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Decline of EAA

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#51 GoFish



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Posted 22 January 2019 - 11:10 PM

For me, clouds + cold = no observing. Hoping for improved conditions. 


#52 CA Curtis 17

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Posted 22 January 2019 - 11:44 PM

I agree, the introduction of some very good and, in some cases reasonable cost, digital cameras along with the proliferation of software like Sharpcap, Atik Infinity, etc. which have stacking, histogram stretching, dark frame subtraction and light frame scaling have blurred the line between EAA and AP.  This is just the natural result of technological innovation and I have no issue with it.  We got into this to see more and better views of the deep sky and technology is giving us better tools to succeed.


When I first started 10 years ago with a Mallincam Xtreme I enjoyed seeing things in real time that I never could hope to see with just an EP.  But I also wanted to capture a nice picture to remember what I saw.  Today, with Sharpcap we can see a nice image build on the screen in real time right before our eyes (EAA), AND SIMULTANEOUSLY, capture individual frames for stacking and processing later with software like Nebulosity, Pixinsight, etc. (AP).  I see no reason to complain about that.  In fact, I seriously doubt if I could stand the boredom of taking lots of individual frames for post processing if I was not able to view a live image stacking and giving more and more detail at the same time.



Frankly, I think we are lucky with the options we have today.   


Best Regards,



#53 DSO_Viewer



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Posted 22 January 2019 - 11:46 PM

Great post DwightJ.


Yes, there has been a distinct shift away from pure observing and into an observing/imaging paradigm. But as regards this forum I feel that the shift has now gone too far towards imaging.  Many of the recent questions being posted are better answered in the Beginning and Intermediate Imaging Forum. 

Yes Noah, I agree with your statement "there has been a distinct shift away from pure observing and into an observing/imaging paradigm", but because of this method the images are much superior and easier to observe.




#54 Starman27



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Posted 22 January 2019 - 11:49 PM

I've been with this forum for awhile. And I am a simple EAA observer. One thing for sure is the concepts, technologies and capability of EAA in all of its current form has evolved rapidly. Not everyone is comfortable with change, especially rapid change, but this would not be EAA if there was not rapid and creative improvements for our ability observe in real time. EAA is not something that will stagnate, but rather grow. So, rather declining, I watched it change and grow, but always produce results that bring joy. By the way, that change has been powered by your desire to experiment, create and use solutions to improve your enjoyment of astronomy. 


#55 DSO_Viewer



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Posted 22 January 2019 - 11:50 PM

When EAA posting rules changed those whose only opportunities required rubylith (club sites, club outreach, astro events) were shut out of posting.  A pic taken with rubylith is not presentable without tweaking brightness, contrast, and stretching.  Only those living at a dark site or willing to go it alone in remote locations could post.


Folks moved from CCD to CMOS when Sony announced end of CCD production.  CMOS requires longer exposures. Small pixel size of CMOS required even longer exposures.  In the past there was an unwritten two minute rule for EAA but now CMOS folks are going twenty minutes or more.  The line between EAA and AP blurred.  Until CMOS can match or beat old CCD exposure times then EAA will continue to fade and may possibly be absorbed into AP.  If affordable, big pixel, high sensitivity CMOS sensors are not developed EAA will die.


There are still true EAA CCD cameras out there like Infinity, Ultrastar, X2c but folks are drawn to higher resolution big sensor CMOS cameras such as; IMX294, IMX1600, IMX224, and IMX071. 

true EAA CCD cameras out there like Infinity, Ultrastar, X2c lol! I think that the newer ASI294MC camera from ZWO is one of the most sensitive EAA cameras on today's market.




#56 star drop

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Posted 22 January 2019 - 11:54 PM

About the imaging versus real time concerns:


My real time using an undriven 25" f/5 operating at a 7.18mm exit pupil:


Everything that I am going to tease out visually only takes a few seconds or less in the case of color and no more than a minute to get to the finest detail. After that I begin to get antsy from staring and have to look away. I believe that if the seeing at my location was not so poor then I could grasp the detail in a few seconds as well.


What determines real time for EAA?

1) Turn it on, take a minute to look and turn it off?

2) Or take one integration until there is little perceptible change (get antsy and look away)?

