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Has goto made you a better observer?

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#201 jrcrilly

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Posted 07 February 2011 - 01:21 AM

now all it takes is to memorize a question pool to get your Extra class license.

It made a lot of people unhappy. :mad:

Theo


Yup. I was one of the ones who didn't like that change. Nobody enjoys seeing their skills being discounted just because they have become obsolete, and having the privileges they have earned suddenly granted to all.

The difference here is that nobody is being granted privileges that once had to be earned. The sky is there for all of us, as it has always been, and we are each free to enjoy it in the manner that pleases us best.

#202 rmollise

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Posted 07 February 2011 - 05:46 AM

about 20 years ago , for a person to become an amateur radio operator, one would have to study and understand the basics of electricity, electronics, and electromagnetic wave propagation, and be able to send and receive morse code at a speed of at least 5 words per minute. a lot more study and understanding plus 20 words per minute would get them to an xtra class license eventually. just so people can understand what it takes to get to 20 words per minute... I already passed my 5wpm after about 2 months of practice of 15 minutes once a day. then another 4 months to get to 13 wpm. then it took an additional 30 minutes twice a day, for three months to get to 20 wpm. the point is ,it took a lot of work. quite a few never make it.

now all it takes is to memorize a question pool to get your Extra class license.

It made a lot of people unhappy. :mad:

Theo


Correction...it made SOME OLD TIMERS (OTs) UNHAPPY. It made everybody else, especially novices and especially those of us who saw ham radio dying very happy.

I just hope it was not too late. Amateur radio lost way too many prospective hams who would have been good additions by clinging to CW for way too long, and clinging to it mainly as a "gatekeeper."

At any rate, it is an instructive lesson for amateur astronomy. ;)

73s de AC4WY

#203 ColoHank

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Posted 07 February 2011 - 01:24 PM


Quote:
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Belonging or self actualization?


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Are we still talking about astronomy?

...I'm confused...



The fishing and, I believe, ham radio references were meant to be metaphorical. The sense I was trying to convey, apparently without much success, is that things, experiences, and achievements are ultimately valued for the time, effort, and information that go into them. That explains why fine handmade split-bamboo fly rods are revered and discount-store fibreglas rods aren't, and why reaching the summit of Mt. Everest is more respected among climbers than an ascent of Mt. Sunflower in Kansas. In other words, "ease" doesn't carry much freight in the greater scheme of things.

Go-to may be a terrific convenience, and it may allow folks a longer time to observe during each session under the stars, but does it make anyone a better observer? That's like asking if an automatic transmission makes anyone a better driver.

#204 Phil Cowell

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Posted 07 February 2011 - 01:27 PM

Go-to may be a terrific convenience, and it may allow folks a longer time to observe during each session under the stars, but does it make anyone a better observer?


On it's own no but it doesn't make them a worse one either.

#205 ColoHank

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Posted 07 February 2011 - 02:18 PM


Quote:
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Go-to may be a terrific convenience, and it may allow folks a longer time to observe during each session under the stars, but does it make anyone a better observer?


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On it's own no but it doesn't make them a worse one either.



I can't argue with that, and I won't. On this topic, I'm completely neutral.

#206 DerekTX

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Posted 07 February 2011 - 08:18 PM

I find it ironic that the argument 40 years ago was that star hopping was not serious astronomy and serious astronomers used setting circles. Slackers could get by with hopping from star to star until they found their target rather than 'knowing what they were doing' like those who used setting circles.

Now days to be a slacker you have to use a goto mount in order to demonstrate the proper amount of non-dedication, mere star hopping has been elevated to a serious astronomer's level.

The same style argument appears in every hobby I enjoy. The model airplane community has their balsa-foam and electric-gas feuds. Electronics has the point to point purists who shun etched PCBs. And so on...

For what ever reason, ethnocentric fever traps some groups into the idea that their way is the only proper way. I just nod my head to them and go on doing what makes me happy, my way.

What lies at the heart of the issue, is how we all assign weight to the various factors involved and that is a necessarily personal process and nobody can presume to define right but the person living with the consequences.

And lastly, I feel goto is great and I will be a better observer because the time it saves can be used to efficiently observe.

#207 Asbytec

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Posted 07 February 2011 - 08:46 PM

Few folks are intentionally bashing GOTO, per se. It's great, really. However, putting your eyeball to the eyepiece, "...to efficiently observe" is what counts in making you a better observer...not how you got there. GOTO can expand your observed list, but it cannot put your eyeball on the eyepiece and gather photons for you. Only you can make yourself a better observer, and only if you do observe rather than spending that time calibrating your pointing accuracy or otherwise take your eye from the eyepiece to worrying about how GOTO is performing. Doing so, as the OP states, is a needless distraction rather than an observing technique.

As was mentioned earlier in this post, we need to define what observer means. To me, there are basically two levels, one being a sightseer. An observer, without looking it up, is someone who observes something with some intent of figuring it out. A sightseer just appreciates the view for what it is. An observer might notice the walls of the grand canyon have layers carved by erosion. A sightseer might only admire it's beauty.

A sightseer will see a planetary as a faint fuzzy star, and observer can eek out faint annular structure. Observing skill can only come with effort and experience...putting your eyeball on the the eyepiece and learning to observe. This is true for star hoppers and GOTO advocates, regardless of any other factor. If you wish to enjoy planetaries as faint fuzzy stars, fine. Absolutely nothing wrong with sightseeing nor how you got there.

Effort and experience (and knowledge of the subject) improve observing skill...and making us a better observer. Nothing else does. Not GOTO, not star hopping, not even high tech professional equipment. Nothing replaces the sweat of the brow in doing so.

