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STAR HOPPING....

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#1 clusterbuster

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Posted 18 November 2021 - 02:28 AM

I have been observing since I was 19 years old, (45 years)..

I have enjoyed STAR HOPPING and I will continue to STAR HOP.

I have owned several Go To Mounts, and I basically would check them out for accuracy, then only use them for their TRACKING MODE.

I wonder how all of these computerized mounts will change the art of star hopping.

To me, it is a lot of fun.

A good star hopper (which is what I consider myself because of so much experience) can find DSOs quicker than Go To Mounts..

My Star Atlases are some of my prize possessions..

Give me a BIG DOB, a DARK SKY and a GOOD STAR ATLAS and I am a happy camper !

 I actually was observing with a girl at our dark sky site that used setting circles and she had good success at finding things also.

In any event, GET OUT THERE AND OBSERVE, no matter how you do it, JUST ENJOY...

 Mark


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#2 The Ardent

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Posted 18 November 2021 - 02:44 AM

Mark 

I was shocked to discover that the Messier list was a recent invention . Because Go-To wasn’t around in the 1700’s . It preposterous to think he could have found faint fuzzies without a computer. 


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#3 clusterbuster

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Posted 18 November 2021 - 02:51 AM

Mark 

I was shocked to discover that the Messier list was a recent invention . Because Go-To wasn’t around in the 1700’s . It preposterous to think he could have found faint fuzzies without a computer. 

Hi Ray,

 I am sure that a computer had something to do with the creation of my Millenium Star Atlas set. 

LOL ( how ironic ).

 Mark

 

I will NEVER part with my MILLENIUM STAR ATLAS or my INTERSTELLARUM !


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#4 ziggeman

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Posted 18 November 2021 - 02:53 AM

I the 1700s, It was bortle 1-3 everywere on earth. I read somewhere (in The History of the Telescope.I think) that the 1700s astronomer Gould , could see around 20stars in plejades with his naked eye. No Goto was needed for the messiers then. :) I could certainly need one now, and I.m looking in ads for a cheap tabletop goto to starhop :)


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#5 barbarosa

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Posted 18 November 2021 - 04:16 AM

 

Give me a BIG DOB, a DARK SKY and a ...  girl  ...JUST ENJOY...

 

What can I say? Depending on which of the 3 you may have, go to mounts prevent a lot of wasted effort.



#6 Jon Isaacs

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Posted 18 November 2021 - 04:47 AM

A good star hopper (which is what I consider myself because of so much experience) can find DSOs quicker than Go To Mounts..

 

 

I am a dedicated star hopper.. No DSCs, No GOTO. I do it because it's something I truly love to do, it brings me satisfaction and joy.  And I think I am pretty good at it, I can often put some barely visible PGC galaxy near the center of the field of view at 280x or 350x, that is what it takes just to see the darn thing.  I have a system developed over the years using SkySafari Pro that allows me to point my 22 inch quite accurately just using a Telrad and a 50mm RACI finder.

 

But it takes me some time to find a faint random object I have never seen before. Hunting down 15th magnitude galaxies, I think a good GOTO mount could do it in a minute or less.  It takes me longer than that..  Once I get started in a region, there are normally other galaxies nearby but locating them and identifying that "yes, this is that galaxy and not that other galaxy", it takes time.. 

 

In my experience, the larger the scope, the more difficult it is to star hop. Objects are smaller, more difficult to see, there's a lot more objects visible, I have to work at higher magnifications, the field of view gets quite narrow.  My sense is that most amateurs observing with larger scopes are not star hopping, they're using DSCs or GOTO. 

 

I am not in a rush.. The time it takes me to find an object, or not find an object, it's immaterial. I am doing something that I love to do, it's making me think and work complex transformations in my mind.. It helps keep my brain alive. One advantage I have is that I do spend a lot of nights out there so, it's more of a continuous process. 

