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STAR HOPPING....

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#26 SpaceConqueror3

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Posted 18 November 2021 - 01:03 PM

I'm a life long star-hopper too. Next year will be my 50th year of doing it with no mechanical assistance. I don't even like Tetrads. It's either a 6 X 30 or 8 X 50 finder where the star hopping begins. I have a number of Star Atlas that I collectively use under the red light....and to my wife's dismay, I still often use folding road maps and road atlases. cool.gif

 

Mr. Luddite


Edited by SpaceConqueror3, 18 November 2021 - 01:04 PM.

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#27 ShaulaB

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Posted 18 November 2021 - 01:41 PM

A Dob and a Telrad are all I need. Over 30 years ago, I was out observing with a family member. He had a C8 with setting circles. I had a Dob and a Telrad. Within seconds, I was able to get M57 the Ring Nebula into view. He was still fiddling with setting circles and never got it into his eyepiece. He asked me "How did you do that?" and I just humbly said, "Practice."

Yes, we have some lovely GoTo mounts in the house. These are used mostly for outreach. For personal viewing pleasure, I like star-hopping better. With my refractors and SCT's, star hopping is not as ergonomically comfortable.

People new to using a telescope find out fairly quickly that finding objects is more difficult than they had thought. It's all about learning, folks. Learning and practicing. The concept of "learning" is unpalatable to some people.

Edited by ShaulaB, 18 November 2021 - 01:44 PM.

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#28 Exnihilo

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Posted 18 November 2021 - 03:25 PM

In the days before goto, my observing used a mix of mechanical setting circles and star hopping.  Star hopping works pretty well under dark skies, but is more of a challenge where there's a lot of light pollution.


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#29 tdfwds

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Posted 18 November 2021 - 04:07 PM

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.

 
Thanks!  It seems I hadn't quite got it right.
 
I suppose that begs another question, how much more learning and reward to you get preparing things for starhop, as in researching candidate targets and details and all that?
 
I have never used a goto, so I do not know if they have filters for above the horizon and magnitude and type, or whether that has to be done the old fashioned way too, although I'd guess some goto users use spreadsheet or database filtering (which is a good long shortlist start at least for anyone, but in my view needs hand refinement).  And of course reading some of the observing books can lead to things you've never thought of for whatever reason.
 

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..

Fair question.  this forum is in the "observing superforum" so that might be one reason, and I suppose this topic doesn't quite fit moon, sun (always use shadow on ground of 'scope for sun I suppose I ought to warn, along with proper guaranteed specific for 'scope filters) and planets.  It could be called "anti-techy" at a stretch so could fit in the science forum of the observing superforum in a negative sense.  It mostly leaves the DSOs, the double and deep sky observing fora/forums/whichever.  Maybe they tossed a coin?

 

I don't know which forum it started in, maybe an equipment one?  Some people can be more kit minded, playing with, tweaking (a bit like motorcycles) rather than actually doing much with it to any deep degree, but a lot use kit for involved stuff too, so I dunno.  I wouldn't be surprised if dedicated imagers deemed star hopping irrelevant to their needs.  I wonder how many people have tried starhopping with remote telescopes... ; )   But that just turns it into a "horses for courses" reasoning, which I don't think was really the OP's point.


Edited by tdfwds, 18 November 2021 - 04:26 PM.


#30 tdfwds

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Posted 18 November 2021 - 04:42 PM

I'm a life long star-hopper too. Next year will be my 50th year of doing it with no mechanical assistance. I don't even like Tetrads. It's either a 6 X 30 or 8 X 50 finder where the star hopping begins. I have a number of Star Atlas that I collectively use under the red light....and to my wife's dismay, I still often use folding road maps and road atlases. cool.gif

 

Mr. Luddite

Another half century coming up here, from ugly store refractor on altaz, to soon after surprisingly getting to take the school 6" newt home for a while, which was attached to a GEM mount which itself was adapted to be attached to some really heavy duty solid metal army surplus extendable tripod mount, still in military green.

