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Dark Matter

GOTO vs Manual mounts: Which do you prefer and why?

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Imho - you need a knowledge of the sky (to some degree) to use either or both and it largely depends what you want to do (imaging or observing). To use goto you need to be able to polar align and star align at any time of year - so you have to know the names and positions of alignment stars at least - as well as the names of the objects you want to goto.

An imaging rig can be used more efficiently with goto - you might not want to spend time finding stuff and rely on the electronics to get you there quick - and use the tracking to do your captures. Whereas if you want to drool over the detail of dust lanes and clouds in galaxies and nebulae you really can't beat a large aperture manual dob (20" +). You need to know how to star hop and find stuff for that.

For a newbie I'd suggest putting some thought into choosing goto or not when picking a first scope. Stick with that for a while and learn all you can, cos the knowledge gained will be dead useful when you decide to switch to other styles of mounting and finding. Personally I enjoy using both types of mount - it's all astronomy after all. :)

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I am lucky to have both manual and goto, and until this year had been a strict manual chap with not even a motor. However as time seems in such short supply these days, I love the amount I can see in a short time with goto .Setup is an issue but really only takes 20 minutes. I'm quite quick at finding objects manually, (I have experienced finding most myself) and the thrill of doing that is great. but for seeking out some of the real faints in a polluted sky the goto is the tool of choice. If I have 30mins its the dob, If I have a couple of hours its the goto, if I have all night its the lot, dob,newts,frac and beer. Its not cheating its just another way of looking at the sky, and we all enjoy that.

20 minutes? :eek:

I generally have found my first two or three objects by then ;)

I set my EQ mount up in 5 minutes flat (rough-and-ready point the mount north will do for visual), align the finder in one or two minutes, and I am up and away. I must say I do not like being without tracking, and I have used one goto mount:

tirgotel3.jpg

That was for my BSc project (Go-to worked up to a point. tracking was so bad I had to correct manually :eek:)

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agreed but I still have to carry all the stuff up the garden and its heavy, why's it taking you 20 minutes to find three objects? lol . I'll race you with the dob.....

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agreed but I still have to carry all the stuff up the garden and its heavy, why's it taking you 20 minutes to find three objects? lol . I'll race you with the dob.....

I was of course talking new objects. You can find 10 galaxies in 2 minutes flat by pointing it at Markarian's chain (and perhaps wriggling the controls a bit).

Besides, I was being modest :rolleyes:, I thought everybody knew always find 35 galaxies in as many minutes :p

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From the standpoint of someone who knows nothing about the sky, I don't use the Goto feature. In the handful of times I've actually been able to use it I've learned more about the sky than I thought there was to know.

Not using Goto is like language immersion, you just go out there and do it.

I can imagine someone more experienced or someone studying certain objects would rather use a Goto though. I would.

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I wouldn't be without goto, if I don't want to use it I don't but it's available to use when two or three friends are around and you want to view as much as possible in a given period. Same with my EQ mount once it's set up it will track an object enabling others to view without having to find the same thing time and again. I can see the attraction of dobs from an economy point of view but that's about it.

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To balance my previous comment, which may have come across as a little dismissive (for which I apologise if it did), I will admit that I do find it fun, at the end of a session, when I have imaged what I set out to do, to just cruise around manually and see what I can find. I'm not looking for anything special, but just seeing what I come across, and it is rare on such occasions that I do not come across something worth spending some time looking at.

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My biggest gripe with goto is that it's not portable enough for me. If it was I would have it. From a dark site its great fun finding things . But from a city site it's not nearly so easy. Star hopping is much harder when some of the intermediary steps are drowned out by city light pollution

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My biggest gripe with goto is that it's not portable enough for me. If it was I would have it. From a dark site its great fun finding things . But from a city site it's not nearly so easy. Star hopping is much harder when some of the intermediary steps are drowned out by city light pollution

this is a very good point and is one of the reasons I find a telrad and RACI finder essential where I live. sometimes it's difficult to see anything other than the pan and handle of Ursa Major (near Stockport/Manchester!).

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I started with a totally manual EQ mount with a 6" reflector and taught myself to find my way around the sky. I added a dual axis motor drive to make life easier and to allow me to track targets at higher power. I found this helped to see more detail on planets as you could concentrate without having to move the scope constantly.

