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Naked eye stargazing

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#1 CarolinaBanker

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Posted 18 May 2021 - 08:56 AM

Is anyone a big fan of stargazing without optics? As an adjunct to both my telescope and binoculars I really enjoy the unaided eye. I don’t do it as often as I sit out with my telescope, but with weather being so pleasant in the late spring and early summer I suspect I’ll be doing it more and more.
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#2 jim kuhns

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Posted 18 May 2021 - 09:15 AM

I have always enjoyed naked eye observing. Especially before the onslaught of light pollution.

Back in the early 70's I lived on the a farm west of Springfield, Missouri and going out at night 

the skies were filled with stars. I owned a 6" f/4 Cave telescope and kept it in a little flip off roof observatory. We moved in August 1974 back to Georgia even at that time the skies were still dark

here. But light pollution  was beginning to raise it's ugly head around the mid 80's.

I do not do much naked eye observing except at the clubs dark site.


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#3 cst4

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Posted 18 May 2021 - 09:38 AM

I've always loved just staring at the stars.  It's the reason I got a telescope to begin with.  But even now when I go out with my scope I probably actually spend half my time just looking at the sky unaided.  I live under pretty dark skies, luckily, so the night sky is full of stars.  I find it both humbling and inspiring to try to take in the whole sky full of stars all at once with just my eyes... telescopes are great fun but viewing through one feels more like studying rather than admiring.  Both have their merits, but the latter hits me harder emotionally and helps me attempt to realize my place in the universe.  Plus, even after seeing hundreds of them in my life, I still get a special feeling when I am just simply looking up enjoying the night sky and a shooting star streaks by... 


Edited by cst4, 18 May 2021 - 09:41 AM.

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#4 Binofrac

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Posted 18 May 2021 - 09:53 AM

I should imagine most people still enjoy the naked eye view. It's widefield and the ultimate no grab and then go. I do it often as I'm always trying to refine my mental map of the sky. There's a great charm in studying the great unknown with only the senses you're born with. Yes the light pollution obscures a lot but it's still interesting to explore the limits of local visibility. Try to shield yourself from as much direct light as possible though.  I've just thought it might be worth experimenting with some sort of extended bino bandit that would just fold into a pocket.


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#5 Alex65

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Posted 18 May 2021 - 09:56 AM

I also like to just sit back every now and again and simply watch the stars as they silently drift from east to west. Sometimes I see aurorae in the winter months, or noctilucent clouds during the summer. Not often do I finish watching the stars without also having seen a meteor or two. A bane to many amateurs I know, but I actually enjoy seeing the swarms of satellites that pass overhead.


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#6 edwincjones

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Posted 18 May 2021 - 09:57 AM

Over the years I have gone from small scopes

to larger scopes

to small mounted then large mounted binoculars

now handheld binoculars to primary naked eye

different phases in my astro lifetime

but all good, one not better than the others

 

edj


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#7 Jim White

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Posted 18 May 2021 - 10:38 AM

Like others who replied, I enjoy just looking at the night sky, especially with dark skies here in rural Washington State.

Every year I do a stargazing event for our local Fair.  I take my 15-inch Dob, and sometimes my TV-102 refractor.  Folks enjoy seeing planets and star clusters, but inevitably we all settle down just watching the sky.  Conversation is muted, and everyone enjoys the immensity and quiet.  Nothing quite like it. 


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#8 gene 4181

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Posted 18 May 2021 - 10:53 AM

    YUP!     Lots of nights i just  view naked eye . The COO thinks i look stupid sitting in the drive  looking up


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#9 radiofm74

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Posted 18 May 2021 - 03:42 PM

Yes. I just commented elsewhere on the lovely evening I've spent yesterday looking at Venus, Mercury and Mars below the Moon. I used binos too, but the greatest pleasure was naked eye. When I'm under a dark sky (alas, it's rare) I'm always awed by the beauty and excited by the number of "faint fuzzies" that are visible to the unaided eye. It's an important, complementary part of the hobby for me.


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#10 Dave Mitsky

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Posted 18 May 2021 - 04:10 PM

The naked-eye views of the summer Milky Way from a dark site are always pleasing to me.


