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Has goto made you a better observer?

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#51 Lane

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Posted 18 December 2010 - 02:19 AM

GOTO helps me find the really faint things that I probably could not have found otherwise. But I would not say it made me a better observer, in fact, just the opposite. In the old days I would take a long time to find a faint object and since it did take a long time I would spend a little extra time studying and drawing the object. But once I got GOTO, I got into the habit of just zipping from one object to another, sometimes spending less than a minute looking at each object. So having to find the object manually made me appreciate it more. I had to really train myself to slow down and look at the objects again and not just act like I am in a contest to see how many I can bag in one session.

Tracking on the other hand is something that did make me a better observer. Especially when using high power on the moon or planets.

#52 Tom Masterson

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Posted 18 December 2010 - 03:09 AM

No, it hasn't made me a better observer, but it has injected new life into a 40+ year old hobby. I spent the first 35 years working for every object and now I just enjoy looking at a chart or a list and saying, humm lets see what that looks like. I'm really enjoying my hobby and letting the scope do the work for me now. I REALLY love GOTO! :bow: I'm the same observer as before, just doing things differently now and loving it. :jump:

#53 skywolf856

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Posted 18 December 2010 - 01:27 PM

It's all Good!
What ever gets you outside off the sofa is worth it.
I like GOTO for the simple reason I can spend more time looking rather than searching.
That's what blows my skirt up!

#54 alrosm

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Posted 18 December 2010 - 03:26 PM

Yes. but I like star hoping too when I got enough time.

#55 Jeff Lee

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Posted 18 December 2010 - 04:09 PM

Yep, I'm now willing to go deeper and make sure I get to dark sites 5 or 6 times a year.

#56 CHASLX200

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Posted 18 December 2010 - 04:31 PM

GO-TO made me forget how to find DSO's that i leared to find over 30 years ago.

Chas

#57 GeneT

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Posted 18 December 2010 - 04:43 PM

The objective is to enjoy my private time out under the stars, not to conform to anybody else's philosophy on The One True Way.


Amen!

#58 rmollise

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Posted 18 December 2010 - 05:16 PM

Hey, this is a hobby. If I like doing it one way and you like doing it another way, it's OK.


Which is just what I said...viz..."no rules." ;)

#59 teskridg

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Posted 18 December 2010 - 05:32 PM

I spent the first 4 yrs. I had an ETX-125 mainly starhopping (!) because I wanted to learn the sky in a rudimentary fashion. I used the objects in Harrington's Star Watching book, which mainly included the easier Messier and NGC targets, utilizing a sort of geometric technique rather than actual hopping from star to star. I enjoyed this immensely, although it sometimes took a great deal of time to locate an object in this way. When it became too frustrating and tedious, I used the goto, found the object, squinted through the Telrad and tried to sort of memorize the location vis-a-vis other bright stars in the sky. The point of all this is that goto vs. starhopping are not two mutually exclusive enterprises. I still will try to manually slew from one object to another when they're close by (e.g., M103, NGC 659 and 663). You can have fun with both starhopping and goto, provided of course that you have goto to go to on your mount. Tim

#60 Astrojensen

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Posted 18 December 2010 - 06:06 PM

Hi all

There is one thing I've been wondering about, after reading many replies that praise the goto's abilities to find faint objects that would otherwise not have been found.

What do you do, if the object is not immediately visible with averted vision? Is it your experience that the goto is so accurate that you can be almost 100% sure the object is very accurately centered? How do you identify stellar objects? What do you do if there are two objects located close to one another in the middle of the field? Do you take notes and research later, or do you have a detailed atlas with you?

The point is that one needs to know very accurately where the object is located in the field of view for maximum efficiency of averted vision. If I sweep the field at random, I see far less than if I know very precisely, where I need to look. This is one of my "secrets" of going deep with a small telescope. Thus, even if I had a telescope that could point with, say, 2' precision, I would still need a map of the area, since determining the precise center of the field to 2' accuracy is absolutely impossible, especially if the field is large, as in a modern eyepiece, and if the eye doesn't have something to concentrate on, it will move at random. When starhopping, I automatically get the info on exactly where in the field the faint object is located, relative to the stars, allowing me to place my most sensitive part of my retina right where I need it. This is of course not needed if the object is brighter and quite visible with averted, or better, direct vision. But I am very often hunting for threshold objects when I'm observing.