My next scope was my 200mm f20 mak, bought to allow high magnification lunar and planetary views. This is mounted on a Vixen Sphinx Goto mount. The mak has a very narrow field of view and so finding targets can be challenging. In this case, the Goto really helps and saves me a lot of time searching and gives me more time observing.

After that I bought a number of different refractors, and have these mounted either on a giro mount (for the 106mm triplet) or a mini giro or photo head for the 66mm, now 76mm doublet.

I can generally find my way to any target I am trying to find by a combination of star hopping or my more normal technique of just visualising where the target is and pointing the scope at the right area with a very low power, widefield ep.

I enjoy both ways of observing, and spend far more time these days with my refractors and the alt-az mounts just because of the simplicity and speed of setup. I don't get much time to observe so at the moment this gives me the most time at the eyepiece. I also take little scopes away with me when I go camping and this gets me time under darks skies.

When I have the time though, I love getting the mak out and really enjoy the convenience of using the Goto to get through a good number of targets, and also the stability of the tracking, knowing that I can leave Jupiter (say) in the fov at x180 and come back 20 mins later and it will still be there.

As a slight aside, one of the best things SGL has given me is a knowledge of, and desire to see a wider range of objects and to push myself to see them.

So, I enjoy both Goto and manual Alt-az mounts for different reasons and both give me great ways to observe a wider range of objects in different locations and circumstances.

Cheers,

Stu

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I only started this hobby 6 months ago and initially I thought goto was the answer so didn't even think about manual. But now, having used both I now think I made a mistake (for me anyway). With my tv85 on a portamount I can set up in minutes and the slo mo controls allow me to keep the scope pointing where I want it. My first scope, a 6se, is sitting in its box and hardly comes out now.

its dawned on me that I should have joined a club and got more advice/experience before jumping in and buying my first scope. Oh well, I've had plenty of fun though....

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I think that to some extent it can depend upon how gregarious you are as an individual. Goto might benefit those who enjoy company and like to interact, move around and chat and return to the eyepiece or take a picture. If like me, you enjoy company yet prefer solitude, then you may prefer to quietly concentrate on studying the sky in relating with a subject to locate. I mentioned in another thread that I feel that you build up a sense of empathy with the subject you are searching for, although sometimes I do tend to give up and try for something else.

As for searching for very faint objects in light polluted skies, personally I prefer to get to somewhere with dark skies where there is a better chance. I can though see the benefit of Goto perhaps for some very specific targets, such as hard to find less well known binary stars.

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I spent 6 months learning the sky as best I could with my eyes before I bought my dob. I use it almost exclusively in my garden which has a fair amount of light pollution. So finding objects was sometimes frustrating and time consuming, also I couldn't always be sure of what I'd found. The push to system I now have on the dob gives me the best of both worlds, I've seen many more objects, I find things easily at the zenith, I know what to expect to see. I also try finding things manually sometimes to see if I can.

I know the sky better since I had the push to system but I would have undoubtably been better at finding things manually if I'd never had it, but its a convenience I choose to use. I understand that others like the challenge of hunting for objects and the satisfaction they get from succeeding. It's just horses for courses.

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Wow, 39 replies! Reading through all of them it seems most of today's amateurs are pro GOTO, but the ones who still retain the 'old school tie' of doing it the original way before the GOTO's came in, makes me think that some of us still do it that way.

While we may not have find this and that object like a GOTO does today, we persevered and never ever, gave up.

How many of you grew up learning and using the astro 'Bibles' - Norton's Star Atlas or Hans Verenberg's Atlas Stellarium or Burnham's Celestial Handbooks or a Tirion's Star Atlas or Tirion's Uranometria 2000 ? How many of you still use them today?

From these astro publications we would carefully set the RA and Dec circles to those co-ords before manually turning the scope to those settings. After much practice we got damn well close if not on, target . When determination prevailed, anything is accomplished, well almost! lol.. and to help locate those little faint 'fuzzies we called galaxies, G/Clusters, Nebulae and the like, we threw a dark cloth over our head, so to be encased in darkness. This allowed our eyes to scan the finderscope or in the scope with a W/A eyepiece while using peripheral (averted) vision. many of us would lightly tap the tube with a finger, so as to make the target 'jump out' in the FOV.....

Now in this world of Smart phones, Tablets and Apps, 1000's of object positions are now embedded on a micro chip, on a PC board set amongst an array of diodes, IC's and LED's, all encased in a flimsy plastic case.

