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What makes a great amateur astronomer?

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#1 James Paulson

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Posted 21 July 2021 - 12:00 PM

I've always wanted to be a great amateur astronomer. I guess for me that means knowing lots about astronomy, being a very skilled observer and imager and master of the facts. Plus being able to help newcomers, or lead a really great astronomy club. I just never seem to be able to get there. What do you think makes a great amateur astronomer?


Edited by James Paulson, 21 July 2021 - 12:01 PM.


#2 lee14

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Posted 21 July 2021 - 12:06 PM

Read Starlight Nights, by Leslie Peltier. The entire book is the answer to your query.

 

Lee


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#3 Supernova74

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Posted 21 July 2021 - 12:11 PM

Being dynamic,open minded,being a problem solver,adapting to different methods,having a keen,sharp eye.

many many more!?



#4 Creedence

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Posted 21 July 2021 - 12:23 PM

Based on the old 16' LX200 magazine ads, I have to conclude it's wearing a light blue lab coat.  Nothing says "I'm here to make science" quite like wearing a cool lab coat.

 

Failing that, I've always admired those people who apply a consistent discipline to their observations (unfortunately I'm not that person, try as I might).  I find it difficult to go beyond simply looking at an object for an extended amount of time.  I feel I don't get the most out of what I'm seeing.

 

One of the people I admire most in this respect is CN member AllanDystrup.  His observations in the various thread he does are really inspirational case studies in how to coerce every drop of value out of his time at the eyepiece.  That's a man I imagine observes while wearing a lab coat!!


Edited by Creedence, 21 July 2021 - 12:32 PM.

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#5 alphatripleplus

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Posted 21 July 2021 - 12:25 PM

In the past I've always presumed great amateurs were primarily great observers in some way, but I'm not sure that would necessarily be the case nowadays with the range of amateur activities other than pure observing.


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#6 EJN

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Posted 21 July 2021 - 12:28 PM

What do you think makes a great amateur astronomer?

 

Being OCD and not having a life? :yay:


Edited by EJN, 21 July 2021 - 12:30 PM.

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#7 Astrojensen

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Posted 21 July 2021 - 12:32 PM

I've always wanted to be a great amateur astronomer. I guess for me that means knowing lots about astronomy, being a very skilled observer and imager and master of the facts. Plus being able to help newcomers, or lead a really great astronomy club. I just never seem to be able to get there. What do you think makes a great amateur astronomer?

A great astronomer doesn't become a great astronomer, because he wants to, he becomes a great astronomer as a byproduct of his never ending quest to satisfy his own curiosity and thirst for knowledge and beauty. 

 

You can't force such a thing. If you do, it becomes a chore. It must come from the heart, like all beautiful things. 

 

 

Clear skies!

Thomas, Denmark


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#8 Jim R

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Posted 21 July 2021 - 12:40 PM

To me, the primary objective of a great amateur astronomer is to passionately enjoy the endeavor and advance it wherever possible.
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#9 db2005

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Posted 21 July 2021 - 12:43 PM

+1 to what Thomas said.

 

It's worth noting that amateur astronomy doesn't have to be an exclusive hobby for a person; in fact the same personal traits like curiosity and thirst for knowledge and beauty may inspire a person to pursue several hobbies simultaneously, for instance astronomy and microscopy is apparently not a rare combination. Same can be said about bird watching, music, science, technology, engineering and mathematics and whatnot.


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#10 Nick Dangerr

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Posted 21 July 2021 - 12:43 PM

Do what you love to do with passion and flexibility!



#11 sevenofnine

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Posted 21 July 2021 - 12:44 PM

Patience! fingertap.gif


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#12 ShaulaB

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Posted 21 July 2021 - 12:54 PM

So many qualities. I have known many who I have admired in my life.

Commitment to the disciple. It is beyond a hobby. The ATM folks especially show this. Some imager friends also exhibit solid commitment to constant improvement.

Focus on goals. The great ones figure out what they want to accomplish and make good plans to go after them.

Sharing the wealth. Most of the really great amateur astronomers I know are generous with time and knowledge. A few are not "people persons" and may come across as grumpy or arrogant. But once you get to know them, you can benefit so much just from hanging out with them.
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#13 Jim R

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Posted 21 July 2021 - 01:00 PM

Ok, I +1 for Thomas as well.

#14 Supernova74

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Posted 21 July 2021 - 01:18 PM

Does observing to early hours in the morning,and your hands so cold you cannot feel your finger tips,oh yes and not forgetting your tear ducts weaping droplets almost on that expensive eyepiece as it’s also so cold!?and how about once upon a time trying to read star maps with a little red torch light you can hardly see.getting frustrated as you can hardly see setting circles during the night,then spending perhaps hrs trying to find one object you wish to observe,lol then your star map decides to absorb the moisture from the air and starts to dew over then becomes useless to use as it’s made of paper and soaking wet.then again if your an imager spend hrs and hrs on end trying to image your most favourite object only to discover that you made only one silly little mistake and then find out you have caught no data the following day.