I'm asking, because this has been one of the things I've been really thinking about when considering goto. Yes, I have, in my weaker moments, ( :grin: ) been considering goto, but if I will need to bring detailed maps to starhop within the field, I may as well starhop from the beginning, or not? What do you do? Opinions? Experiences?


Clear skies!
Thomas, Denmark

#61 hfjacinto

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Posted 18 December 2010 - 06:41 PM

Thomas,

On the CGEM, I rarely not have an object in the FOV, maybe after 4 or 5 hours and then I just realign, but usually at this point, I am tired so I pack up. So my secret to using goto is when after several hours the object doesn't appear in the center of a high power EP, pack up and go home.

#62 rmollise

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Posted 18 December 2010 - 07:09 PM

Hi all

There is one thing I've been wondering about, after reading many replies that praise the goto's abilities to find faint objects that would otherwise not have been found.

What do you do, if the object is not immediately visible with averted vision? Is it your experience that the goto is so accurate that you can be almost 100% sure the object is very accurately centered? How do you identify stellar objects? What do you do if there are two objects located close to one another in the middle of the field? Do you take notes and research later, or do you have a detailed atlas with you?

The point is that one needs to know very accurately where the object is located in the field of view for maximum efficiency of averted vision. If I sweep the field at random, I see far less than if I know very precisely, where I need to look. This is one of my "secrets" of going deep with a small telescope. Thus, even if I had a telescope that could point with, say, 2' precision, I would still need a map of the area, since determining the precise center of the field to 2' accuracy is absolutely impossible, especially if the field is large, as in a modern eyepiece, and if the eye doesn't have something to concentrate on, it will move at random.


It depends on the scope and the object. I usually know from using the scope on other objects approximately where it's going to place a challenging object in the field. If I'm not sure, or I'm, for example, on a field of several similar galaxies? I'll look at a field size chart, like the scope simulation generated by SkyTools 3. But I will not have to start thumbing through an atlas or sqinting through a dadgum Telrad.

I was able to do a bunch of 14th magnitude Herschel galaxies visually recently with my C8/CG5/13mm Ethos without much trouble at all. Though my eyeballs were a-bleeding by the time I shut the run down. :lol:

#63 Arizona-Ken

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Posted 18 December 2010 - 07:39 PM

Hi all

There is one thing I've been wondering about, after reading many replies that praise the goto's abilities to find faint objects that would otherwise not have been found.

What do you do, if the object is not immediately visible with averted vision? Is it your experience that the goto is so accurate that you can be almost 100% sure the object is very accurately centered? How do you identify stellar objects? What do you do if there are two objects located close to one another in the middle of the field? Do you take notes and research later, or do you have a detailed atlas with you?

The point is that one needs to know very accurately where the object is located in the field of view for maximum efficiency of averted vision. If I sweep the field at random, I see far less than if I know very precisely, where I need to look. This is one of my "secrets" of going deep with a small telescope. Thus, even if I had a telescope that could point with, say, 2' precision, I would still need a map of the area, since determining the precise center of the field to 2' accuracy is absolutely impossible, especially if the field is large, as in a modern eyepiece, and if the eye doesn't have something to concentrate on, it will move at random. When starhopping, I automatically get the info on exactly where in the field the faint object is located, relative to the stars, allowing me to place my most sensitive part of my retina right where I need it. This is of course not needed if the object is brighter and quite visible with averted, or better, direct vision. But I am very often hunting for threshold objects when I'm observing.

I'm asking, because this has been one of the things I've been really thinking about when considering goto. Yes, I have, in my weaker moments, ( :grin: ) been considering goto, but if I will need to bring detailed maps to starhop within the field, I may as well starhop from the beginning, or not? What do you do? Opinions? Experiences?


