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If you could do this hobby all over again, what would you change?

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#26 spaceoddity



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Posted 29 October 2020 - 07:28 PM

I probably wouldn't have planted so many trees around my house 30 years ago. They grow like weeds in the northeast.

I own several acres of wooded land to the west of my house which aren't a problem. It's the ones I planted to the south 

without thinking about the future that are.

Yeah my dad planted a bunch of fruit trees a few years ago in my favorite dark site up at the family cabin and now they are big enough to be a major hindrance.

#27 spaceoddity



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Posted 29 October 2020 - 07:35 PM

I probably would have went straight for the more expensive higher quality gear from the beginning because I've ended up spending much more money trying to save a buck, and ended up with a lot of stuff I no longer use. I think most of us are in sticker shock when we first get interested and don't want to invest a kings ransom in case we don't stick with it. Don't get me wrong. You can totally enjoy this hobby on a tight budget but for me, if I have the money I will eventually end up spending it. It's like an addiction. 

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#28 Jon Isaacs

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Posted 29 October 2020 - 07:35 PM

I'm happy where I am now, I've always been happy when doing amateur astronomy.. I wouldn't change a thing.



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#29 AnakChan



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Posted 29 October 2020 - 08:45 PM

Wow, many different responses here. Some of them were quite applicable to me. I did manage to move to Australia in the 80's and of all places, not a populated one (back then), where it would have been ~Bortle 2 10km away from CBD (after the street lights went off at 1:20 a.m.). I also did manage to join my local astronomy club during my teens. But I was probably more engrossed with astrophotography, film back in those days, than with visual. I had better eyesight in my youth but didn't think of using it seriously as much as I was keen on putting it down on photographic paper.

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#30 Dwight J

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Posted 30 October 2020 - 12:29 AM

Bought star charts so I could have found something to look at besides the solar system, M45, M13, M42, M31, Alberio, Mizar.  I was unaware of S&T, Norton’s, Becvar, etc and just had HA Rey’s The Stars, a couple of general books on telescopes, and a one page all sky chart that came with my telescope.  The price of being in a small prairie town long ago.  

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#31 gene 4181

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Posted 30 October 2020 - 12:32 AM

 My location 

#32 MrRoberts



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Posted 30 October 2020 - 07:51 AM

I don't regret anything. I enjoyed the travel through time and equipment. Just wish I could have lived somewhere more conducive to the hobby. I really look forward to my winter trips to AZ for the amazing sky's it affords.

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#33 Kurmy


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Posted 30 October 2020 - 08:05 AM

I wouldn't have bought a solar filter at this point of the current cycle. Do sunspots even exist?

Edited by Kurmy, 30 October 2020 - 08:10 AM.

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#34 doctordub



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Posted 30 October 2020 - 01:10 PM

I wish I had returned to astronomy 7 years earlier when I first moved out of NYC!



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#35 treadmarks



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Posted 30 October 2020 - 01:22 PM

I would have paid more attention to mounts. There is so much focus on the telescope but the mount is equally important to your overall enjoyment. The mount is the biggest factor in how convenient your setup is, how easy it is to use, and how easy it is to find things. A bad mount just makes everything frustrating, a good one smooths everything out.

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#36 martinl


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Posted 30 October 2020 - 01:31 PM

I would advice my younger self to start using electronic charts a lot earlier. I never got on with paper in the field, don’t know why it took me soo long to get a good electronic atlas. SkySafari changed my hobby for ever!

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#37 wxcloud


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Posted 30 October 2020 - 01:46 PM

I wouldn't have bought a solar filter at this point of the current cycle. Do sunspots even exist?

They sure do! Wish I had a filter for my little refractor yesterday while I was looking at them :)

Had to use the fiddly etx90 for some sunspot peeping (it was white light filtered).

#38 Stardust Dave

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Posted 30 October 2020 - 02:06 PM

"If you could do this hobby all over again, what would you change?"


I'd have delayed my 20" f 5 purchase for todays large sub-f 4 mirrors !  

#39 charlieb123


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Posted 30 October 2020 - 02:18 PM

I'd be more interested in mounts than telescopes.

