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What was it like observing in the 60’s?

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#51 rolo

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Posted 20 October 2018 - 09:44 AM

rolo, this is a wonderful post. Made me feel very emotional because it reminded me so much of my own adventures and the excitement of the journey and ironically with more than I know what to do with, none of it compares to this exciting journey and story you just shared. Your story is so spot on with mine. It’s really the excitement of the journey that provides the magic. Also, your comments on the Jason refractor hit home with me very hard. Vernon, my closest observing buddy committed suicide 2 years ago. It was a huge blow for me. Sometime in the late 90’s another close observing buddy brought his sons Jason 60mm refractor to Charlton Flats. When we all looked through it we were stunned at how clean and crisp Jupiter and its moons were through it. It was such a great time. I’ll never forget Vernon telling me, what a great little scope that Jason was. Such a humbling story you shared, I can’t imagine the excitement you must have had.  

That's terrible Daniel, Its just devastating to lose a close friend that way. I lost a couple of friends back in the 90's not best friends but mainly riding buddies. Crotch rockets through the streets of Miami wasn't a good idea...Now you reminded me of a particular event that I just had to share with a friend back in 77 at the age of twelve...

 

Despite its narrow eyepieces and simple mount that little Jason meant the world to me! I remember one night I was observing Jupiter (use to look at it every night) and must have been at or near opposition. I remember I would almost always use the 5mm at 140x for the best views when I noticed something on Jupiter for the first time. I couldn't believe it! There was a tiny black spot on it! I was so excited to see my first transit that I had to share it with someone! It was a bit late so I couldn't call my friend at that time so I grabbed the scope and walked to his house. After about four blocks and in the middle of the night I got to his bedroom window and knocked. He woke up and wondered WTH was I doing there? I told him he needed to come outside and take a look! He snuck out and we sat in the grass to see the transit. He thought it was super cool but he wasn't into astronomy like I was! We stayed up for while then I went home and watched the transit till it ended. I'll never forget that night forty one years ago!

 

I remember hearing train horns in the distance almost every night I would observe. Forty plus years later when I hear a train horn late at night in the distance I fondly recall those times.


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#52 Richard Whalen

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Posted 20 October 2018 - 09:45 AM

Back in the 60s scopes were smaller, skies were darker, seeing was steadier. We lived in San Leandro, California and my dad would take me up to Chabot to look through their refractors and scopes club member brought set up outside. Saw very few commercial made scopes over 4", most 6" and up were atm. 

 

My first scope was a 60mm with a sliding eyepiece for 30x, 45x and 60x. Saturn was my favorite target at 60x. The space race was in full swing, very exciting times to be interested in space. 


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#53 Daniel Mounsey

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Posted 20 October 2018 - 11:06 AM

     I was a teenager back then in the 60'ies. Amateur astronomy was not common as an interest or a hobby, and it was not easy to find information on the subject here in Denmark. I was basically on my own. At the age of 12 I got hold of a book by Patrick Moore: "Naked Eye Astronomy" plus William Peck: "The Constellations & how to find them", and used that for a couple of years to learn the constellations and how to navigate the night sky.

 

     After a year I bought a Japanese 7x50 binocular, and many a dark night I spent on the flat roof of my parents' house with the neighbor's cat in my lap, following the rise and set of the constellations through the seasons, while learning about the stars (Martha Evans Martin: "The friendly Stars"), the Arab root of their names and the Greek lore surrounding them.

 

     I worked in my summer vacations to save up for a proper telescope. I basically had the choice of a 2" Telementor or a 3" Unitron, and at the age of 15 I decided to buy the Unitron. This opened up a new world, and with the help of Patrick Moore: "Guide to the Stars", Donald Menzel: "Stars & Planets" plus Norton's Star Atlas, I was now able to really for the first time study Jupiter, Saturn, Mars, Venus and the many Messier objects, close up. What a treat it was, the universe cracked open for in depth observations! This is my basic setup, for back then:

 

attachicon.gif Ast-01.jpg

    

 

     Then came high school, girls, education, the navy, teaching, studying, languages, university, biology, computer science, more girls, marriage, work, children, more children (not more girls really…). Astronomy took the back seat in all those years.

