One of the joys of regularly observing with others is seeing how different people approach observing. I especially enjoy observing observers at star parties (when I’m taking a break from my own observing).
Top-line answer to the question: anywhere between ~1/hr and 5-6/hr. How that time breaks down has to do with how I observe, which - if anyone is interested - I descibe below.
I would say that I observe “deliberately.”
I usually start each night with a long list, roughly organized by RA and constellation. The list is much longer than I can possibly get through in a night and includes objects that are on my never-have-observed, need-to-re-observe, and want-to-re-observe lists, all appropriately highlighted so that I can tell them apart under lighting that keeps me dark adapted. As I observe, I move from low to high RA, skipping objects on the list so that I’m staying in the “comfort spot” for observing with my scope (e.g., I avoid the zenith when working with my ‘frac and dob, and generally try to keep the eyepiece at a height that doesn’t have me trying to climb a ladder to get to my chair, or set the chair seat too close to the ground). As I observe I also note what that night’s sky can stand in terms of magnification and magnitude. This also affects what I skip from my list.
Having decided on the next object I’m going to try to observe I head to it. Sometimes I Go-To, sometimes I Star-Hop. (I’ve never Pushed-To.) If I’m hopping, then its so my notes and finder charts (prepared beforehand) to review the hop. When hopping the hop can take quite a bit of time, depending on its complexity and what I spy along the way. If I see something interesting then I’ll pause, go back to my detailed charts to id the object, and then make appropriate notes. (I use a voice recorder for notes, which I make at the eyepiece. These notes always include object id, type, and details relevant to type (e.g., shape, size, brightness and brightness profile, position angle, separation, cluster class, etc.)
When I locate the object - or not - I study and enjoy it, vary magnifications and perhaps use different filters to bring out (or try to bring out) details, and make any additional notes. When I’ve had my fill of the object, it’s back to my list to determine - based on time, sky, and whim - what’s next.
Thus, I may take as little as five minutes between observations (i.e., ~12/hr) or as much as an hour between observations. The fraction of time spent actually observing an object may be as great as 80-90%, or as little as 10%. Rarely do I spend less than 3-4 minutes enjoying the object and making voice notes.
Edited by lsfinn, 21 July 2019 - 09:22 PM.