 

(some of theses points may not necessarily make you an amateur astronomer!?,however it does sure take patience of a saint at times and shear dedication).


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#15 ziggeman

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Posted 21 July 2021 - 01:21 PM

Define 'Great'.


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#16 BradFran

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Posted 21 July 2021 - 01:23 PM

A great sense of wonder and a strong desire to share with others.



#17 photoracer18

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Posted 21 July 2021 - 01:40 PM

Getting into the hobby at a young age, never giving it up, and doing everything. In my case 65 of my 74 years. Lots of visual, lots of imaging, lots of building things, founding clubs, working for a dealer, repairing things, and restoring things. Now I just do visual, so I have come full circle back to my roots and what got me here originally. Great? I don't know but probably not. I don't image as good as Tony H., or discover things like David L., but I was the first amateur to build a working stellar photometer (1964) according to S&T. Maybe just very good.

Its all in the journey not the destination.


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#18 aatt

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Posted 21 July 2021 - 03:47 PM

I think the easiest non niche classification is knowing the sky well, know the limitations of the sky conditions/equipment and how to tease out those tough details. I will never build a scope I don’t think or do photography. Many others are like that. I suppose a truly great amateur would do all of those things and contribute to research as well.
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#19 skybsd

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Posted 21 July 2021 - 04:02 PM

I've always wanted to be a great amateur astronomer. ...

... What do you think makes a great amateur astronomer?

scratchhead2.gif scratchhead2.gif scratchhead2.gif



#20 Big_Eight

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Posted 21 July 2021 - 04:06 PM

I'm still new to astronomy and have been doing it about 2 years but I would say that observing every second you get will make you a great amateur astronomer. This will help you learn the sky as well as learning how to look at the objects you are trying to see see detail in. Also a good understanding of how the universe works and what different objects are and what we know about them with the most recent theories and information out there.



#21 Tony Flanders

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Posted 21 July 2021 - 04:47 PM

Reading this thread is the first time I have ever contemplated sticking the adjective "great" onto "amateur astronomer." Somehow the words "great" and "amateur" seem to be pulling in opposite directions.

 

I have written about highly skilled observers, and perhaps even about great amateur-astronomy writers. But an amateur-astronomy writer (like yrs truly) is a professional writer, albeit one who's not very well paid.

 


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#22 Starman1

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Posted 21 July 2021 - 05:07 PM

Passion to observe.

Love of the process.

Lots of experience.

A mind to remember details.

A thirst for knowledge.


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#23 Supernova74

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Posted 21 July 2021 - 05:12 PM

Passion to observe.

Love of the process.

Lots of experience.

A mind to remember details.

A thirst for knowledge.

 

Brotho old boy!?



#24 bunyon

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Posted 21 July 2021 - 05:13 PM

Yeah, that's a hard definition. There are great ATMs who are average (or worse) observers. Great observers who have trouble replacing a screw in their mounts. Fantastic imagers who couldn't find Vega without a computer. etc.

 

And "pure observing" is a (relatively) recent trend. Someone who quietly amasses thousands of variable star observations but never looks at a DSO or takes a photo contributes much more of actual value to others. The fact that a keen eyed observer may optimize their craft, location and gear such that they can see a 17th magnitude glob in another galaxy is incredible to me. But not of much intrinsic value to the world. 

 

We probably all have our definition of great. I'd say a great amateur is someone who is both helpful to others and fun to spend an evening observing with. If you can learn something from someone whose presence improves the experience, that's great. 


Edited by bunyon, 21 July 2021 - 05:14 PM.

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#25 Supernova74

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Posted 21 July 2021 - 05:16 PM

Yeah, that's a hard definition. There are great ATMs who are average (or worse) observers. Great observers who have trouble replacing a screw in their mounts. Fantastic imagers who couldn't find Vega without a computer. etc.

 

And "pure observing" is a (relatively) recent trend. Someone who quietly amasses thousands of variable star observations but never looks at a DSO or takes a photo contributes much more of actual value to others. The fact that a keen eyed observer may optimize their craft, location and gear such that they can see a 17th magnitude glob in another galaxy is incredible to me. But not of much intrinsic value to the world. 

 

We probably all have our definition of great. I'd say a great amateur is someone who is both helpful to others and fun to spend an evening observing with. If you can learn something from someone whose presence improves the experience, that's great. 

Well don,t laugh sometimes in this hobby it does help if you have got a engineering degree!?




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