 

     Suddenly I was 62, and decided to retire. Had some plans for "on the side" projects in computers, but also rebooted my old astronomy hobby, -- and found the world had changed. The LP in my suburban area N of Copenhagen is now at a Bortle Red/Orange level ~NELM 4.5-5.5 (whereas it back then in suburban S Copenhagen was a rural Blue ~NELM 6.5). What a change! Also the telescopes had evolved. The ubiquitous Fraunhofer achromats from the 60'ies were now largely superseded by faster and more easily handled APO, and a large portion of these were now primarily optimized for astrophotography.

 

     I ended up selling my large 3"  f/16 142C Unitron and instead buying some classic f/8 Vixen Fluorite APO refractors on vintage Zeiss manual (but motorized) mounts. These satisfy my preference for star hopping and visual observation while still offering the advantage of a more modern and high performing lens design, in a portable grab-go package. So here's my current setup (still evolving, and I also have a couple of Zeiss refractors, which is not shown here):

 

attachicon.gif Ast 02.jpg

 

     My sources for information have changed drastically too of course. Astronomy science and space exploration have moved on since the 60'ies of course, so my astronomy library is now considerably larger, and is now supplemented by pc software and a lot of internet sources like scientific articles, pictures and videos. The astronomy fora (in Denmark at least) are now primarily driven by astrophotography, but as this is not my interest, I seldom post on these fora.

 

     There are challenges in having astronomy as a hobby when you live in a NELM 5 suburban environment, and these challenges are getting still more widespread with the increasing urbanization of our societies. I met these challenges when i rebooted my hobby 5 years ago, but I've also found solutions, that allows me to explore the universe with the same curiosity and enthusiasm as I had when I started out 50 years ago. My answer has been to keep the backyard grab-go setup for visual observation, but now supplemented by live video (EAA) and lately also live night vision (NVD).

 

     I try to share my astronomy observations in threads here on CN where I've found a few with the same interests, but like you write Daniel: much of what's written on CN is about telescopes (restoring, collecting, comparing, testing), optics (glass, polish, DPAC & all that jazz) and visual acuity ("I detected that tiny hazy spot with this small telescope and my eagle eyes") -- not so much about astronomy. Ahh well, as the Zen saying goes: "A thinking person makes use of the pointing finger to see the moon. A person who only looks at the finger and mistakes it for the moon will never see the real moon…".

 

   -- Allan

Allan,

 

Very nice things you shared here. This provoked a thought. Being that it was not easy to find information on the subject did you a good service though. It makes us appreciate what we have and to devour it if there's little of it. I'm a rank audiophile and I was recently listening to a story about how streaming with kids today has caused kids to merely sift through music like it's nothing and I understand that because things just have to change but it does't mean I agree with it either. Back in the day of LP's/vinyl, there was a process where you went to a store and picked up a record and looked at the art work on the album and you cued it up on a turntable and listened to the whole album. Many don't care about this, but I sincerely do. I have gone back to LP's. I go to six different stores that sell LP's because they are back in full force and I enjoy looking at all the albums. I try to disconnect the idea of speed and quickness and remind myself to take it in rather than just sift through things. I've tried to refrain from this get it quick mentality. Every single album I have purchased is played front to back. I have a chair I sit in and literally listen to each album I buy and I read the stories on the covers about the artist and their story. It may seem odd to some, but it's like mental therapy for me. I have a glass of wine and just try to decompress from all the stress in todays fast pace lifestyle and cranky customers I have to deal with. I make a concerted effort to disconnect myself from it and this is one of the ways. Astronomy is my main passion but the concept is similar. That is why I read and re-read Burnham's Celestial Handbook till it was drilled into my head. 

 

Your quote from O'meara hits home. He's a truly talented and gifted observer. 


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#54 Daniel Mounsey

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Posted 20 October 2018 - 11:26 AM

That's terrible Daniel, Its just devastating to lose a close friend that way. I lost a couple of friends back in the 90's not best friends but mainly riding buddies. Crotch rockets through the streets of Miami wasn't a good idea...Now you reminded me of a particular event that I just had to share with a friend back in 77 at the age of twelve...