3) Or stack a certain number of integrations until it is time to look away again?

4) Or get the newest device and start 1, 2 and 3 all over?




Does the same apply for NV?




#57 nicknacknock


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Posted 23 January 2019 - 12:42 AM



For me real time is the time I begin the process of stacking, optimizing the image and observing while I do so. Usually runs in a 10 minute loop per object. And for me it is pure observing. Why?


I am primarily a trad visual observer. When I do trad visual, I try different eyepieces to get the most optimized image I can, I will try with or without filters, I may step back to relax the eye for a minute and return, I will try with both straight and averted vision, I will observe the object by itself, as part of a star field and the star field on its own. It takes time to complete the job.


Translating the steps above to EAA, I will move the scope to an object, try different camera settings to optimize the image and analyse the components of the image that forms on the monitor and then on my retina as opposed to directly on my retina through a regular eyepiece. Again, it takes time to complete the job.


I observe. My drive is to observe / analyse. I may or may not keep a memento of the view (screen grab and / or image acquisition through SharpCap) as that is NOT my drive. Images are nice to keep, but the difference between EAA and Imaging come down to the aim / goal of doing it.


If the aim is to observe, then the image is just a memento at most (IF one chooses to save something). If the aim is to image, then there is no true observing to be done except to monitor one's image on the screen to see if scope is tracking well, data is being saved etc, with the aim of processing that data.


One can use any tools they want, keep it as simple or complicated they want, but it all comes down to what the aim is and what one actually does. And THAT is what separates EAA / NV from Imaging. The equipment may be the same, but the goal couldn't be any different. 


2c as usual...


#58 nicknacknock


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Posted 23 January 2019 - 12:58 AM

I just read again the OP's initial post and got thinking again. I would not call it a decline of EAA. People change priorities, weather may impact observing habits, life keeps getting harder, we all keep getting older, new equipment and methodologies come out. The only thing in life that's constant is change. And EAA is no stranger to this.


#59 ChrisFC


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Posted 23 January 2019 - 01:26 AM

Summer here - 30C plus nights. But I haven't posted for ages as I got the AP bug ...

I still do EAA occasionally - mono camera with Halpha filter or my trusty old 224mc. E same gear I used 1-2 years ago. Just don't post about it.

Edited by ChrisFC, 23 January 2019 - 01:27 AM.


#60 elpajare


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Posted 23 January 2019 - 03:12 AM

The image capture programs are increasingly sophisticated and offer a multitude of possibilities to improve the images obtained. It is progress
For me, the difference between EAA and Astrophoto is still the way to obtain the images, not their subsequent treatment. We can obtain 5-10-15 or more images in one night and with traditional Astrofoto maybe only 1, hopefully.


We use OSC cameras, we do not use RGB filters, we use very short exposures, we do not do guiding, we use alt-az mounts ... etc ... If we try to compare our results by posting in the Astrophoto forum they will be very sad. Maybe the administrators of all Forums dedicated to Astronomy should think about how to offer places so that everyone can exhibit their work in equal conditions. IMO


#61 Noah4x4



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Posted 23 January 2019 - 05:19 AM

I agree with Nickknackknock, the capture of an image should be merely a memento, representative of an on screen observation and secondary to observing to be eligible for this forum. But I now feel that has become unenforceable because camera technology has advanced greatly in the three years since I entered this realm to the extent that EAA is almost indistinguishable from AP.


I concur with others that with the capabilities of modern CCD/CMOS cameras if you let your live stacking run in perpetuity then eventually you will get a creditable image of a quality that almost mirrors those derived from long exposure AP.  If continuously observing some might reasonably argue that still qualifies as EAA, but when people are claiming stacks with total integration time exceeding five minutes to be EAA in my humble opinion that is patently ridiculous, but others would justly disagree. It is now too subjective. 


On Hyperstar I might take 1 minute for the Orion Nebula, but around 10 minutes to capture my better 'images' of the Horsehead. Realising I had strayed into AP territory (albeit continuously observing) I deliberately posted only a photograph of my monitor screen when demonstrating the joys of a 4k UHD display for EAA as I felt it would be false to post the 'image' derived from 10 minutes total integration as EAA albeit I had used an identical technique. The photograph of my monitor was, at least, a true representation of what I was observing. I can't even think of another singular word to replace 'image' unless we use a mouthful like "on-screen view". I don't see how we can make and enforce rules where the point where we set the break point is so subjective.


