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How many objects/hour do you observe?

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#1 cam1936

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Posted 24 June 2018 - 10:49 PM

I realize the answer to this question is probably: "it varies"

If you were to say on a typical night, how many objects/hour are you observing? Does it depend on an evening's observing program?
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#2 Philler

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Posted 24 June 2018 - 11:57 PM

 It really doesn't matter.  This hobby is not about how many objects you can bag in one night.  It's about quality,  not necessarily quantity. It's about pleasing yourself, not keeping up with someone else, or pleasing them.


Edited by Philler, 24 June 2018 - 11:58 PM.

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#3 havasman

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Posted 24 June 2018 - 11:58 PM

Does it depend on an evening's observing program?

Yes, and quite a bit.

 

If I'm targeting small extragalactic details, supergiant stars or globular clusters in M31, protoplanetary nebulae or other threshold observations that may take some hard concentration to decide if that impression was actually an observation that repeated successfully then it can take quite a while to get through it. Likewise with going back to an old friend like M27 or NGC6907 to try and find that new feature not before noted. Taking 45 minutes or more on M33 or M101 is a major pleasure of the hobby, IMO.

 

But galaxy hopping through an Abell cluster can click off a high observation count in 10 or 15 minutes. Some Hickson Galaxy Cluster just all appear in the field right away. Double stars are identified, observed and enjoyed in a couple of minutes and it's on to the next object.

 

I like your Q and it's one I have asked myself. For me the answer is all over the place.


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#4 TOMDEY

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Posted 25 June 2018 - 12:29 AM

Hi, cam1936, et al! For me, it's typically about ten per hour. I usually pick a type of object (galaxies are my favorites) and concentrate on that for a couple of hours. If I'm using a smaller scope, it may be more than ten. But if it's the big observatory scope (36-inch in a dome and climbing a 12-step warehouse ladder) it might be less than ten. Once I get on an object and confirm its identity (and that I CAN see it!), then I savor it with different eyepieces and maybe take some notes and quick sketches. Then onto the next one.

 

And I start out with easyish targets and progress to tougher and tougher ones.

 

Finish up with a few spectacular "easy" familiars.

 

Once a year I view exactly 110 objects in one night.

 

And about 20 nights/year, I spend the entire night on one single object: I'm trying to collect data on the Crab Pulsar, using a high-end optical chopper, Night Vision, recording and analyzing the temporal "power spectrum."  That's Tough... and FUN!  Tom

 

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#5 Kyphoron

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Posted 25 June 2018 - 12:50 AM

For me observing is not a marathon. Some nights I will go out and observe maybe 6 objects during the whole time out. Comparing notes from other nights and matching what I see as opposed to what I saw on those other nights. I see a lot of people who go out with list and all I can hear them saying is M13, got it what's next M82, next is M57 and so on without ever really looking at the object. To me that's not observing. I define two kinds of nights out and they are.

 

Seeing: This is a person who hops from one object to another in sort of a checklist fashion. Not taking any time to visually gather information and just running through a pre-generated list or using a tour program on a mount.

 

Observing: This person goes out with a short list and perhaps note paper and a sketch pad. Finding and object stay centered on it and observing it with comparing to past notes on details and conditions and then adding additional detail in a new log.


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#6 Redbetter

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Posted 25 June 2018 - 01:06 AM

It depends on the objects and how diligently I want to observe them.  For familiar objects I might take quick looks at half a dozen in a few minutes.  For particularly difficult new ones I might spend an hour on a single object.  I also target detailed looks at some objects and these can take hours or portions of several nights studying/searching for various details and perhaps sketching or recording them. 

 

More often than not I am star hopping to galaxies and noting things seen along the way.  During the actual times when I am actively observing and logging descriptions (perhaps doing a crude sketch here or there), I average about 6 to 10 galaxies per hour. 

 

There are probably another several per hour on average that I don't take the time to observe in sufficient detail to take notes and log.  This happens mostly when I am working a list and trying to see things while they are still well placed in the sky.  That reduces my time to casually explore the neighborhood before moving on. 

 

My favorite observing tends to be going deep into some area I have scouted ahead (or using someone's article about it), or when I just pick a well placed portion of sky and try to observe all the DSO's listed in Uranometria within some radius.  This latter approach leads to "discovering" a number of galaxies that are not plotted. 