 

Despite its narrow eyepieces and simple mount that little Jason meant the world to me! I remember one night I was observing Jupiter (use to look at it every night) and must have been at or near opposition. I remember I would almost always use the 5mm at 140x for the best views when I noticed something on Jupiter for the first time. I couldn't believe it! There was a tiny black spot on it! I was so excited to see my first transit that I had to share it with someone! It was a bit late so I couldn't call my friend at that time so I grabbed the scope and walked to his house. After about four blocks and in the middle of the night I got to his bedroom window and knocked. He woke up and wondered WTH was I doing there? I told him he needed to come outside and take a look! He snuck out and we sat in the grass to see the transit. He thought it was super cool but he wasn't into astronomy like I was! We stayed up for while then I went home and watched the transit till it ended. I'll never forget that night forty one years ago!

 

I remember hearing train horns in the distance almost every night I would observe. Forty plus years later when I hear a train horn late at night in the distance I fondly recall those times.

 

This is what happens when you really observe through what you have. It's really a great thing. I also wanted to tell you something which I didn't have time to add earlier. You mentioned the 6" Newtonian and the 200" Palomar. That's exactly what I thought about too because when I first started out, I used an old 6" bakelite tube kit my older brother an uncle bought from a magazine back in the late 70's. I remember looking down the tube at the spider vane and smelling that prolific scent of bakelite which provoked this thread. I saw Saturn using a 25mm Kellner by accident and it just blew me away! I could see rings! I could't believe my eyes and I must have been abo. 

https://www.cloudyni...found-memories/

 

I missed the 60's era and this is why it's nice and exciting to hear the guys that experienced that era. Certainly the 70's is interesting too! Really enjoy reading all the stories about all you guys. Hit's a sweet spot. 


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#55 Daniel Mounsey

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Posted 20 October 2018 - 11:28 AM

Back in the 60s scopes were smaller, skies were darker, seeing was steadier. We lived in San Leandro, California and my dad would take me up to Chabot to look through their refractors and scopes club member brought set up outside. Saw very few commercial made scopes over 4", most 6" and up were atm. 

 

My first scope was a 60mm with a sliding eyepiece for 30x, 45x and 60x. Saturn was my favorite target at 60x. The space race was in full swing, very exciting times to be interested in space. 

Ahhh the Chabot. What an amazing place I'll never forget and the astronomical library is off the charts.

https://www.cloudyni...14-alvan-clark/


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#56 kansas skies

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Posted 20 October 2018 - 12:02 PM

Allan,

 

Very nice things you shared here. This provoked a thought. Being that it was not easy to find information on the subject did you a good service though. It makes us appreciate what we have and to devour it if there's little of it. I'm a rank audiophile and I was recently listening to a story about how streaming with kids today has caused kids to merely sift through music like it's nothing and I understand that because things just have to change but it does't mean I agree with it either. Back in the day of LP's/vinyl, there was a process where you went to a store and picked up a record and looked at the art work on the album and you cued it up on a turntable and listened to the whole album. Many don't care about this, but I sincerely do. I have gone back to LP's. I go to six different stores that sell LP's because they are back in full force and I enjoy looking at all the albums. I try to disconnect the idea of speed and quickness and remind myself to take it in rather than just sift through things. I've tried to refrain from this get it quick mentality. Every single album I have purchased is played front to back. I have a chair I sit in and literally listen to each album I buy and I read the stories on the covers about the artist and their story. It may seem odd to some, but it's like mental therapy for me. I have a glass of wine and just try to decompress from all the stress in todays fast pace lifestyle and cranky customers I have to deal with. I make a concerted effort to disconnect myself from it and this is one of the ways. Astronomy is my main passion but the concept is similar. That is why I read and re-read Burnham's Celestial Handbook till it was drilled into my head. 

 

Your quote from O'meara hits home. He's a truly talented and gifted observer. 

This is a very enjoyable thread as it brings back memories on all sorts of levels. It got me to thinking, and in a year or so, I should be able to answer the question, "What is it like to observe into your sixties?". And, since I don't plan on going anywhere soon, I look forward to many more years under the stars. Your analogy of vinyl records is spot-on. Although I do have a couple of go-to scopes, I don't care for the mounts (love the actual scopes, however) as they require more effort than I usually care to expend. Most often than not, I just like to setup a scope to enjoy a few familiar sights and possibly take in a new one or two along the way. I'd much rather take a few minutes to smell (and actually enjoy) the roses instead of simply racking up numbers.