#40 GeneT


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Posted 30 October 2020 - 04:45 PM

I wouldn't change anything. Due to finances, I had to start small--a four inch reflector. I moved up to an 8 inch reflector, then two 8 inch SCT's, a Dynamax 8 which was horrible, and a C8 which was excellent, a 13 inch Coulter which was horrible, a 20 inch Obsession Classic which was excellent, an 18 inch Obsession Ultra Compact, which I was disappointed in, and a 12.5 inch Portaball, which ended up being an excellent telescope, and my forever keeper telescope. What this lineage shows is that one does not know where to start the journey. I could not have started with a 16 inch telescope due to finances, and besides a 16 incher would have been too large a telescope for me. If one has Mag 5 or better skies in the backyard, and lives in a house, then it would not be too much of a hassle to store a 20 inch telescope in the garage, and wheel it to the backyard. Better yet, build an observatory and store the instrument, which would allow leaving it set up and ready to go. When one buys a telescope larger than a 12 inch Dob, and having to drive to a site away from home, then the loading up the vehicle, and all the accessories is a major hassle. Then, after the viewing session, the vehicle has to be loaded back in the vehicle, and unloaded when arriving home. For anything larger than a 12 inch, you probably will need ramps to get the telescope loaded into the vehicle. Ramps take up a fair amount of space which means that for a telescope larger than 12 inches, it might be tight finding enough space for everything, and might constrict how many people can ride in the vehicle with the telescope and all the accessories. The logistics is why I ended up with a 12.5 inch Portaball. The upper assembly nestles inside the sphere, along with the TeleRad and shroud. The truss poles fit in a tube about three feet long, and four inches wide. No ramps are needed. I could load the Portaball on the front seat of my CRV, strapped in like a passenger, or on one of the back seats if I was carrying passengers. I had plenty of room to carry a passenger or two. Because my trees grew too high and blocked most of the sky around my home, I had to drive to a site away from home. I found one about 22 miles from home, which is not too much of a distance. However, I would have to drive about 90 miles from home to get truly dark skies, which could only happen about once a month. To end all this, there is no way I could have known to start with a 12 inch Dob as my first telescope. I had to learn what was too small and what was too big, and put all this in the lessons learned. I won't get into eyepieces, which is another long story.    

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#41 Mike E.

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Posted 30 October 2020 - 04:58 PM

I wouldn't change anything, the sequence of events have led to the last 20 years being the happiest in my life, both personal and hobby wise.  smile.png

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#42 philinbris



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Posted 30 October 2020 - 05:05 PM

I know I cant, and for the benefit of younger folk contemplating astronomy as a hobby, I would change my age.

I should have started much earlier than I did as lugging the heavy mounts and scopes would have been much easier for some time.


#43 grif 678

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Posted 30 October 2020 - 05:23 PM

To say that I would change something, I would have to know then what I know now. I would have saved more, not buying so many so-so scopes, and having enough money to buy a Super C-8. Would have tried to learn more about the sky much earlier. I would then view when things were right to view, not by just going out and looking, not really knowing much about anything like I did back then. Would have really prepared for Halley's comet, prepared for the Jupiter/Comet crash. Would have also tried to find a few people close by that was also interested in the hobby, maybe tried to start an astronomy club back then.

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#44 Stefano Delmonte

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Posted 30 October 2020 - 06:31 PM

- Like someone already suggested: kep a log of every possible session, revive a good night is a fullfilling experience.


- Study astronomy. 


- Enjoy every second of a much less light polluted skyshocked.gif (40 years ago)


- Merry an astronomer, ok it's a joke I love my wifelol.gif  (but let's confess, it's a great ideagrin.gif )



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#45 desertstars



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Posted 30 October 2020 - 08:04 PM

If I could go back and start over, I'd have prevented my 30 year hiatus.


Probably would have bought a bigger telescope to start with, too...

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#46 weis14


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Posted 30 October 2020 - 08:30 PM

I would have done a better job of planning observing sessions earlier.  I've had "serious" telescopes (even if small like an ETX90) since I was in high school in the late 90s, but only in the last few years have I really put serious thought into planning an observing session. 


I also would not be so picky about sky quality.  I have access to some really dark skies at my mother's house or my in-law's northern Michigan cabin, but they have always been a multi-hour drive from where I live.  Because I knew what my scopes could do under those skies, I would hesitate to bring them out in the light pollution at home.  During the pandemic, I've learned to adapt my observing goals to a light polluted back yard (focusing on open clusters, double stars, planets, lunar(!), etc. and as a result have observed more in the last six months than in the previous 3 years.  