I also understand the viewpoint of those that say there is no difference between post-processing say colour balance in Corel Photopaint and adjusting colour via a histogram during live stacking except that the latter is 'live'. Frankly, I fear this EAA forum might even have run its course unless limited to older methodologies, NV and live stacking not exceeding (say) 3 minutes total integration time. However, why three minutes, why not one or ten minutes? It is impossible to answer! I think we need a new solution....


Reflecting technology change, questions that would previously be fielded in the Beginners and Intermediate Imaging Forum are now flooding into the EAA Forum. Begs the question, should we have a Beginners and Intermediate EAA Forum to satisfy the Noobs that are complaining this forum is too advanced?


Then this forum could be restricted to advanced and more challenging topics such as remote operation that does require higher investment and hopefully that would end the flood of posts repeatedly telling us that EAA doesn't need expensive gear. Questions like "which camera and mount" would remain in Beginners EAA. If this division is right for DSLRs Imaging and CCD/CMOS imaging, so why not for EAA? So my vote goes to start a Beginners and Intermediate EAA Forum and see where that takes us over the next 12 months. 

Edited by Noah4x4, 23 January 2019 - 05:23 AM.


#62 Umasscrew39



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Posted 23 January 2019 - 05:40 AM

Many good reasons why there is a decline, or perceived decline, in EAA but nobody wants to mention the elephant in the room.  So, I will.  When I first got interested in wanting to do some kind of imaging, I stumbled on this site.  I never heard of EAA but this was a great forum to start asking questions and learning.  Fantastic support and conversation came from experienced folks like Don Rudny, Martin Meredith, and Alphatripleplus.  There was great discussion about the approaches used, equipment comparisons, really fun DSO challenges, etc.  Then, something turned sour as nasty comments, unfounded criticisms of ones equipment and techniques choices, downright rudeness, etc., reared its ugly head.  This led to many of the more experienced folks to reduce their posts or move on completely.  The forum was then moved under the "Specialty Forums" and moderators changed for reasons I do not understand.  Anyway, I do not blame the weather, NV techniques, or anything else more so than some people's social behavior that really contributed to the decline of experienced EAA users.   


#63 nicknacknock


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Posted 23 January 2019 - 05:51 AM



I provided several links earlier which explains part of what you discuss. Some other parts I am not at liberty to discuss.


#64 Noah4x4



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Posted 23 January 2019 - 06:25 AM

Bruce, I recall sharing some of that journey with you, and wholly agree people are now reluctant to post as the imagers will unjustly criticise. It is inevitable that 10 stacks x 5s won't be as good as long exposure AP, but it will permit the observation of DSOs not possible through an eyepiece.


I see Nick liked my post? Is there any way he can encourage traction on my suggestion of starting a Beginners and Intermediate EAA Forum. I think that might help manage the main forum.


#65 nicknacknock


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Posted 23 January 2019 - 06:53 AM



If only you knew what I went through to maintain the EAA forum in its current form. The links I provided much earlier in this thread provide some insight to what was going on. I liked your post because I agree with - ahem - most of it!


The key problem of creating more forums and subforums is one of management. Not so much the technical part, as finding people willing to serve as moderators and "man the posts". It also adds a level of complexity of course, which I do believe myself is unnecessary. Why do I say that? Why don't y'all draft a Beginners Guide to EAA and we can pin that on top. Why not draft a Best Of EAA Links topic and we can pin that? 


I myself am posting here under dual capacity, and I speak both as a member practicing the black arts of EAA (lol) and admin when I say I see no need. How hard is it to draft a simple guide to it all? Astrojedi for example took the time to create a SharpCap quick manual, which I downloaded and made sure to thank in a PM for his effort. Nobody is willing to actually do some work except make some posts. Forgive me if I come across a bit too blunt, but as a moderator I prepared / edited many "best of" threads or "resource repository" threads here.