 

Of course, completely self taught, the teacher's had no idea, and completely without any brain myself (still true today), I'd no idea about polar alignment so it got set up randomly and I wondered why it was like learning advanced origami just to point the thing!  Yet I still found stuff starhopping!  Hard way to learn it, and I wish I'd known.  For anyone remembering the original 'oil crisis' and miners' strikes that led to scheduled power cuts and the like sometimes in them days, now those were the urban skies you want!

 

a kind of selective luddite meself, more in the sense of liking new stuff and new ways much of the time, but getting annoyed at the over emphasis on marketing leading to perfection being "improved" upon for the 'new model' sake of it until something does all sorts of needless clever things but no longer does well what it used to do well (if at does it at all!), instead of just leaving it at perfect.


Edited by tdfwds, 18 November 2021 - 04:45 PM.

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#31 havasman

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Posted 18 November 2021 - 05:24 PM

"Form is not important. Content is important." is something I learned best from the master Japanese engineer responsible for design and manufacture of the Nissan VG series of V6 engines that are still in service. 

Translates to: How you find it is not important. That you find it is important. Neither star hopping nor another finding strategy is inherently superior or inferior to any other if it works for you to find objects you want to observe. Pick your favorite and use it well. waytogo.gif 


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#32 Scoper47

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Posted 18 November 2021 - 06:45 PM

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

You sound like me Mark! I started out in the early 1980's.  I have tried like GoTo's/PushTo's and setting circles... and they just slow me down. It's star hopping for me!  I have been with people who use GoTo's and such and I can find objects while they are still fumbling with their GoTo's . Sad to say, some can't find anything without their laptops and GoTo's.  And I have never been interested in any form of AP and such. I like the fun and challenge of finding and seeing an object with my own eyes, not letting some piece of tech see it for me.

 

Here's a question I have asked a GoTo's devotee:  Let's say you are trying to find some very faint threshold galaxy using your scopes GoTo, but, you can't see it in your main scope's eyepieces?  Do you resort to star hopping to see if you can locate it that way?  Or, do you conclude that the GoTo's assist is foolproof and just move onto another object? 


Edited by Scoper47, 18 November 2021 - 07:33 PM.

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#33 Scoper47

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Posted 18 November 2021 - 06:58 PM

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

Terrific post Jon! You read my mind.

 

I used to do a lot of hunting and fishing with mixed success. Then, I discovered amateur astronomy in the 1980's, and all my other hobbies became secondary. You have probably heard, "I'd rather be fishing or hunting"  Well, mine is "I'd rather be scoping" 

Some hunters and fishermen have scratched their heads and wondered why I like what they call "star gazing?" I have learned to just give a simple answer to the simple minded: "It's the only thing I have ever been any good at."


Edited by Scoper47, 18 November 2021 - 10:41 PM.

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#34 Jon Isaacs

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Posted 18 November 2021 - 07:37 PM

"Form is not important. Content is important." is something I learned best from the master Japanese engineer responsible for design and manufacture of the Nissan VG series of V6 engines that are still in service. 

Translates to: How you find it is not important. That you find it is important. Neither star hopping nor another finding strategy is inherently superior or inferior to any other if it works for you to find objects you want to observe. Pick your favorite and use it well. waytogo.gif 

 

This is a goal oriented approach.  If one is a star hopper, it's very likely it's the journey that is important, the overall experience. 

 

It's the difference I alluded to earlier, riding up the hill on your bicycle or on your motorcycle. Both get you to the top but both are very different experiences.. 

 

And realistically, the way the engine was designed was ultimately important.  It was a complex process with a great deal of analysis, documentation and thought.  It was team work.. 

 

Jon


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#35 Jon Isaacs

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Posted 18 November 2021 - 07:45 PM

Terrific post Jon! You read my mind.

 

I used to do a lot of hunting and fishing with mixed success. Then, I discovered amateur astronomy in the 1980's, and all my other hobbies became secondary. You have probably heard, "I'd rather be fishing or hunting"  Well, mine is "I'd rather be scoping" 

Some hunters and fishermen have scratched their heads and wondered why I like what they call "star gazing?" I have learned to just give them a simple answer: "It's the only thing I have ever been any good at."