 

We all have different situations priorities.  Some are just not interested in star hopping. Some, they feel a time pressure, they might only have 3 or 4 nights a month to spend under dark skies, they maybe dealing with cloudy skies much of the time. GOTO, PUSH TO, they have a lot of virtues.

 

Greg LeMond, an American cyclist who won the Tour de France three times, one said:

 

"It never gets any easier, you just go faster."   

 

I think there's a lot of wisdom in that simple statement. 

 

"Observing never gets any easier, you just go deeper." 

 

"Star hopping never gets any easier, you are just finding more difficult objects."

 

Jon


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#7 HellsKitchen

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Posted 18 November 2021 - 05:25 AM

100% agree. A lot of the fun in this hobby, at least to me, comes from compiling targets from a paper atlas, and then engaging in the hunt. The anticipation of what I might see is at least half the fun. 


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#8 Jon Isaacs

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Posted 18 November 2021 - 05:30 AM

What can I say? Depending on which of the 3 you may have, go to mounts prevent a lot of wasted effort.

 

And they can be a lot of wasted effort.. In all my years, I have never had my manual mounts breakdown..

 

And it's all in one's perspective.. For some of us, enjoying the star hopping journey, it's never a wasted effort. 

 

 

100% agree. A lot of the fun in this hobby, at least to me, comes from compiling targets from a paper atlas, and then engaging in the hunt. The anticipation of what I might see is at least half the fun. 

 

I think of it like riding my bicycle up the hill and then down the other side.  If you cycle has a motor to get you up to the top, going down the other side is far less of a thrill... If you cranked you way up the hill, going down the other side is a big reward, a real thrill. 

 

Jon


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#9 astrokeith

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Posted 18 November 2021 - 05:59 AM

Like Jon, I mix it up.

 

My current list is Arp's, many (most?) of which are on the limit of my scope. My challenge is to make out the shape and some detail. I use Goto++.

 

If I'm revisiting an old favourite, I'll usually push the scope to the target, star hop a bit. Sometimes I resort to finally using Goto if I'm cold/tired/see clouds coming up.

 

Some of my best experiences have been the TSP Advanced Observers Program where goto is both not allowed and anyway usually not much help. Many an object has taken an enjoyable hour to track down, study and confirm.

 

I will admit that most of our best observing in the UK is in the damp winter. Fighting the cold, dew and inevitable clouds or poor transparency - I find GoTo really adds to my pleasure. Also for me, the availability of GoTo changed my observing. I dont look for mag 12 galaxies - I try and see mag 14 or 15, or the fainter detail on the brighter ones. Hence the hunt is secondary. I like to know the object is in the field, even if I cant see it straightaway, and then spend 20 minutes letting the well travelled photons register.


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#10 Moxized

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Posted 18 November 2021 - 06:36 AM

When I lived in a city and was too busy in college and working to take any trips out to appreciable dark skies, I didn't get much out of Astronomy and never knew of setting circles or such. It was a lot of "What handful of stars can I look at tonight" Just a lot of slow slewing to see if I found anything by chance.

 

Now that I am under much darker skies, I have dove into Star Atlases and Apps, and planisphere to help myself learn our celestial globe. It is a lot of fun when you know where to aim for a DSO and when you look in the eyepiece and see you got it right, even if it is impressive only to myself haha.

 

I did add on printed setting circles to help me when I'm failing, but once found I do my best to really memorize the finder views and stars in them.

 

A motorized mount would still be great for the high power views. One of these days I'll make or buy an EQ platform.

 

Best regards!


Edited by Moxized, 18 November 2021 - 06:36 AM.


#11 esd726

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Posted 18 November 2021 - 06:53 AM

 

I have enjoyed STAR HOPPING and I will continue to STAR HOP.

 

To me, it is a lot of fun.

 

A good star hopper (which is what I consider myself because of so much experience) can find DSOs quicker than Go To Mounts..

 

My Star Atlases are some of my prize possessions..

 

Give me a BIG DOB, a DARK SKY and a GOOD STAR ATLAS and I am a happy camper !

