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Stargazing solo


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As a relative beginner, is it possible to learn your way through the night skies without joining a club or starparties? I have located a few M objects and planets with IPad apps and sky charts and would kind of like to discover things on my own, though I wonder how advanced one can get without expert advice and experience. Any thoughts?

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Absolutely it is possible. Books,charts,apps etc are all great and quickly you will start to remember where things are and how to locate them. Clubs are good i suppose because they have certain nights when they go out together observing.You can ask questions,learn stuff from fellow members, but certainly you can go it alone. Ive never been a member of a club or society and have learned alone and i observe alone. This forum is the only club you need to be in. You WILL learn soooooooo much just reading topics and asking questions.

Edited by LukeSkywatcher
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I agree, it's possible and fun as well. Though it can be a frustrating if you can't locate an object, or even scary out in the dark...

Try not to ruin your night vision with a tablet, as even in night mode or red mode the display emits some white light.

Also a red dot finder, better telrad or Rigel quickfinder and a decent overview eyepiece help a lot... Plus star charts and a dimmable red light.

Don't force anything, start with objects easily locatable and bright enough to spot (planets, ring nebula, m13, m81/m82, those sort of things).

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I am not a member of a club and i go to a starparty once a year for the socialising. Like any learning discipline its possible to home study if you put the effort in.

Same for me.

Nothing like working things out for oneself - it tends to stay with you that way !

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I went to my first star party last year. The free hotdog and burger i paid about 30 euros for were nice. The Pete Lawrence lecture on the northerN lights wasnt bad either.

LOL.

Free tea,coffee and soft drinks all night too. I might go again this year if i'm hungry.

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I've learned a lot thanks to you guys and really appreciate it! Some of the equipment answers have been frank, but I like it that way. Finding things alone is unreal, like locating Orion Nebula ( by accident!) WOW!

thanks and Clear Skies

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In my formative years it was just me, my books and my 60mm refractor. Later I had magazines too.

Home computers were only just emerging. The internet and forums were many years away!

There was a local astro society but due to crippling shyness and social anxiety I never got further an introductory phone call to the club secretary.

In a very real sense it was the solitude of my hobby that added a extra comfort level for me.

So because it was a solo affair every little breakthrough in my knowledge and understanding felt like a real personal achievement.

I still get a warm glow when I go out on a dark night and look up at my old friend...The Night Sky :)

And I love to share it nowadays!

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Oh, and by the way, you're not really alone. Some other life form may be looking up into their planet's sky, and observing your galaxy/star.

But probably not comforting, as by the time the light has traveled there, we are all gone.

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I started back in may some time, and not found a need to join a club so far and made good progress to be personally satisfied. Sure it would be nice one day to meet some of the folk from here, chat and so on, but the forum, internet and books ( and a bit of patience ) is all you need.

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I started with a red light torch , a pair of 8x30 binoculars, a blanket and a monthly star chart. Every clear night I'd be out there laying on the grass ( well it's not a busy roundabout ! ) Slowly getting to know where each constellation and it's neighbours and some of the brightest stars.

I still like to do that as the amount you see is amazing. You might find this useful

http://www.skymaps.com/

There is nothing better than meeting up with others if you get the chance.

Nick.

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i have learnt everything i know (which isnt a great deal) on my own via books,sky at night and now the wonder of the internet ((SGL being the best). i have thought about joining one of many local astronomy groups, but clear skies have been at such a premium i can not resist the lure of my obsy!

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As a relative beginner, is it possible to learn your way through the night skies without joining a club or starparties? I have located a few M objects and planets with IPad apps and sky charts and would kind of like to discover things on my own, though I wonder how advanced one can get without expert advice and experience. Any thoughts?

You ask only about learning the night sky and the answer to that is yes.

You will need a few books with diagrams where the contents make sense to yo and how you absorb information.

It will take effort and without a club it means you simply have no one to ask. Classic was discussed here recently "What do you do about M102?" At a club someone would probably have said either consider it unknown or an error or else use NGC 5866 in it's place and if nice would have pointed out where NGC 5866 was. Therefore saving you time.

One aspect of a club is that at a club public observing night people will ask things so you learn from necessity to be able to tell someone, on your own this does not apply so you tend to learn at a slower rate.

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The chances of meeting up with others every time you want to stargaze are probably limited at best, unless your Mrs/Mr, brother/sister, other family member or neighbour are interested! :grin:

It is good to meet up with others every now and then though, for help, advice or just fun!

Cheers

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As a relative beginner, is it possible to learn your way through the night skies without joining a club or starparties? I have located a few M objects and planets with IPad apps and sky charts and would kind of like to discover things on my own, though I wonder how advanced one can get without expert advice and experience. Any thoughts?

Yes, and it's possible to do it without iPad apps too. William Herschel rented a telescope and learned basic astronomy from a book. The rest is history. Join a club if you want to, but it certainly isn't a necessity.

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Isn't here part of a club? Albeit the informal kind?

I've got to admit that I'd like to meet up with a similar group of like-minded people. I went along to my local club, but, well, they meet on a Saturday night (which is boozin' time!), and I would have to suggest that I was quite a lot younger than the average.

At least on here I can convince myself that everyone is in their twenties or thirties.

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It would be great to meet other people with same interest for chats, advice and information exchange. But I am too lazy - hate driving out to places once I am home, that's me, world of my own little home surroundings.

Luckily I can try to pick up stuff via books, TV programs, Youtube etc, and most effectively from various astro forums like this one.

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In the late 90's I got talked into joining Blackpool Astro Soc by an old colleagues son who'd just discovered the universe. I only went because he'd already become a prominent member and was extolling its virtues.

It was ok. But my passion had always been looking at it and not talking about it so I found it a rather alien although welcoming experience. But even then, in my 30's my social anxiety could still redline easily :(

With working long hours and having a young family it wasn't something I looked forward to each month. Soon enough the young fellow who introduced me burned out (as they do!) and found some new adventure. It was easy for me to quit the club too.

I think I was only a member for 6 months or so.

That isn't to say it wouldn't be great to show up at an observing session. Perhaps one day I will....

Edited by Paul M
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I think that it cuts both ways. Solo astronomy is great, there are no distractions and social obligations, so it can take as long it as it takes to locate and discover objects, by yourself independently. Being with like minded friends is also great, simply because you can share in the experience.

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As Groucho Marx once said "I wouldnt want to be a member of any club that would have me as a member". I was once a member of an archery club and it put me off ever joining any club ever again. New members were frowned upon and in the 2 yrs i was there the only people i connected with were people who joined at the same time as me or after. The "click" members had no time for newbies.

Not sure why i stayed there for 2 yrs, but i decided to leave and do my shooting in my back garden alone.

Not saying all clubs are bad but there are clicks in every club no matter what the club is and newbies dont seem to be welcome.

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I went to my first star party last year. The free hotdog and burger i paid about 30 euros for were nice. The Pete Lawrence lecture on the northerN lights wasnt bad either.

LOL.

Free tea,coffee and soft drinks all night too. I might go again this year if i'm hungry.

What! no Jaffa Cakes :grin:

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