 

:waytogo:

 

Growing up, hunting and fishing were my hobbies.  In junior high, it was about a mile from the bus stop home. I'd walk across the field, up the hill, in the door, grab a snack, change clothes, out the backdoor with my .22-.410 over and under and I hunt for an hour or two.  We had a pond and I hiked over the back country fishing the pools and creeks.  My mom would take me to the beach and I would go surf fishing, pier fishing.  In my early 20's I spend five years fishing commercially out of small boats.  

 

For me, amateur astronomy is essentially the same thing.  It's just that my hunting and fishing grounds are the solar system and the universe.. 

 

Jon


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#36 Jim Davenport

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Posted 19 November 2021 - 01:16 AM

This thread brings back memories of years ago, before computers.
I used setting circles that had a “Vernier” scale to get accurate readings, and used local sidereal time to set the RA circle.
I had a neighbor that has since passed. He was an engineer at Honeywell, and was also an avid astronomer.
We modified digital clocks from radio shack to run on sidereal time. I think there was an article in Sky and Telescope about doing it.
With some practice we could locate faint objects pretty good using the setting circles



#37 Asbytec

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Posted 19 November 2021 - 08:54 AM

To me, star hopping is part of the experience of observing. Often alone under a peaceful sky. It's consistent with being in touch with the heavens above. I enjoy the experience of star hopping.

I was excited when I got my first GOTO scope. I loved the idea the scope would slew to an object. My father was less enthusiastic, and I did not understand why. I could whip through a month's observing in a single night.

Having matured as an observer, I now understand my father's apprehension with GOTO. The idea is quality time, not quantity. Star hopping is part of the quality time I spend with the heavens. I take my time.

Edited by Asbytec, 19 November 2021 - 09:49 AM.

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#38 justfred

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Posted 19 November 2021 - 02:48 PM

90+% of my observing is starhopping. Lot of trees in our suburban neighborhood and I move from spot to spot to get the best view. Mostly my quick-peek scopes are an XT6 and a Starblast4.5. When the transparency is bad I set up my MAK and use setting circles to find and track carbon and doubles. When I’m at a dark sky star party I set up my big dob with all its bells and whistles… and its aperture. Dobsonian.gif sct.png

 

There’s no wrong way :-)

 

Fred


Edited by justfred, 19 November 2021 - 04:33 PM.

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#39 Second Time Around

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Posted 19 November 2021 - 04:48 PM

My first time around when I was much younger all I did was starhop and I thoroughly enjoyed it.  These days I still occasionally starhop, but my health restricts me to mainly short sessions.  Then starhopping would be too much of a restriction on the number of objects I could see in a session.  I then use Starsense Explorer for the brighter DSOs, but the number of objects in the database is way too restrictive. 

 

I was using my Nexus II with my 8 inch Dob.  However, I've almost given up on Serge coming back to me on how to repair one of the encoders, and also almost given up on his building me encoders for my 10 inch that I ordered well over a year ago.  However, they would certainly be useful for my night vision device.


Edited by Second Time Around, 20 November 2021 - 10:23 AM.


#40 Jehujones

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Posted 21 November 2021 - 01:31 AM

after star hopping for over 35 years, the wife talked me into upgrading from 10" to 12". I figured that if I was buying a new scope it would be nice to have built-in tracking so I can step away from the scope for a few minutes and pick up where I left off. last year I added a platform for the 10" and really enjoyed the tracking ability but it has to be reset periodically so I opted for GoTo. if the scope couldn't be pushed around while the tracking was on then I didn't want it. I've never used a Telrad but I did mount a riflescope on it for a while. lol.gif eventually I mounted a laser and I like that the best. once I can hit a star I'm on my way. I totally agree with the armchair astronomy sessions. nothing like spending a few hours planning out the session with my Night Sky Observer's Guide.


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#41 Illinois

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Posted 21 November 2021 - 07:29 AM

I never use computer and go to mount in my life.  I know the sky very well.  I use good star maps like Sky and Telescope pocket star charts book plus red dot finder. Point to little general area then use low power to find it. I like 30 mm 82 degree eyepiece. I saw all Messier objects and many NGC objects that I use red dot finder and low power eyepiece. When I find it then I stay with low power and might change to medium and high power for better view.  I use 38 or 30 mm , 12 or 14 mm and 5.5 mm eyepieces most of time.  Light pollution is problem that I grew up in Chicago and I use my 10x50 binocular and I saw M36, M37 and M38 as faint fuzzy blob then I use my telescope and red dot point to that area and use low power to find it.  


