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Knowing the night sky versus GoTo...and light pollution...


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I use GoTo for my imaging simply because it is faster to find things that are beyond visual detection.

For observing visually, I use a manual 10" Dob and a starchart. It's not that I particularly enjoy the challenge, but just that if it is bright enough to see, then it is bright enough to find and I am quite capable of reading a map and getting to where I want to be. 

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I think if astronomy is just a past time/hobby for someone then it matters not in the least whether they use GOTO or not, it matters not in the least whether they know their way around the night sky o

I've done all types of finding and tracking including: push to, slo mo, ra motor, dual motor, auto, encoders, and goto, across most types of mount including equatorial, alt/az, dob, wedge, hybrid (az/

GOTO- makes finding stuff before the clouds roll in a lot faster. Not enough quality clear/dark sky time in the UK for faffing..........

I think if astronomy is just a past time/hobby for someone then it matters not in the least whether they use GOTO or not, it matters not in the least whether they know their way around the night sky or not.

All that matters is that you enjoy looking up/out using whatever instrument you so desire. The only rules, should dooz, should haves, should knows, must nots etc etc that apply are those that people inflict upon themselves.

Enjoy your past time/hobby in anyway you so desire, do your own thing, in your own way and you won't go far wrong  :icon_geek:

How true.

If it is a profession, then GoTo is almost a necessity. I know the two scopes at the Yerkes use GoTo and they are entirely computer controlled. They sure ain't manually star-hopping and pushing those enormous scopes around. The "pros" cheat? LOL.

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I think our hobby is similar to fishing.

You normally sit there on your own, with the occasional club event, manufacturers demo day, or a weekend away with family and friends.

So a go-to is like a sonar fish finder.

Better results with less effort.

For me, the chase is better than the catch.

So I am happy to hone my skills without using the expensive gadgets wherever I can (my time is free).

For those who want the results without the hassle, A go-to must be an indispensable tool.

I guess we could call it star fishing ? :grin:  :grin: I love GoTo 's, best thing ever in my book.

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I always rib mates for having goto but it does have it uses and for people  doing astrophotography it is invaluable.i personally have never used a goto system,not even had a play on other peoples.i do always joke that its cheating but for me its just so much more rewarding finding things yourself :)

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Anyone ever go out and just explore as if you were an early astronomer without any maps, charts or previous knowledge of what is out there? 

Sometimes I like to just look up in the night sky and point my scope at something that looks inviting naked eye, not even knowing what it is I may find, and not looking at any kind of aid...just pretending I may be the first to ever see what comes into view. 

The thing I find most rewarding about astronomy is the sense of awe, the possibilities of what is out there, that we are out there too. That's what I like to share with others. What's in the EP is just icing on the cake. 

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You See what you get from these wonderful people!!! - It just shows that the interest and love for the hobby is in all of us, you can just take from the hobby what you want and need, but it just goes to show, whatever level your at, the underlying trend is not just about "how big your scope is?" (I'm sure there's a pun there) and "how dark your sky is?"

 and how much you read and understand, looking at the hobby as a complete package is, I think, the main driver for most of us coming into the hobby, yes, the truly dark sky and the massive "light bucket" would be the end goal for a lot of us - but just taking the time and trouble to start, join in and share with others "What's in it for you" shows that its more about sharing with others as much as standing alone under the wonderful night sky.  

Hey Mark, I think you may have to change the title of this topic from "Knowing the night sky versus GOTO.......and light pollution..... to maybe "ENJOYING the night sky.......  Paul.

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I've only just got GOTO after years of not having it and I think it's great. It can be soooo frustrating looking for some faint fuzzy whilst contorting oneself into painful positions to reach the RA and DEC knobs, whilst squinting up the finder scope.

BUT, you're right, having developed a good knowledge of the sky is of real value. When doing a three star alignment for example, the handset suggests stars, but they might not all be visible due to trees or cloud. By if you know your stars you can select an alternative that you can see. It also a double check that you've set up properly. More than once I've thought all was fine and then the telescope has pointed in the wrong direction, which quickly tells me I've bungled the alignment some how.

I like to go out with just the bins sometimes and run through as many constellations and objects whose positions I can recall. It's a good ability to maintain.

I discovered a good use for GOTO the first time I was out imaging with it. I'd found the object in the eyepiece and now wanted to attach and focus up the camera. In the past, without GOTO, I'd be flaffing around repointing the scope at a bright star, focusing up and then hoping I could re-find the object again. Now with GOTO it was easy. Point the scope at the nearest bright star I knew, focus up, and then straight back to the faint fuzzy I wanted to photograph. Works like a dream.