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#11 JMW

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Posted 18 May 2021 - 04:21 PM

Started up backpacking again as a parent of younger kids (6 and 10) so we didn't go that far each day. It was mostly in Yosemite at the time and the dark skies were excellent. I carried a tent for my wife and 2 kids. I sleep on a pad in a bivy bag so I could just lay in the comfort of my sleeping bag and watch the stars. I usually picked our trips about a week after the full moon so I could sleep better not having the moon shining on me all night. 

 

You can see a lot of stars sleeping outside all night without a tent. It was probably another decade before I bought a scope.

 

I like to take a couple of comfortable chairs when we go to multi-night star parties. I will take a break from the scope about once an hour and just relax in the chair enjoying the full sky.


Edited by JMW, 18 May 2021 - 05:47 PM.

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#12 Special Ed

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Posted 18 May 2021 - 05:07 PM

Stargazing without optics is all I did for years--a good way to learn the night sky.  I've lived out under dark rural skies since 1973 and still enjoy looking at the night sky in all seasons.  I got a pair of 7x35 binoculars about 1986 and didn't even own a telescope until 1998.

 

BTW, the best accessory for naked eye stargazing is a zero-gravity chair.  smile.gif


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#13 CarolinaBanker

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Posted 18 May 2021 - 06:09 PM

Stargazing without optics is all I did for years--a good way to learn the night sky.  I've lived out under dark rural skies since 1973 and still enjoy looking at the night sky in all seasons.  I got a pair of 7x35 binoculars about 1986 and didn't even own a telescope until 1998.

 

BTW, the best accessory for naked eye stargazing is a zero-gravity chair.  smile.gif

I agree, you get a certain familiarity with the sky by just looking up and noticing the slow progression westward of the constellations over the course of a season.


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#14 bumm

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Posted 18 May 2021 - 06:40 PM

It was just wanting to learn the constellations that got me into this amateur astronomy thing in the first place.  I had no desire to get a telescope, I just wanted to learn the sky.  Of course, it wasn't long before I learned that such and such an object is located in such and such a place, and then I went out with my dad's cheap, awful, binoculars, and then...  Well, one thing leads to another.  Still, I step outside for a few minutes most clear nights just for a look around, and there are always old friends to visit and always more to learn.  I often take binocs out with me, and I love my old C8 and what it can show me, but if I had to make a choice between naked eye and optics, I'd have to choose naked eye.  I just love the night sky.

                                                                                                                  Marty


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#15 CarolinaBanker

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Posted 19 May 2021 - 07:13 AM

It was just wanting to learn the constellations that got me into this amateur astronomy thing in the first place.  I had no desire to get a telescope, I just wanted to learn the sky.  Of course, it wasn't long before I learned that such and such an object is located in such and such a place, and then I went out with my dad's cheap, awful, binoculars, and then...  Well, one thing leads to another.  Still, I step outside for a few minutes most clear nights just for a look around, and there are always old friends to visit and always more to learn.  I often take binocs out with me, and I love my old C8 and what it can show me, but if I had to make a choice between naked eye and optics, I'd have to choose naked eye.  I just love the night sky.

                                                                                                                  Marty

I agree about learning the constellations, I recently got Robert Baker’s Introducing the Constellations and Arthur Upgren’s Night has a Thousand Eyes and have thoroughly enjoyed both. They’ve both made me want to spend more time outside sans scope.


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#16 alphatripleplus

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Posted 19 May 2021 - 07:17 AM

I used to do more unaided naked eye observing when I was younger and had better eyesight.


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#17 Cfeastside

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Posted 19 May 2021 - 07:42 AM

Yes!  I did a bit of that last week at very dark site and wide open views.  Just stared at the milkyway for awhile.  Mesmerizing


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#18 Rocklobster

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Posted 19 May 2021 - 10:35 PM

Of course! Naked eye observing is always a joy for me. Even if it's just looking at the sky in general. I think about what I'm looking at, the distances the stars are, anything. When I'm walking in the evening, I rarely look down.

By looking up so much, I've been fortunate enough to see 5 bright bolides. 2 during the day.

