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Crisis Of Faith


pbyrne
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Hi everyone.

I'm on the horns of a dilemma at the moment and I am wondering of anyone out there has gone thorugh the same issue?

My interest in astronomy has dropped to zero, I've been an amateur for more than 25 years and I find that I can't get myself interested. It's nothing to do with the weather or the time of the year, I've always been a big fan of summer observing, but I've found that even reading the magazines that I've always lapped up doesn't do it for me, my copy of Astronomy Now sits half read.

I've gotten to the stage now that I am giving some serious consideration to selling my entire kit and taking up birdwatching, of which I have taken a recent interest.

As I say, I've been at the game for 25 years and this is the first time I've experienced it. Is the feeling common? Has anyone else gone through this? And is there a solution?

Any, and all, comments gratefully accepted.

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I cant say I have experienced this with astronomy, but certainly photography.

Ive been a very keen amateur photographer for nearly 10 years now, but over the past year or so my passion has severely dwindled. Thats when my passion for astronomy came back and I decided to combine photography and astronomy. Now my passion for photography is coming back. All I can say is Im glad I didnt sell all my kit!!!!

Not quite sure what to say, other than it does happen to the best of us, and for me a break and slight change of direction helped no end and allowed me to rekindle lost passions.

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I've found with other hobbies sometimes you can loose enthusiasm and just can't seem to find the will to get going again and there may be no real reason for it.

All I can suggest is trying something new in Astronomy. Maybe try some solar Ha observing (sell some gear to pay for it) or try building your own dob for instance. Just something new to get interested in.

John

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Paul, I would say if you have been an astronomer for 25 years a break and change will probably do you good. I would also advise against selling your gear (assuming you can afford to keep it) because I strongly suspect that the spark will return at some point.

I have found in life that I tend to go through waxing and waning phases of interest but I can honestly say that most of the things which really touched my soul when I was in my teens are still there now 40 years later.

I suspect that if you have been interested in astronomy for a quarter of as century you always will be.

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Maybe go to a hypnotist and have your brain wiped so you can start all over again. After 25 years i imagine you have seen pretty much all there is to see on an amateur level. How about a jolly to the southern hemisphere?

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If you are having trouble appreciating the wonders of the sky, try sharing them with someone who hasn't ever seen them before. I would recommend that, before you sell off your kit, you contact some local teachers in your area. Kids from age 9 to 15 are prime material for this, and the teacher is liable to be very enthusiastic about it, too.

Once you take your kit out and allow a child to step up to the eyepiece and view Luna, Saturn, even just appreciate that stars come in many different colors and what that all means - you will rediscover the wonder and excitement through them. You will also regain an appreciation of your own skills and knowledge.

We never stand so tall as when we stoop to improve the life of a child. :p

And if that doesn't work for you, then you can donate your equipment to me, and I'll see that it continues to enrich the lives of hundreds of children per year far into the foreseeable future! :D You, of course, will get to enjoy the tax deduction!

Dan

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I think 25 years of interest in anything (anybody?) is a notable achievement. So often, folk "burn bright in the firmament" etc. On a couple of internet "hobby" groups, I've outlasted the many - Maybe I'm the cause of their leaving? LOL. I seems to have a "cycle" of 5-10 years, with interests! But I would tend to keep the "hardware", if at all possible. For whatever reason (usually financial) I've later regretted parting with it - A Guitar, Coin collection, Dad's amateur radio stuff... :D

Edited by Macavity
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Hi Paul,

I think we all go through phases when a passion for a particular hobby begins to lose it's appeal. Sometimes it comes back and it would be a shame if you no longer had your astro equipment. One thing that astronomy and birdwatching have in common is that you can use binoculars or telescopes for both hobbies. Perhaps you could swap your SCT for a nice wide field refractor. That way you could do both hobbies as the mood takes you.

I haven't read an astro magazine for years, not since the pile of ANs and S&Ts toppled over on top the cat. lol

Liz

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Hi Paul , i doubt very much that you have totally lost your love for astronomy after 25 years but have reached a stage where other hobbies have captured your attention. Sometimes a break from the old routine is good for the soul.

I took a break of over 5 years from the subject and thankfully didn't sell my equipment , in fact did sell most of it once i got my teeth back to help fund my new equipment .

I've now got more of a hunger for the subject than ever !

Don't be to hard on yourself tho , you'll be back !!!:D

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Many thanks for the wonderful advice.