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#7 NiteGuy

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Posted 25 June 2018 - 01:26 AM

I do recall one night in particular at a star party where I challenged myself to show, whoever was interested, 100 identified objects and do that without ever looking at a star atlas. The instrument was the 17.5" Dob and it was in the middle of summer (very short night) from a very dark site. Observers for each object varied from 2 to 6 throughout the night and I told no one about my personal "secret" challenge. I had serious doubts about being able to do this, but as the Zodiacal Light climbed into the sky and twilight hinted, I counted #100.

 

Sometimes it's fun to just treat yourself to a stupid challenge for no other reason than to see if you can do it or to just break the routine. And, along the way, if you can show others a good time and let them enjoy the views too, well, that's a special night.


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#8 AllanDystrup

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Posted 25 June 2018 - 01:44 AM

My backyard observing sessions are typically of a duration around 2½ h / night.

For those sessions, I normally manage to observe 2 objects from my observing list (counting a galaxy group as one object).

 

I research and sketch each object, often in a wide field view + a close-up view.

 

Not seldom I only observe 1 object on a night, and a very few times I havde managed 3 objects in one night.

 

Allan


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#9 Codbear

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Posted 25 June 2018 - 01:46 AM

I realize the answer to this question is probably: "it varies"

If you were to say on a typical night, how many objects/hour are you observing? Does it depend on an evening's observing program?

This is a fair question, but the question within the question is: What exactly IS a typical observing night?

 

I think if we divide sessions up into Lunar/planetary and DSOs/Double stars, a more "typical" session of each may be had. I am still breaking in my new TEC180 after the obligatory week of really lousy seeing (but no clouds) and with a good night of seeing last night spent two hours solely on Jupiter and the Moon.

 

With DSOs however, I usually try to observe about 5 or 6 objects during my 2 hours, but may visit a particular object 3 or 4 times as my acuity improves throughout the session.

 

The last and perhaps most important variable though, is how LONG a typical observing session is. For me, due to my muscle disease, it's the 2 hrs I alluded to because that's all I can do before my muscles start getting goofy and I risk dropping eyepieces or tripping. For others, it can be 4-6 hours or longer.

 

So an interesting addendum to your question is: Does the rate/hr of objects observed change based on the number of hours available to observe or does the rate stay roughly linear?


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#10 cam1936

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Posted 25 June 2018 - 07:37 AM

Good responses!

The reason I asked is because I'm at 53° north. Due to being low in the sky, and it never getting dark in summer, all the beautiful objects in Scorpius and Sagittarius are washed out.

Last summer, for the eclipse, I was at 44° for one night under extremely dark skies. I just went from object to object very quickly while I could. Now I am wishing I took some more time with just a few objects.

Normally I would say I take 10 or 15 minutes with each DSO.

#11 Jon_Doh

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Posted 25 June 2018 - 08:36 AM

I'm always amazed at how time passes when I'm observing.  It will feel like I've been at it an hour, but when I check the time I find three hours has passed.  Since observing puts me in a time machine I have no idea how many objects I'll view in an hour.  But I do know I'll spend a lot of time on some and even come back to them while hardly spending any time on those that are unremarkable in my light polluted skies.


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#12 Asbytec

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Posted 25 June 2018 - 08:49 AM

One.
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#13 Starman1

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Posted 25 June 2018 - 02:09 PM

I realize the answer to this question is probably: "it varies"

If you were to say on a typical night, how many objects/hour are you observing? Does it depend on an evening's observing program?

Yes.  My personal best is about 90.

My lowest number is about 20.

My average is probably 40-50.

I should note that I typically view till 4am, and these days, that's all night, but in the dead of winter it's less than all night.

So that means my observing varies from 10 hours down to 6 hours during the year, and obviously I don't observe as many objects

on the short nights as I do on the long nights.

I have close to 20,000 objects in my "to be observed" list, and I try to chip away at it every time out--maybe 10 objects, sometimes a lot more.

 

My home, in a white zone for LP, lends itself well to viewing planets and Moon and double stars, but that's about all.