When I went to a Bortle 2 site last autumn for a week, I spent every night just gawping at the sky.

I'll never get bored of looking at the stars by eye.

Cheers

Sent from my NOTE 10 using Tapatalk
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#19 CarolinaBanker

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Posted 20 May 2021 - 07:41 AM

Of course! Naked eye observing is always a joy for me. Even if it's just looking at the sky in general. I think about what I'm looking at, the distances the stars are, anything. When I'm walking in the evening, I rarely look down.

By looking up so much, I've been fortunate enough to see 5 bright bolides. 2 during the day.

When I went to a Bortle 2 site last autumn for a week, I spent every night just gawping at the sky.

I'll never get bored of looking at the stars by eye.

Cheers

Sent from my NOTE 10 using Tapatalk


That’s very cool to see the Bolides. I can also just imagine how nice it must be at a Bortle 2 site. I was in a major city last night and looked up, the sky looked almost unrecognizable it was so washed out compared to even the Bortle 6/7 skies where I live, so few stars were visible to the naked eye. I pity urban stargazers.

#20 edwincjones

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Posted 20 May 2021 - 09:17 AM

    ................. The COO thinks i look stupid sitting in the drive  looking up

Would the COO prefer you looking down into an expensive EP attached to a big scope  question.gif

 

edj


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#21 Arcticpaddler

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Posted 20 May 2021 - 09:56 AM

Under a truly dark sky naked eye viewing is a must.  The aesthetic is amazing.


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#22 NYJohn S

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Posted 20 May 2021 - 10:54 AM

After a quick look around I usually go with binoculars over naked eye. A few months ago I experienced a nice dark sky with excellent transparency. I actually called my wife because I had never seen so many stars in the sky at this location. She stepped outside and couldn't believe it either. We stayed out there taking it in for well over an hour. We both still talk about that special night. I did finally get my binoculars which was amazing in a different way but seeing a nice dark sky filled with stars stacked upon stars with no visual aid is something I'll never forget. 


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#23 Sketcher

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Posted 20 May 2021 - 12:16 PM

The naked-eye sky has a unique beauty (and related history).  There's nothing else like it.

 

On my last night out I took out a pair of binoculars; but I probably spent more of my time enjoying the naked-eye sights.  There's just something about seeing the Milky Way stretching across the night sky -- with some brighter regions, some darker regions, and plenty of structural detail.  Then there are the constellations, the named stars, and the cultures, histories, and stories behind them.  There are brighter stars, fainter stars; areas of more densely packed stars, and areas of less densely packed stars -- such variety.

 

The overwhelming expanse of the celestial hemisphere that occupies one's (more or less) entire field of view, with dark, silhouetted foreground pine trees, brings to earth our place on a planet in our galaxy and in our universe.  There's  the naked-eye DSOs in the Sagittarius region.  There are the telescopic DSOs that are known to exist here, there and elsewhere.  Though unseen by the naked eye, we know where they're "hiding".

 

And if that's not enough, there's the occasional naked-eye comet, the auroras, the zodiacal light, the moon, the planets, meteors, moonsets, sunsets (and rises), twilight skies, etc.

 

One can go into a forest and enjoy checking out all the microscopic life on the trunk of a tree or in a drop of pond water, or one can enjoy the forest as a whole -- the mountains, the forested regions, the meadows, the valleys, the lakes, the ponds, the rivers, the canyons, etc.  Similarly one can use a telescope and enjoy the dissected parts of our night sky, or one can use the naked-eye and take in the whole shebang.

 

I can seriously state that some of my most memorable sights have been naked-eye sights -- an all-sky aurora with multiple colors along with areas of fast movements and other areas of slow movements -- a Leonid fireball shower -- Comet Hyakutake with a tail that extended through my zenith and several constellations.  There are no telescopic sights that can match such wonders.

 

There are naked-eye gatherings of the moon and planets, the crescent moon with earth-shine, halos around the moon.  The list goes on and on.

 

It's no wonder that astronomy (and yes, even astrology) date back to ancient times long before the invention of the telescope.

 

So yeah, you might say I'm a fan of naked-eye astronomy.


