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DaveGibbons

No Knowledge of the night sky is required

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If you don't want to learn the night sky, what the hell are you doing astronomy for?

Exactly.

Surely, if you're serious about astronomy you will WANT to learn the basic constellations - not necessarily all of them - I certainly don't know the majority - but I enjoy learning new ones - but if the scope gets you interested in the first place, by being all singing and dancing then fine - this is a hobby after all!

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A lot of us don't want to fumble our way around the sky.

There is no real point in arguing over this as some like doing it themselves, some are happier for a system to do it for them.

I use a goto because I have some idea of what is up there and where it is. What I want is a scope to show me it. A goto does that by the quickest route I have met yet.

Is Knowledge required? No.

Reasoning: First time you looked up and wondered at them little dots, you had no knowledge, but had just started doing astronomy.

Will say that this is starting to work it's way a bit off of the original question. Which was basically is knowledge of the night sky required to do astronomy.

It is starting to get to the old (boring) arguement of goto vs manual.:(:icon_eek::o

I never realised anybody was arguing about manual vs goto!

I only gave my opinion of the way i learn the night sky and the fact that i get pleasure out of the way i do it manually.

I wasn't saying manual is better than goto (I've never owned a goto so i cant comment on them) i was just saying no you dont need a knowledge of the night sky to use a manual dob as you can learn yourself through searching the sky.

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I think we all do what we do in the way that suits our own individual needs, that is how it should be. It's not like we are doing it for medals, we do it for pleasure.

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Great thread and super reasoning here.

Have a goto and a pushto dob; am learning as a result of both.

The sky prodigy will bring newcomers to the hobby, some may join a society / visit a start party and progress - some will use it a few times and give up.

Is very costly though when you consider that the reflector can be purchased as a goto for around half the £799 asking price of the prodigy.

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I've bought a wixey and made my own setting circle for my 200p and this helps me enormously as a beginner, I can't believe this would add more than £10 to the price of a dob if it was done by the manufacturer and I think it would transform the experience of many newbies when combined with Stellarium and an A4 sheet of instructions.

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It's an infinitely difficult subject to learn but incredibly easy to start with zero astronomy knowledge, just look up, you're doing astronomy :(

Is it actually possible to know nothing about astronomy? I wonder if there is anyone that doesn't know what the moon looks like?

With the advent of all of this astro technology, it doesn't really matter if you've got a goto mount or not, you can download a free planetarium app. or use a web based one, access a huge amount of scientific resources across the planet etc. so it's easy to start learning but deciding what you want to learn might be the difficult part :o

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This is forever going to be a controversial topic, however many times it's brought up: and I agree it simply boils down to the GOTO vs. non-GOTO argument.

There is no 'right' answer, in my view.:o

One thing a GOTO isn't going to tell you. It isn't going to tell you about that neat patch of cloud hovering just over the object you're about to aim for, whilst the rest of the sky is all clear. There must be some of the time when you need to cast a MK1-eyeball at the sky....

On the other hand, anyone who had witnessed me weeping and cursing every time I simply can't figure out how to star-hop to my planned target - they'd be telling me I need a GOTO. And they might be right...:p

In a sense I envy the serious imagers their 'warm room' but at the same time I can't help feeling a tiny bit tickled. One (very distinguished - and quite well-known) imager proudly stated - in a presentation that he was giving - that he does most of his imaging 'from the pub'. Via a remote hook-up to his laptop and wi-fi. To do him justice, this particular person does have excellent knowledge of the night sky. But some others in his metier may not - and could still produce top-notch results notwithstanding...:(

Me: I stay outdoors by the 'scope but then I make life easier by confining myself to the warmer months. I sit in a garden chair. I use my eyes, or occasionally raise the bins to get a closer look at something. While the telescope quietly whirrs away I feel 'at one' with the skies above me.

But everyone is 'different'...