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#42 GGK

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Posted 21 November 2021 - 12:37 PM

Here's a question I have asked a GoTo's devotee:  Let's say you are trying to find some very faint threshold galaxy using your scopes GoTo, but, you can't see it in your main scope's eyepieces?  Do you resort to star hopping to see if you can locate it that way?  Or, do you conclude that the GoTo's assist is foolproof and just move onto another object? 

Scoper47,

If targeting a faint threshold galaxy - 

Using my SCT at high power and my GoTo GEM I first do the normal GoTo and observe. If unsuccessful, I will GoTo the closest star, center it with a high power eyepiece and complete a PAE (pointing accuracy enhancement) to enhance pointing accuracy in that sky grid. Then I’ll return to the target using the GoTo. if it’s possible to see that night, it will be there.

 

After 20 years of using a manual GEM and being very good at finding objects quickly, there were many threshold objects - mainly galaxies - that I could never see. GoTo has enabled me to see beyond what I thought my OTA could show me. Because I trust that the object is in the eyepiece, I put all my effort into being creative enough with my eyepieces and patient enough for that one perfect-sky moment to see the object. With a manual search, I never trust I’m there and feel pressure to start slewing. 
 

My process with my manual GEM isn’t actually much different than the GoTo, it’s just not as precise. I point to and center a nearby star, then, comparing the coordinates of the nearby star and the target, I calculate how many turns of the RA and DEC knobs are needed to make the jump to the target. Although very accurate for jumping to most objects, at high power and a very small TFOV, I can’t control to the exact fractions of knob turns so the target might be just outside the narrow field. Basically, I can’t tell if I did 2.1 turns or 2.2 turns and that can mess me up.

 

Gary



#43 Astrojensen

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Posted 21 November 2021 - 01:00 PM

 With a manual search, I never trust I’m there and feel pressure to start slewing. 

Then your charts aren't good enough. Star hopping is the most precise method to accurately get to a very specific place in the sky, if your charts are sufficiently deep. I use photographic negatives to star hop from, when I want to find extremely faint objects, because they tell me exactly where the object I'm looking for is, relative to the field stars. This means I know exactly where to look for the object with averted vision, and that can easily gain you two magnitudes. Just knowing it's near the center of the field isn't enough, when you're working at the threshold limit, and the position in the GOTO catalogue could very easily be wrong, too. I'm not sure how well it's corrected now, but not many years ago, 10-15% of all objects in the NGC catalogue were either nonexistent or had incorrect positions... This included single-digit magnitude open clusters and the like! 

 

 

Clear skies!

Thomas, Denmark


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#44 GGK

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Posted 21 November 2021 - 01:10 PM

Then your charts aren't good enough. Star hopping is the most precise method to accurately get to a very specific place in the sky, if your charts are sufficiently deep. I use photographic negatives to star hop from, when I want to find extremely faint objects, because they tell me exactly where the object I'm looking for is, relative to the field stars. This means I know exactly where to look for the object with averted vision, and that can easily gain you two magnitudes. Just knowing it's near the center of the field isn't enough, when you're working at the threshold limit, and the position in the GOTO catalogue could very easily be wrong, too. I'm not sure how well it's corrected now, but not many years ago, 10-15% of all objects in the NGC catalogue were either nonexistent or had incorrect positions... This included single-digit magnitude open clusters and the like!


Clear skies!
Thomas, Denmark

Makes sense.

I’m not using charts or anything else other than coordinates. My only preparation is having a long list of objects that includes RA and DEC - and size and mag for some of them. I used to use a planisphere, but now I just use the Sidereal app to get my sidereal time.

Edit: thinking more about coordinate accuracy - this might explain why there are a few objects I’ve never found over the years even when I felt they should be visible. I have a few on my list that after spending time slewing around in a search grid and eventually finding them that I recorded and now use my own coordinates vs. what was published. The ones I missed would only be very faint smudges of smoke in my telescope, so I never gave them any thought afterward.