 

Bill


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#57 Vesper818

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Posted 20 October 2018 - 02:41 PM

In the 60s, I claimed the family Edition of Sky Observers guide marking my name in 9 year old cursive. No hope of getting a telescope in a big family of girls, but our no-streetlight valley subdivision afforded me nights to learn the constellations, watch the moon phases, and learn the planetary dance. A sleeping bag on the back lawn made a comfortable observing spot. I could fall asleep, even on a weeknight, or scramble back to bed if chased in by the coastal fog.
Dreams of someday building my own scope were planted and nourished by my dad's Edmund catalogs. The dream waited till I was in my early 30s.
Still in love with the sky!
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#58 CHASLX200

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Posted 20 October 2018 - 02:51 PM

I started looking at the sky in 1975.  Used a pair of 7x35's to look at a girl across the canal at age 12.  One nite i looked up and i was hooked seeing more stars than what my eye could. I kinda remember seeing a bright yellow star coming up in late summer. That was Jupiter.  So for 2 years i knew no one else that liked the stars or of any clubs or even Sky& Tele . I was all alone i though.  I knew no names of any stars or anything at all. What i would give to start over and not  know a thing.


Edited by CHASLX200, 20 October 2018 - 03:17 PM.

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#59 Tenacious

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Posted 20 October 2018 - 03:10 PM

 ..."What is it like to observe into your sixties?"....

I enjoyed that!  I'm not too far away either.

 

@ Daniel

I can resonate with the appreciation of vinyl (also printed books!).  It is the only recording format that could still be played with simple mechanisms.     OTOH, while I frequently lament the abandonment of traditional media in favor of the cloud, I also like the compactness of electronic music. I never imagined back in the 60s, 70s, or 80s that it would be possible in the 2000s to have 500 of my favorite recordings played in random order on a device smaller than my thumb!


Edited by Tenacious, 20 October 2018 - 03:13 PM.

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#60 Asbytec

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Posted 20 October 2018 - 04:51 PM

Like many of us, my first scope in the 60's was a small Sears refractor my father picked up at a pawn shop. I remember being excited to see Saturn's rings, gosh it really does have rings! Jupiter wan't much, but it displayed two dark belts. Like Chase, I was mostly ignorant but the lure of learning more put that feeling in my gut. You probably know the feeling, when your stomach seems to tighten? The inspiration and curiosity of a child is an amazing force. The Pleiades were amazing, so many stars in one place through my father's 10x50s. The moon in his 8" was awe striking. It was covered in craters, who'd have thunk it? I spotted Orion's belt one night and knew that had to be something. 

 

My first upgrade (in the 70's) was an old 4.25" mirror with a badly degraded coating my father had lying around. I mounted it on a piece of plywood scrap with a single stalk diagonal and rolled black poster board over the top as a makeshift tube. Collimation was done by simply tweaking the mirrors by hand until it looked good. But, I sat with this thing in my lap for almost a year while I was grinding my 6" Newt. I spent many hours just combing the sky for any fuzzies that may pop into view along the Milky Way. My 6" kit and return from coating gave me an appreciation for seeing that brown truck pull up in front of the house. 

 

My, how times have changed. Saturn is no longer a yellow ball with rings, it has a wealth of detail. Jupiter same way. Collimation is more sophisticated (LOL) and precise. And I get to stay out long after the street lights come on. :)


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#61 Chuck Hards

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Posted 20 October 2018 - 05:12 PM

  • The GRS was sure a lot easier to see, even in smaller scopes.  Was visibly larger to my eye, and deeper red.
  • There were more sunspots.
  • There were more aurorae visible from my latitude.  (Though the best was in the 90s)
  • Have I missed some nice bright naked-eye novae in the last few decades?  The last one that sticks out in my mind was Nova Cygni, which was 1975-ish IIRC.

 

 

Now, today car batteries are much better.  I used to have to start up the car every couple of hours just to be sure I didn't get stranded.  No cell phones, but I did have a CB radio and it would work even if the battery couldn't crank the starter.  I also packed an extra car battery in the back of the Vista Cruiser, just in case.  I needed that huge Olds wagon to haul the Cave 1-1/2" shaft mount around, with the 8" f/7 OTA.   Only about ten miles per gallon, but gas was what, 49 cents a gallon?  Diesel was 9 cents a gallon.

