Well it's never going back to those days. We're well into the first phases of big data astronomy. There's no going back to the days of pouring over photographic plates (the precursor of data astronomy) to discover new phenomena. Just the LSST will produce 15 terabytes of information a night. That raw data will be available to any url, utilizing the public and amateur astronomers who wish to participate as they see fit. The realm of exploration now reaches nearly back to the dawn of the space-time we inhabit and becomes more conscious of the composition and construction of the our universe with every completed project. That ain't happenin' through any eyepiece.
HST images are constructed at computers from data produced by a modern telescope.
The first radio interferometer observation was in 1946, very shortly before my birth. How far back would you take astronomy? How much present and future knowledge would you sacrifice to an aesthetic? How many modern telescopes would you abandon or cripple by limiting professional astronomy to eyepiece gazing?
None of those modern professional astronomical techniques diminishes any part of my intense satisfaction with my practice of visual astronomy. Nor does it concern me that scientific techniques evolve. To the contrary, scientific advance remains something I passionately support.
I have the most brilliant, up-to-date, modern idea! Let's scrap the 100-inch Hooker telescope, because it was built in 1917! Or the great refracting telescopes of Lick, Yerkes, or Lowell! They are even older! We don't need all that sentimental old trash today, do we? We are so much more advanced!
No, seriously, I do not have a merely banal attachment to the aesthetics of a bygone era; that would be superficial fluff that I am far above. Rather, I am attached to a level of hand-crafted precision and quality of construction that we will never see again. Of course we may have "better" telescopes today, and I would not be against having many more than we do now, far from it. But in today's world of computer-controlled engineering, less direct, personal, hands-on work goes into creating our modern instruments than into the ones of the past, where all the grinding and polishing was done painstakingly by hand or by the simple machines of the era. I highly doubt that we will ever have another "Alvin Clark and sons" family, for example, with their level of skill. Or anyone who would ever attempt such a project again. Such knowledge is almost lost, and a loss of knowledge is no advancement.
We are indeed more advanced when it comes to cameras and image-processing techniques, as well as our understanding of the scale and structure of the cosmos. But not in everything, as I laid out above. Plus, we have much more to learn, and in the process of that learning many of our modern "understandings" will have to be dropped, if you look at past history. To disrespect the past that brought us to where we are now or where we will be in the future is not okay, not now, not ever. Without the great telescopes of the past, we could never be where we are now. And, a bonus: those old telescopes are still fully serviceable today and still being used, after over a century! Pretty amazing, eh? I doubt the modern computerized equipment will last that long.
I have here respectfully and humbly defended my position. No sentimental, childish attachment to an old aesthetic, just cold, hard facts. Let all differences now be dropped, and let peace and harmony come back to this thread. As per the TOS, we can "agree to disagree," as gentlemen do.
All the best to you,
Martin (still the contrarian astro-guy from the North.)
Edited by Astroman007, 14 November 2017 - 06:24 PM.