Maybe what we need to do is not define "observer" or worry about who is one or who is not, but merely say, "The night sky is glorious; everyone should enjoy it as they see fit."
A certain amount of common sense goes a long way. Point taken. Agreed, by any and all means enjoy! I pray that was expressed above. So, love...peace...all that. We're all brethren, none more entitled to the beauty of the night sky than the other despite our methods and our own folly.
The lack of a definition tended to pull us, including me, from the real topic of fiddling with gadgets instead of observing as the OP intended...cuz we all have a different idea of what observing means. We all understand what fiddling with gadgets means. I can see beyond my own strict definition. When one does that, one can see where GOTO DOES make you a better observer when it's used to get you on target. I can buy that.
I struggle with the 'sightseer' vs 'observer' analogy.
I struggled with it, too, Gene. That's why I edited that post later in the day after realizing how biased my definition was.
We should have been operating on some common ground, though. We can't have a transfer of meaning unless we do...which is why we spent time beating around the subject, got slightly off topic, and could not find agreement. Some (me) use a more strict definition, others a more loose one. As a result, this thread got long and we began to repeat ourselves. Just tried to help bring the topic some common ground, rightly or wrongly took a stab at it.
Still, it is less important to be in one camp or the other, as Uncle Rod implies, and more important to share our love for observing on every level. So, go put your "eyeballs on the sky" cuz that's what observing is, in the end...not fiddling with gadgets or star charts as the OP asked. Observe until your heart is content! We're all cosmic sightseers with widely varied interests and methods and a shared love for the night sky.
So, let's lay down your red flashlights and hug a brother GOTO'er today! Wish him clear skies and you will be blessed with them as well. (How's that for motivation? Anyone need a hug? I could use some clear skies.)
Edit: It makes for interesting cloudy night conversation, though. Once years ago in the Sierra Nevada, I was observing with a group of guys who went in early to sit by the fireplace away from the snow. I had free reign of all sorts of idle telescopes. That's observing...being lured away by the roar of the fireplace was a distraction, albeit a very cozy one, admittedly...and for sure! It was bone chilling that night. So, at the time, I got the feeling I was observing with guys who just liked the allure of telescopes...the gadgets. They just seemed to lack that drive to observe and persevere in the face of adversity. Where was the deep sky love? So, this thread sort of touched on that memory, makes it an interesting topic, and set a bias toward observing.
(We're 4 pages behind the "perennial Bridesmaid" Thread! We can't run out of steam just yet.) hehe