Clear skies!
Thomas, Denmark



Actually a very good question. In my case, I'm using a CPC1100 so the FOV is rather small, even with a Hyperion 36 in mono mode or 24 Pans in bino mode with the focal reducer in. So in my case, I'm looking for a fuzzy streak of a galaxy, or a slightly bloated star that is a planetary nebula. There have been a few occasions when two objects appears in the scope and I have to figure out later what was what, but that's about 2% of the time.

Using a wider field, short focal length refractor or Newt would increase the probability this would happen, of course. In my case, I write down a detailed description of the objects and the surrounding star field and figure it out later.

Arizona Ken

#64 David Knisely

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Posted 19 December 2010 - 12:52 AM

GO-TO made me forget how to find DSO's that i leared to find over 30 years ago.

Chas


You know, even after using my NexStar 9.25GPS for nearly seven years, I never have forgotten how to find objects with a "manual" scope. I can still walk up to almost any halfway decent instrument that is not Go-To or COL equipped and find objects with just a good atlas, a Telrad, and a decent finderscope. It's like riding a bicycle; once you learn the techniques, it all comes back to you pretty quickly. Indeed, with my "manual" 14 inch f/4.6 Dobsonian, I can find a number of objects just from memory far faster than I can with the NexStar mainly because I can move the darn scope faster than the motors can slew the NexStar. Still, I would have liked to have gotten my Dob with Go-To, as again, it offers the ability to spend more time on an object rather than spending time just tracking it down and rushing to find the next one on my list. Clear skies to you.

#65 Lane

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Posted 19 December 2010 - 01:47 AM

Hi all

There is one thing I've been wondering about, after reading many replies that praise the goto's abilities to find faint objects that would otherwise not have been found.

What do you do, if the object is not immediately visible with averted vision? Is it your experience that the goto is so accurate that you can be almost 100% sure the object is very accurately centered? How do you identify stellar objects? What do you do if there are two objects located close to one another in the middle of the field? Do you take notes and research later, or do you have a detailed atlas with you?

The point is that one needs to know very accurately where the object is located in the field of view for maximum efficiency of averted vision. If I sweep the field at random, I see far less than if I know very precisely, where I need to look. This is one of my "secrets" of going deep with a small telescope. Thus, even if I had a telescope that could point with, say, 2' precision, I would still need a map of the area, since determining the precise center of the field to 2' accuracy is absolutely impossible, especially if the field is large, as in a modern eyepiece, and if the eye doesn't have something to concentrate on, it will move at random. When starhopping, I automatically get the info on exactly where in the field the faint object is located, relative to the stars, allowing me to place my most sensitive part of my retina right where I need it. This is of course not needed if the object is brighter and quite visible with averted, or better, direct vision. But I am very often hunting for threshold objects when I'm observing.

I'm asking, because this has been one of the things I've been really thinking about when considering goto. Yes, I have, in my weaker moments, ( :grin: ) been considering goto, but if I will need to bring detailed maps to starhop within the field, I may as well starhop from the beginning, or not? What do you do? Opinions? Experiences?


Clear skies!
Thomas, Denmark


Great questions there. What I usually do if I am looking for some really faint and just cannot seem to find it is I replace one or two of my calibration stars on my CGEM with a star or stars very close to the object I want to view. After doing that then I do another GOTO for the faint object. Now I can be absolutely certain that the object is dead center of the eyepiece and I can try averted vision, changing eyepieces, adding filters, all the time knowing that it is really there and I am not just wasting time. Usually I find it and feel pretty good when I do. But if I never find it then I assume my scope just will not see it or will not see it under the current sky conditions.

When I find two or more objects to close for me to tell which is the one I was looking for, I usually just make a few notes and sometimes drawings and then look it up in the Uranometria Star Atlas the next day.

