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What makes a great amateur astronomer?

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64 replies to this topic

#26 bunyon

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Posted 21 July 2021 - 05:24 PM

Or a few rolls of duct tape.


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#27 jerobe

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Posted 21 July 2021 - 05:29 PM

Being curious and having a sense of awe about the universe will get you started.  You don't need a huge telescope or a mega dollar astrophotography set up to be an great amateur astronomer.  You might be content with observing when you can with naked eye or binoculars, or maybe just reading Burnhams Celestial Handbooks or other astronomy books/magazines.  It's an individual thing and that's what makes this such a great hobby and pastime!


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#28 elzopilote

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Posted 21 July 2021 - 05:57 PM

Having curiosity and the capacity for awe when confronted with the vastness of the universe. 


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#29 godelescher

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Posted 21 July 2021 - 06:39 PM

Curiosty, an eye for detail, and an ability to learn. That's what makes a great anything.

 

A couple of days ago, a CN member discovered a supernova. It had already been discovered a couple of weeks earlier by other astronomers, but he picked it out and posted about it because he found an extra star. Turned out he was exactly right. It was a supernova that didn't exist a few weeks ago. He found it in a starfield photo he took that was massive. https://www.cloudyni.../#entry11241201

 

Curiosity

Attention to detail

Ability to learn


Edited by godelescher, 21 July 2021 - 06:46 PM.

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#30 dave253

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Posted 21 July 2021 - 06:51 PM

Great thread, great replies! 
Another +1 for Thomas, and congratulations to Eric! 



#31 maroubra_boy

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Posted 21 July 2021 - 06:54 PM

EGO!

 

Nothing else matters.  Everything else is playing for second best.  You should know that by now.

 

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#32 BlueMoon

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Posted 21 July 2021 - 07:00 PM

 

I just never seem to be able to get there.

It's not the destination. It's the journey getting there.


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#33 MikeHC8

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Posted 21 July 2021 - 08:39 PM

I feel most of the replies are very good, one thing I feel you do not need a telescope to enjoy this wonderful hobby, at the same time you do not need a 14 inch plus scope, what makes a great Astronomer, he or she makes due with what they have, and find great joy to explain to anyone what he/she is looking at and help others to enjoy the hobby.  Knowledge is king, but with this hobby we will never know everything and this is what draws me in, and it is not possible in my life time to see everything.  What makes a great astronomer is all the above posts.


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#34 weis14

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Posted 21 July 2021 - 10:34 PM

I agree with the others that talk about curiosity, willingness to learn and an eye for detail as being very important.  I think one of the other important things that make a person a "great" amateur astronomer is the willingness to embrace the tools and equipment they have to pursue the astronomy goals of their choosing. 

 

This hobby is so broad that two great amateur astronomers might might be doing totally different things.  For example, what makes a great imager might not be what makes a great observer.  Is an observer with a 20" dob going through various Arp galaxies any greater than one attempting to finish the entire Herschel 400 through a 4" scope?  What about someone who is creating beautiful astrophotos as compared to someone who has reported thousands of variable star observations?

 

It is a bit like asking what makes someone a great fisherman.  To answer the question you need to know what type of fish they are looking for, but their are traits (again patience and a willingness to learn) that all greats share.


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#35 Astro-Master

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Posted 21 July 2021 - 11:21 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?

I think Steve Gottlieb is a great amateur astronomer, and the most knowledgeable amateur I've ever known, his NGC, and IC Notes is a monumental work!! waytogo.gif waytogo.gif 

 

He is the most experienced observer I ever had the pleasure to observe with.  Thanks Steve for your great contribution.



#36 edwincjones

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Posted 22 July 2021 - 04:23 AM

scratchhead2.gif scratchhead2.gif scratchhead2.gif

To me great and amateur just do not go together.

We start at beginners, many advance to intermediate 

but few really hit the great classification - over the years I have seen a few

you know it when you see one, but most of us do not make the grade.

 

edj



#37 RazvanUnderStars

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Posted 22 July 2021 - 12:49 PM

This topic reminded me of a quote by Shakespeare: “Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon ’em.” smile.gif  The latter might mean something like imaging Betelgeuse as it goes supernova smile.gif


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#38 viewer

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Posted 22 July 2021 - 01:07 PM

I feel great!


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#39 Keith Rivich

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Posted 22 July 2021 - 01:51 PM

Look in the mirror. All amateur astronomers are great in my book. 


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#40 treadmarks

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Posted 22 July 2021 - 06:30 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?

Ok, counting out the obvious: amateur astronomers who have discovered something and have their name on an object, I'd say this...

