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I'm reading an interesting book, "Stargazers : the contribution of amateurs to astronomy" edited by Dunlop and Gerbaldi (1988) and one of the chapters, rather abstracts, outlines the author's criteria for differentiating professional astronomers, amateur astronomers and what he refers to as "recreational sky observers". It is only two pages long (these are transcripts of talks), and I've shown these below. It is an interesting philosophical topic, but by the definitions used, I am a recreational sky observer rather than an amateur astronomer. What are you? James
Hello everyone, I hope you are all OK. I just signed up for this magnificent website and I thought asking you guys some questions could be helpful. Well, astronomy isn't my college major but I've studied a lot about it and I consider myself an amateur astronomer. I needed to buy my first ever telescope and I can't decide which to buy!? Considering a Celestron Powerseeker50AZ and a Celestron FirstScope, Which one do you think is suitable for me and why?
NASA are conducting a survey of amateur astronomers to see what kind of kit we are observing with and what time of the day we use it. It seems they are "making an assessment of the hazard potentially present to the general public as a result of NASA's satellite-based climate science lidar measurements"; this is the wording used in an email sent out by the Royal Astronomical Society. The survey seems fairly straight forwards: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSclyyQRipQ_14LPSUsaJz51SpYIwzE5p3yftkXzWkwx8oDnnw/viewform?c=0&w=1 I know nothing more about it, sorry, but I'm happy to help NASA. James
After some request from SGL members, I decided to present a small software application I have been working on in my spare time.In essence, this program is converts user’s observation reports (using a simple defined structure) into two tidy and organised PDF documents:one organising the data by target (see example: astrojournal_by_target.pdf );the other by session (see example: astrojournal_by_date.pdf ).As of Sep 2015, this program is a beta release, and still does not have a proper graphical user interface (gui). I apologise for this, but as I said, I am developing this in my spare time. If you are interested in contributing with new features, please, feel free to let me know, so that we can work together. Thanks for your interest, Kind regards,PieroAstroJournalAn application for recording astronomy observation records in a tidy and consistent manner.Licence: GPL v3 (2015)Wiki page / Website: https://bitbucket.org/pdp10/astrojournal/DescriptionThis Java application imports files containing astronomy observations and generates an integrated journal document in PDF format using Latex. Observation files can be edited using a common Spreadsheet software (e.g. Google Spreadsheet, LibreOffice Calc, Office Excel) or any common text editor (e.g. MS Wordpad, Emacs, Kate, or GEdit) and must be saved as tab-separated value (tsv) files. To be recognised, fields must be separated by a TAB delimiter. No quote or single quotes should be added for marking the fields.Features (as of 10th September 2015)Generation of a PDF document containing all user observation records collected by increasing target catalogue number. This is useful for comparing targets observed over time.Generation of a PDF document containing all user observation reports collected by decreasing date. This is useful for visualising one’s observations by session.Execution in batch mode (via command line). Windows users can use a mini graphical window including a button for running the program. This is only temporary until a proper graphical user interface is completed.Complete lists of Messier objects and Caldwell selection of NGC targets are included at the end of the generated PDF documents.Although the program requires some form of structured input file, this is intentionally minimal in order to not distract the user who wants to insert his / her data rather than thinking of how to format this data. All input data is treated as a string and therefore is not parsed for controls. This leaves the freedom to the user to introduce the data content as s/he wish. For instance, although in each document header I use the Antoniadi Scale for Seeing, this can be trivially overridden with a customised one. The inserted value for the seeing is not controlled according to a specific scale. Possibility to edit the document header and the footer according to one’s need. This must be done in LaTex for preserving the format controls in the final output file.Future featuresInsert a new observation session using a graphical user interface (gui). Have a GUI view where the previous observations can be visualised and edited.Requirements and Download:To use AstroJournal you need to install:Java 1.6+TeX Live (https://www.tug.org/texlive/ ; the command pdflatex must be available on command line)The program can be downloaded here: https://bitbucket.org/pdp10/astrojournal/downloads .Of note, the program size is MUCH smaller than what is reported. That is the size of the repository, which includes all the version history. After downloading and uncompressing the file, you can run AstroJournal on GNU/Linux typing:# GNU/Linux or MacOSX users./create_journal.shor # if you are using Windows, click on the following icon (this will start a very basic window with 1 button):create_journal.batHow to create an observation recordAs currently implemented, the format of the observation tables is specific. A sample of an observation table is provided below. The titles Date, Time, Location, Altitude, Temperature, Seeing, Transparency, Telescopes, Eyepieces, Filters, Target, Cons, Type, Power, and Notes, cannot be changed as these are used by AstroJournal to retrieve the data. All fields are separated by a TAB character (character usually placed above "Caps Lock"), which must be used. Files containing reports like the sample shown below must be saved using the .tsv extension (tab-separated value). An example of observation is as follows:Date 03/06/2015 Time 21:40-23:30 Location Cambridge, UKAltitude 12m Temperature 12C (wind: 0km/h) Seeing 1 - Perfect seeing Transparency 5 - Clear Telescopes Tele Vue 60 F6 Eyepieces TV Panoptic 24mm, Nagler 3.5mm Filters Single Polarising Filter Target Cons Type Power Notes Jupiter Cnc Planet 103x +/- SPF Write description here. Moon - Satellite 103x Write description here.Examples of observations can also be found in the folder tsv_folder/ . These files can be edited with any spreadsheet (e.g. Google SpreadSheet, MS Excel, LibreOffice SpreadSheet) or a common text editor (e.g. MS Wordpad, Emacs, Kate, or GEdit). To customise the document header and footer, please look at the folder latex_header_footer to find the Latex files for the header and footer. Also these files can be edited with any common text editor.Use caseHere are some guidelines for using AstroJournal: Report your observations (with the structure of my tsv file) using a spreadsheet program, such as MS Excel, Libreoffice Spreadsheet, or Google Spreadsheet. Alternatively you can use a common text editor (e.g. Wordpad, GNU Emacs, Kate, etc.) as long as the fields are the same as in the samples provided in the tsv_report and that each field is separated using a TAB character. Export your file as tsv (if using Google Spreadsheet) or csv. In the latter case, when asked, select tab as field delimiter and no single or double quotation marks for the fields. Then, change the file extension from .csv to .tsv . If you used a text editor, you can save the file using the extension .tsv directly. Put this file in the folder tsv_reports. In the main astrojournal folder type the command above ./create_journal.sh or ./create_journal.bat .
I'm not sure how I stumbled on it, but I saw this book online and ordered a copy. It arrived today and while I've only read one chapter, it is my sort of book - interesting stories, uninhibited authorship, easy to read, very non-pretentious conversational style text, plenty of accompanying images... I look forward to reading the rest, but it's a thick book! [I have no conflicts of interests with this book, its author or its publisher]. https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/aw/d/1530573963/ref=mp_s_a_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1487451036&sr=1-1&pi=AC_SX236_SY340_QL65&keywords=Mr+Geoffrey+James+Kirby&dpPl=1&dpID=51PDQy3ya4L&ref=plSrch