I am not intentionally raining on anyone's enjoyment of the night sky, rather simply defining what an 'observer' is (or might be) and what it takes to be a better one. Of course, in the loosest sense, we're all observers. Some folks Observe long and hard using GOTO or not. My hat's off to them. Some folks like to spend a little time just looking. That's okay, too. In the latter sense, it seems GOTO would make one a better observer. But, not in the strictest sense requiring skill and experience rather than a leisurely jaunt through a list of objects. Either is fine, however.

#208 Astrojensen

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Posted 08 February 2011 - 04:12 AM

Well said, Asbytec. I agree 100%.


Clear skies!
Thomas, Denmark

#209 David Knisely

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Posted 08 February 2011 - 04:46 AM

I find it ironic that the argument 40 years ago was that star hopping was not serious astronomy and serious astronomers used setting circles. Slackers could get by with hopping from star to star until they found their target rather than 'knowing what they were doing' like those who used setting circles.


Actually, it was often the other way around. Those who were fortunate enough to have useful-sized setting circles were sometimes looked down upon, since they didn't "know the sky" and just did their finding "by the numbers". This attitude was just as wrong then as it is today concerning the use of Go-To. Clear skies to you.

#210 Patrick

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Posted 08 February 2011 - 06:12 AM

"...to efficiently observe" is what counts in making you a better observer...not how you got there. GOTO can expand your observed list, but it cannot put your eyeball on the eyepiece and gather photons for you. Only you can make yourself a better observer



I agree with the above statement.

However, I struggle with the 'sightseer' vs 'observer' analogy. If we put our eye behind the eyepiece we're 'observers', some serious, others just a passin' through. Technically, if we want to really get serious about the science of seeing what's out there, we're better off looking at and studying photographs of an object, rather than looking through a telescope. I'm of the opinion that the reason we look at objects through a scope is almost always related to the enjoyment of it.

Patrick

#211 Mirzam

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Posted 08 February 2011 - 06:12 AM

I had an interesting experience observing without goto in Chile-- looking for objects that were unfamiliar and with many of the familiar constellations inverted.

The dark skies at our location made finding objects with a Telrad almost trivial. There were so many stars visible that we just worked right from the Pocket Sky Atlas. Goto really would not have made much difference.

On the other hand, when I am under brighter skies at home, I find that using goto is useful for improving efficiency--allowing more time for scrutinizing objects and less time for locating them. This is especially true if the object is a low contrast galaxy that I intend to photograph in order to see structural details.

JimC

#212 rmollise

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Posted 08 February 2011 - 06:13 AM

Few folks are intentionally bashing GOTO, per se. It's great, really. However, putting your eyeball to the eyepiece, "...to efficiently observe" is what counts in making you a better observer...not how you got there. GOTO can expand your observed list, but it cannot put your eyeball on the eyepiece and gather photons for you. Only you can make yourself a better observer, and only if you do observe rather than spending that time calibrating your pointing accuracy or otherwise take your eye from the eyepiece to worrying about how GOTO is performing. Doing so, as the OP states, is a needless distraction rather than an observing technique.


Or, spending your time squinting at a star chart with a red light, compromising your night vision.

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."

#213 Asbytec

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Posted 08 February 2011 - 07:53 AM

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

#214 Ed Holland

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Posted 08 February 2011 - 01:19 PM

On it's own no but it doesn't make them a worse one either.


IMHO, this is one of the best comments in this thread :)

#215 Patrick

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Posted 08 February 2011 - 04:57 PM

the real topic of fiddling with gadgets instead of observing as the OP intended



Fiddling? Maybe, but I think I'd call it more of a learning curve. There's only so much learning required before becoming somewhat proficient with a goto system, and then it's all gravy from there.

I think the old-timers tend to forget the long learning curve associated with starhopping, not to mention the utter frustration of searching for an object for hours and not finding it, or worse yet, to feel the dismay of finding the object only to discover it's just a slight grayed patch barely visible above the sky background. I know there are some who will say how great it is to tease out the detail in such objects, but I'm not one of them. A faint detail-less fuzzy holds little interest to me. But that's just me.

Patrick

#216 rmollise

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Posted 08 February 2011 - 06:27 PM

The lack of a definition tended to pull us, including me, from the real topic of fiddling with gadgets instead of observing


Not really. What pulled us off topic was the insistence of some (not necessarily you) that go-to MUST BE CHEATING. IT JUST CAN'T BE RIGHT! YOU CAN'T BE A REAL -OBSERVER- without some SUFFERING. :lol:

By the way, some peoples' "fiddling with gadgets" constitutes a productive observing run, just as "fiddling" with a star atlas might contstitute that for you. And...the gadget fiddlers probably see more cool stuff. ;)

#217 Asbytec

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Posted 08 February 2011 - 11:04 PM

Anyway, the weather broke today. Gotta spend less time with you folks and more time with girlfriend so I can spend (a lot of) time with (trying to find) my short list and (fiddling with my) red flashlight tonight. Gonna need a nap, too. It's gonna be an all-nighter! :)

Gotta sneak this in quickly, though: It's our passion, not the instruments that make an observer. I did imply observing takes effort because I was operating under my definition of what observing means. But, it had nothing to do with GoTo or star charts and everything to do with eyes on target.

With that said... :step:

CYA soon.

#218 mountain monk

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Posted 09 February 2011 - 12:47 AM

Asbytec,

See you later. Thanks for the fine posts. Yes, good skies have returned here too. I've observed--whatever that means-- for four nights this week, 6.5 skies, 4/5 transparency. We can return to the subject when the clouds return. Fortunately or unfortunately, I still have a lot to say!

Dark skies.

mm :grin: :step:


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