Gary

Edited by GGK, 21 November 2021 - 01:47 PM.


#45 bumm

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Posted 21 November 2021 - 02:01 PM

Makes sense.

I’m not using charts or anything else other than coordinates. My only preparation is having a long list of objects that includes RA and DEC - and size and mag for some of them. I used to use a planisphere, but now I just use the Sidereal app to get my sidereal time.

Edit: thinking more about coordinate accuracy - this might explain why there are a few objects I’ve never found over the years even when I felt they should be visible. I have a few on my list that after spending time slewing around in a search grid and eventually finding them that I recorded and now use my own coordinates vs. what was published. The ones I missed would only be very faint smudges of smoke in my telescope, so I never gave them any thought afterward.

Gary

For me, one of the benefits of starhopping is that I can positively identify the pattern of stars in the field around the object I'm looking for.  That way, I know I'm in the right spot, and I can concentrate my abilities on picking up the object right where it sits in that pattern.  The only real danger here is "averted imagination."

                                                                                                                                                            Marty
 


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#46 GGK

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Posted 21 November 2021 - 05:45 PM

For me, one of the benefits of starhopping is that I can positively identify the pattern of stars in the field around the object I'm looking for.  That way, I know I'm in the right spot, and I can concentrate my abilities on picking up the object right where it sits in that pattern.  The only real danger here is "averted imagination."

                                                                                                                                                            Marty
 

Ha! “Averted Imagination!”  I’ve not heard that one before, but can definitely relate to it. 


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#47 GGK

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Posted 21 November 2021 - 06:07 PM

The comparisons above of bicycling styles and observing styles is interesting.

I use a GoTo GEM and love it. But sometimes I slew to objects manually with the same mount even though the object is programmed in. I also use a manual GEM just because it’s faster if I’m only going to look at one or two targets (no set-up time)

I also use a GoTo Alt-Az, which takes almost no time to set up the GoTo for acceptable accuracy, but since I use wide field refractors on that mount, half the time I don’t even turn on the power - I just use it manually.

Comparing that to my bicycling style - I ride a class 1 e-bike. No throttle. You have to pedal to get any help from the motor. In the hill example above, I’m the guy getting to the top as fast and easy as possible using all the battery power I can get, so when I hit the crest, I’m not yet tired from the ride and have lots of energy left to speed down the other side fully enjoying every second. But when I’m just out for a leisurely ride, I rarely turn the power on.

Maybe they are similar.

Gary

#48 Jon Isaacs

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Posted 22 November 2021 - 04:35 AM

The comparisons above of bicycling styles and observing styles is interesting.

I use a GoTo GEM and love it. But sometimes I slew to objects manually with the same mount even though the object is programmed in. I also use a manual GEM just because it’s faster if I’m only going to look at one or two targets (no set-up time)

I also use a GoTo Alt-Az, which takes almost no time to set up the GoTo for acceptable accuracy, but since I use wide field refractors on that mount, half the time I don’t even turn on the power - I just use it manually.

Comparing that to my bicycling style - I ride a class 1 e-bike. No throttle. You have to pedal to get any help from the motor. In the hill example above, I’m the guy getting to the top as fast and easy as possible using all the battery power I can get, so when I hit the crest, I’m not yet tired from the ride and have lots of energy left to speed down the other side fully enjoying every second. But when I’m just out for a leisurely ride, I rarely turn the power on.

Maybe they are similar.

Gary

 

If fast and easy it your goal, the electric motor gets you there.. 

 

If getting stronger, developing your legs, developing your cardio-vascular system, enjoying the physical exertion, pushing your limits and growing.. developing yourself both physically and mentally, then forget the motor.  A big part of the reason I am I alive and reasonably healthy at 73 is for most of the 27 years of my adult life when I wasn't doing physical labor, I rode my bicycle to work. I didn't take it easy, I rode hard and during the summer months would often take the long way home, sometimes putting in 40 or even 50 miles on the way home from work.  I sought out the steepest, most difficult climbs.. On weekends, I would go for a ride in the back country, sometimes putting in 100 miles.  A few times I climbed to the top of Palomar Mountain, that ride involved over 8000 feet of vertical climbing. 