 

100% agree waytogo.gif snoopy2.gif

 

(just wish I had more clear, [relatively] moonless nights than we seem to get) 


Edited by esd726, 18 November 2021 - 06:57 AM.


#12 Jon Isaacs

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Posted 18 November 2021 - 07:08 AM

Like Jon, I mix it up.

 

Keith:

 

Just to be clear, I only star hop.. No DSCs, No GOTO.  The closest I get is using a digital level to locate Mercury and Venus in the sunset.  

 

But my situation is very different from yours, I have lots of opportunities. I can take the time to star hop and not feel pressure. 

 

Jon


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#13 astrokeith

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Posted 18 November 2021 - 07:33 AM

Keith:

 

Just to be clear, I only star hop.. No DSCs, No GOTO.  The closest I get is using a digital level to locate Mercury and Venus in the sunset.  

 

But my situation is very different from yours, I have lots of opportunities. I can take the time to star hop and not feel pressure. 

 

Jon

Ooops! Sorry, you started by saying you were push to only, but then were so fair an even handed, I forgot!



#14 clearwaterdave

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Posted 18 November 2021 - 08:13 AM

I have made and used push-to for my scopes and they helped me to see many objects and to learn my way around.,

  At some point I decided I wanted to learn to starhop.,I started with a bino from my recliner on a cold and windy winter's night,.I have a good southerly view and CAm is full of little clusters and groupings of stars that made it fun and interesting.

  I used a correct image diagonal in my scopes to begin with and then got better at it and learned to use a standard diagonal and the dob views. 

  I developed my own method for hopping I call the Clock Face method.,where the stars I'm using to hop come into view at one hour.,and exit it at another.,easy for me to remember.,

  I am in no hurry.,and certainly don't consider hopping a waste of time.,On many hops I see things along the way that are more interesting to me visually than the target itself.,and these things aren't on any list.,or grandeur in the greater sense of things.,but I get to see and enjoy them as I hunt down that gray fuzzy spot that is on the lists.,

 We all have different circumstances and have to judge our own needs.,For me it's time out with the scope of choice.,and with or without a plan it's always enjoyable.,.Best2all.,



#15 bumm

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Posted 18 November 2021 - 08:46 AM

I got into this thing long before GOTO became commonly available, so if one didn't learn to starhop, one simply didn't see anything below naked eye visibility.  When amateur scopes with GOTO first came along, the old sci.astro.amateur group lit up with sometimes bitter starhopping vs. GOTO wars.  The starhoppers tended to see the GOTO crowd as lazy, or maybe jumping to the goodies without paying their dues, and the GOTO crowd saw the starhoppers as hidebound throwbacks or holier than thou puritans.  All that has kind of gone by the wayside, and GOTO has become simply another tool in the box.  We can all find things however we want. 

      As for myself, I first got into stargazing simply to learn the constellations.  I thought that would be such a neat thing to be able to do.  I had no desire to own a telescope.  But then, as the sky fell into place, I learned that such and such a bright object was in a particular place among the stars, and a few quick looks with my father's horrible, el-cheapo, 7x35 binoculars, (which he thought were excellent,) and an old leather covered brass spyglass hooked me for life.  The constellations have become old friends now, and I still love the hunt as much as the views.  Maybe I get even more satisfaction out of the hunt than I do the view of a dim galaxy.  (But of course, knowing what those few barely detectable photons mean still thrills me no end...)

     I guess what all this means is that we can all do this however we enjoy it.  I can understand how those trapped under badly light polluted skies may use GOTO as their only choice.  Maybe as light pollution grows worse, GOTO and electronic assisted viewing with become the only way possible.  I feel so lucky to have lived when I did. 

                                                                                                                                                                  Marty


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#16 GGK

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Posted 18 November 2021 - 09:07 AM

I am not a good star hopper as most people on CN define it. When I got into this hobby in the late 90’s, if I would have started with a push-to DOB, I am quite certain that I would have quit the hobby long ago. At that time of my life, I had very little excess time. Usually less than an hour in any given night. I wanted to see a few DSOs in a short time and didn’t want to be spending all my time hunting. My CG5 manual GEM and the celestial coordinate system made that possible.