It may seem a time-consuming time to set your RA and Dec manually, but we had no other way. Mind you back then, we had less light pollution and travelling far away to get dark skies, was not the norm.

You see, I grew up in a time when ATM reined supreme. If you didn't make it you went without or shared a club made scope. How many of you read, sent articles in to the ATM mags by Richard Berry? How many could grind, figure and polish a primary mirror? Secondary's back then was either plate glass or a prism. We made mounts from pipe fittings to truck back axles. Our mounts were big, strong and could stand a gale wind at night.

Many of us read and followed to the letter, the three ATM books by Russell Porter and Unc Inglis, and if you didn't follow their advice, it wasn't right. Nearly every astro club had a ATM section and at times, they outnumbered other sections. Many ATM clubs also sprung up and held mirror grinding classes. Back in those days of DIYS, if you didn't make it, you went without.

With our mounts, powered by a DC Synchro motor, we took lengthy long photos with film and sat or stood for long periods of time in the freezing cold, our eye glued to the reticule EP as we guided the exposure, which varied from 10 mins to an hour or more using Kodak 103-AE or Hypered films.

Ed Byers made RA drives that gave your mount class! Anyone who had a Byers drive had it made. They were the pinnacle of Astro engineering. Even today, I still have and use a Byers 11.56" 359 tooth RA drive and matching worm that drives the 33 year old 'Beasty' - an all-steel, 1/2 ton Eq. mount with 3" hardened solid shafts, a 10" Thomas Mathis wheel for Dec and a UK made dual axis Synchro drive. That mount, can carry a payload of 500 kgs and can be pushed around with the little finger when not clutched up. RA tracking is 10-15 mins. at 500X without a single touch in RA or Dec.

But now as I approach my 67th year on the planet, I still use this big mount for 'keeping the hand in' while the C14 fastar on a Titan 50, a 12" RFT on a Paramount GT1100 and two DSLR's on the NEQ6 all scripted, work unattended.

To close off this bleating post of mine, back in the days of pulse dial phones, valve radios, B/W TV, I love Lucy, The Honeymooners, Amos and Andy Show, big manual cars, no junk food, crew cuts, Coca Cola, Brylcream and Californian Poppy, life was much easier and laid back and with determination, it got you over the line and by doing so, you achieved your goals.

My mother said to me when I was 7, "learn by doing son, learn by doing". 61 years later, I'm still learning.

Clear skies to all and thank you. :rolleyes:

James

PS. I'll post a pic of that big mount within 24 hours.

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How many of you grew up learning and using the astro 'Bibles' - Norton's Star Atlas or Hans Verenberg's Atlas Stellarium or Burnham's Celestial Handbooks or a Tirion's Star Atlas or Tirion's Uranometria 2000 ? How many of you still use them today?

Yes to Norton (have recently purchased an updated copy and passed the old one onto my neighbour's daughter who is quite astro-interested), Yes to Burnham's and Yes to Uranometria (N only).

Use Burnhams & Norton extensively (though planning, rather than during an obs session), Don't use Uranometria that much now - for anything deeper than Norton tend to just grab the lappy for CdC.

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Yes to Norton when I was a teenager, and Sky Atlas 2000 still comes out at star parties, though I tend to use Sky and Telescope Pocket Sky Atlas for my quick sessions.

Edit: And I used Uranometria at University.

Edited by DirkSteele

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for me it depends on what give you the best result by that i mean the most pelasure. As an older chap my introduction to the night sky was via books , grandfather and a pair of old binoculars . I still at time like to get back to basics and navgate my way around the sky. ive had a couple of basic entry level telescopes, enjoyed fiddling with the not too accurate setting circles etc but have to say for ease fo use my current Syn-scan goto set up is first class. There is right or wrong way to go about things some folks enjoy getting for A-B quickly so to speak nd some enjoy the ride!

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Wow, 39 replies! Reading through all of them it seems most of today's amateurs are pro GOTO, but the ones who still retain the 'old school tie' of doing it the original way before the GOTO's came in, makes me think that some of us still do it that way.

While we may not have find this and that object like a GOTO does today, we persevered and never ever, gave up.

How many of you grew up learning and using the astro 'Bibles' - Norton's Star Atlas or Hans Verenberg's Atlas Stellarium or Burnham's Celestial Handbooks or a Tirion's Star Atlas or Tirion's Uranometria 2000 ? How many of you still use them today?