Also, will creating a new subforum somehow drive traffic up? Or help somehow? We are not doing rocket science here. Someone bring me a tracking mount, a scope, a camera, power supply, a laptop loaded with SharpCap and that's it. Which camera and how to use SharpCap by themselves do not justify a new subforum. And since we do not debate the pros and cons of using say PixInsight Vs Nebulosity and tips and tricks about how to do either beginning processing or advanced processing, I just don't see it.


I need to point out that this is not the first time this theme of "we need to boost EAA somehow and attract new members" has come up. But it's not as if we are a cult actively trying to lure members. I have to be honest, EAA is the sole forum on CN where this comes up, and I don't get it! I really am befuddled, again, both as a plain member and admin by this recurring theme here in EAA. 


Can't we all just observe, share mementos of the evening and chat about our gear and observations? flowerred.gif


Here's NGC6888, 20 x 15s @ Gain 320, 6" RC, UV/IR filter from last summer, my last session. Photos people, and discussions of what we see! The image scale on this photo is identical to what I would get on my 12" Dob, but minus the colors and the depth of the layers of the Nebula. And it only took a few seconds for details to start emerging. I was mesmerized seeing this on my screen. And I am dying to do it again...


EDIT: No post-processing of course, direct screen capture, cropped for size as required by ToS.

Attached Thumbnails

  • NGC6888 20x15SG320.jpg


#66 OleCuss



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Posted 23 January 2019 - 07:28 AM

I think it might be worth noting that there are likely several components to a perceived decreased interest and posting - and I do not think OAP is dying at all. . .


1.  Yeah, a lot of us have weather which is discouraging or which makes imaging effectively impossible.

2.  Maybe there is distaste for some posts but I don't think that is a big part of what is happening.

3.  One possibly big component is that what we are doing in OAP is not dramatically different from what is happening in CAP.  People can and do operate in the observational mode at times and in the conventional mode at other times - sometimes in the same observing/imaging session.  And people can (and do) operate in both modes at the same time by simply saving their subs and post-processing as well as having observed.  So I suspect folk who are doing OAP may actually feel more comfortable in the conventional AP sub-fora at times and thus may not be in this one.

4.  Maybe more important is that there hasn't been a lot of new gear coming out which is of great or special interest for OAP.  Thus there is less need to discuss that.


5.  It is possible that as OAP and CAP are no longer viewed as being very distinct that people may stop posting so much about OAP because it is understood and assumed.  This would be unfortunate.  I truly believe that using AP for primarily observation is a worthy endeavor which is sufficiently distinct to merit discussion and advancement.


It is possible that in a few months we'll start to get the fully automated cameras like the Stellina, eVscope, and Hiuni.  If these become widely used we could find that OAP has become the most common form of AP and could be seriously dominant.  Well, actually, non-astronomy people using their smartphones, DSLRs, etc. may already be doing more AP than does the entirety of the recognized amateur astronomy community.


The biggest challenge for OAP may not turn out to be the number of people doing it but how to encourage people who are doing it to realize that there is a community which is welcoming, ready, and able to address their issues and delights.


I don't have plans to get any of the pending cameras (Stellina, Hiuni, or eVscope) but I hope that others in our current OAP community will so that they will be able to address those concerns and add their rich experience gained from years of doing it without the packaging to what the newbies will be doing/trying.


#67 JMW



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Posted 23 January 2019 - 08:07 AM

I appreciate the forum and I am certainly mostly a lurker unless I have a question or feel I can contribute on this forum. I follow the forum mostly to learn a bit more about night vision. I have also played around with a ASI1600 color and appreciate what I can see on my screen in real time compared to my eyepiece. I live in a light polluted city and have limited horizons. EAA is an alternative way to observe DSOs that I can't see at the eyepiece when I am in my backyard. I find long imaging session collecting data and post processing more work than care to do. Imaging at a dark site can be more rewarding because the data is so much better and less time is required to get good results.


When my wife was too busy to go on dark sky astronomy events with me I would spend half the time imaging because I had the time. I am fortunate that she now has the time and wants to go with me so I don't image because we are observing under dark skies together. We would like to add an image intensifier so we can see soom of the dimmer DSOs without needing large aperture. I want something I can use both hand hold and with my refractors. Night vision could add value without requiring a lot of added equipment such as GEM, laptop, etc.... both at home and when traveling to dark skies.