Edited by 661-pete

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This is forever going to be a controversial topic, however many times it's brought up: and I agree it simply boils down to the GOTO vs. non-GOTO argument.

.

I don't think this was originally a Goto Vs non-Goto discussion. It's just become that. With the same old arguments for and against.

It was originally about whether "no knowledge" was a good thing to advocate by Celestron, or whether it was even relevant. As few first time buyers have any knowledge anyway.

That was how I saw it. Maybe I was wrong.:(

Regards Steve.

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Personally I think it all comes down to combinations of time, inclination and money with imaging vs observing being large factors.

If I had the money and room I would certainly have the 'pub' option, as pub means front room or anywhere with a mobile/wifi connection for imaging.

If I was observing I would use goto and refer to a planetarium to confirm the goto is pointing in the right place.

If I had oodles of sky time I would consider learning the night sky a lot more but would probably still use goto.

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I don't think this was originally a Goto Vs non-Goto discussion. It's just become that. With the same old arguments for and against.

It was originally about whether "no knowledge" was a good thing to advocate by Celestron, or whether it was even relevant. As few first time buyers have any knowledge anyway.

That was how I saw it. Maybe I was wrong.:(

Regards Steve.

Maybe I was over-simplifying. Put simply, if you have GOTO, you don't need to learn your way around the night sky, though it doesn't matter if you have that knowledge, you will still use the GOTO. If you don't have GOTO, and don't rely entirely on setting circles, you definitely will need to learn the skies.

Which brings me neatly to the undergrad. astronomy course. There were no such things as GOTO scopes in those days, but I was tasked, for one of the practicals, with putting a 6" truss Newt through its paces. One of the exercises was, I had to demonstrate that I could get an object* in the EP entirely using the setting circles having looked up RA/Dec and done the sums - no peeping! That was hard!

*The target was a bright star - Arcturus IIRC. But still not easy!

Edited by 661-pete

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"No knowledge of the night sky required" - Im quite a beginner to observational astronomy. I guess for many, using a telescope might be imagined a technical challenge beyond reach. For some, with little free time and conflicting demands upon it, the promise of ease of access and implied instant gratification might appear a good way forward.

Having developed my interest in astronomy over a number of years following the "Sky at Night", Observers Book of Astronomy, binoculars, manual telescope route and only recently acquiring goto kit, I would make a few points: I did not find a goto mount generally as easy to set up as the marketting would suggest; roughly understanding where I should be looking in the sky and what my desired target should look like in my scope with the selected eyepiece made life a lot easier; once my goto was set up propedrly I have been able to find objects that I had been unable to find before with my manual set up.

I guess there are many routes into our shared hobby and many aspects that can be enjoyed with a range of kit. I do however, share the view expressed by most that astronomy is fundamentally about aquiring, appreciating and sharing knowledge of the sky. Operating telescope systems, building DIY kit, aquiring images, manipulating data etc can all be great fun and I do have a go at them all, but appreciating the beauty of objects in the night sky and finding out interesting stuff about what I can see, is for me the real pleasure of astronomy.

Edited by Hawksmoor

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I suppose I'm of the 'know thy skies' camp because that's how I started off - at a tender age. Not everyone has that advantage!

There are pitfalls in knowing the constellations too well, though. You tend to get a rather 2-dimensional view of the night sky. You think to yourself: "the Orion Nebula is just below Orion's belt" ... "The Andromeda galaxy is a little way below the W of Cassiopeia" etc. etc. Don't ever forget that the Universe is very much a 4-dimensional space! We only see things the way they are because of our position in the field of things.

And those who have spent all their lives in the North (as I have), and know the northern constellations too well - well it's easy to get utterly baffled on a trip to the South. Not only are the familiar constellations like Orion and Leo, upside-down, but you get a vista of wholly new and confusing stuff.

Maybe an open mind and not too much 'knowledge' carries some benefit...?