Edited by Ouroboros
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You See what you get from these wonderful people!!! - It just shows that the interest and love for the hobby is in all of us, you can just take from the hobby what you want and need, but it just goes to show, whatever level your at, the underlying trend is not just about "how big your scope is?" (I'm sure there's a pun there) and "how dark your sky is?"

 and how much you read and understand, looking at the hobby as a complete package is, I think, the main driver for most of us coming into the hobby, yes, the truly dark sky and the massive "light bucket" would be the end goal for a lot of us - but just taking the time and trouble to start, join in and share with others "What's in it for you" shows that its more about sharing with others as much as standing alone under the wonderful night sky.  

Hey Mark, I think you may have to change the title of this topic from "Knowing the night sky versus GOTO.......and light pollution..... to maybe "ENJOYING the night sky.......  Paul.

I agree completely. I titled my post specifically because I had just come in from finding M31 in the most terribly light polluted skies with some awful seeing conditions to boot. And I had done it all without the GoTo function of my scope. I had also been thinking (prior to going out) just how much I miss taking in a simple view on a moments notice and simply grabbing my scope, pointing it and viewing (without all the alignment procedures, etc.).

I felt I had to find an easier way to get my scope out and just see what I could see, rather than waiting for the right time, or fighting the urge to just stay inside and forget about it because it was easier to just sit indoors than haul my scope out when I wasn't going to be out long anyway. 

I'm working on a new tripod I'm building that is lighter, more stable and will have all the 12 volt power built right into (under) the scope mounting plate (for an ETX105) so I can just grab it quick and take it out and still be able to power my scope (even if it's just to move it with the basic controller (not the Autostar computer) and dew heaters. When I'm done it will be as easy to take out as a simple small refractor on a manual Alt-Az mount. 

So, with all of that...it just got me thinking how GoTo, while a wonderful thing, sometimes becomes more of a hassle (because of everything else required to run it) than the simple grab'n'go scope and star hopping for those nights when I'd just like some quick views and go back in completely satisfied with even a half hour look. 

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Some great posts in this thread, what a cool bunch we are :cool:

I must admit I would love to have a sky map in my head and I often think  " Get rid of the GoTo and it will happen naturally " but the truth is I know it just wont  when there is an alternative that considerably increases the objects I can view in any given opportunity   :grin: and when all is said and done I know many more names of stars etc.... than I did before having a scope.

Without to much trouble I can also use my scope as a point and look and  and I must admit it is very exiting at times,especially so, when combined with binoculars. :smiley: Its great fun. 

As others have said above we all love it and the goal is to keep the hobby alive and kicking until we draw our last breath :Envy:  

One last point though " GoTo" is better :evil:  :evil:

Edited by Pig
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I'm still on the fence even though i do own a Go-To scope. Old habits die hard and i still mainly use it as an Alt-Az scope. I really do enjoy the hunt for objects or even just scanning the night sky and seeing what i stumble upon. My observing sessions are never too productive as i never have a plan. I kind of like this approach though. Its relaxing and uncomplicated. I suppose in time when i do start to use the Go-To functions more,i will see more in a night which will also be nice.

In summary, i'm all for Go-To or whatever method of observing people use to enjoy themselves, but at heart i'm a bit old school and like the simplicity of manual scopes.

P.S.~~~i'm pretty confident with the Autumn,Winter and Spring night skies and finding my way around without using any references. The Summer sky i am almost completely ignorant about as i have never done any Summer observing. Sure i know a few constellations,so i'm sure i'd manage ok if i did observe at that time of year.

Edited by LukeSkywatcher
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Most hobbies have their different factions that enjoy different aspects. In amateur radio for example there are people that love building their own equipment whereas others prefer to buy off the shelf and enjoy communicating. In sailing there is a similar situation to Goto: with GPS you can find your position within seconds but there are those that still enjoy navigating by dead reckoning.

I think I know the sky reasonably well having been looking at it for about 50 years, but I love Goto simply because I like viewing and studying objects and not spending time hunting for them. But I know there are many that love the thrill of the chase.

In the end it's 'each to his own' and 'live and let live' . All that matters is that we enjoy.

Kerry

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Personally, i've only ever owned my 200P Dob so i've had to learn the sky the "Old fashioned way"!

I find that browsing is all part of the fun!

I use stellarium to help me though!

Love Stellarium! I use it to plan a night out. I also have Starry Night Pro, but I seldom use it because I need a faster computer. I also use Google's Sky Map on my Android, which is a nice electronic planisphere to show others where things are in real time. 

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Goto gives makes the skies more accessible, so that has to be good. Like any technology I think it is good to not become reliant on it, plus as a hobby I am slowly learning more about the skies alongside the goto. Let it help you, not rule you.

My back garden is on a slope so sometimes I may need to move the scope around to get targets, eg above the trees, between the houses etc, it is easier in these circumstances just to be able to move the scope and not bother re-setting the goto everytime.

