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Did a GOTO telescope spoil you from star hopping?

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#1 Neptune



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Posted 03 December 2020 - 12:00 PM

I've got an 11 inch GOTO, but am thinking of taking a step backwards and getting a non-GOTO Dob of 14 inches, will probably get a equatorial tracker platform.  I have not done 'push to' or setting circles in over 30 years.   


Have others done this?

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#2 Justin Fuller

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Posted 03 December 2020 - 12:19 PM

I went from an 8SE go-to to a 16" totally manual Dob, to now a go-to C14. I got pretty good at star hopping going back 20+ years ago when I had a 60mm alt-az Tasco, and I picked it up again pretty quickly when I used the 16". There is definitely a sense of satisfaction that goes with a successful hop, and I didn't feel I had been spoiled by go-to.
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#3 alphatripleplus


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Posted 03 December 2020 - 12:28 PM

Never even contemplated going back to star hopping, except for maybe a wide-field grab and go scope set-up.

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#4 lee14



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Posted 03 December 2020 - 01:14 PM

Star hopping is a valuable skill to have, just as is the ability to operate a standard shift vehicle. I drove standards most of my driving life, but nowadays I prefer a well engineered automatic. I've used GOTO's, particularly at public events where kids become impatient when a target takes more than a few minutes to locate. At home though, I'm perfectly happy without GOTO capability, though I do use analog setting circles. Most of my observing time concerns estimates of variables, and I can make more estimates when I save time locating the field with circles.



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#5 alder1


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Posted 03 December 2020 - 01:19 PM

I like tracking, the go-to just kind of came along with my 8” SCT. But I like it now that I have it. I observe a lot with binoculars, so I keep up my star hopping skills there.
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#6 BlueMoon


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Posted 03 December 2020 - 01:20 PM

Did a GOTO telescope spoil you from star hopping? Nope. Made me appreciate star hopping more. I've tried a couple GOTO rigs over the years and found "the older established ways are the good ways". No batteries, no electronics, no tracking errors, no hassles, no posting in the CN forums "Why doesn't this work?" While the youngsters are wasting good sky trying to get their gear connected and working, I'm already setup and hopping from star to star doing what I went outside to do. Observe.

Instead of wasting my time trying to fix something that was supposed to save me some time, I returned to my old tried and true star-hopping observing habits. Never looked back.


Clear skies.

Edited by BlueMoon, 03 December 2020 - 05:30 PM.

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#7 NYJohn S

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Posted 03 December 2020 - 01:33 PM

I started with a goto scope and bought a dob with the intelliscope. When I got it the intelliscope wasn't working so I started star hopping. I haven't gone back to goto or the intelliscope controller since. I just found I like the journey as much as the destination. Once I started star hopping I was seeing things I missed between objects. It's been years now. Other than a mount I drag out every now and then for imaging all my scopes are on manual mounts. My sky at home is dark enough to see enough stars for star hopping. I understand that can make a difference in how you choose to locate objects.

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#8 spereira



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Posted 03 December 2020 - 02:02 PM

Moving to Equipment.



#9 robodan


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Posted 03 December 2020 - 02:18 PM

Goto is amazing saves time and enables you to see more objects easily and faster than star hopping. Would never go back to those old days. Don't see professional astronomers wishing to go to starhopping and our techology has come from professional astronomy techology.

Never dreamed when I was in school we would have this techology, also in light polluted skies star hopping is not so great, goto in this situation is miles better

Edited by robodan, 03 December 2020 - 02:21 PM.

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#10 CowTipton


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Posted 03 December 2020 - 02:27 PM

I spend about half my time looking for objects and about half looking at them.

Wixey inclinometer and printed Az circle on my 8" dob help a lot along with Stellarium on my phone.  It gets me in the ballpark and I star hop from there.  I'm just not very good at it yet.


I'm going to enjoy this for a few years and then upgrade to a larger goto with tracking.

Bigger and better is my plan.

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#11 nyairman


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Posted 03 December 2020 - 02:42 PM

I began astrophotography at the end of 2016 with a Fornax LighTrack II and Sky Safari+. Star hopping was my only choice but it really helped me to learn the night skies and astronomy, along with the SS app.

I have a goto mount now but, I really enjoyed doing it the "hard" way. Spoiled you say? Perhaps but, technology marches on!

#12 esd726



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Posted 03 December 2020 - 03:21 PM

Have tried GOTO before but didn’t like it.  Love starhopping.  There’s just something about the search that is so very relaxing for me, I guess.  Maybe if I lived in bad skies I would feel different, but that (bad skies) is something I hope I never have to encounter . 

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#13 DeanS



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Posted 03 December 2020 - 03:28 PM

I started with GOTO and never learned anything about where objects are, and honestly have a lot more to learn.  I got a dob and learned to star hop and have a much better grasp of the night sky.  I have sky commander on my visual scopes and always try to find the object first before peaking ;)

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#14 TomK1


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Posted 03 December 2020 - 03:54 PM

Yes.  No.

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#15 ryanha


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Posted 03 December 2020 - 03:57 PM

Lol, the real question is has plate solving spoiled you from GOTO :)


I am the sort of person that can barely use a paper map to find my way around town.