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#24 Stardust Dave

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Posted 20 May 2021 - 12:40 PM

Naked eye seems half an observing session for me. 

Spending a night star hopping , ever star navigated to and carefully placed in the Telrads reticle. 

Many points in the night stop and count NELM in that part of the sky. 

 

Sometimes looking for dark nebula , or naked eye visibility of certain objects depending on LP zone. ( assessing a sites conditions) 

How small a feature you can see on the Moon or perceptions of shapes of its maria or observing librations.

Counting pleiads , and stars in other clusters naked eye.    

Seeing how close a double you can split naked eye. or down to what brightness can you resolve the separation.

 

Most every telescope observing session finish off with a half hour /hour of naked eye winding down and catching stray meteors and adjusting my altitude.smile.gif

 

There's a book "seeing the sky" (Fred Schaaf )  is most about using the naked eye for daytime and nighttime observing the sky, covers naked eye challenges or activities.   Book is geared toward beginners.


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#25 SiriusLooker

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Posted 20 May 2021 - 03:30 PM

   Ahhh, the Purist!  Those who appreciate the use of only Eyes, and those also who appreciate the assistance of Optics.  Both sides of the coin as they would say but the end result is the same!. Those with open minds should appreciate both! I am blessed with both. My love for this gifted nature of the night has inspired me to share with so many people over the years. I have been also to many places to see these celestial wonders firsthand. South America is just one of them, in Bolivia. At the tallest navigational lake in the world,(Lake Titicaca- 12,500ft). From there the Milky Way cast a shadow on the ground. To me, though I went there to see the southern celestial objects with a large 22inch scope in hand, what inspired me the most was just (Looking Up), at the Milky Way &(center) straight overhead. It was simply breathtaking, and no words can truly describe it. It was worth the entire trip for ONLY looking at Milky Way.- with no optics!

  Working with kids as well, they see thru different eyes at times than adults. Case in point, --one time, a 6yr old girl, was seeing Saturn in my finder scope and as I was chatting with her parents, I told her if you climb the ladder(8ft) she can see Saturn even better. As she climbs the ladder I continue chatting with her parents and then notice she wasn't coming down. We all look up and to our amazement, she was staring very hard on top of the ladder(with her neck stretched-upward) to see if she could see Saturn better from the top of the ladder with her Eyes(only)!  A Cherished Moment. flowerred.gif   Another time, when I was pointing out the constellations to adults, and an 8yr old girl says --I see a Teddy Bear there in Orion constellation. I ask her to point it out & sure enough there is the shape of a bear in lower right half of Orion. I now show that prominent star group every time Orion is out to adults and they all see it.--thru the (eyes) of a young girl.  Our Eyes are one of our most precious commodities at hand. And though I am truly out almost every night in dark skies of Arizona, I never take it for granted.

  Now for the Grandest of all naked eye views! IMO. This happen to me a few years ago, when I was just casually gazing up at the majestic Milky Way in Sedona, years ago. It was late at night, but as I gazed upward at the summer Milky Way high over-head, it struck me like a ton of bricks!! OMG, I literally could (SEE) the layout our own Galaxy as seen (almost) edge on(of course), BUT I could perceive the extended curvature spiral of one of our arms,(both the inner & outer edges) across almost entire sky from the center of Sagittarius! Wow! It blew me away! Naked Eye staring right back at You all this time, and yet being so (Big) you just don't realize it until you see the Whole picture.

   Now I got a somewhat confirmation of this layout(IMO), last year in Astronomy Magazine, June 2020, pg.69. When it states from a reply that (we) Earth/Sun are on the high point of a wave(now), in the Milky Way, and being at this high point, I believe you are able to Look at the Milky Way's(top part)arm at a very oblique angle, (Like) a fishing bobber, riding a turbulent wave, and at the high point of the wave, you are able to perceive the river you are on, at extreme angle. It will forever change my way of seeing the MilkyWay every time it is high overhead. I will attached two video (still pics) to give a (sense) of what I am trying to convene here. But unless you are with me, and I have my Laser to draw it out in the sky, it is a bit hard to perceive it first hand.

 Dennis


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