 

There are some great amateur astronomers in my club. They are the guys who I can count on seeing there practically every clear night, who drag out a big telescope and let anyone look through it. Even in a group of amateur astronomers with their own scopes at a star party, these guys will be drawing a crowd with their scope and their knowledge. Basically every time I look through their scope I see something I wouldn't have seen on my own.

 

It's not just skill and a big telescope. Their passion for the hobby shines through and they inspire and enable others.


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#41 Tony Flanders

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Posted 23 July 2021 - 05:51 AM

I think Steve Gottlieb is a great amateur astronomer, and the most knowledgeable amateur I've ever known, his NGC, and IC Notes is a monumental work!! waytogo.gif waytogo.gif


I must admit that Steve Gottlieb is the first person that sprang to my mind when I saw the title of this thread. There's no doubt that his NGC/IC notes are a monumental work, and an exceedingly valuable one.

I have no hesitation calling him a great observer -- as well as a helluva nice guy. But observing is just one aspect of amateur astronomy. Perhaps that's the reason I'm reluctant to use the term "great amateur astronomer" -- it's just not specific enough. Amateur astronomy is a big tent, and nobody can excel in every aspect of it.


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#42 James Paulson

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Posted 23 July 2021 - 06:57 AM

I must admit that Steve Gottlieb is the first person that sprang to my mind when I saw the title of this thread. There's no doubt that his NGC/IC notes are a monumental work, and an exceedingly valuable one.

I have no hesitation calling him a great observer -- as well as a helluva nice guy. But observing is just one aspect of amateur astronomy. Perhaps that's the reason I'm reluctant to use the term "great amateur astronomer" -- it's just not specific enough. Amateur astronomy is a big tent, and nobody can excel in every aspect of it.

I always ask good open ended questions Tony. It really helps to bring out a wide variety of opinions and I have already learned a lot from this thread.



#43 Supernova74

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Posted 23 July 2021 - 07:34 AM

Me I’m the best there is


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#44 StarBurger

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Posted 23 July 2021 - 07:47 AM

Sitting at the eyepiece wearing a cravat, a monocle and smoking a pipe makes a great astronomer....



#45 LDW47

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Posted 23 July 2021 - 09:37 AM

Many think its how much they spend, its the be all end all    PS  And the brand name of course



#46 Tyson M

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Posted 23 July 2021 - 10:18 AM

A great amateur astronomer, while itself somewhat an oxymoron, can be subjective based on your interpretation of the word great. 

 

I ask rhetorically, by what metric?

 

Contributions to the science of astronomy (regular planetary or variable star observers)? The writer or astronomy popularizer who proliferates knowledge to the masses with a knack for communicating complex topics to the layperson? The master optician or scope builder? The CN regular who guides newbies or writes up guides or develops essential software? Or is it the person who always sets up outreach events any chance they get, or volunteers at the local astro club or observatory?

 

My first instinct was to say a great amateur astronomer is someone who gets out regularly to see (or image) the many great things astronomy has to offer and has fun doing so.

 

That person is not me lately, but I hope to change that again and get out under the stars more. 


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#47 csrlice12

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Posted 23 July 2021 - 10:57 AM

The truth.....Two other people.



#48 GeneT

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Posted 23 July 2021 - 05:54 PM

To be a great amateur astronomer, it is not how much you. To be a great amateur astronomer, how much passion you have and whether or not you will stick with it--even if cold or hot weather, or cloudy nights take over for extended periods of time.



#49 RalphMeisterTigerMan

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Posted 23 July 2021 - 07:27 PM

What makes a great Amateur Astronomer?

 

From Star Wars the Empire Strikes back:

 

Luke: "I'm looking for Yoda, he is a Great Warrior"

Yoda: "Great? Wars make one NOT Great"

 

Again, what makes a great warrior...err, Amateur Astronomer? How about any of the following:

 

- The Amateur with the largest Observatory with the largest Telescopes?

- The Amateur with the largest collection of Eyepieces?

- The Amateur who has published the most Books.

- The Amateur with the ability to go out on a night with the skies covered in clouds and able to part them with a simple gesture of the hands.

- The Amateur who has a regular Poker night with Al Nagler, Roland Christen, Rick Singmaster, Sir Issac Newton and Albert Einstein.

- The Amateur who sees what they want without the use of a Telescope or any other optical aid.

- The Amateur who can enter any Telescope Shop and all present immediately pay hommage to them.

- The Amateur Astronomer who doesn't have to say that they are an "Amateur Astronomer" because where-ever they go, everyone automatically knows.

 

And finally, the Amateur who tries to freely dispense their accumulated knowledge to anyone who asks a question and needs enlightenment.

 

Clear skies and keep looking up!

RalphMeisterTigerMan



#50 HeavensAbove

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Posted 24 July 2021 - 06:43 AM

Anyone who, as the late great Art Bell would say,

 

Keep looking up




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