 

It's been mentioned before but eyepieces tend to be better now, at least for the bottom-feeders.  I used to Barlow-up the old Edmund 28mm pre-RKE to 3X-4X, rather than use the Edmund short focal-length Ramsdens.  The day I could afford University Optics was like a fog lifting.  Erfles were amazing, as were orthos.  Even shorter Kellners were much nicer than similar Ramsdens.

 

I remember just seeing the Horsehead in my 8-inch Newt back then, can't do it today from similar skies.  Probably aging eyes more than anything.

 

After using a lot of small to large binoculars over the decades, including some recent models,  I've settled on my old Swift 20x80mm Observers, and Sans & Streiffe 7x35mm #998 Commanders.  All the others have found new homes.  Affordable binoculars used to be much better-made back then.  Today you can get large aperture for relatively little money, but with few exceptions, the robustness isn't there.


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#62 Bonco2

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Posted 20 October 2018 - 07:25 PM

I began in the late 50's with a cherished 15X,45X,60X sliding tube tiny refractor. It remains my most cherished Christmas present. Studied the moon which seemed rather blue but had lots of detail. The Pleiades were spectacular. Jupiter was a defined disk and the rings of Saturn hooked me. Next was a Sears 60mm f/9. A huge improvement optically. No more blue moon and the planets were sharp. Also introduced me to DSO's  as the southern clusters were beautifully viewed. Around 1961 I used paper route money to buy an RV6....WOW/WOW. It was the primary telescope for our JR. Astronomy Club. Most members couldn't afford a scope so mine was much appreciated by the members. The RV6 even today is a tremendous performer. 

I liked the fact that I learned the sky by using maps such as the Skalnate Pleso. I used it in my young teens to find and plot asteroids. It also let me learn to star hop. I became very proficient and could find any object that my RV 6 might reveal. 

The light pollution in big cities was not so bad back then. I did much of my observations inside Dallas Texas. Can't do that today.

Bill


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#63 Chuck Hards

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Posted 20 October 2018 - 08:43 PM

I still have and use my Skalnate Pleso atlas, field version.  Way back then, a friend had access to a large-format laminating machine, and laminated the entire atlas for me.  Dew-proof and I can write notes on it with a white grease pencil.


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#64 grif 678

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Posted 20 October 2018 - 08:59 PM

I didn’t start till the 70’s but there was no internet, no forums, no 500 different brands of scopes and face to face conversation were more interesting than forums. Now every topic in refractors, reflectors and SCT’s and up in the same arguments and discussions about what scope is better. APO vs Achros, this vs that and it gets old. Same folks posting the same thing for years on end. A few times I’ve thought of quitting the forums altogether. 

Rolo,

You hit the nail on the head this time, and I get caught up in it just like every body else. Observing the heavens has taken second place to observing all the different kinds of scopes. We spend more time comparing the views of different scopes than enjoying the views that we see. I have bought scopes that by reading the reviews, and they turn out not any better than what I all ready had.


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#65 rolo

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Posted 20 October 2018 - 10:00 PM

Rolo,

You hit the nail on the head this time, and I get caught up in it just like every body else. Observing the heavens has taken second place to observing all the different kinds of scopes. We spend more time comparing the views of different scopes than enjoying the views that we see. I have bought scopes that by reading the reviews, and they turn out not any better than what I all ready had.

That's what I miss and what I'm returning to, specially after my kidney transplant. Back then it was all visual. A decent scope and handful of Kellners and Orthos and you were set. Star charts, books, red flashlights, patience and appreciation of the heavens.

 

When I was 11 years old and without knowing it my 12.5" f/6 Cave was being manufactured so it could be mine 23 years later! When I bought it in 1999 I was so excited I felt like I was a kid back in 70's again! Buying and getting it home from Wolf Camera in Atlanta was a story in itself! The most incredible views ever. Rolled that beast out almost every night! I couldn't wait to get home after work to start observing for hours at a time. Best of all was sharing  that scope with my 11 year old son! Seeing him today as a thirty year old GA  Tech graduate fills my heart with pride! Unfortunately he didn't catch the astronomy bug but he catch the software developer bug! Then I got the planetary imaging bug in the early 2000's and visual took a back seat to that.