 

When you get the top of the hill, you might not be tired but your legs haven't developed so the next time you get to the top, you aren't any stronger. When I got to the top of the hill, yes, I was tired but I would have gauged my effort based on my heart rate and I would quickly recover and be off with strength developed over the years. 

 

4178216-Jon at Fiesta Island Oct 2008 late for work.jpg
 
The caption is joke, the photo was taken during a time trial, but I would do practice laps around the island on my way home from work.. While I was in my early 60's, I could still average nearly 25 mph for 30 minutes.  Miles and miles, base miles, thousands, tens of thousands.. It's personal development, growth, and pure joy.. 
 
============
 
The comparison here is relevant. When you use goto, you do not develop your navigating skills, you're dependent on the goto. When one is star hopping, one is continually growing, developing new techniques, learning, it's like climbing the hill on the bicycle, each and every mile, you get stronger.  
 
In your first post, you said you were confident in your goto.. Myself, I am confident in my star hopping skills, in my charts, in the images I am using.  I am exercising my brain, it's not just looking in the eyepiece, it's looking in the eyepiece at exactly the right spot, pointing my averted my vision to the exact location because I know exactly where in the star field that object is.  
 
My eyes are certainly not the best, my skills are what they are.  I was never the fastest rider but I was the best rider I could be.  And that's my goal as an observer, developing my skills, being the best observer I can be.  
 
Eddy Merckx, the most successful competitive cyclist ever was once asked, for training tips.  His answer:
 
Ride Lots
 
That's my attitude when I comes to amateur astronomy.. 
 
Observe lots.. 
 
And have fun doing it.
 
Jon

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#49 Redbetter

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Posted 22 November 2021 - 06:31 AM

I have been 100% star hopping from the start.  I have used equatorial mounts at times to help with the hop, but not push-to or go-to.  I supposedly have/had a push-to system, but it never had any usable accuracy so I quickly abandoned it (efforts to rehabilitate it in later years proved similarly unsuccessful.)

 

I won't pretend I can find most things quicker than someone else's go-to, certainly not "new to me" stuff.  However, I can turn to many bright objects using my own memory and eyes quicker than a go-to.  But I would like a go-to to speed up the initial step of many hops...when I am trying to find some 4 to 6 magnitude star in a constellation I haven't looked at in the past several months or year.  I spend a lot of time on such hops...particularly when I miss on the first try.

 

The difference is that I know when I have something centered.  The go-to/push-to folks frequently ask me if they have some object in the FOV.  (Often I correctly guess what they are pointed at just by looking at the scope/where it seems to be pointing and guessing what the bright object will be that they might target.)  Usually when I check they do have the target, but often it is not centered if it isn't an obvious one, so I will dial it in for them.  I ask for some sort of catalog number or RA/Dec and check against my scope for confirmation, particularly for comets.   

 

Low surface brightness stuff requires more experience from the observer.  I can and have seen NGC 5053 in a 50mm finder in very dark sky, but it is subtle and easy to miss in a large scope if a person doesn't know what to look for.   On the other hand, knowing what to look for I can resolve individual stars in it and identify it with a 20" in the suburbs of a substantial city.  

 

Images are critical for objects closer to threshold.  It is amazing what one can detect with some hints about where to look, filling in other objects in the field.  Some would like to ascribe this to "averted imagination" but it isn't.  There is nothing quite like the thrill of getting repeated faint locks on some very difficult object.  You know when it is certain/real, vs. just suspected.

 

Coordinates can be pretty far off, and this can carry over to atlases.  Checking in something like Wikisky ahead of time can reveal such errors.  For tough targets, including some that have not been visually reported before per my knowledge (e.g. some "anonymous" SNe galaxies), I will use a printed negative image as a finder chart.   The star chart fields will prove whether or not the perceived position is real or not.


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#50 Asbytec

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Posted 22 November 2021 - 07:35 AM

The difference is that I know when I have something centered.


That's a great point. When I star hop to an object, I'm usually sure I'm on it instead of questioning my GOTO accuracy.

Edited by Asbytec, 22 November 2021 - 07:39 AM.

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