I'm beginning to believe that a break might be the answer, a couple of months off from astronomy to allow the negative feelings to die away and the old yearnings to return, put the equipment into cold storage, as selling might be a rash decision.

I might just throw myself into birdwatching in the interim, after all, I have the equipment, so no outlay there and it will take my mind off astronomy.

Dan, I take part in outreach programmes, especially lunar observing, and I agree, it is one of the most enjoyable aspects of our hobby. We take a break from May until September, therefore the prospect of showing the public the night sky could be the spark to get me going again.

How about a jolly to the southern hemisphere?

If only the funds were available.

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Paul

Good luck with whatever you do. You have a lovely country over there for birdwatching, so enjoy your break...most of us will hopefully still be here when you decide that the return of Orion & Co is too much to resist!

Good luck

Dave

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I have been through the same thing with photography. I've always had an interest in astronomy but used to spend most of my time with photography. Now it's the other way round. Sometimes the astronomy takes a bit of a back seat but then I am even more enthusiastic when I get back to it. Keep the astro kit and astronomy on the backburner. Enjoy other stuff and I'm sure you will find your interest in astronomy returning.

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I'm a birdwatcher and I get a great deal of enjoyment out of it and my active interest in astronomy is fairly new as I've only had a telescope for a year so perhaps and the same but opposite of you.

The way I look on it, the two can't compete with each other since you can only do one at a time and they are quite different. I'd say hang on to your gear, get a decent pair of ED 8x42's, the Collins book and get out in the field for the summer.

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I went through something similar a number of years ago. Just found myself interested in other things and I sold all the astro gear because it funded other things...

An interest in Astronomy, I think, goes deeper than most other hobbies and the fact that your interest is currently zero doesn't mean it will not come back.

In 6 months, a year or even 5 years - you'll go outside and look up and you'll see stars and you'll think to yourself "I miss that". The interest in astronomy doesn't ever go...

Then you'll get back into it again.

Personally I regretted selling all my kit - but it did mean that I went down a more educated route when I bought more stuff as I had a better idea of what I wanted to do.

Cheers

Ant

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I have had several periods in which I did not do very much with the scope. I would often only get it out during holidays and scan some familiar stuff. I never sold my kit, because I knew I would regret it. I now find hunting down every last Messier (nearly done), Caldwell (nearly halfway), Lunar 100 (halfway) and Herschel 400 (quarter of the way) out there is feeding the hobby big time again.

But then again there are evenings that I cannot get my backside into gear to have a quick look. Don't worry about it, it's a hobby, not a job: do it when you feel like it.

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As one new to astronomy I'm certainly not qualified to advise on your dilemma as there are still so many things I want to see, however after 25 years it's hardly surprising that staleness sets in.

If you can afford to hang on to your gear then I would, as I reckon the desire will return again at some time, however, a hobby is just that and it should be enjoyable and if it's not then perhaps it is time for a break and to turn your interests onto something else. At least birdwatching generally takes place during the daylight hours and I guess clouds aren't as much as a problem!

Whatever you decide - good luck and enjoy!

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Its a question of taking a break, followed buy looking at your charts and finding new challenges. I did/had the same issue 2 years ago. I now find also not putting pressure on yourself to dive out 'Just because its clear' is thing you have to get used to.

Birdwatch for the summer.. see how you feel come winter. Wait for a cold clear night (dont setup) just step out look up, then go back inside and pick up those charts. Grab a nice hot drink and look for a challenge.

Best to you.. It will return

Rob

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I Feel and share your pain.. I look at all the kit in boxes around the place and wonder why I bought it... Last year I made the change to widefield which helped but haven't done much of that this year either... :D

The last years SAN's and AN's haven't been opened just chucked on the piles to keep the sets going...

I Just cant be bothered with it at the moment...

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Been there and have the t-shirt. Actually i have quite a lot of those t-shirts.

I quit completely in Jan 2008, sold all the kit, dumped all the magazines, deleted all my images and left SGL for almost a year. I went off birdwatching too. Great hobby, incredibly relaxing. But even at my lowest point i was surprised to find the interest still smouldering away.

Re-assesed things in Jan 2009, decided imaging was the root of all evil and that i would go back to basics. Almost 2.5 years on and still loving it, almost as much as i dd back in the 80's. Not saying that's your answer.

You'll work out what to do. Even If all the kit goes and you have to re-buy, it's no biggie. It's good fun choosing and buying the kit. And a change of kit may help anyway. A change of direction maybe what you need.

Edited by russ
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