We spent about 18 nights last summer camping at multiple dark sky astronomy events and on our own. Our backyard observing is a poor substitute. EAA gives me a little DSO astronomy fix at home when I am motivated enough to make the effort. I hope that night vision gear can be a useful addition to our observing without being a large complication or time sink.


#68 ccs_hello


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Posted 23 January 2019 - 08:24 AM

Other than NV/IIE which has always been present...

people might have noticed the discussion topics are now shifted to (new area of) CMOS imager + computer software and

the discussions associated with analog video cameras are minorities.


The pace of improvement is leap and bounds while our own astro hobby budget is limited.

So I am guessing the analog video folks are a little bit shy nowadays.



#69 nic35



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Posted 23 January 2019 - 09:12 AM

Random thoughts


I like the forum just the way it is.  I think of it as my CN "home". I enjoy being able to help beginners as they struggle to understand what's going on (at least I hope I am helpful), and to read from more advanced types  who are testing cameras, filters and the like.  I even sometimes troll the BII forum to see if there is someone over there who sounds like they really want to do EAA.  I send them here. 


I think the discussion about what constitutes a maximum exposure for EAA is misplaced, and essentially arbitrary.  It can't take into account a whole host of variables that might cause an observer to spend 10 or 20 minutes building an on screen image for the purpose of observing.  Focal ratios, light pollution filters, image scale all contribute to defining the amount of time needed to get your desired image.  Some folks use money to overcome these obstacles; buy a bigger scope or spring for a hyperstar for your SC.  Others either don't want to, or can't and are willing to spend a few extra minutes integration.


We beat this dead horse to a pulp last May.  I think the ultimate solution was reasonable - post in the forum only what you see on your screen, and link to post processed images if you fell compelled to.  If someone thinks that 10 minutes is AP, that's their issue, not mine, and I object to it being established as some hard and fast rule.  If you are observing, you are observing, even if you walk away for a few minutes to let some faint detail build.




#70 descott12


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Posted 23 January 2019 - 09:05 AM



Can't we all just observe, share mementos of the evening and chat about our gear and observations? flowerred.gif



ABSOLUTELY. THANK YOU NICKNACKNOCK. I don't even understand why we are having this discussion.  We all agree that post-processing should not be allowed. We all agree the images we capture are just a memento to share and to discuss with  others as a way to improve our technique.


I sometimes like to zoom around looking at things for a minute or two and I sometimes like to sit on M1 or the  Horsehead for 10 or 20 minutes while is stacks and a better image emerges. I don't understand for the life of me why this would offend anybody! I don't understand why this represents the "decline of EAA".  We are all still observing using electronic means which is almost identical to the process that your visual cortex and retina do while staring down an eyepiece for extended periods. 


This a very visual endeavor. There is absolutely no way to avoid using imagery in our discussions and there is no reason to discourage it.


#71 Jeff Lee

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Posted 23 January 2019 - 10:23 AM

Waited 7 weeks to get a dew control system, since I got it 3 weeks of clouds. I love the EAA tools and will use them a lot in the 6 or 7 months of good weather. Sometime "good enough" is good enough. However I also use Slooh remote scopes now. Basically the images develops on screen, EAA. I do save the fits just in case I ever want to do something with them, but its mostly just watching the screen. Each exposure is about 50 seconds (you get the L,R,G,B FITS) which are "stacked" into a png as you view. I now do what I call EAA almost every night, get about 2 5 set runs a light. Once I got my EAA home setup up and running (scopes listed, use the 8"/4" with the AZ-EQ in AZ mode, sometimes both at the same time) and use both teamviewer and a capture program for my Gx8's (thus SharpCap can do live stacking and I see it in 4K from 20mpx camera in the comfort of my office. Don't post here a lot because of the contention, really sometimes this forum rivals DPR for its tone.