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I've gone full cycle! First scope was a small 5 inch goto then I got the urge for more aperture and found an Orion xx12i.

I certainly enjoyed the time with it and the views were worth the time spent hunting but I found that I used it less and less and it was also difficult to engage the kids with it so well (they don't like standing about in the cold waiting).

So, now I've just had the ultimate 'lazy' scope delivered - Meade LS 8 ACF. Only tried briefly last night but it was astounding at what it does.

No input from me and all ready to go while I fetch a cuppa. Not particularly good skies last night but it found all my targets in all areas of the sky and put them in the centre of a 26mm EP each time.

It suits me perfectly and hopefully the kids will join in more now.

Like I said, I did enjoy the freedom of the Orion dob but I think I will get far more use out of the meade LS and thats what its all about I suppose.

Anyone want an XX12i?

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I've gone full cycle! First scope was a small 5 inch goto then I got the urge for more aperture and found an Orion xx12i.

I certainly enjoyed the time with it and the views were worth the time spent hunting but I found that I used it less and less and it was also difficult to engage the kids with it so well (they don't like standing about in the cold waiting).

So, now I've just had the ultimate 'lazy' scope delivered - Meade LS 8 ACF. Only tried briefly last night but it was astounding at what it does.

No input from me and all ready to go while I fetch a cuppa. Not particularly good skies last night but it found all my targets in all areas of the sky and put them in the centre of a 26mm EP each time.

It suits me perfectly and hopefully the kids will join in more now.

Like I said, I did enjoy the freedom of the Orion dob but I think I will get far more use out of the meade LS and thats what its all about I suppose.

Anyone want an XX12i?

This pretty much sums up my casual astronomy experience, having kids, not being able to get out much and really needing something quick and easy.

Sometimes that means just taking the scope out and doing a quick manual look-see. But when others are involved and people want to see things quickly (as in kids with no patience and going indoors until I find something) then GoTo is a blessing.

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Let me first start by saying great thread and posts all .. As a total newbie to astronomy I currently have no idea about the night sky and where anything other than the Sun/Moon are. Until I joined this forum I didn't even know what a star chart was and as I write this do not own one. I will be buying one asap after reading the very helpful threads on the SGL site, I also find that the scope I have has terrible knobs for adjusting whilst viewing. They are like slippery bullets and having larger than normal hands doesnt help. 

At the moment I do not own a GOTO system but was going to buy one in the next 4-6 weeks to help me mainly in the tracking part of the process. I have only used my scope three times since I bought it and still get the WOW moment when looking through it, however after a few adjustments and having to break the view to unlock the knobs it starts to bother me. I would love to trackdown the objects myself but once found would like the scope to then keep the item in view so I can just enjoy it. 

I have really enjoyed reading the thread and like most think its down to personal choice and circumstances.

Question - Can you buy replacement knobs for the scope ? If the end of the knob had something like a wingnut end I wouldnt have to then take my eyes off the subject to adjust it.

Thanks..

Daz :icon_salut:

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Look up Bob's Knobs. He is based in the USA but supplies all sorts of useful thingies for scopes etc. I bought some to replace the screws which do the collimating on my scope. They arrived in about a week

Kerry

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Look up Bob's Knobs. He is based in the USA but supplies all sorts of useful thingies for scopes etc. I bought some to replace the screws which do the collimating on my scope. They arrived in about a week

Kerry

Thanks for that Kerry  :icon_salut:  .. I must admit I did chuckle at the name but even just browsing have seen some I really like. I will shoot off an email to him thanks again.

I also have just realised I said I dont have a star map in my last post.. I do actually have Stellarium on my pc :BangHead: .

Daz..

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My first scope was a celestron travel scope (worst mount in the history of the world) and I immediately noticed just how frustrating a manual mount was. Spending 10 mins trying to get Jupiter in the field of view only for it to disappear after 30 secs. Moving to a GOTO scope changed my opinion on astronomy hugely! I don’t even align it half the time (due to laziness or clouds covering most of the sky) I just love having the ability to slew around the place with such ease and precision!

I have only ever used Meade goto’s so don’t know what the others are like but I have found that Autostar is just so easy to use! A 2 star alignment takes about a minute to setup and that’s it done.

The only tiny issue I have sometimes is…late at night im concerned about the noise it makes in case it wakes up my neighbours…but that feeling quickly fades once I see some amazing object in the eyepiece :)

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Thanks for that Kerry  :icon_salut:  .. I must admit I did chuckle at the name but even just browsing have seen some I really like. I will shoot off an email to him thanks again.

I also have just realised I said I dont have a star map in my last post.. I do actually have Stellarium on my pc :BangHead: .

Daz..

Yes the name is great. My wife really enjoyed telling me that I had a parcel from Bob's Knobs!
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