So I typically skip those targets when I'm at a dark site so I don't waste my night (and night vision) viewing really bright targets at the dark site.

If I were a sketcher (I'm not), it might be 3 or 4 objects in a night.

If I didn't make notes, but simply checked off that I'd seen a target, it could easily be a hundred objects in a night.

 

We each have different approaches to observing, and they are all good if we enjoy doing what we do.


Edited by Starman1, 25 June 2018 - 02:10 PM.

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#14 slavicek

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Posted 25 June 2018 - 02:40 PM

As it was said earlier, it depends. When I observe the Sun, it's (obviously) one. Even thou I do look at Venus or Mercury during my day session. At night with Goto and spending average 3-5 mins on a object, I did observe comfortably 200 objects or 20/hr.



#15 CelestronDaddy

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Posted 25 June 2018 - 04:09 PM

I gave this some thought … it really varies with the object I'm looking at.  I've spent observing sessions looking at only a few particular objects and then spent other nights looking at many during an observing session.  For me I'd say 2 to 3 then up to 3X that amount depending on targets … 



#16 kfiscus

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Posted 25 June 2018 - 07:07 PM

If the night is being devoted to "finishing off" a section of sky (finding targets we've never observed), my observing buddy and I will get about 10 objects per hour by old-school star hopping.  We note characteristics, location tips, and whether or not objects are deserving of future visits.



#17 Creedence

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Posted 25 June 2018 - 07:21 PM

Great question, and it's generating some really interesting feedback. Given that astronomy is (at least for me) a solitary pursuit, I don't have a lot of opportunities to compare notes with others.

I've always considered myself somewhat or a "retail" observer content to window shop, but I'd love to get more disciplined with my observing. I find I'll usually hit a target, observe for about 3-5 minutes in one configuration, try it for another 3-5 with another eyepiece/filter combo, figure out what I like best, then another few minutes till it's on to the next. I also through in a heavy dose of leaning back in the chair staring at nothing in particular into the mix as well.

Looking forward to the day when I can say I spend an entire night pulling the finest nuance out of all my visual targets, but right now, I'm just happy to be window shopping!

#18 quazy4quasars

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Posted 25 June 2018 - 07:56 PM

 As many as it takes.



#19 qpHalcy0n

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Posted 25 June 2018 - 09:50 PM

I usually research for a list of 10 objects based on their peculiarity or how interesting they are. In a night, I usually won't make it through the list. I also keep a backlog of lists that I can go back to as well. First, I verify the object. Sometimes this takes 5 seconds, sometimes it takes 5 minutes or more, but I have to know what I'm looking at is indeed what I'm supposed to be looking at. Then I'll spend a few minutes determining the best fit eyepiece for the object. Finding the right framing for it and which piece is giving the object the most apparent detail. After that, I usually spend a minimum 10 minutes under the hood to really shun out all light and watch the details start to emerge. I'll scan over the object a few times noting peculiar areas or suspected details. After that I'll actually do the sketch. First laying down the star field, then painting in the fainter broad shape of the object and then gradually laying in thicker layers of detail. That part actually doesn't take very long at all. Usually 5 minutes because I've already spent a good amount of time getting a good impression of the object. All said and done, usually I can get through 7 - 10 objects or so a night.


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#20 cam1936

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Posted 25 June 2018 - 11:35 PM

I usually research for a list of 10 objects based on their peculiarity or how interesting they are. In a night, I usually won't make it through the list. I also keep a backlog of lists that I can go back to as well. First, I verify the object. Sometimes this takes 5 seconds, sometimes it takes 5 minutes or more, but I have to know what I'm looking at is indeed what I'm supposed to be looking at. Then I'll spend a few minutes determining the best fit eyepiece for the object. Finding the right framing for it and which piece is giving the object the most apparent detail. After that, I usually spend a minimum 10 minutes under the hood to really shun out all light and watch the details start to emerge. I'll scan over the object a few times noting peculiar areas or suspected details. After that I'll actually do the sketch. First laying down the star field, then painting in the fainter broad shape of the object and then gradually laying in thicker layers of detail. That part actually doesn't take very long at all. Usually 5 minutes because I've already spent a good amount of time getting a good impression of the object. All said and done, usually I can get through 7 - 10 objects or so a night.