#66 teskridg

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Posted 19 December 2010 - 09:27 PM

Two hints help me with these objects. Once the goto has finished slewing and the object isn't visible despite averted vision, I check the information on the hand set to see what the brightness of the object is. If the brightness is magnitude 12 or dimmer, you have to keep in mind that given the surface area of the object this brightness magnitude might be spread over enough area as to make it much dimmer than the listed magnitude on the hand set. Another trick is to hit the enter button again. This will move the scope away from the object and then back to it- sometimes it becomes visible as it's moving back into the eyepiece field. Thirdly, it's handy to know where off center the goto's are otherwise. That is, if you observe that other objects in the general area of the one you can't see are off center, say down and to the left, then maybe the one you're looking for is similarly decentered and you can thus look down and left of center when you goto this difficult to see object. Tim

#67 TomN

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Posted 20 December 2010 - 11:23 AM

I use "Push-To", but the answer is an unqualified "YES"! My observing notebooks testify to this.... Computer finding tools (and modern eyepieces) are the best developments in amateur astronomy ever...just my humble opinion... :)

#68 JLP

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Posted 20 December 2010 - 01:36 PM

Interesting, and valid!, responses all around. They indicate the wide range of enthusiasts that call this 'their' hobby! Bless you all!! I have push-to and go-to, and 'generally' prefer go-to. I take with me all charts and atlases I'd use if I were w/out. But before and after the ritual of set up and take down, I grab my planisphere/chart/atlas and just gaze...a kind of warm-up and cool-down. Short answer, for me GOTO has made me better. I am often too impatient, even for my age:-)
Jeff

#69 Rick Woods

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Posted 21 December 2010 - 01:58 AM

Sometimes I have wondered about what it would be like to own one. Perhaps it would make my observing more efficient? But would I then run the risk of forgetting how to starhop?

You won't forget how to star hop. Don't even worry about that!

#70 Astrojensen

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Posted 21 December 2010 - 05:52 AM

You won't forget how to star hop. Don't even worry about that!



Hi Rick et al

Many wonderful replies! Thanks guys!

I am now curious and wonder if maybe goto on my modded EQ-6 could be a good idea. It would be an investment for me, but not an outrageously expensive one, so I am now seriously considering it, just to see if I am missing something. Folks apparantly praise the goto's ability to find bright objects in severe light pollution, when there are too few stars to effectively starhop, that is, there are too few naked-eye stars close to the object and starhops become very long. I realized that this is the situation I face each summer, when our skies are too bright from May 15th to around July 15th to see many stars at all. Having goto then would begin to make a lot of sense, I think.

And I would still only have this one mount with goto, the others don't have motors at all or just 220V ones, so I would probably not forget starhopping, as you say, Rick, because I would still use the smaller non-goto scopes all the time.

You guys have convinced me it's something I should seriously look into, and I think I will. And convincing a hard-core starhopper is not easy. You may act smug, if you like. :grin:

Besides, even some large professional observatory refractors have goto these days, don't they, which means there's precedent in this case? ;)


Clear skies!
Thomas, Denmark

#71 Rick Woods

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Posted 21 December 2010 - 11:27 AM

Thomas,

I think you'll like it. It just makes observing so much easier. There's so much babble about one method being better than the other - bah! They're both good. Goto is just one more way to have fun in astronomy!

#72 Daniel Mounsey

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Posted 25 January 2011 - 02:55 AM

After waiting for a while, I've read through the comments and it's amazing to hear the variety of opinions. Before I begin, I will let you know that I use GOTO myself. What perpetuated my curiosity is that I host a monthly star party program and based on my factual experiences, this is what I am continually seeing more and more. Please feel free to comment.

What I am noticing at these gatherings is little or no interest in understanding what's actually being observed. Instead, what I am seeing is newbies pressing buttons with little or no regard to what it is they are seeing in the eyepiece. There's just simply a lack of intensity I can only find a handful of talented observers who have an intimate understanding of the objects they are observing. I am not saying that this applies to all observers who use GOTO, but I am saying it does apply to a HUGE number of newbies using GOTO.

I do not blame a thoughtless GOTO telescope for this. It all starts with the person. I just find more and more newbies with a fascination of the mechanics and capability of these GOTO telescopes, rather than a fascination with the observable objects. IMO all this techno stuff has become an ending in itself. I see so much impatience and frustration in the field in fact I believe this is why so many observers have such a strong thirst to see colorful images either on computers or by attempting to produce them by getting into astro imaging. I feel that based on my observations of human behavior at these gatherings, there is simply a lack of appreciation for the faint lights seen at the eyepiece.

