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What is your limit?

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#51 Sarkikos



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Posted 13 June 2019 - 10:32 AM

It doesn't matter to me if globulars are unresolved, or I can't see the spiral arms of a galaxy or the central star of a planetary.   I'll be happy with whatever the telescope - or binoculars - can show me.  I've observed nearly 300 DSO with 10x42 binoculars under light pollution and enjoyed every object.  



Edited by Sarkikos, 13 June 2019 - 10:36 AM.

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#52 Asbytec


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Posted 13 June 2019 - 10:52 AM

Hmmm, it sounds like I could possibly be happy with a 6", but there's no breathing room.

If you would choose to spend as much time observing with a $200 telescope as you would a $2000 one, how can you objectively say that one is better than the other?

Good questions. I doubt seriously I've burned through everything a 6" can offer in the last decade. There is more out there to be seen.

One big paradigm change happened when I downsized from a 12" Dob to a 6" Mak. I thought I had given up deep sky for good. Not enough aperture. So, I began to really press myself into observing. I soon realized I could regain much deep sky by learning to employ myself more effectively to the task instead of relying on aperture to hand it to me on a silver platter.

Since then, I never rely on any scope to show me anything. Instead, I take responsibility for what I can make of the often dim image it presents for observation. I learned to de emphasise the equipment, and add emphasis to self. To my mind, seeing a spiral arm is rewarding because it takes some effort and deploying the scope in an optimal way.

After all, the scope does what it does, as observers we are the real variable and we create breathing room, not from the scope, but right down to the very limits of our ability. Not the scope's limits, but our own.

Once we realize that, we can press ourselves with any aperture and find enjoyment with what we did see rather than what we did not see. When we get to that point, observing becomes rewarding in itself and we tend to use our scopes more.

Observing is not a passive pursuit nor is it easy, it requires work and our involvement. Our involvement in the process is key to reaping reward and personal fulfillment regardless of aperture. It's only a matter of scale.

Say for example a 10" can resolve Messier 2 nicely. Okay, great. But we have a 6". Now, suppose over the course of an hour at a productive exit pupil, under the hood, and well dark adapted we manage some granular, appearance, an eerie deep glow, along with an occasional speck or several. Well, we did good to see at least that much. Pat yourself on the back, you earned it from a difficult object.

The object becomes beautiful both because it is and because you know what it looks like to you. You've seen it for what it is, your own very personal image embedded in memory.

This is why I enjoy smaller apertures as much as I enjoyed larger apertures, maybe more so the smaller aperture. Because I realize I am responsible for what I can see at the very limit of my ability. The scope, whether it's a 12" Newt or a 80mm APO, doesn't observe anything. We do.

For me, that paradigm shift made all the difference and cured my hunger for larger aperture because I can make a little rewarding something from thousands of objects within reach. It does not have to be sprawling spiral arms of a large aperture, though arguably very beautiful, just a bit of mottling is often enough to suggest the arms are there. :)

Heck, I remember trying to see a very faint galaxy. I think I saw something there a precious very few times while staring a mostly a dark, blank sky with some field stars for an hour. Who does that? (LOL) But, in the end, when I stitched together those rare disjointed flashes of something, I was able to produce a faint galaxy. How cool is that?

Edited by Asbytec, 13 June 2019 - 11:10 AM.

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#53 Sarkikos



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Posted 13 June 2019 - 11:06 AM

There is also something to be said for enjoying a survey of the sky for a particular night, locating and observing many objects, rather than spending a great deal of time on a just a few. 


On my last trip to a dark site, I observed 131 DSO through my NP101.  No goto.  No DSCs.  Just finding objects by memory or by SkySafari Pro on a tablet.   


On most objects I spent no more than five minutes or so.   I enjoyed not only viewing the objects, but also having a good overview of their locations across the sky, and where each object was in relation to other objects.  


I didn't feel rushed.  I enjoyed each observation.  


But I did spend more time on the Veil and North America Nebulae.  grin.gif



Edited by Sarkikos, 13 June 2019 - 11:16 AM.

#54 Jim Nelson

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Posted 13 June 2019 - 11:10 AM

I do think a 6" dob is some sort of turning point in terms of capability. I had a 6" dob for quite a few years and still felt like I was expanding the range of what I could do with it. The 6" f/8 reflector was the "final scope" for many an amateur for much of the 20th century.

If I have good skies easily accessible, naked eye and binos would at least be a semi-regular habit, and there's not a scope, in terms of optics, that I wouldn't spend time with and push to the limits as much as possible, certainly at 60mm or higher.  I assume I'd soon get a bit bored with just a 25mm finderscope, but I haven't really tried.

*Mechanics*, on the other hand...a scope that won't stop shaking or a finder that won't maintain alignment or what have you, that'll kill things quick. That's the real breaking point.

Edited by Jim Nelson, 13 June 2019 - 11:13 AM.

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#55 Asbytec


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Posted 13 June 2019 - 11:20 AM

"*Mechanics*, on the other hand...a scope that won't stop shaking or a finder that won't maintain alignment or what have you, that'll kill things quick. That's the real breaking point."

Oh yea. Been there, done that. I agree, our equipment should cooperate. Easy to set up, comfortable. All that. If I had to grind a mirror each time I observed, not sure I could.