I’m still working, still have little time and still use the CG5, but now also have a GoTo GEM and a GoTo Alt-Az that I use manually as well.

As I’ve gained experience, I’ve developed two different viewing habits.

The first is typical - get to an object and look. I am as impatient to get on target today as I was when I started. Funny as it sounds, I see more with my manual GEM as I use coordinates to jump from one point to another because I have my eye on the eyepiece as I slowly turn the knobs and count the number of turns. With GoTo, I’m standing back staring at a the dang control screen and the OTA passes everything unnoticed.

My second style is backwards. I simply take the time to very slowly scan the sky at various magnifications to find whatever is there to observe. This takes time, but is fun and relaxing. Once I find an object to observe, I might or might not try to identify it. More often I just look and enjoy.

Other than weather, time available and what’s overhead, I’m not really sure why I choose one method over the other on any given night.

Gary
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#17 jgraham

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Posted 18 November 2021 - 09:09 AM

Heh, heh, I have been doing this since I was about 5 years old... some 60 years ago, but who's counting? Once upon a time star-hopping was the only way to go; most scopes were homemade and if they did have a finder it wasn't very good and not very useful beyond basic pointing. Star-hopping through a scope with a 25mm Ramsden (my 'wide angle' eyepiece that I loved so much) was tough, but it was what it was. Jump forward 40 years and I bought my first GoTo scope; a long-tube Meade DS-2130. I'll never forget my first night out with it as I hopped effortlessly from one globular cluster to another including my arch nemesis, M3, which I had a heck of a time finding a good path to get to. I have since discovered the joys of a good 50mm RACI finder and I include a Vixen finder mount on all of my scopes so that I always have the option of star-hopping (going off-road) whenever I want to. Nowadays I enjoy star-hopping, GoTo, mixed mode (star-hopping _and_ GoTo using the hand controller to move the scope), and modern star-hopping; exploring the sky using Sky Safari/SkyFi to hop from one star to another across a region of the sky taking at peek at any objects that lay along my path.

 

Modern amateur astronomy is a deep and rich hobby with soooo much to offer hobbyists at every level. 60 years on I'm still learning new things almost every time I go out.

 

Enjoy!


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#18 Migwan

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Posted 18 November 2021 - 09:10 AM

I started off star hopping with a 90mm on an EQ and then a 2080 on a wedge.   Adding a Telrad and replacing that old straight through finder with an ST80 made star hopping a real easy.  So much so, that the challenge was kinda lost.    Only then did I obtain a go-to.

 

Since then, there has been quite some targets not on the go-to 's menu that I wanted to visit, such as a number of dwarf galaxies in the local group.   No problem.  Just a little mechanically assisted star hopping and wham, I was there.  Sure was handy already knowing how to do so.  

 

Eventually, I learned how to input the coordinates for those targets not on the go-to menu.  Oh well.  

 

So rather than a small alt-az go-to mount and tripod, I bought a manual one to use as a grab and go.   No regrets.

 

Thing is, having relatively short focal length refractors, I tend to "point and scan" with it, rather than using traditional star hops.   That is, I find some geometrical relationship between the target and two or three stars and merely point there using a red dot finder.   Given a view of 4° or so, if the target is not in view, it'll likely be within a couple of degrees.  When it is in view, I just can't help a sheepish little grin.   

 

So as Mark said,  "JUST ENJOY...."


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#19 spereira

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Posted 18 November 2021 - 09:11 AM

Moving to Deep Sky Observing.

