Jump to content

Stargazers Lounge Uses Cookies

Like most websites, SGL uses cookies in order to deliver a secure, personalised service, to provide social media functions and to analyse our traffic. Continued use of SGL indicates your acceptance of our cookie policy.

Stu

Is the thrill in the chase?

Recommended Posts

I couldn't think of a better title, and this post is purely out of interest so no offense is meant from a visual astronomer who knows about imaging only what he has picked up on the forum.

I see many people struggling over a long period of time to put together the complex system required to produce the wonderful images we see on the forum, getting there sooner or later but often after quite a battle.

My question is simply this. If you could buy an off the shelf solution of the same quality and a similar price that just worked out of the box, would you do it? Or, is there a large amount of satisfaction to be gained by the fact that it was you that put everything together and made it work?

Is it all about the data, processing and the images, or is there also a lot of enjoyment had from the technical side?

Purely an open discussion thread on a rainy Friday, so....over to you [emoji3]

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

For me, and I stress this is just my opinion, I feel like I'm serving my apprenteship. I think there's a lot to be learnt by working your way toward a goal. Also, theres no way in this world I could have afforded (or been allowed to afford) to by all the stuff I have now in one hit. As with any hobby or art, you can't buy ability, it has to be learnt.

Also I wonder how many of us new from the get go that we would be so consumed by imaging? In much the same way that I hear  visual guys saying their 10" dob and mid-range eps will be all they ever need :)

Besides, what else am I gonna do when the weather's lousy but look at new stuff to get :(

Signed....

              Deluded

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I am battling some gremlins at the moment - it's taken many nights to get to a stage where I think I may have light at the end of the tunnel and many wasted imaging hours.

Would I buy an off the shelf solution that just worked? You bet..... and I'd pay a lot more money to get that total and utter rubber stamped guarantee.

I HATE it when things go wrong, especially when the issues are intermittent and unfathomable. So for me, the technical side holds ZERO enjoyment. I just want the stuff to work reliably, I don't get pleasure out of forcing stuff to work.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It depends. I have only really gone in for planetary, lunar and solar, but I am putting together a DSO set-up gradually, just like I built up the solar kit gradually. There is a good reason for that:  I do not think you can buy yourself a ticket to regular APODs in astroimaging by buying the right kit.  I have seen plenty of examples of people who buy top-class kit, and never produce a really good image, get disappointed, and quit. It is much better to start simple, see if you can get some half decent results, and build from there. I did that with solar stuff, first getting an LS35 second hand, learning the ropes on that, so when I upgraded to a second-hand SolarMax-II 60, I was ready to make full use of that kit. Likewise when the offer of a Solar Spectrum filter came along: because I knew what I was doing, buying this much more expensive piece of kit made sense. It is also great to scrounge around on ABS trying to pick up the odd bargain, and put together a good rig for a fraction of the new cost (that might be my Scottish, Jewish, and Dutch ancestry ;)).

Once you are at the stage that you know exactly what you are doing, it becomes much more attractive to buy something off the shelf (although tinkering is also fun).

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm still far from where I want to be with respect to making an image which matches what I visualise in my mind, but the sense of satisfaction achieved by crawling along that learning curve is very satisfying. If there was the option of a bulletproof out of the box solution I think it would take away a lot of that sense of achievement imho. But then I am a tinkerer and hacker. Even when everything works just right I'm always thinking of options to improve something!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Suspect I would go for the off the shelf solution and then start looking for ways to better it :grin: . The "current best" doesn't stay that way for long, there's always someone out there with a new / better way of doing things.

It's a bit like climbing a ladder, if I can start half way up then I will likely climb higher overall.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I am battling some gremlins at the moment - it's taken many nights to get to a stage where I think I may have light at the end of the tunnel and many wasted imaging hours.

I hate wasting the very few clear days / nights that we get here. It's bad enough that I have to miss opportunities when I am at work let alone because my kit refuses to play ball. That said I do get a buzz from getting a process or piece of kit to work for me.

Once you are at the stage that you know exactly what you are doing, it becomes much more attractive to buy something off the shelf (although tinkering is also fun).

If I wait until I know exactly what I am doing I will never get anything done :grin:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

i like low tec stuff which is usally cheaper, saying that if i had the money i would probley go for some hitec just for fun, but i havent, its all about the thrill in the chase, finding targets that is , its all about the thrill of the hunt  for me, i think after 30 years or more i know the sky better than the area that i live in.  clear skys charl...

Edited by xtreemchaos

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I hate wasting the very few clear days / nights that we get here. It's bad enough that I have to miss opportunities when I am at work let alone because my kit refuses to play ball. That said I do get a buzz from getting a process or piece of kit to work for me.

If I wait until I know exactly what I am doing I will never get anything done :grin:

While we don't know what were are doing, we just keep tinkering to see what happens ;)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I spent near two years struggling with my mount trying to get it to perform perfectly - which is a level of performance beyond its design specs (I was trying to get the 'best' out of it). It was akin to banging my head against the wall most of the time but on the other hand I also had my successes which was rewarding. Recently I spent a lot of money on a much better mount which does exactly what it says on the tin, no more mount issues - and no more guide issues or pointing issues for that matter. To me that was worth the outlay. Similarly, when I first started imaging I tried to make the 'best' of using an SCT - not a good idea and the results were always poor. So when I had a re-boot into the imaging game I bought the best OTA I could find for the job and it has proven to be a superb performer, I'm still amazed 2 years later at what the NP127is can do.

