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Observing time VS: Tinkering time

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#1 oldtimer

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Posted 18 October 2020 - 04:02 AM

I guessing that I spend only about 20% of my time actually behind the eyepiece. The rest of my 'astronomy' time I spend tinkering with my scopes, buying and selling and reading and posting on CN.

 

Gary (oldtimer


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#2 alphatripleplus

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Posted 18 October 2020 - 08:09 AM

I spend even less time observing through an eyepiece, as I mostly use a camera. However, there is something nice about occasionally putting in time observing. Good to have a bit of a mix.



#3 csrlice12

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Posted 18 October 2020 - 10:15 AM

This year all I've been able to do is observe my scopes....will the fires and smoke ever end?


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#4 BruceNewEngland

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Posted 18 October 2020 - 10:24 AM

Same here.

 

Significant reasons include:

  1. Weather making observations impossible, or at least very difficult/very uncomfortable.
  2. Poor sky conditions, including below average transparency, below average seeing, moon glare.
  3. Too lazy to go though the trouble of dragging out lots of gear, setup, and finally end of session tear down and putting everything back into storage, especially when forecasts call for mediocre conditions.
  4. Did I mention lazy?

 

I am trying to take steps to improve.

 

I’m currently trying to put together a much simpler and lighter option with a couple of smaller scopes.

 

My primary scopes now are a C-8 on a CG5 go to, an a 16” dob.

 

While I could bring the C-8 out and use it manually to reduce the setup/tear down/transport/storage time and effort, the SCTs relatively long focal length (2032mm) makes it best suited for higher power viewing of smaller objects. Most nights don’t seem to have the viewing for this, or at least the prospect for good seeing doesn’t seem valid enough to make me get out of my chair and try.

 

The dob, while much faster and my best option for faint fuzzies, is a beast to bring out and put away. At well over 100 pounds and too large to move in and out of the house in one piece, has to be disassembled and reassembled twice (and collimated) for each use. It also requires time for the mirror to equalize. I brought it to a remote site last night and between being overtired and cold (we actually had frozen water for the first time this fall last night) I can’t say it was worth the effort.
 

I’m hoping to acquire a 102mm and 72mm refractors, and an alt-az mount (the smaller scope may eventually be dedicated to astrophotography).

 

My hope is that these “grab and go” options will get used much more.

 

I have also picked out a couple of spots where I may build a simple roll-off-roof shed, maybe next year. It seems reasonable that if most of the large/heavy gear is already in place when needed, it’ll get used more often.
 

Finally, based on many posts here, I’m starting to realize that I need to learn to have collections of targets that are suitable for different conditions. In the past, double stars are something I’d only occasionally view, while out chasing everything else on moonless nights, almost never viewing anything on moonlight evenings. I could probably double the viewing opportunities if some nights I targeted primarily double stars. Better still if I learn to enjoy viewing various features of the moon.

 

Perhaps there’s something similar that could help increase your time at the eyepiece?

 

Bruce.


Edited by BruceNewEngland, 18 October 2020 - 10:27 AM.

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#5 clearwaterdave

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Posted 20 October 2020 - 02:36 PM

Being in New England does limit the observing time.,My nights are open and I mostly take advantage and have a scope at the ready.,My set up is easy.,my dobs are on a dolly.,and my frac mount is weather proof.,

  My time spent at the ep.,not sure what%.,.maybe 20% as well.,I do like to tinker.,and checking in at CN.,cheers

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#6 brentknight

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Posted 20 October 2020 - 03:36 PM

I feel like spending time talking with you fine people here on CN helps motivate me to spend more time behind the eyepiece.  Seriously - for being such a solitary hobby it has some powerful social aspects...


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#7 MarkMittlesteadt

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Posted 20 October 2020 - 03:52 PM

Limited time and budget. Limited by light pollution, trees, and of course weather. Cloudy more often than not, and when it is clear the seeing conditions are typically poor (Great Lakes State, changing jet stream). It's been cloudy for over a week, and today it's in the 30's with 3-5" of snowfall and its only October. When it's clear up here in the middle of winter it means bitter cold. When it's warmer it's cloudy and/or snow.

 

I gave up observing DSO's. No matter what gear, dim, fuzzy objects are still just dim, fuzzy objects. Now the only thing I observe/photograph is the Moon and planets. Fortunately I have a renewed passion for studying the Moon along it's terminator. It doesn't require much in the way of gear and it is like a faithful ever-present friend. Rather than lament my lack of time, location or other things that keep me indoors, I've learned to embrace what I can easily and quickly observe. My mount is in the garage, always at the ready and I just keep my equipment simple. A Lunt 102ED, 8-24mm zoom, and a manual mount. I recently traded my manual Alt-Az M2C mount for a manual Vixen GP GEM, just to make tracking in RA easier for short exposures of the Moon. 

 

This has allowed me more time to go out and enjoy, instead of sitting inside wishing things were different. But I still spend more time indoors on CN here than I do outside with the scope. 


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#8 gwlee

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Posted 21 October 2020 - 11:43 AM

I guessing that I spend only about 20% of my time actually behind the eyepiece. The rest of my 'astronomy' time I spend tinkering with my scopes, buying and selling and reading and posting on CN.

 

Gary (oldtimer

I like to observe for a short session from home every clear night, so minimizing and simplifying my astronomy paraphernalia is a high priority. I am doing at least 2/3 of my stargazing with a handheld binocular now, and I am using a small refractor and three EPs for most of the rest. For me, less well chosen gear seems to lead to more frequent use, longer sessions, and greater enjoyment from the hobby. 