 

smp



#20 tdfwds

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Posted 18 November 2021 - 10:22 AM

As some have said, I star hopped because what choice was there? I still starhop due to budgetary constraints, it's either that or nothing.  Sure, the 'scope had discs with RA and Dec on the EQ mount but I don't think I realised their purpose for ages.  I wish I had a push-to now as urban light pollution is evil, LED street lighting which was long deemed as going to be a benefit to dark skies as well as 'green' makes the days of low pressure orange glow seem glorious, as even though the white cone is targetted downwards it sure reflects off asphalt well, especially if damp from dew or frost, or after what used to be a very useful air cleaning rain after a weather front went through.  The some means sky background is always white now.  I can't remember the last time I actually saw a hint of airglow after a long session.

 

For starhop I mean charts and all by hand and finderscope (another argument is the red dot vs finderscope for starhopping, I decry the former...).  Push-to I thought meant some sort of hand held thing where you starhopped manually but the handheld thing told you were you were and when on target, rather than the skycharts and star pattern recognition.  GOTO does it all, some I believe don't need much reference star alignment even on an altaz dob nowadays.

 

So GOTO would save a lot of angst and stress and back and neck ache sometimes, but then again last time I tried to look at a 10th mag galaxy that used to be easy I could barely make it out against the LED sourced white skyglow, so what is there to push-to?

 

And a drive would be great for fighting for every photon of a faint fuzzy or splitting a 'scope limit tight pair of stars at high power without having to keep trying to shift the 'scope without losing the object.  Allegedly the eyeball rods take about six seconds to integrate signals.

 

Swings and roundabouts, as they say.

 

One thing is important nowadays though, probably especially for beginners.  And those of us whose pockets are not well lined or lucky enough to live near dark sites.  On a tight budget do you spend the money on up to a couple of inches more aperture or maybe instead a more robust GEM, or on a smaller full working goto with an okay altaz?  My old monster (in bulk, not size, only just over 8 inch), was fairly old when I got it second hand, has worn teeth on it and serious inertia due to weight so the slowmo is pointless.  It would have to be binned and a brand new entire 'scope and mount obtained to replace it, let alone any addons.  Not cheap.  On the other hand, if a beginner buys a 'scope and urban skies make learning to starhop really difficult, and the result is for not insignificant amounts of money wasted on a thing collecting dust in a garage, loft or cupboard, and another amateur astronomer lost for life, that's not good either.  On the other, other hand, if budget leads to a good goto but means you only get down to mag 12.5 ish instead of mag around 14 due to just a couple of inches, what's the point of having a goto for that depth of mag?  That couple of mags can make all the difference between DSO and not DSO, and also due to the extra aperture better luck with planets and doubles.  Quandary.

 

Sure people can graduate to bigger if they get hooked, but it might involve a long time of saving up, and cost of kit is NOT linear with size increase, it tends to be a bit quantal, bigger stuff needs more robust engineering and materials to be worthwhile you see.  And eyepieces can be upgraded bit by bit over time at reasonable cost (although of course some eyepieces cost more than some telescopes nowadays!).  Maybe even a push-to added later, depending on the mount?

 

But, before I got myself sidetracked, I wanted to add a rider question to all this.

 

How many goto folk actually look at more than the handheld unit or laptop/desktop and the eyepiece?

 

I find starhopping means I look at the sky, see things naked eye I wouldn't notice otherwise, catch the odd sporadic meteor, notice the constellations, including the obscure ones, notice nice little aesthetic patches of sky either in the finderscope or at low powers whilst panning to the exact spot.  Stand still and stare at the sky for a while, especially over 60 degrees up) until you feel the rotation of the planet, so to speak (illusion?  Never sure.  Not bloodloss to the brain from bent neck trapping arteries or lack of oxygen to the brain as neck angle restricts the windpipe, that makes things white out if you observe in too awkward a posture for far too long.  Sometimes when really trying hard for certain objects in awkward positions when starhopping you don't notice those effects creep up on you).*

 

How many goto users just look at the sky and notice things in passing.  Just looking at the stars, and picking up other things.  And sometimes whilst recognising the patterns being reminded "ooh, I haven't looked at that object for a while, let's have a looksee seeing it's a crisp night".  Not as likely if you have a rigid to-do list at hand, which I think fits in with GOT ethos.