 

No more viewing except for checking the atmosphere. If the seeing was good, in went the camera if not in went the scope. I was determined to get an image published in Sky & Tel which was a childhood dream. Finally it happened, after submitting  some of my finest images of that time I was published not once but a few times. Then I got hooked on CCD imaging with a difficult learning curve, hours of exposures and only minutes at the eyepiece. My visual acuity was certainly on the way down! 

 

Now after being on dialysis for 5.5 years I rarely have the energy to go out and observe, even less now that it getting colder. So I made a promise to myself that I would return to my observing roots, visual. At least for the most part.

 

After the transplant I need to do more dark sky observing and I will. I pray that I'm able to.


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#66 smithrrlyr

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Posted 20 October 2018 - 10:43 PM

I can't add much that hasn't been said already, but I would note that for those of us on our own, without other amateurs nearby, the importance of Sky & Telescope for keeping informed about the broader world of astronomy cannot be overemphasized. Also eagerly awaited, but with a less reliable publication schedule, was the Review of Popular Astronomy.  The 60s were before the days of the Journal of the AAVSO, but those of us who took up observing variable stars looked forward to receiving the AAVSO Abstracts twice a year, with its brief accounts of the spring and fall meetings of the organization.  When a new AAVSO Abstracts issue arrived, I would read and reread it till I knew it by heart.  Of course, it was only a few pages long!  Finally, it was not a time of instant gratification.  I would read through advertisements in Sky & Telescope, mail off my requests for catalogs to vendors, and often weeks would elapse before the desired brochures arrived.  That made it all the more pleasant when they finally did, and I perused the catalogs intently even when there was no chance of my actually being able to purchase any of the items.  I might have found a resource like Cloudy Nights a bit overwhelming when I was starting out as a youthful observer.


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#67 John Higbee

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Posted 21 October 2018 - 12:15 AM

More thoughts on this topic in the following (archived) thread:

 

https://www.cloudyni...e-60s-and-70s/ 

 

My thoughts are at #29 in that thread...

 

John


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#68 Sequimite

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Posted 21 October 2018 - 06:29 AM

It just occurred to me reading this thread. I did all of my observing in THE 60's until I started up again in MY 60's. 


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#69 terraclarke

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Posted 21 October 2018 - 07:06 AM

I got into the hobby in 1964 before I turned fifteen. These are my recollections and experiences. Skies were much darker. Science was encouraged and highly respected, after all it had helped to WWII with radar and the atom bomb, we were living in the “Atomic Age” and the “Space Race” was on. Still, girls and women had a battle to be taken seriously in science, in science classes in school and college, and in science hobbies, (especially physical sciences); engineering even more so.

 

As for observing, back then we learned the basic elements of ‘celestial navigation’ and how to use setting circles. We even used special slide rules and Julian day calendars to determine siderial time, and also how to determine it directly from right ascension with setting circles. We used paper atlases (Norton’s) and planospheres and made our own red flashlights. Binoculars were an essential tool as well. We learned and knew the sky (The Stars, by Rey, the Golden Sky Observer’s Handbook, and Menzel’s Peterson Guide), and how to star hop to our target. There was a certain pride in finding things. I don’t remember ‘Messier marathons’ but we loved being able to find whatever Messier objects that were visible on a given night. NGC objects were serious business! wink.gif We all loved to observe satellites as well. I wasn’t in a Moonwatch program and never observed one in action but I knew of them. Still, when one was going over it was published in the newspaper and everyone would go out and see it. Telstar was even the name of a popular song on the radio. Another cool thing was watching the eerie noctulescent clouds that would form after twilight after a missle launch at Vandenburg AFB. And of course, we were living on the brink, it was in the back of everyone’s mind. And the air-raid drills and Conalrad buzz on the radio and TV kept people on edge. Surrounded by three AFBs, a fighter base, a stragigic bomber base, and an air-refuling and tactical air command base, we knew if anything happened we would be incinerated immediately.

 

For ‘imaging’ back then, ‘real’ astrophotography (that’s what it was called) was all black and white, with film and printed on paper. It was cool, (sometimes literally, required long exposure and hand guiding, and was only for the dedicated, super-serious amateur for the most part and required a darkroom. The rest of us dabbled with afocal (through the eyepiece) photography of bright objects like the moon, and making static star trails with a camera aimed at the sky and the shutter left open. Our pictures were developed at the drugstore with explicit and copious instructions to not discard them because it all looked black! lol.gif Tri-X rocked! And pictures, even those by serious amateurs, were not as good as eyepiece views; they were grainy, bloated, and blurry- but they were still loaded with ju-ju magic- Wow! We could actually take a picture of this! Loved George Keene’s Stargazing with Telescope and Camera back then- it was an inspiration.