Edited by gwlee, 21 October 2020 - 11:45 AM.

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#9 MarkMittlesteadt

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Posted 21 October 2020 - 11:53 AM

For me, less well chosen gear seems to lead to more frequent use, longer sessions, and greater enjoyment from the hobby. 

This pretty much sums up my experience. I love simplicity because it gets me out. So it comes down to..."What do I need?" instead of "what do I want?"

 

What do I want? My own observatory in a warm climate with dark skies and frequent clear skies, with all of the most expensive equipment anyone could ever desire and all the time in the world to devote to world-class astrophotography.

 

Well, that ain't going to happen. So what do I need? A 4" quality refractor, a zoom EP, a rock solid manual mount, and few times a week where the weather aligns with my limited time. 

 

I've wasted too many years chasing after equipment and things beyond my control, which only left me sitting indoors with a lot of wishful thinking. 


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#10 oldtimer

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Posted 21 October 2020 - 04:05 PM

OP here

 

I'm not saying were a bunch of old fogies but from the general tone of the responses here I think the age of the average amateur astronomer is beginning to show.

 

Gary (oldtimer)


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#11 Szumi

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Posted 21 October 2020 - 04:26 PM

I spent part of this year looking though an eyepiece (for the first time) after buying a C8E.  Once I got all the pieces, I reverted back to AP.  Going from imaging at 200-400 mm to 1422mm (.7x reducer) has been a humbling experience.

 

Living near 45N surrounded by the great lakes makes getting clear skies iffy so I read and dream a lot.  Especially when I get up at dark thirty to image and seeing isn't as good as forecast before I went to bed.

 

Mount needs some hypertuning (got the parts), some ppec training (bought pecpro), some cable routing, an extra balance weight so I can stack a dslr with telephoto on the losmandy rail I added to the top of my C8e so I can image at with a second dslr at a wider scale while imaging with the C8e.



#12 MarkMittlesteadt

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Posted 21 October 2020 - 05:08 PM

Living near 45N surrounded by the great lakes makes getting clear skies iffy so I read and dream a lot.  Especially when I get up at dark thirty to image and seeing isn't as good as forecast before I went to bed.

45N and Great Lakes weather patterns here too. Cloudy and cold more often than not.



#13 MarkMittlesteadt

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Posted 21 October 2020 - 05:10 PM

OP here

 

I'm not saying were a bunch of old fogies but from the general tone of the responses here I think the age of the average amateur astronomer is beginning to show.

 

Gary (oldtimer)

Yes, age and lifestyle certainly is a factor.



#14 ArneN

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Posted 21 October 2020 - 05:16 PM

I observe my scopes.

 

Arne



#15 gwlee

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Posted 21 October 2020 - 05:20 PM

OP here

 

I'm not saying were a bunch of old fogies but from the general tone of the responses here I think the age of the average amateur astronomer is beginning to show.

 

Gary (oldtimer)

Perhaps, I have started referring to my 92mm refractor my “assisted living scope” in anticipation. 

 

Gary (an even oldertimer)


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#16 Tony Flanders

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Posted Yesterday, 05:16 AM

Given my 'druthers, I would never have to tinker with any of my telescopes. In practice, I do end up tinkering a little, and it's even sometimes enjoyable. But in the ideal world I would always be thinking about what I'm observing and never about the equipment itself. Likewise, it's been a long, long time since I bought any new equipment, and I can't even remember the last time I sold anything. Many years, for sure.

 

I do read enough to keep up with the latest developments, but that is to some extent a separate hobby for me. Likewise, I consider time spent on Cloudy Nights to be a form of goofing off -- an easy outlet for my urge to write.

 

Granted, I don't spend all that much time observing either. But that is due mostly to a factor beyond my control, namely the weather.


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#17 alphatripleplus

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Posted Yesterday, 07:07 AM

When I get a new scope, I try to spend a lot of time actually using it. In an ideal world (for me) that would mean not having to tinker with the scope, but it doesn't always work out that way.



#18 Asbytec

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Posted Yesterday, 08:25 AM

When I get a new scope, I tinker a lot. Once I feel it, I observe with it. Nothing wrong with tinkering, unless you're tinkering more than observing.

I agree with Tony, tinkering can be enjoyable. I don't buy new equipment that often, so most tinkering is over and done long before I change it.

Edited by Asbytec, Yesterday, 08:28 AM.


#19 MarkMittlesteadt

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Posted Yesterday, 09:26 AM

I'll be the first to admit that I love the DIY aspect of this hobby. Part of the enjoyment for me is modding existing gear, or creating something to make the use of it easier or more practical and enjoyable. A lot of that has to do with me being cheap and refusing to spend a small fortune on something I can make myself. Limited time and budget is what drives me to work on my gear when I can't go out and use it (which is quite frequent given my frequently horrible weather and seeing conditions).

 

If I lived somewhere with more clear, dark skies and cooperative weather (and had more time when it's dark out) I would spend more time outside observing than tinkering. Let's face it, they call this "Cloudy Nights" for a reason. Look no further than the forums for proof that there is a lot of improvements, maintenance or repair issues we all need to deal with. Of course it doesn't help any that there are so many photos of great setups and accessories we aspire to owning where our human nature drives us to focus more on our gear than what its supposed to be used for. I think if we were honest, we'd all admit that amateur astronomers are basically gear junkies. watching.gif


Edited by MarkMittlesteadt, Yesterday, 09:28 AM.

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#20 esd726

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Posted Yesterday, 11:27 AM

WAY more time tinkering, figuring, selling,buying,etc than observing


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