scope next to an 18" dob? Oh my that is one big scope! And everwhere I looked was 8"-10" dobs...there was one scope with my size aperture, but a 5" refractor is HUGE compared to a 5" reflector with a 650mm focal length!

But everyone was quite friendly, and we all enjoyed showing views to the kiddies. (It was Astronomy Day at George Observatory)

Mark

#18 Yaquina

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Posted 25 November 2004 - 10:50 PM

Another big DO, DO, DO, is introduce any kids with any interest whatsoever to astronomy. My opinion, maybe the most important contribution any of us can make to astronomy.

Clear skies, Mike

#19 mirage

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Posted 25 November 2004 - 10:55 PM

Hehe, for sure don't be intimidated. First public outing I took my scope to, I was definitely feeling "inadequate" so to speak. My little 5" scope next to an 18" dob? Oh my that is one big scope! And everwhere I looked was 8"-10" dobs...


I'm still trying to talk my best friend into bringing her ETX-60 along when we go to star parties, but she just won't do it. Especially after the nice focuser and finderscope I bought her, it seems such a waste to leave it lying in the closet!

The people at star parties are always friendly and even tiny scopes are fun to play with... :bawling:

#20 weezy

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Posted 26 November 2004 - 08:40 AM

My Nighthawk and son-in-law's 80f5 is usually the smallest scopes at any of our star parties. If it's a public party, you would be surprised at the questions a smaller scope can generate. Especially if most of the other scopes are large and I do mean large dobs.
A lot of people seem to be looking for a smaller, more portable scope, so just be prepared for any kind of question.
Weezy

#21 ChrisMcC

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Posted 26 November 2004 - 10:58 AM

Well I'm too new to add to this but I can aggreee wholeheartedly with the warm clothing advice. I was out in -5C temperatures last week. There was ice everywhere except on me!

Clear Skies

Chris

#22 weezy

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Posted 26 November 2004 - 11:26 AM

You know what helps? I wear my rubberized rain suit from the motorcycle! It keeps all the heat in and the wind out. I can't find a pair of boots that are warm. Sorels aren't that good unless you are moving.
Weezy

#23 lighttrap

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Posted 26 November 2004 - 11:38 AM

Weezy, I find that wearing thin inner socks with heavy, thick wool socks over that and a slightly oversized pair of Thinsulate insulated Herman Survivors to be FAR warmer than Sorels. I think the key is in the wool socks and liners no matter which boots are worn. But, man I do like that heavy duty Thinsulate used in boots by Danner, Herman, Rocky and Wolverine. Look for boots with at least 1000grams of Thinsulate.

#24 SAL

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Posted 26 November 2004 - 11:41 AM


DON'T try to clean your optics. If they look dirty, use them anyway - minor dust and smudges often have no visible effect. If you feel they truly do need cleaning, research it thoroughly before making the attempt!



This is a great point. Many newcomers feel the need to get every little spec of dust or dew off their optics. (Ask me how I know this...LOL). Dusty optics work just fine, in fact they have to get REALLY dirty to have a noticeable effect on views. But scratches and sleeks from well-intentioned but excessive cleaning WILL damage equipment.

The only other thing I can think of is to plan for some form of dew control. Here in the Midwest, especially during the summer months, I am often dewed out by 12am or 1am. I bought a Kendrick Dew Controller and some Dew-Not heater strips for my refractors. I have never been chased out of the field by dew since using them.

Most of all, have fun and enjoy the learning experience itself. I still get my biggest level of satisfaction in finding an object that has been eluding me. The thrill of the hunt is a lot of fun, and I am amazed by what I learn in the process... :D (Scott)

#25 square_peg

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Posted 26 November 2004 - 01:55 PM

Weezy, I find that wearing thin inner socks with heavy, thick wool socks over that and a slightly oversized pair of Thinsulate insulated Herman Survivors to be FAR warmer than Sorels. I think the key is in the wool socks and liners no matter which boots are worn. But, man I do like that heavy duty Thinsulate used in boots by Danner, Herman, Rocky and Wolverine. Look for boots with at least 1000grams of Thinsulate.


A pair of space socks under wool socks is like having heaters in your boots. I used to wear these all the time when I had Eastern Washington winters to deal with. I haven't had the need for them on this side of the state till now. These things really work! :ubetcha:


I'll second what Mike said about oversized insulated boots. Any tight-fitting boot negates the insulation.


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