#56 zleonis


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Posted 13 June 2019 - 11:44 AM

If I were at a dark site on a moonless night, my observing time would hardly be diminished (I only get a few such nights a year at present) even if I were limited to what I could see with my unaided eyes. Throw in some binoculars and I don't know that my interest in observing things outside of our solar system would diminish much, if at all. 


From my Bortle 8 backyard in a mid-sized city, it's a different story. There are probably few scopes that I would never use, but it would probably take a 3" scope on a reasonable mount for me to continue observing as much as I do now. Lunar and planetary observing are critical to my enjoyment of observing from the city. I still like following the constellations across the sky (to the extent that I can see them), and I'll occasionally spend some time with binoculars when there are well placed open clusters, but a telescope becomes more necessary for me. Without a scope, I probably wouldn't observe on those marginal nights when I'm chasing holes in the clouds, or when the moon was bright. 


In my case, my interest in astronomy is more or less independent of my interest in visual observing. I'd still be trying to understand what's going on in our universe even if I couldn't see it myself - I'm never going to see a neutron star or a galaxy's redshift, but the subject still fascinates me.

#57 Stelios



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Posted 15 June 2019 - 09:17 PM

Interesting question--and one never knows when disaster strikes.


I would almost certainly give up AP, my passion of the last few years. Without good equipment, it wouldn't be worth doing (for me).


If I could afford the equipment for EAA, I might do that. I would get something like an old C8 with a drive, and enjoy some of the showpieces.


If I couldn't afford that, I would get a small refractor and enjoy the moon, planets and double stars. 


If I couldn't afford that, I hope I could afford a membership to my club, and I would go out and vicariously enjoy what others do (and sneak peeks through their equipment).


I wouldn't give up the hobby entirely, ever--but, shorn of the element of novelty, I would probably reduce my involvement. 

#58 Rustler46



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Posted 17 June 2019 - 04:05 AM

My experience has been a mild case of aperture fever, moderated by being conscious of the financial aspect. I remember as a teenager saving money for a Unitron 60mm refractor on alt-az mount. Then a letter to the local astronomy club was followed by a quick reply - don't buy the scope, come to the meeting this Saturday and we'll teach you how to make your own. So in the next few years there were home-made 6-inch and an 8-inch Newtonians on home made equatorial mount.


The 8-inch was my mainstay for years until an 8-inch SCT opened up photoelectric photometry and some astrophotography. Fast forward 20 years came a 10-inch Dob with DSC and a C-11 on G-11 go-to mount. That further enabled astrophotography for a few years. After decades of star atlas and finder 'scope, the go-to seems easier on my neck and back. Now it is almost always visual observing from home in a small town. Recently I went over to the "dark side" and acquired a 115mm APO and love what it does. But it now rides atop the C-11 on permanent pier at home. Maybe a simple slide-off roof observatory will further enhance ease of setup. 


Binoviewing has been a recent adventure. And EAA may be in the mix before long. So I don't bemoan the modern high-tech advances. But if some disaster took all of my toys, I'd still be using what I have to look up. Even my 10X50 binocs would serve for some extra light gathering and magnification. The 115 APO would be good grab-n-go with maybe a C-8 for extra reach. From a dark site, it's hard to beat sitting in a lounge chair and watching a meteor shower. As long as I can still see, the interest will still be there. Even if I was sentenced to life under a metropolitan light dome, there are more things to see than I have time - double stars, lunar/planetary, etc.


So my minimum will be whatever I have, even if just my eyes.

Edited by Rustler46, 17 June 2019 - 04:58 AM.

#59 jmillsbss


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Posted 17 June 2019 - 10:50 AM

No limit!


The equipment doesn't matter.  It's all about getting outside and seeing what one can see using whatever one happens to have available to use.


My worst telescope has to be a 42mm singlet (that's right, a single-element objective -- not even an achromat) refractor.  At f/14.3 the chromatic aberration is still extremely severe.  So much so that noticeably more detail can be seen on the moon when the scope is stopped down to a 1/2-inch aperture.  But even at 1/2-inch (f/47) the CA remains very obvious.


I've had enjoyable sessions with that scope (even observing galaxies!).  If that was the only telescope I could use, I would still retain my interest and get out to see just how much I could see.  After all, I've kept that telescope -- and even gave it a name!


Worse case scenerio -- I would retain my interest even if I were restricted to naked-eye astronomy.

what'd you name it?

#60 PowerM3


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Posted 20 June 2019 - 09:59 AM

Interesting question. If the 16" GOTO dob and the 7" APO where taken away I think I would be still enjoy the night sky with a decent 60-80mm ED refractor on a simple alt-az mount and 2-3 decent eyepieces and a barlow. Really the longer that I'm in the hobby the more I realize that the top of the food chain equipment is very nice, but I enjoy the night sky equally well(almost :) with even a modest scope.

#61 csrlice12



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Posted 20 June 2019 - 10:53 AM

I'd go see Yuri....have him build me a TEC 300 on an astrophysics mount on a Bortle 1 site observatory....figure I'd get one reasonably priced since everyone else is out using minimally adequate gear... grin.gif


Yea, that'll be me with the grin from ear to ear.

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#62 starman876


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Posted 20 June 2019 - 11:46 AM

I would die a happy man with my 6" ap in my cold dead hands.

#63 ScottW



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Posted 20 June 2019 - 12:25 PM

My limit, my 70mm TV Ranger along with a copy of "A Walk Through Starland with a Three Inch Telescope"



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