This sounds like a relaxing and enjoyable approach. I need to slow down sometimes.
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#21 Sketcher

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Posted 26 June 2018 - 12:22 AM

It varies!

 

Often I'll decide on an object, settle on a particular magnification – or decide to employ multiple magnifications, study the object – taking mental notes on the various details, then put it on paper in the form of a sketch – annotated with various notes as deemed necessary or desirable.  (Notes . . . that reminds me:  An unusual note from last night (OK, early this morning) while working on a Mars observation and sketch:  “Sounds like a bear growling to the southwest a few hundred yards away.”)

 

The time factor for this will depend on the object, the details seen, and the nature of those details.  For some objects this may be accomplished in under one hour,  For others it may take longer.  On rare occasions I've continued an observation on the next suitable clear night.  On average, one object per hour would be a good guesstimate for this type of observation.

 

But there are other times (on relatively rare occasions) when I'll want to relax a bit and use large binoculars to 'log' all the Messier objects, etc. that are suitably positioned in my current sky.  I'll still usually jot down a brief note on each object.  (If there's no record of an observation – it didn't happen!)  But sometimes I'll even skip the brief notes.  During these sessions I'll generally 'observe' (if you want to call it observing) anywhere from about 20 to about 50 objects per hour.

 

There are other types of observing sessions that crop up from time to time, but the above takes care of most situations for me.

 

So, there you have it:  It varies!


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#22 Balma

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Posted 26 June 2018 - 06:15 AM

It depends what kind of observing you prefer.

I definitely like to find as many objects as i can. Withbout any  map or apps like  skysafari.

i like to memorize the locations of DSO more than observing the very details in DSO.


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#23 Asbytec

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Posted 26 June 2018 - 06:44 AM

It varies!

 

Often I'll decide on an object, settle on a particular magnification – or decide to employ multiple magnifications, study the object – taking mental notes on the various details, then put it on paper in the form of a sketch – annotated with various notes as deemed necessary or desirable.  (Notes . . . that reminds me:  An unusual note from last night (OK, early this morning) while working on a Mars observation and sketch:  “Sounds like a bear growling to the southwest a few hundred yards away.”)

 

The time factor for this will depend on the object, the details seen, and the nature of those details.  For some objects this may be accomplished in under one hour,  For others it may take longer.  On rare occasions I've continued an observation on the next suitable clear night.  On average, one object per hour would be a good guesstimate for this type of observation.

 

But there are other times (on relatively rare occasions) when I'll want to relax a bit and use large binoculars to 'log' all the Messier objects, etc. that are suitably positioned in my current sky.  I'll still usually jot down a brief note on each object.  (If there's no record of an observation – it didn't happen!)  But sometimes I'll even skip the brief notes.  During these sessions I'll generally 'observe' (if you want to call it observing) anywhere from about 20 to about 50 objects per hour.

 

There are other types of observing sessions that crop up from time to time, but the above takes care of most situations for me.

 

So, there you have it:  It varies!

I'm the same way. Compiling a sketch and posting a write up takes me well into the night, too. Often past my bedtime. It's part of the process. Normally I'll do no more than one object a night. Sometimes two or three tops. If I do any more than that, they are just a quick hello. 



#24 Feidb

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Posted 26 June 2018 - 08:29 AM

I'm going for several observing lists including the Herschel 2500 and a few others. So, I try to claim as many of them as I can in the night, while also getting good observations of each object. It can vary from 5-70, depending on the density and sky conditions and how long I'm able to stay out. Usually, I'm only out with quality observing time of about 3 hours or so, so the number usually ranges from 10-30. However, depending on the particular objective for the night, that can vary as well. I usually spend 30 seconds to a minute and a half on any one object. That's all the time I need for what I want to do. Once in a while, I spend more, depending. I've never spent more than say...twenty minutes to a half hour? On any one object in one sitting. I may have revisited a few in the same evening and accumulated some of that or more, but in one sitting, I'm prone to headaches, so sorry, no way!



#25 paspat

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Posted 26 June 2018 - 09:02 AM

I am usually out for 2 to 3 hrs at a time and looking for unobserved objects using only star hopping  to locate. 15 objects is a good night for me. but my location skills seem to be improving.


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