From these astro publications we would carefully set the RA and Dec circles to those co-ords before manually turning the scope to those settings. After much practice we got damn well close if not on, target . When determination prevailed, anything is accomplished, well almost! lol.. and to help locate those little faint 'fuzzies we called galaxies, G/Clusters, Nebulae and the like, we threw a dark cloth over our head, so to be encased in darkness. This allowed our eyes to scan the finderscope or in the scope with a W/A eyepiece while using peripheral (averted) vision. many of us would lightly tap the tube with a finger, so as to make the target 'jump out' in the FOV.....

Now in this world of Smart phones, Tablets and Apps, 1000's of object positions are now embedded on a micro chip, on a PC board set amongst an array of diodes, IC's and LED's, all encased in a flimsy plastic case.

It may seem a time-consuming time to set your RA and Dec manually, but we had no other way. Mind you back then, we had less light pollution and travelling far away to get dark skies, was not the norm.

You see, I grew up in a time when ATM reined supreme. If you didn't make it you went without or shared a club made scope. How many of you read, sent articles in to the ATM mags by Richard Berry? How many could grind, figure and polish a primary mirror? Secondary's back then was either plate glass or a prism. We made mounts from pipe fittings to truck back axles. Our mounts were big, strong and could stand a gale wind at night.

Many of us read and followed to the letter, the three ATM books by Russell Porter and Unc Inglis, and if you didn't follow their advice, it wasn't right. Nearly every astro club had a ATM section and at times, they outnumbered other sections. Many ATM clubs also sprung up and held mirror grinding classes. Back in those days of DIYS, if you didn't make it, you went without.

With our mounts, powered by a DC Synchro motor, we took lengthy long photos with film and sat or stood for long periods of time in the freezing cold, our eye glued to the reticule EP as we guided the exposure, which varied from 10 mins to an hour or more using Kodak 103-AE or Hypered films.

Ed Byers made RA drives that gave your mount class! Anyone who had a Byers drive had it made. They were the pinnacle of Astro engineering. Even today, I still have and use a Byers 11.56" 359 tooth RA drive and matching worm that drives the 33 year old 'Beasty' - an all-steel, 1/2 ton Eq. mount with 3" hardened solid shafts, a 10" Thomas Mathis wheel for Dec and a UK made dual axis Synchro drive. That mount, can carry a payload of 500 kgs and can be pushed around with the little finger when not clutched up. RA tracking is 10-15 mins. at 500X without a single touch in RA or Dec.

But now as I approach my 67th year on the planet, I still use this big mount for 'keeping the hand in' while the C14 fastar on a Titan 50, a 12" RFT on a Paramount GT1100 and two DSLR's on the NEQ6 all scripted, work unattended.

To close off this bleating post of mine, back in the days of pulse dial phones, valve radios, B/W TV, I love Lucy, The Honeymooners, Amos and Andy Show, big manual cars, no junk food, crew cuts, Coca Cola, Brylcream and Californian Poppy, life was much easier and laid back and with determination, it got you over the line and by doing so, you achieved your goals.

My mother said to me when I was 7, "learn by doing son, learn by doing". 61 years later, I'm still learning.

Clear skies to all and thank you. :rolleyes:

James

PS. I'll post a pic of that big mount within 24 hours.

The 'beast' - a 1.5 ton mount. can carry up to 500kgs. Right now it carries a 12" F15 c/ass.made by Optical Mechanics in Iowa. GSO 6" F4 RFT (covered in dust proof plastic for protection), Guidescope is a 4" F15 Japanese (circa 1960) GOTO Optical Coy. an 80mm finder made from old binos, a Pentax 67 400/4 lens (to fit a Nikon Ds3 DSLR) sit on right side also wrapped up in plastic bags, At prime focus we use a Canon 40D modified DSLR. RA drive is an Byers 11.56" 359 tooth wheel and S/S worm, Mathis RA setting circles (porter slip-ring type) Mathis 10" wheel for Dec. It may not look too pretty, but hell, does it track! all housed in a 3.6 Meter Sirius dome under skies down to Mv 6.5.

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If you live in a near white zone and have milky-orange skies then star-hopping is a non starter.

I have Goto and it helps me "learn the sky" as well.

I have seen countless objects with Goto that fruitless star-hopping would never find.

This hobby is for pleasure!

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GOTO - good 'skytime' is too precious to waste looking for targets.

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