EAA is going to be a mainstay of the hobby, especially for those in large, LP cities. Take something like a SE6 sct with the FR6.3 & 3.3 (if you can find one, an inexpensive .5 if not) and something like the ZWO224 and the heavens are yours. Heck I got my 8 gig, fast i5 refurb laptop and the 224 for less than the cost of a really good EP. When I am rockin' and rollin' in the spring (don't think its fair to post Slooh stuff because a lot of folks would say that is not EAA, but it is for me plus where else can you use such equipment so inexpensively).  I do this because it is fun and without it I'd have given up on astronomy for various age related reasons. You can say what you want but many folks have their system and are too busy doing with the time they have to get involved in discussions that don't apply to them.


#72 Adun



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Posted 23 January 2019 - 10:42 AM

I have noticed many EAA contributors have not posted in the last several months...Looks like the EAA Forum is dying 


Yes, our participation in this forum is dwindling. There are several reasons, for example:



We are not here to "beautify" our images. There's the AP forum for that where people spend hours and hours perfecting their results. Our images should convey to other members what we saw at a precise moment in time on our monitors.


For those of us who have to post-process not "to beautify" but actually to squeeze enough signal to make a faint DSO visible at all, the above explains why we can't share our experiences here.


Another reason is, that those fainter DSOs start to require longer exposures, which means leaving EAA into AP territory. Once you've observed the brightest DSO and start trying for the fainter like the Horsehead and the like, you need longer (30s+) exposures (maybe even guiding), and/or more processing, at which point you discover you're doing some casual CMOS imaging that doesn't belong in this forum either.

Edited by Adun, 23 January 2019 - 10:47 AM.


#73 bikerdib


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Posted 23 January 2019 - 10:58 AM

As far as I can recall, I have never posted any of my images.  I do save as viewed when doing EAA but not for post processing and posting of the image.  I have a friend that started observing a couple of years before me (and I've been doing visual for 45 years) and I share the images with him.  There are plenty of images on the net if I want to look at them on my computer.


I got into EAA a few years ago just to see what it is all about.  And of course I have seen things on my screen I will never see in an eyepiece.  But, EAA doesn't give me the same sense of awe that visual does.  I enjoy capturing those millions of years old photons that traveled millions of miles to be stopped by my eye.  I'm still about 95% to 98% visual with a little EAA thrown in for fun.


#74 tmaestro


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Posted 23 January 2019 - 11:23 AM

I agree that the romance of the knowledge of actual photons bouncing off Jupiter, passing through finely crafted glass, and finally entering my eye is an irreplaceable experience.  I don't think EAA could replace my glass when it comes to planetary observing.


However, I think that where most DSOs are concerned, there is a real life trade off.  On one hand, have a huge dob and the ability to drive out to a dark site on those few perfect nights to climb a ladder in the dark and avert your vision to see a smudge and then check it off a list.  Hope your kids are grown up and out of the house, even better if you're retired and don't have to be up in the morning.  So, be retired, fit, with good eyes, and be wealthy enough to own a super dob and a case full of Naglers.


OR, you can spend an order of magnitude less money on a set up that you can use from your light polluted backyard.  Before bedtime, your elementary school kids can pick an object in SkySafari and see it build on your display.  The romance of the photon is removed to a degree, but you're still there collecting light and studying the sky and sharing the hobby and doing it for a couple hours at a time after the kids go to bed.  Better doing it than not doing it.


I *just* discovered EAA, so I can't imagine it "dying", but then again I didn't see this forum (buried down in "Specialty Observing," like its a freaky afterthought) until recently.  I think EAA could be a LOT more mainstream if they saw videos of slewing to and seeing live colorful views of nebulae and galaxies all over the sky.  


Proselytize with videos, not photos. 


#75 hcf


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Posted 23 January 2019 - 12:28 PM

For those of us who have to post-process not "to beautify" but actually to squeeze enough signal to make a faint DSO visible at all, the above explains why we can't share our experiences here.


I like the term Observational Astrophotography (OAP) better than EAA.


When I am trying to image to see Pluto using a 80mm F/5 achromat and OAP, it is neither real time, nor do I care for the AP fetishes of field curvature, chromatic aberration or round stars. I just want to see Pluto, and I am willing to stack,stretch,tweak to see it.


And this is something a under $100 ST 80 clone, with an entry level EQ mount, and some DIY RA guiding can do, but my 8" Dob cannot, at least in my skies. So photons hitting my eyes is not really an option.

Edited by hcf, 23 January 2019 - 12:29 PM.


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