Edited by 661-pete

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I think the key trick of the SkyProdigy range is that they align themselves. Given GPS, built in compass, clear enough skies, and a good webcam, software could do this for you, and take one of the main complaints out of GoTo systems, i.e. set-up time. I get my manual scope working in 5 minutes for visual. GoTo systems can be fiddly. If their kit deals with that hassle automatically, it is a bonus to those wanting GoTo.

I do not need or want it, but for those that do, the SkyProdigy looks like a good idea (provided it works like it says on the box).

Edited by michael.h.f.wilkinson

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So the Prodigy auto-aligns your Go-To system for you?

Isnt that just progress in astro technology?

Nothing wrong with progress.

The only thing i can say is that if the GPS in the Prodigy is as fickle as the GPS in the Sky Scout then the Prodigy will turn into another expensive short lived bit of gadgetry.

Edited by LukeSkywatcher

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At least with a Meade lightswitch you can go make a cuppa once you have pressed the switch, when you get back, all alignment is done...

I think it all comes down to mentality. You can have an all singing all dancing mount and still learn the night sky, (if you wish to).

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Its been said before and i agree:

If you are into astronomy without wanting to learn/know the night sky..............you are in the wrong hobby.

At very least....................learn and know maybe 4-5 constellations by simply looking up with the naked eye and being able to pick them out.

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I think people are making too much of those particular words, owning such a thing can't impede you learning anything but lets it run out of the box without you knowing what's up there at any given time, and that's hardly a bad thing.

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I think people are making too much of those particular words, owning such a thing can't impede you learning anything but lets it run out of the box without you knowing what's up there at any given time, and that's hardly a bad thing.

Agreed. It could well give inexperienced people a nice start.

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The words could be taken as provocative. But probably best not to argue the point too much.

There's knowledge of the night sky, and there's "knowledge" of the night sky. It covers a wide range. I believe it was Tycho Brahe, writing before the telescope age, claimed that he 'knew every star in the sky: there is no difficulty in acquiring such knowledge'. Was he talking through his hat? He was giving his account of the 1572 supernova, but, honestly, if you see a mag. -4 intruder in the 'W' of Cassiopeia, you're going to take notice even if the only constellations you've ever learnt are Ursa Major, Orion - and Cassiopeia. Maybe Tycho was bragging ('brahe-ing') just a wee bit...?:icon_scratch:

Edited by 661-pete

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I think the key trick of the SkyProdigy range is that they align themselves. Given GPS, built in compass, clear enough skies, and a good webcam, software could do this for you, and take one of the main complaints out of GoTo systems, i.e. set-up time. I get my manual scope working in 5 minutes for visual. GoTo systems can be fiddly. If their kit deals with that hassle automatically, it is a bonus to those wanting GoTo.

I do not need or want it, but for those that do, the SkyProdigy looks like a good idea (provided it works like it says on the box).

That sounds about the same time it takes me to setup my goto mount, 5 minutes. I use a planetarium to show me which actual stars to point at and depending on the stars in the FOV allows me to ID the correct one in the 'pattern', all of which you will still have to do whether you've got goto or not via starcharts if you don't like PCs. If you get your alignment spot on then you don't have to mess around particularly, just know which object you want to point at and push enter, leaves more time for observing and less time with your finger clamped to a button(s) slewing the mount, or a manual adjustment knob if you're not motorised, all the while standing in the cold, with goto your hands can be in your pockets keeping warm like they should be :icon_scratch:

If I plonk my william optics zs66 onto a camera tripod then it's good to go from the moment i take the eyepiece cap off.

It's really negligable though, the amount of time spent setting up, even using setting circles on an EQ mount isn't particularly time consuming once you know what you're doing.

Edited by Reggie

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By set-up I mean the time spent getting the tripod out, putting the mount on, attaching the scope, the finder, power pack, and inserting the diagonal and the first EP. Once assembled, it is ready to go.

