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historical sky mapping

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#1 jmillsbss

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Posted 19 February 2019 - 10:53 AM

I've only been in the hobby for about a year.  Never even looked through a scope before last summer.  The planetary display of last July-August got me hooked!!!

 

So, I bought a 10" dob from Orion and I have the Orion 25mm plossl and barlow that came with the scope, as well as purchasing the Celestron "kit" with 5 plossls and a handful of color filters, so I could kinda research what I really wanted to see with this scope.  After much study and reading reviews on CN and other sites, I added a 62 degree 26mm Explore Scientific eyepiece as well as their 82 degree 8.8mm eyepiece.  I also picked up the Lumicon UHC and O-III filters and WOW!!!  What a difference!!!

 

My question is this:  I have a decent scope and some entry level EP's and was floored after adding the higher-end EP's and filters and would like to know, how in the world did Messier and Galileo map and discover the deep and fuzzy things way back in the day, with the hardware deficit they had to work with?  No doubt, they had remarkably dark skies, but even with the gear I have and knowing where to look, I struggle to find some of the brighter objects.  Thanks for the input!!!



#2 Astrojensen

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Posted 19 February 2019 - 11:13 AM

You mainly struggle because you're new to this. Also, dark skies makes a GIGANTIC, ENORMOUS DIFFERENCE. If you're observing under typical suburban skies (NELM ~4.5 - 5.0 or so) and never been to truly dark skies, you just don't understand how insanely huge the difference is. Going from a NELM 5.0 sky to a NELM 7.0 sky is like going from a 10" scope to a 25" scope. Especially to an experienced observer. 

 

For an experienced observer (and Messier was super experienced!) under a dark, pristine sky, most of the Messier objects are a piece of cake in a 2" refractor at 25x. 

 

 

Clear skies!
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#3 Araguaia

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Posted 19 February 2019 - 11:26 AM

The best aperture is experience!  

 

In a couple of years you will be amazed by how  some of those formerly featureless fuzzies became bright and full of detail.


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#4 droe

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Posted 19 February 2019 - 11:31 AM

I've only been in the hobby for about a year.  Never even looked through a scope before last summer.  The planetary display of last July-August got me hooked!!!

 

So, I bought a 10" dob from Orion and I have the Orion 25mm plossl and barlow that came with the scope, as well as purchasing the Celestron "kit" with 5 plossls and a handful of color filters, so I could kinda research what I really wanted to see with this scope.  After much study and reading reviews on CN and other sites, I added a 62 degree 26mm Explore Scientific eyepiece as well as their 82 degree 8.8mm eyepiece.  I also picked up the Lumicon UHC and O-III filters and WOW!!!  What a difference!!!

 

My question is this:  I have a decent scope and some entry level EP's and was floored after adding the higher-end EP's and filters and would like to know, how in the world did Messier and Galileo map and discover the deep and fuzzy things way back in the day, with the hardware deficit they had to work with?  No doubt, they had remarkably dark skies, but even with the gear I have and knowing where to look, I struggle to find some of the brighter objects.  Thanks for the input!!!

Messier and Galileo had real dark skies. I saw my first true dark sky last year and it looked fake. Before that, if I was at a planetarium and they showed me what a real dark sky looked like I would have said "come-on, at least try to make it look real". That is how different it is. Before light pollution, the sky was a real marvel to behold.


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#5 birger

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Posted 19 February 2019 - 01:17 PM

The whole world was Bortle 1 at that time. Variations in humidity and seeing were of course still present. Galileo and Messier were curious astronomers who probably spent thousands of hours behind their telescopes, eagerly scanning the sky for new objects.

 

Messier was not looking for nebulae or galaxies when he stumbled upon them. He was looking for comets. His catalog was just a way for him and other astronomers to help discern permanent objects from comets.

 

Many of us would simply gasp if we were thrown back in time to the night skies of the 17th and 18th centuries. People back then were probably just 'meh' about it.