From an equipment standpoint, I would have bought a good mount and stuck with it earlier.  I've gone through a number of mounts, some of which have been better than others, and am still not completely happy.  The best mount I ever had was a Half-Hitch FTX, which I sold earlier this year because I wanted tracking (again).  It was the right decision to get a GEM with tracking, but I should have found a way to keep the FTX.  

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#47 Gregrox


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Posted 31 October 2020 - 08:04 PM

I wish I could have started when I was a kid! I had a Bushnell Voyager (the astroscan knockoff) resting in the shed for my whole life (bought two years before I was born), never took it out because between my Dad's poor eyesight and my Mom not having poor eyesight and seeing things out of focus, they thought it was broken. I have always loved astronomy, but only as a field of study and knowledge, not until I was 17 did I start to really enjoy it as a hobby. I still remember the disappointment I felt when the lunar eclipse I stayed up late to view in 1st or 2nd grade turned out to be nowhere near as bright red as all the pictures on the internet and news sites suggested they'd be. Having been better prepared for what it would have looked like might have saved it for me (and I had a blast during the January 2019 lunar eclipse)


I only ever had a passing interest in naked-eye astronomy. I could recognize the moon, the three stars of Orion's belt, and eventually by 2016 or so I could point out the planets. It wasn't until the semester before I took a college astronomy class in high school that I started to really be interested in astronomy. (At that point I had been redirected by the game Kerbal Space Program into the spaceflight & rocketry fandom, and only just getting into planetary science and astronomy again through my early work on planetary system mods for the game)


If I'd been into observational astronomy earlier, I might not have missed the only opportunity I ever had to see a Venus transit.


As it is, I started really getting into astronomy when I started volunteering at my college's Cline Observatory, pushing 8" dobs around.


If I could do it again from scratch I'd make one major change: while everyone's asleep on Christmas Eve 2008, just after Santa Claus has left, I would go retrieve the Bushnell Voyager from its storage space at my first house, and put it,a copy of Turn Left At Orion, and a card showing what, when, and where the Cline Observatory is, under the tree. Or uh... maybe box it up and put it outside where it will be slightly less inexplicable. Time travel is messy if people figure it out.


If I could take it from the top, around 2016, I'd have not gotten an AstroMaster 114EQ as an upgrade for the Bushnell Voyager 4.5. If it weren't for the cline observatory that scope might've killed my interest in the hobby. It gave fine views for what it was, but the undersized EQ-1 mount gave me hell and I didn't understand how an equatorial mount worked until much later. That scope was a surprise gift from my Mom, as I never expected to get a new telescope. Instead I'd have gone straight for the 6" Dobsonian I ended up getting this year after the observatory closed for the pandemic. I'd also have not waited over a year before joining my school's astronomy club, and I'd have started volunteering at the Cline Observatory earlier.


I don't really have any severe regrets over how it's turned out so far, though. Probably my only real regret is having missed the Venus transits of my lifetime, but restructuring my life to include an interest in observational astronomy from so young would have untold effects on my life. And having got the AstroMaster 114EQ has if anything made me more sympathetic to beginners who have had such poor performers. For its part, I sold it for cheap this year.


EDIT: How could I forget? I'd also have kept logs from the beginning, and put more effort into the logs I made while taking the observational astronomy class in 2017 which qualified me to be an observatory host. I went through those logs, and while they were useful and nostalgic, I kept thinking, man, these are way worse than the logs I'm keeping now. And I wouldn't have stopped taking logs after finishing the class, creating a three year gap in my astronomy records.

Edited by Gregrox, 31 October 2020 - 08:06 PM.

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#48 aeajr



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Posted 01 November 2020 - 01:46 PM

If I knew then what I know now?


AT 102 ED refractor on a manual mount and slow motion controls with AZ circle and angle gauge or Alt.   Have this on order. 


12" Solid Tube Dob would be my big scopes, also with AZ circle and angle gauge.  Have this now and very happy with it.  Don't expect to go larger unless I set up an observatory. 


100 to 130 mm Tabletop Dob as a loaner or small travel scope. 


Later, maybe add a GoTo mount for the 102 for EAA or the small Dob reflector or entry level AP.  Perhaps a EQ GoTo


I am happy with my eyepiece set so no changes there.

#49 dUbeni


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Posted 01 November 2020 - 02:09 PM

I would try to keep my teenage eyes forever.

#50 esd726



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Posted 01 November 2020 - 02:21 PM

I would figure a way to keep all the equipment I’ve ever had 

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