I never use setting circles. Just a big finder scope and star hop away. The RA motor just ensures I keep what I have found in the FOV. I have heard from people (especially newbies) with goto scopes that they sometimes have trouble getting the alignment right. On Messier marathons it is often the manual guys who are ticking DSOs off while goto systems are still being set up.

I do not intend to bash goto, it is a very useful system, and some of us can set them up quickly. SkyProdigy is aimed at the latter people. If it helps them, great.

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Hi all,

I've been on this forum for a couple of years now. Had my first telescope as a present but have always been interested in astronomy. Inherited from my Grandfather I think.

I have a Skywatcher 130P with a selection of lenses and filters that I've built up over the years. Well, two years. I'm based in the outskirts of London so I'm realistic about what I'm likely to be able to see, but my plan is to take the scope to darker sites and see some properly interesting stuff.

So, I've just stumped up the cash for one of Celestron's Skyprodigy scopes.

Why? I work and have an 8 year old child. Myself, I don't get much time after cooking and bedtime stuff to go out and observe. Nowhere near as much as I want to. It basically goes like this: get home and set up the tripod, level it etc, attach the scope and leave the box of lenses outside. Sort out my daughter, homework, tea for her etc, bed time. Start cooking me and my wife's tea. Eat. Right, now it's 10.30 and I've got 90 mins I reckon.

Then it's either gone cloudy, or hopefully I can start the alignment procedure. This will take 30 mins minimum. It's a goto scope and even after setup I'm not 100% I've got it right. I have in the past forgotten to turn daylight saving on / off.

One of my best nights I saw a galaxy! From SE London! No idea which one as it randomly came into view while I was looking for a cluster.

Point is, for me, this: I don't have time to do this properly. I will never be so dedicated as to spend my entire evening setting things up and astronomy will not be my only hobby. I'm sorry.

But, if this scope can set itself up in 3 minutes, and I can take my daughter outside and show her the Orion nebula, then I think that's worth the money personally.

What do the professionals do? They have scopes linked to computers that will just look at the object they input. That's how it is.

I'm not saying star hopping is wrong, or old fashioned or anything like that, it's just technology moves on. You either want to use it or you don't. Either way, if you enjoy what you're doing, what's the problem?

Cheers

Stuart

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I'm not saying star hopping is wrong, or old fashioned or anything like that, it's just technology moves on. You either want to use it or you don't. Either way, if you enjoy what you're doing, what's the problem?

I agree completely. :)

As for the initial "No knowledge of the night sky required", in my opinion that can't have been written by anyone with an intereset in astronomy. It was probably a marketing team intent on making people with short attention spans part with large sums of money. From my standpoint as a beginner, i would prefer to do my research, buy an easy to set up/use dob and get underway learning the sky, rather than ending up with an overly complicated setup which discourages me from the hobby altogether.

Thats just me though, i understand that others will be able to make use of the SkyProdigy tech, especially those who can't spare half an evening to faff around and not find the object they're after. Quite frankly if it's just a "Moron in a hurry" with too much cash who buys it and loses interest then i'd rather they stayed out of the hobby. Anyone who has even the slightest interest would most likely endeavour to get the best out of their kit (hence the number of beginners on here, myself included, asking for assistance from the seasoned veterans).

Live and let live i say!:D

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I agree completely. :)

.......

..... Quite frankly if it's just a "Moron in a hurry" with too much cash who buys it and loses interest then i'd rather they stayed out of the hobby. Anyone who has even the slightest interest would most likely endeavour to get the best out of their kit (hence the number of beginners on here, myself included, asking for assistance from the seasoned veterans).

Live and let live i say!:D

I would rather rich "morons in a hurry" did try out the hobby and buy whatever kit they want. The more people buy kit, the cheaper it gets (purely selfish reason, I know :D). Maybe one or two "morons in a hurry" do get hooked, so much the better.

Anyway, according to Murphy's Third Law, it is immoral to let suckers keep their money :)

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