Interested in your thoughts on this conundrum: How do you keep relative novices motivated and engaged in using their new-to-them extremely nice 10” ES compact dob, when you are observing beside them with a BFT (Big xxxx Telescope - 20” F4 dob)?
One consistently attending observing friend in particular comes over to verify that he is looking at the correct object that we are both pointed at, and first of all exclaims “whoah!” when looking through the BFT and a 100degree EP, then kind of gets dispirited when going back to his ‘little’ scope. This of course happens with just about everything - Mars, M56/71 (which were particularly glorious the other night, high in the sky with lots of Milky Way stars providing a foreground/backdrop), M31, M13 and attendant little galaxy (NGC6207?) etc etc..
Now, I must admit to also being consistently blown away by the views through my own scope (only had it for a year so far), but really don’t want my friend to feel bad.
I am an experienced observer (20+years), a great love of DSOs (globs, galaxies and gassess ), know my way around the sky and now only really look for stuff that I never really enjoyed in my 12”.
Your opinions and guidance greatly appreciated.
I own a 12.5" and friends show up at my site all the time with 20" and larger scopes. I do find the 20" scope goes a bit deeper (actually, a magnitude), but the difference is not that mind blowing.
Unless the target is really at the limit for the 12.5", the difference is usually just the brightness of the DSO.
I see very little difference in star clusters, but the differences in faint galaxies and small planetaries reveal the extra reach of the 20".
I won't live long enough to exhaust the limits of a 12.5", so the 20" doesn't really tempt me due to size, weight, and cost.
The question is how to keep novices motivated. Give them an observing log page like the one I attach here. If they answer all the questions and make an evaluation of the target using their own scopes,
they will quickly become much better observers which, as you know, makes a world of difference in your ability to see details in DSOs.
I have had extreme novices sit down at my scope and look while I ask the questions. By the time all are answered, I get some fairly complete observations, indicating that they are capable of seeing a lot, but just don't because
they haven't been trained to look.
I often say it's like playing a piano--you don't play Chopin the first time you sit at a piano, but with enough practice, you can.
It's the same with observing--practice, practice, practice. Keep pushing the limits.
I've had relative newbies tell me that in their first views of Messier objects their impressions were that they were quite dim.
Then, after spending a couple years on dim NGC objects or pursuing the objects in the Herschel 400, they went back to look at the Messier objects and were amazed at how bright and detailed they were.
So, how to maintain motivation? Give them a list of 500 bright ones, and then when they've successfully seen all of them, give them a lit of 500 more, but a little more difficult.
A couple years will pass, and pretty soon they'll be hunting down really faint targets for their apertures and probably spending less time looking through yours.
And when they do, they'll want to see something faint, so be prepared.