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jsandse

Is the sky at night out of touch with modern amateur astronomy?

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Yes I use the internet Maurice but I also like speaking to people face to face too...its more fun and its a far superior way of communication

cheers

John

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Hi all

A couple of quick comments in case they're of interest.

Firstly, with my 'Sky at Night' hat on, the problem is mostly one of timing - we can't include everyone and everything (which leads to lots of friendly arguments amongst the team). Spectroscopy does suffer slightly from being more complicated to explain for a general audience, and for being harder to illustrate. (The same is of course true of many other areas of astronomy). If you have good results, or interesting data, do let as many of us know as possible (emailing me on chrislintott@cantab.net is usually a good start) and perhaps we can include more on future programs.

Wearing my professional hat for a second, I think one of the biggest problems we face in the next few years is arranging sufficient spectroscopic follow-up for interesting targets; the flood of discoveries from the big supernova surveys is already causing problems. I suspect the long term solution is for the big robotic networks accessible to amateurs to install spectrographs, but if amateurs can use their own equipment that would be great. From previous brief conversations, it's often seemed to me that there's a gap between the spectroscopic resolution that can be achieved by most of the amateurs working in the area and that that's needed for science, but I'd be happy to be updated if that's no longer true.

Thanks for the comments on the program.

Cheers

Chris

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Hi there its a doggy subject do not forget the longest running series in the world tries to make it interesting for the average joe,if this field of astro work got to be popular it may get a mention but the average joe is not interested in this and would go over the heads of many people including mine.

i feel your frustration but am sure the sky at night team and sir patrick would look in to it for you

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Nice to see you drop by Chris :)

I'm not at all clued up on this subject, but I am learning with the help of a couple of very nice books and a Star Analyser and my usual imaging kit.

I do understand why you think it would not appeal to the S@N prog. but I'm sure a simple introduction with a few simple demos would only take five/ten minutes to show.

E.g. first show the classic sunlight through a prism experiment leading straight on to a metal sewing needle/ball bearing reflecting the sun as source into a scope + Star Analyser plus live video camera = suns spectrum but in much more detail than the prism. Cut to a night scene and a quick look at three or four of the more interesting stars using a Star Analyser + camera.

Do an overall description of why these change depending on the source by explaining the different star types from a Hertzsprung-Russell chart. etc.

I think a simple introduction like this would be interesting to both the lay-person and the more experienced astronomer. If anybody wants to know more, there is plenty more information on the 'net.

Cheers

Ian

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A couple of comments:

1. Thousands of amateurs push the limits of their mounts, cameras and software to produce excellent astro images. They will never compete with the professional images from ESO and Hubble - so why do they bother?? Because they can!

Like amateurs starting in spectroscopy who will gather spectra of the brighter star and nebulae - why? Not because it hasn't be done before or that they will be of scientific significance, but because they are seriously interested in seeing for themselves the various spectra which can be imaged. "I did this!" there are VERY few amateurs who can say " I obtained a spectrum of Sirius/ Vega etc" which shows the absorption lines and hints at the structure of the star! This is what amateur astronomy is all about. It's not all about science......

2. With suitable instrumentation (slit spectroscope and medium sized telescope) the amateurs ARE contributing to various ProAm projects - and collecting very useful data for the BeSS database. Like our variable star observers before us, we can quickly record the spectrum of variable stars, nova and supernova to augment the suppliment the professional data.

I agree we sometimes don't have enough aperture to obtain high resolution spectra of faint objects...but so what! We can do what we can and hold our heads up proud that some amateurs, somewhere are prepared to invest time, money and effort to produce as good a spectrum as possible for the benefit of all other astronomers.

The more interest we can generate for this neglected area of the "hobby" the better.

Look upon using a humble Star Analyser grating and a small telescope as "Spectroscopy 101" where we can learn and develop the skills needed for future growth.

Onwards and Upwards!

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Thanks very much for the reply Chris.

In responding to your comments:

On the first comment:

- I don't think amateur astronomical spectroscopy is that hard to explain and its not that difficult to do either. I am going to be giving some presentations to some amateur astronomical societies on the subject in the near future - so hopefully this education will help. I will send you some links to spectra that I have captured via email.

On the second comment:

I think the real question that the professionals should be asking (as part of the help they can get in carrying out their own research work or their responsibilities for outreach if nothing else) is how they can take advantage of the available resources that there are in the amateur spectroscopy community to further science.

The answer to whether amateurs spectroscopists can contribute to science is definitely yes. In this thread I have referred to several examples of this. The question of how much we can do to further science is a far more interesting question....

In terms of the robotic surveys you mentioned - the usefulness of the amateurs to do the spectroscopic follow up work themselves obviously depends on whether the objects to be followed up are bright enough to be analysed at the required resolution. Sort of rule of thumb is amateurs can do high resolution spectroscopy (R=17000 down to about mag 7) and low resolution ( R=500 down to about Mag 15).

cheers

John

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I will send you some links to spectra that I have captured via email.

You can do spectroscopy with an email client, now? That's awesome!

:)

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Chris,

Nice to hear your thoughts. I think a simple intro to what an amateur can achieve in spectroscopy would be a great feature for s@n. I imagine something similar in scope to the video of the rspec guy (I forget his name, sorry) at NEAF on the rspec homepage. It gives a nice 10 minute tour of what is possible and how, with simple equipment. I think most amateurs are interested enough for it to be a worthwhile feature, and it maybe does them (us) a disservice to think it's too complex. Just my random thoughts.

Cheers,

Stephen.

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