 

I enjoy doing that as much as seeing hard and/or rewarding stuff.  I've often wondered though whether astronomy has a dichotomy like the birdwatchers who will walk in the countryside and notice some birds, but going for the full countryside feel, and, the twitchers who zoom off to add another tick on the list not much different from licence plate number collecting or train spotting?  Because hard does not always mean aesthetically rewarding, and can probably be far more disappointing after a long starhop than after a quick GOTO.

 

Similarly, deepsky observers are also rarely the same as deepsky imagers, as far as I can tell.  There are some glorious amateur images achieved nowadays, but they're still nothing compared to being out there looking direct through a few bits of glass.

 

Summary : I can't see how goto gives you a feel for the nightsky in general, at all levels, unless possibly you used to starhop and still remember to look for those aspects.  For many, and I think keen folk on forums forget this at times, the choice is between aperture and extraneous kit simply due to good old fashioned cost.  (And red dot only on beginner 'scopes without goto ought to be banned).

 

That's my tuppence worth! ; )

 

 

*[Or more negatively contemplate on just how many ruddy lumps of metal are orbiting the Earth nowadays (several satellites at a time sometimes!), let alone the number of planes going over the pole to North America being more frequent than buses on the road!  Or a police helicopter potentially mistaking me for a guy with a mortar, and then my suddenly realising that if a police helicopter is very nearby, there as potentially some desperate fugitives about, so maybe I ought to nip in and lock the door.  It's a rare occurrence, but it certainly breaks up the tranquility of the night.]


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#21 therealdmt

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Posted 18 November 2021 - 10:39 AM

manual alt-az star hopper here.

 

I can’t stand those confounded computers. Oh, wait a minute, what am I typing on? (Doh!)

 

Well, anyway, star hopping and simple, fully manual mounts suits what I want out of the hobby.

 

It’s all good though — any way we can get more people who understand/appreciate the need to not light up the sky with a thousand lights is fine by me. As long as they keep making at least some fully manual equipment, I’m satisfied 


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#22 CowTipton

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Posted 18 November 2021 - 10:43 AM

You can even do a little bit of star hopping with a GOTO mount.

 

-If the mount is on uneven ground, the accuracy will be off.  So you can star hop that last 1 or 2° to the target.

-And if you're dealing with a lot of light pollution you may need to consult a chart or app to see the field stars in your FOV to determine where a particularly dim object is.

-If you forget to charge your battery, you can loosen the clutches and use it as a manual alt-az mount.

-If you're wanting to view a particularly easy target like Jupiter, M45, etc.  You can do it faster by moving the mount manually and using the RACI or just sighting down the length of the OTA rather than waiting for the mount to do it for you.

 

I admit to being spoiled by goto now but it never has to be an either/or proposition.

I can star hop and I can use the goto.  Best of both worlds.



#23 csrlice12

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Posted 18 November 2021 - 11:54 AM

I take the scope out, point it to the sky.


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#24 Jon Isaacs

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Posted 18 November 2021 - 12:19 PM

Push-to I thought meant some sort of hand held thing where you starhopped manually but the handheld thing told you were you were and when on target, rather than the skycharts and star pattern recognition.

 

 

Push-to is similar to GOTO except that you provide the power, the hand controller tells you which way to move the scope and when you get there.

 

I star hop to find deep space objects, double stars as well as planet's, asteroids, and comets. I have to say I'm confused why this thread ended up here..

 

Jon



#25 havasman

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  • Loc: Dallas, Texas

Posted 18 November 2021 - 12:28 PM

If you do use computerized finders you'd better be able to star hop too because, as Jon mentioned above, there will be the night the system will fail you or you'll forget to charge the batteries or bring that critical part along. So I always have a Telrad, S&T PSA and interstellarum at sessions.


Edited by havasman, 18 November 2021 - 12:28 PM.

  • Redbetter likes this


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