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#1 Haydon_5

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Posted 04 November 2006 - 04:37 PM

I tried to figure out which forum to post this to but it didn't seem right in any of the others so by default it ends up here.

What science is there for a visual observer to do? I know that before the photgraphic plate all observations were done and recorded with pencil and paper, but with CCD and photometry what is left for the visual observer?

I enjoy looking up but I am a project oriented person and find that I either work my way through a list of objects or wander aimlessly through the night sky (which both have their place) but some nights I want to be more than a tourist, so I again repeat by plea? What is a visual observer to do? Where can we add to the research data, or are we an anachronism when it comes to celestial science.

#2 oldsalt

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Posted 04 November 2006 - 04:49 PM

Near Earth Objects come to mind, along with Comets. Levy just discovered another one not long ago. There is still a lot of research and discovery for those willing to spend the time at the eyepiece.

#3 Indefatigable

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Posted 04 November 2006 - 05:59 PM

As far as I know, the AAVSO still encourages visual observers to add their variable star data to the pool.

http://www.aavso.org

#4 Rusty

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Posted 04 November 2006 - 10:55 PM

With a solar filter, one can record and sketch sunspots.

#5 deepskeye

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Posted 04 November 2006 - 11:21 PM

There are organizations which encourage people to observe
meteor showers.I believe you record number seen and try to
estimate mag.The International Meteor Organization can give
more info.at www.imo.net Could be fun!!!! :woot:
CLEAR SKIES FYI: The Leonid shower peaks on Nov.17!!!

#6 David Knisely

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Posted 05 November 2006 - 01:50 AM

I tried to figure out which forum to post this to but it didn't seem right in any of the others so by default it ends up here.

What science is there for a visual observer to do? I know that before the photgraphic plate all observations were done and recorded with pencil and paper, but with CCD and photometry what is left for the visual observer?

I enjoy looking up but I am a project oriented person and find that I either work my way through a list of objects or wander aimlessly through the night sky (which both have their place) but some nights I want to be more than a tourist, so I again repeat by plea? What is a visual observer to do? Where can we add to the research data, or are we an anachronism when it comes to celestial science.


Oh, there is indeed some serious science that can be done visually, (although with some common electronic equipment amateurs have access to, the amount and quality of the science can be quite a bit better). The most common visual scientific observation is variable star observing. With some practice, it is possible just using the human eye and some comparison stars to gauge the brightness of a variable star to within at least 0.2 magnitudes (and sometimes within 0.1 magnitude). This is accurate enough to be useful for the research needs of many astronomers, so it is science that is well worth doing. There are a *lot* of variables that need consistent monitoring for unusual activity, so that they can be flagged for more serious and accurate measurement later on. Most of the information gathering is coordinated by the American Association of Variable Star Observers:

http://www.aavso.org

There is also supernova searching in other galaxies. Basically, all you do is use a simple chart to check a number of galaxies on a regular basis and monitor them for a possible supernova appearance. Many new supernovae have been discovered by amateurs doing simple surveys, although now, there are a lot of amateurs who are using CCD imaging systems to do the monitoring.

Asteroid occultation is another useful aspect to amateur visual science. With a simple stopwatch or a tape recorder and a decent timebase (shortwave radio on WWV for example), the diameter of an asteroid can be measured by timing how long it blocks the light from a distant star. Data for this kind of observation is coordinated by the International Occultation Timing Association:

http://www.anomalies...taweb/index.htm

Visual observers also monitor the weather on the planets via the Association of Lunar and Planetary Observers:

http://www.lpl.arizona.edu/alpo/

However, perhaps the most vital serious function of the visual observer is probably one which is often neglected: Public Educational Outreach. This not only allows those who have perhaps never looked through a telescope to see the wonders of the night sky, but it creates public awareness and opportunities to educate both young people and older adults about space science and Astronomy. This is important in maintaining public support for publically-funded scientific research, as well as inspiring the young to eventually take up careers in the sciences. It also helps recruit potential new amateur astronomers into our wonderful hobby. Clear skies to you.

#7 Jon Isaacs

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Posted 05 November 2006 - 12:45 PM

>>>Oh, there is indeed some serious science that can be done visually, (although with some common electronic equipment amateurs have access to, the amount and quality of the science can be quite a bit better).
---

David:

A very nice discussion of what is we as amateurs can do that is still useful from a scientific standpoint. Normal people (ie not astronuts) often ask similar questions so this provides a good answer. I have made this a sticky so that this will not be lost.

Jon

#8 Rev2010

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Posted 05 November 2006 - 12:52 PM

There is also supernova searching in other galaxies. Basically, all you do is use a simple chart to check a number of galaxies on a regular basis and monitor them for a possible supernova appearance.


Now THAT sounds like fun!! :waytogo:


Rev.

#9 Photon

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Posted 10 November 2006 - 07:49 PM

I'm just getting started in double star observing and have read that amateurs can collect data that is useful -- although, I have yet to pursue this.

Pete

#10 BooBoo

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Posted 27 November 2006 - 04:59 PM

Just this past Saturday I was at Griffith Observatory here in Los Angeles for a public star party. There is a great joy in being able to share knowledge and the love of astronomy with the general public. It's especially satisfying when a young child looks through your eyepiece and says "Wow!" (Not to mention the adults doing the same!)

One thing my wife noticed was how many of those children walked away asking "can I have a telescope for Christmas?" :lol: :doah: :whistle:

#11 Tele

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Posted 07 December 2006 - 06:25 PM

There are literally 10's of thousands of visual double stars whose separation and angle have not been visually verified for over 20 years. Some haven't been visited since their discovery by "by the likes of William and John Herschel". Follow this link http://www.novac.com...8/neg_doub.html for more details on how you can help maintain the WDS Washington Double Star Catalog. :cool:


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