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Beginner gets busy, bags doubles

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#1 river-z

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Posted 22 May 2020 - 12:20 PM

Last summer I got interested in Astronomy because I bought a pair of binoculars.  I bought the binoculars because I was going with my family to Costa Rica and Yellowstone and wanted to see wildlife, but quickly discovered that they worked great for looking at the stars.  This was especially true in Yellowstone, where it was very dark.  It made me want to look closer.  So in the fall I went on another trip, this time to Observatory Campground near Palomar, where an amateur astronomy club hosts star parties.  Some of the guys there had enormous dobsonian telescopes and I was so impressed by what I saw - clusters, nebula, galaxies.  So went home and ordered myself a starter telescope: an Orion SkyQuest 6" Dob.  

 

It was great.  The planets were good.  I could see M42.  I managed to find M41.  I found that the red dot finder was pretty useless in the bad light pollution of LA but this was remedied when I got a 6x30 finderscope for Christmas.  Since my telescope only came with a 25mm eyepiece I went to a local telescope store and bought a set.   It had

3 plossl eyepieces: 20mm, 12mm, 6mm and a barlow.  It did not have a brandname.  I assume it was made in the same factory in China as all the other plossl eyepieces but it was literally a no-name set.  It was cheap.  And it worked.

 

In January when my wife's family had a reunion at a farmhouse outside the city I brought my telescope and stayed up LATE.  I showed off the showpiece objects to my in-laws: Andromeda, Bodes, M42.  It was also dark enough to actually see some of the fainter constellations, like Cancer.  I found a whole bunch of Messier objects and really started learning to starhop.  

 

So I was feeling pretty good about how it was going I decided to make a goal.  I decided to find 100 Messier objects.  I figured I'd get out of town a couple times this spring, out to the desert where it's dark, and do this.  NOPE!  The corona virus pandemic meant I wasn't going anywhere.  I was stuck in my light polluted backyard.  So I changed my goal.  Having read a few posts here on CN about double stars I started checking these out.  I made a new goal: 100 pairs of double stars.  That was a couple months ago.  Last weekend after star hopping my way through 2 dozen constellations I hit number 100.  I didn't really plan it this way, but #100 was the double double, which makes me smile because the double double was the first double I found (with my binoculars) way back at that star party last fall.  

 

My philosophy about learning a new hobby (and goodness knows I have had way too many hobbies over the years) is to start cheap while you learn what to do.  

Cheap telescope.

No-name eyepieces.  

Not going anywhere but my light-polluted backyard.

Put in the time.

Keep star hopping even when it's frustrating (and it is frustrating sometimes).

Learn the night sky.

Get a feel for different seeing conditions.

and so on and so forth all the way to the goal.

 

I had a great time during this pandemic lockdown because I could get "out of the neighborhood" every time the sky was clear.

There are beautiful worlds to see even in the skies above LA.

IMG 0484
IMG 0337

 

 


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#2 jerobe

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Posted 22 May 2020 - 12:49 PM

River-z, you have begun your quest which will take you places and show you sights that will amaze you for years to come.  You have started with basic tools which, in my opinion, is the best way to learn the sky.  Use your scope and binoculars as much as you can, both at home and at occasional star parties. Join an astronomy club if possible. Check out the Astronomical League observing programs, which are tailored to a person's experience levels, including one for double stars.

 

https://www.astrolea.../observing.html

 

The sky is the limit in this hobby!


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#3 Astrojensen

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Posted 22 May 2020 - 01:00 PM

 

 

My philosophy about learning a new hobby (and goodness knows I have had way too many hobbies over the years) is to start cheap while you learn what to do. 

Cheap telescope.

No-name eyepieces. 

Not going anywhere but my light-polluted backyard.

Put in the time.

Keep star hopping even when it's frustrating (and it is frustrating sometimes).

Learn the night sky.

Get a feel for different seeing conditions.

and so on and so forth all the way to the goal.

waytogo.gif

 

You're already doing amazing! Especially since you've realized how important it is to learn the sky. Once you can get out under some dark skies, you'll soon find lots of deep-sky objects. 

 

 

Clear skies!
Thomas, Denmark


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#4 Dave Mitsky

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Posted 22 May 2020 - 01:05 PM

Well done, river-z!


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#5 river-z

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Posted 22 May 2020 - 01:54 PM

Thanks guys. I didn’t realize just how many double stars there are and how many different resources there are for finding them. I used sky safari, the double star forum here on CN, articles from Sky and Telescope, random stuff online, and more. My favorite though was when I noticed a double star on the way to finding something else. The sense of discovery and serendipity was great.
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#6 vtornado

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Posted 22 May 2020 - 04:38 PM

I have found that when you get lost in the sky, when looking for new things, doubles are a good landmark.

I got lost in Leo looking for the triplet, and used Algieba as a  landmark.


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#7 SeaBee1

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Posted 23 May 2020 - 08:45 AM

Sometimes, I think doubles get a bad rap from many amateurs, but personally, I find them quite attractive. Like you, I was faced with a "What do I look at?" dilemma when I stumbled into this hobby from a super duper LIGHT POLLUTED location. I tried many nebula... NOPE, even M42 is a washed out mess with little resemblance to its real self (still cool though!)... Galaxies? Ain't happening... Globulars? What the heck is that?

 

Then at some point I heard about double/multiple star targets and that they are very resistant to light pollution... "Why not?" thought I... and indeed they are! Some are like the headlights of a car in the distance... some have different colors... some are super close and a challenge to split... some bright ones have a really dim companion (my granddaughter calls these the "Momma and baby stars") and offer a different challenge...

 

Would I like to see other stuff? Sure, but at the moment, I have plenty of double/multiple stars to keep me busy for some time, and I don't even have to leave my light polluted backyard...

 

Good hunting!

 

CB


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#8 river-z

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Posted 23 May 2020 - 10:33 AM

I have found that when you get lost in the sky, when looking for new things, doubles are a good landmark.

I got lost in Leo looking for the triplet, and used Algieba as a  landmark.

Yeah this is definitely handy and I find myself doing this too.  Most of the constellations have at least one if not a few more doubles.  One of the best things about searching for doubles is that you nearly always know it when you found it because the star pops a split.  

 

Some are like the headlights of a car in the distance... some have different colors... some are super close and a challenge to split... some bright ones have a really dim companion (my granddaughter calls these the "Momma and baby stars") and offer a different challenge...

 

Would I like to see other stuff? Sure, but at the moment, I have plenty of double/multiple stars to keep me busy for some time, and I don't even have to leave my light polluted backyard...

I also love the variety available in double stars.  

-the color contrasts.  

-the bright and tight pairs

-the dim pairs you just barely can see and split.  

-the rose-colored pairs.  

-the ones where the secondary is just a nub on the primary 


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#9 desertstars

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Posted 24 May 2020 - 07:58 AM

Once upon a time observing double stars was practically the be-all and end-all of amateur astronomy. Peruse old handbooks, such as those by William Tyler Olcott, and the discussion of objects to observe amounts to a list of doubles. This was fortunate for me, starting out many years ago with a 60mm refractor. The only guide I had at first was a copy of Olcott's Field Book of the Skies that I found in my home town library. So while I looked at the planets and the Moon (and I studied the Moon a lot back then), night after night I went down lists of double stars, first trying just to locate them, then seeing if they split. Many did; many more challenged me. And so I was hooked.

 

cool.gif


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#10 MaknMe

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Posted 24 May 2020 - 04:16 PM

I always try to end my viewing sessions with a colorful double. Even if seeing is lousy and clouds cover most of the sky, a nice double split always makes the night a success.
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