 

Clubs were big, common, much younger, much more male, and everyone read and discussed Sky and Telescope. It was THE astronomy magazine and the main source of current info. It was generally included in your club membership and was at a far higher, more technical level than today, more like a scientific journal. It was also all black and white except for the color border around the black and white photo on the cover. I miss the old magazine’s format deeply. frown.gif Also Scientific American was a ‘required subscription’ for the scientifically minded back then. I miss it too! No where near the same! No amateur Scientist or Mathematical Games sections and dumbed down color articles now, bawling.gifLastly Popular Science and Edmund Catalogs were important reading materials.

 

WWII wasn’t that long ago and most all the adult amateurs in our had been in the war or worked in the war effort through some technical capacity. There was lots of WWII surplus material available that could be adopted for use in amateur astronomy. All the boys and men seemed adept in anything mechanical or electrical and there were workshops or workbenches in most every garage. It was not hard to find some generous person to help me with a project. So lots of amateurs made or adapted their own equipment. ATM was big, you saw lots of it at star parties and club meetings. (Thompson’s book was on the home bookshelf and Ingall’s three volume set was in the school library.) Most folks had one or two telescopes, occassionally three; more than that was rare. There were no SCTs but there was this rare and wonderful little gem that occassionally showed up, it was the Questar. Talk about rare. My observing friend’s grandfather had one. Short refractors were all achromats, were refered to as richest field telescopes, and were almost always homemade or adapted from some WWII optic. Otherwise refractors were loooong! No apos, no dobs. Most everything was on a German equatorial mount. Most long refractors were Japanese imports, and most reflectors were either ATM or made by an American manufacturer. A really big telescope was a 4” refractor or a 10”  Newt. And names commonly encountered were Edmund, Jaegers, Unitron, Sears, Mayflower, Cave and Criterion. Eyepieces were simple in design. They were generally 1.25” or 0.965” and if you were rich, you had an ‘ortho’ or two. A large eyepiece collecrion was half-dozen to a dozen. The only BIG eyepieces were WWII Erfles, usually necked down to 1.25” with a custom (homemade) lathe-turned aluminum or brass adapter. Finally, people were helpful and there was friendly rivalry but not snobbery.

 

All in all, it was a wonderful time. To me that’s Astronomy!


Edited by terraclarke, 21 October 2018 - 11:42 AM.

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#70 CHASLX200

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Posted 21 October 2018 - 07:19 AM

I never remember looking up until 1975.


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#71 Bomber Bob

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Posted 21 October 2018 - 07:32 AM

I closed-out the 1960s with a Focal (Kmart) 40mm click-zoom on a short tabletop tripod.  For a comfortable angle, I would lie on the north face of the roof, or in a chaise lawn chair.


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#72 Asbytec

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Posted 21 October 2018 - 08:52 AM

It just occurred to me reading this thread. I did all of my observing in THE 60's until I started up again in MY 60's.


Many of us started in the 60's, that was almost 60 years ago, and some of us are in our 60's or pushing 60. Happy 60th, everyone. :)
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#73 Asbytec

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Posted 21 October 2018 - 09:35 AM

"I don’t remember ‘Messier marathons’ but we loved being able to find and Messier objects that were visible on a given night. NGC objects were serious business!"

True dat. :)
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#74 rolo

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Posted 21 October 2018 - 02:19 PM

Another fond memory of the 70’s was my best friend’s grandfather, a 77 year old Mayan. White hair deep wrinkles dark bronze skin almost blind and a wealth of astronimacal knowledge. He gave my friend his only observing instrument, a pair of 6x30 binoculars probably from the 30’s or 40’s. Despite his poor vision and not able to see any stars he would point out the constellations some with names I’d never before. Anytime of the year he new where everything was just by the month and time. I remember Orion and Canis Major being a big deal for him. 


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#75 Chuck Hards

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Posted 21 October 2018 - 02:30 PM

My sisters would never get off the phone!  How could I possibly get a telegram off about my impending supernova or comet discovery, if they were always on the phone?  


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