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#6 Sketcher

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Posted 19 February 2019 - 02:19 PM

There was a time when people learned how to observe by using small telescopes without help from electronic computers and motorized mounts.  Those people gained their experience by personally taking control over small telescopes.  Their lenses were not coated.  The glass used was not ED or any other exotic material.  Their refractors were not apochromats.  Their reflectors were inefficient at reflecting light.  Their eyepieces did not consist of multiple, multi-coated elements that could provide sharp-to-the-edge, super-wide apparent fields of view.  Their skies, for the most part, were no darker than those one can find scattered about over parts of the western U.S.  Yes, they were much darker than those that most are stuck under today.

 

Those people (early telescopic observers), out of necessity, learned to rely on their own means when it came to their astronomical problem-solving -- how to most efficiently "see" celestial objects, using what they had, under the conditions they had.  They had no adjustable red LED lights to take notes by.  They were intelligent individuals.  They were motivated.  They were thinkers.  They didn't let modest equipment keep them from doing what they wanted or needed to do.

 

Nicolas-Louis de Lacaille cataloged nearly 10,000 stars and 43 nebulous objects from southern Africa.  The telescope he used? . . . a refractor -- of 1/2-inch aperture.

 

Many of today's beginners are not interested in gaining experience by starting out using a small, manually-driven telescope.  They're easily frustrated.  They must see more right away, so they go for the biggest, bestest, go-to telescope they can afford.

 

Learn to observe first?  Who needs to?  Why bother when I can see right away with a 12-inch telescope what an experienced observer can see using a 2-inch telescope?  . . .  How could Messier and Lacaille accomplish so much with so little?

 

The answer:  Intelligence, motivation, and experience -- and yes, they did have darker skies than most (but not all) of today's amateurs.


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#7 brentknight

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Posted 19 February 2019 - 10:24 PM

Sketcher,

 

I really don't think you are being fair here.  First off, there is no way to put the "genie" back in the bottle these days.  Relatively large computer controlled scopes are everywhere and are affordable these days.  Assuming the trend continues, even more powerful scopes and equipment will be available in the future.  It's natural to want something cool and I see nothing wrong with this if it gets beginners out under the stars.

 

And I would say you have probably forgotten how frustrated you got at times trying to find things when just starting out (or even just last night).  I know I struggled just trying to identify the major constellations.  My first real telescope was a 13.1" dobsonian I mounted in a wheeled platform that I pushed out into my folks driveway.  This was years after I had struggled with a 2.4" refractor that the box promised would do 800x.  I had great fun with that blue Odyssey.  I can't even remember what happened to the little refractor.  Actually, today I'd probably enjoy a little refractor - a nice, pretty, wide-field number to complement my other three telescopes.

 

The point is though, that a person can be drawn to this hobby for many reason.  Many find out later that it's not what they thought and will move on to something else.  But some will really get into it and will learn as they go and will grow into experienced amateur astronomers.  I really don't think this progression in a person is dependent on what equipment they originally purchased.  It comes from a genuine love of the hobby.


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#8 Araguaia

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Posted 20 February 2019 - 05:26 AM

The whole world was Bortle 1 at that time. 

 

Let that sink in for a while.


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#9 bumm

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Posted 20 February 2019 - 08:45 AM

As far as "historical sky mapping" goes...

     When I was a kid, I couldn't figure out how men in ancient times not only learned the patterns in the stars, (the constellations,) but recognized which of the points of light were planets.  I'd tried to learn the constellations, but without a mentor, the random jumble of the sky was just too much for me.  It wasn't until I was in high school and got into the habit of taking late night walks that I began to recognize my own patterns and went on to learn the classical ones we all now recognize.  (And that was one of the best things I ever did for myself...  see my sig.)

                                                                          Marty



#10 Starman47

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Posted 20 February 2019 - 10:03 AM

Half the fun is the search for that seemingly elusive object. I have only been in the hobby just over three years. I can remember struggling to find some of the Messier objects. In fact many nights I came in thinking this hobby is too hard. But I went back out the next night and continued the search. Now three years on, I am working the Herschel 400. It is a bit easier because of experience. But I still come into the house complaining about how hard it is to find that faint fuzzy. Hey even complaining is fun sometimes, but you mostly have to complain to yourself. No one else seems to care. (Ha Ha)

 

But ain't it fun to just get out under the stars with peace and quiet and no glowing screens.


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