Astronomy my first couple times around was extremely frustrating and I gave up before getting in too deep.


This time around I have a full AP setup complete with guiding & plate solving and a miniPC.  In the last 30 days I have set up and imaged more than 15 of them. 


What is cool is that now that I have my feet wet, I am starting to learn more about the constellations and where my telescope is pointing.  I am sure that this is backwards for some, but for me it has been great!





#16 Napp



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Posted 03 December 2020 - 04:06 PM

I got away from the hobby when I went off to college.  I had only used a small reflector and a small refractor on alt-az mounts.  I got back into the hobby about 5 years ago.  I bought a goto alt-az SCT and then went to a goto equatorial mount with an SCT and a refractor.  I have since added a 10 inch manual DOB and a 16 inch inch manual DOB.  The DOB's forced me to learn star hopping.  I really enjoy the DOB's and star hopping.  I'll admit here is a sense of accomplishment that I don't get with goto.  I also feel that I have learned much more about the sky as a result.

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#17 Gastrol



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Posted 03 December 2020 - 05:34 PM

I’m lazy.   I never learned to star hop.   I never learned to read music either.   I rely on goto’s, setting circles, and tabs (for guitar).

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#18 junomike



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Posted 03 December 2020 - 05:53 PM

I started with GOTO and then went to Push-To (DSC's) and eventually Star hopping for a little while.

Although I enjoyed all three only one allowed me to view the most objects in a night as well as be effortless.


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#19 Eddgie



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Posted 03 December 2020 - 06:37 PM

I live under heavily light polluted skies and unless I was using a small telescope with a wide field of view, push to was not really that much fun.  I mean Ring Nebula is easy, but during galaxy season, not so much.


Now I don't need Go2, but I do like it, but better in my book (for non planetary work) is a pair of good digital setting circles, and even better than that is a pair of good setting circles that supports Sky Safari.  Once I started using Wifi with Sky Safari, I would never want to use anything else.  Half the battle with star hopping is always having to refer to charts and by the time you go back and forth, you have spend much more time than you would just pushing the scope until the crosshairs are over the subject.  I don't do all night sessions.  I go out for an hour or two, and I don't want to spend that time star hopping.

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#20 Old Rookie

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Posted 03 December 2020 - 06:45 PM

I can and occasionally still, star hop.  However, I choose to use push to systems with charts ala Sky Safari.  The point is, there's a lot of stuff to see and time is short!

Edited by Old Rookie, 03 December 2020 - 06:47 PM.

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#21 Allan Wade

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Posted 03 December 2020 - 07:09 PM

Some people view star hopping as a badge of honour. It certainly is a skill that develops with practice. Personally I’ve been there, done that, and do very little of it these days.


As scopes get bigger, field of views get smaller and limiting magnitudes get much fainter, the romance of star hopping quickly fades. Star hopping doesn’t make you a good observer. That comes from time spent observing objects in the eyepiece, not trying to find them.

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#22 desertstars



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Posted 03 December 2020 - 07:28 PM

Not at all. I upgraded the mount for the Three-legged Newt more than a year ago, switching from its original SVP mount to a Celestron AVX. Now that I've mastered alignment, having GoTo capacity has allowed me to make more efficient use of my time during all too rare dark sky visits.


But I still use star hopping on a very regular basis. My old 60mm refractor is my usual back yard instrument, and with that one it's all hopping, all the time. I still enjoy the challenge.

#23 havasman


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Posted 03 December 2020 - 07:42 PM

Star hopping is a great skill to have for when you (and by that I mean I) forget to charge your batteries or when something just decides to not function. It has certainly come in handy for me. But it's not like it's particularly difficult nor is it required for developing knowledge of the sky. If you've got a Telrad or an rdf and RACI on a Dob or an rdf and a widefield eyepiece on a refractor, have good charts and do good planning then there's no reason you shouldn't be able to find objects by star hopping under cooperative skies. Or you can just use the tech.


I figure it's just fine if you want to star hop 100% of the time. I will not think you a less expert or successful observer for making that choice. And I reject the notion that using finding aids of choice makes another any less expert or successful than a star hopper. That stance often smacks of elitism and, like elitism does, fails reasonable analysis.

Edited by havasman, 04 December 2020 - 11:21 AM.

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#24 whizbang



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Posted 03 December 2020 - 09:01 PM

My "grab-n-go" travel scope is manual.  Star hopping is fun.  The large bright stuff I can get FASTER than a Go To scope.  The dimmer remote stuff is much SLOWER and sometimes not at all.

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#25 jgraham



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Posted 03 December 2020 - 09:47 PM

For me... absolutely not. In fact, I always add a nice RACI finder to all of my GoTo scopes for when I want to go off-road. You can also bring star-hopping into the 21st century using Sky Safari and an iPad. I find it’s a great way to star-hop across the sky stopping at all of the scenic overlooks along the way. I almost always start my observing star-hopping my way around a region of the sky and then finish the evening using my GoTo to visit my old friends.


It’s nice to have options.



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