I will never forget the time I attended NEAF a few years back. We were at a lunch and quite by accident, I ended up at a dinner table with deep sky veteran Steve Coe and a young kid he was mentoring who must have been about 14 or 15 years old I think. When I listened to what this young man had to say, I was absolutely astonished with his love, appreciation and knowledge of the night sky. I asked him where he was getting all this from and he said Steve Coe had been teaching him.

Btw, Steve Coe himself uses GOTO. But speaking with Steve was like a breath of fresh air. After talking for a while, I was not at all surprised that Burhama's Celestial Handbook was a important part of his reading collection in fact he even said he'd purchased a new set from wearing out the first set. I wish more observers had that amount of passion about the night sky. Does that mean that an observer who doesn't read BCH, lacks an appreciation for the night sky? Of course not, but I know that most observers who really do sit down and read it, do have a healthy appreciation for the night sky.

I just find that as the hobby moves into the future, it is being packed by more and more gadgets, just more and more stuff to play with, but a total lack of discipline and genuine curiosity about our night sky. It's almost like people want everything quick, fast and are unwilling to stop, sit down and listen. So quick to talk, so quick to get mad at their telescope for not working or pointing right. I see entire nights consumed with this.

I recall a particular observer who spent months building up his GOTO with a computer assisted program with innumerable objects but not once could this provide an explanation of what was being seen. Instead, the observers comment was, the object was a little off to the side and how getting dead center was a goal.

Is every observer this way? NO but there's no shortage of people who have this mentality. I think a good majority of newbies should step back and reassess their approach to the hobby and try and look at the way they are behaving sometimes. I rarely get calls at the store to hear how exciting it was to understand what they were seeing, but I do get countless calls regarding complaints about the accuracy or behavior of their GOTO telescope. I think this industry has become more focused on mass marketing and less focused on grooming young kids to trust that a genuine interest in the hobby can still translate into more meaningful sales.

GOTO may be convenient for many of us, but IMHO, it wont make us better observers. Did you know that Jeremiah Harrocks never had a GOTO telescope, yet he was one of the greatest observers in history. :smirk:

#73 Al Canarelli

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Posted 25 January 2011 - 05:26 AM

GOTO does not make me a better observer but it does make me a happier observer. If a happy observer is better than a not so happy observer, then GOTO is directly responsible for making me a better observer.

#74 t.r.

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Posted 25 January 2011 - 08:13 AM

No doubt. I've spent a lot more time actually observing objects rather than squinting at a chart and through a finder since I went go-to. ;)

A good, basic knowledge of the layout of the sky is a good thing to have, and is essential, acutally, for the efficient use of a go-to system.

Beyond that, Not So Much. For me, the joy of and the goal of amateur astronomy is the admiration and investigation of the objects in the Great Out There, not playing hide and seek with them.

OTOH, some folks find more enjoyment in finding objects than observing them, and to that I say "right on." As I have often said, the wonderful thing about amateur astronomy is that there are no rules as to how you practice it. If finding is what blows your skirt up, go for it. ;)


My thoughts exactly! In addition to Daniels comments, the Astro-League is often overlooked at star parties and clubs with their own aggendas, but it really is a great source with a logical progression of observing programs which would mitigate this in newbies...it should be recommended to them as a "first-year" tutorial to help them out. This veteran is joining to begin the Master Observer program to give direction and purpose to my outtings, I'm not doing scientific research out there, just observing new things and adding to my knowledge and enjoyment of the night sky.

#75 teskridg

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Posted 25 January 2011 - 08:23 AM

Even though I started with a goto ETX-125, I spent a lot of time manually locating objects using Harrington's Star Watch. It was very rewarding, but I have gradually shifted to mainly goto to locate objects and then manually try to locate nearby objects when it doesn't take too long. I find I spend a lot more time staring at DSO's and even drawing them at the eyepiece. I don't care if the goto's are perfect as long as I can see it somewhere in the field of view. I also like to read about them with the red flashlight in O'Meara's books and others. Most people I know share the desire to study these objects a little bit and the goto helps efficiency in this regard. Tim


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