There are always going to be minor technical hiccups - for me, last time out, it was Daylight Savings Time being set in the mount which pushed all pointing off by an hour, believe me it was far less obvious what the issue was at the time and it took me 1-1/2hrs to resolve it. Nevertheless, I can pretty much guarantee these days that I can plonk the OTA on the mount, power everything up, and it will all work - perfect pointing, perfect tracking, perfect automated focus (awful weather!). I am never left wondering 'is it all going to work tonight?'. Data capture is now just... boring, and the fun is in the image processing and also choosing unusual targets. I would hate to go back to the way things were.

ChrisH

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I spent near two years struggling with my mount trying to get it to perform perfectly - which is a level of performance beyond its design specs (I was trying to get the 'best' out of it). It was akin to banging my head against the wall most of the time but on the other hand I also had my successes which was rewarding. Recently I spent a lot of money on a much better mount which does exactly what it says on the tin, no more mount issues - and no more guide issues or pointing issues for that matter. To me that was worth the outlay. Similarly, when I first started imaging I tried to make the 'best' of using an SCT - not a good idea and the results were always poor. So when I had a re-boot into the imaging game I bought the best OTA I could find for the job and it has proven to be a superb performer, I'm still amazed 2 years later at what the NP127is can do.

There are always going to be minor technical hiccups - for me, last time out, it was Daylight Savings Time being set in the mount which pushed all pointing off by an hour, believe me it was far less obvious what the issue was at the time and it took me 1-1/2hrs to resolve it. Nevertheless, I can pretty much guarantee these days that I can plonk the OTA on the mount, power everything up, and it will all work - perfect pointing, perfect tracking, perfect automated focus (awful weather!). I am never left wondering 'is it all going to work tonight?'. Data capture is now just... boring, and the fun is in the image processing and also choosing unusual targets. I would hate to go back to the way things were.

ChrisH

I believe this is what they call tempting fate ;)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I believe this is what they call tempting fate ;)

Note the 'pretty much' caveat... :-)   There is always something waiting to bite you, but minor software niggles (like daylight savings time!) aside the 10-Micron mount is just about the perfect vehicle for an imaging OTA. You have to use one to realise just how good it is, and I spent the best part of a year researching mount options before deciding. I don't even use plate-solving to get on target, a simple slew puts anything within a couple of arcsecs. Tracking errors are barely measurable and autoguiding a thing of the past. Is it reliable? I don't really know but my research suggests few (actually, none I could find) have been returned because they were faulty or failed in use. A few firmware issues early on is all. If you go on the support forum you find most questions are about 'How does this work, or how can I do this?' type of questions.

ChrisH

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Note the 'pretty much' caveat... :-)   There is always something waiting to bite you, but minor software niggles (like daylight savings time!) aside the 10-Micron mount is just about the perfect vehicle for an imaging OTA. You have to use one to realise just how good it is, and I spent the best part of a year researching mount options before deciding. I don't even use plate-solving to get on target, a simple slew puts anything within a couple of arcsecs. Tracking errors are barely measurable and autoguiding a thing of the past. Is it reliable? I don't really know but my research suggests few (actually, none I could find) have been returned because they were faulty or failed in use. A few firmware issues early on is all. If you go on the support forum you find most questions are about 'How does this work, or how can I do this?' type of questions.

ChrisH

It really was a tongue in cheek comment Chris :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have no interest whatever in problem-solving an imaging rig! It's just a chore that needs to be done. I think this may put me in a minority, though. I like a rig that 'just works' and I have one which is as close to that, now, as it is ever likely to get... (Touches wood...)

For me the thrill of the chase comes from planning a challenging image and from teasing out the most that I can from the capture. I love processing good data. That's why I'm up to my neck in this game.

Olly

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It really was a tongue in cheek comment Chris :)

Oh I know but a reliable and hassle-free setup was a serious consideration for me, pity it costs so much! If I pop me cloggs I hope my missus doesn't sell it for what I told her it cost...

ChrisH

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Great question!


For me, definitely the 'thrill of the chase' and taking on the not so insignificant challenge of both capture and processing. If it was too easy I'd choose a different hobby. I'm certainly not one for instant gratification.


So, I derive great satisfaction from researching and choosing a new target, setting up the sequence in SGP, then, when the clouds part, lugging the kit outside and setting up the mount, scope and camera, balancing, manually focussing, calibrating and drift aligning. Then comes the exciting bit - when I think everything is finally ready, clicking 'Run Sequence'. To me, all of this is part of the hobby and certainly not a chore. If I'm lucky I might even capture some decent subs to process!


Will I still feel like this in 5 years time? No idea. By then I may want a obsy and a warm room but at this point in time I'm more than happy to carry on doing it the hard way  :smiley:


Regards

John

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It's a fine question.

For me, tinkering with kit can be satisfying when it's not too uncooperative but there comes a point when it becomes a chore. I'd be quite happy to use something that was more click and go but that's not going to happen. There is a guided setup waiting for me down in Cornwall I could start using but I'm a bit reluctant when my unguided lens imaging has so much more to give. My existing kit is relatively friendly, even when I make mistakes I get useable results by keeping the sub length down, rejecting some subs and by not posting or printing my images too big.

I like to draw an analogy with painting, you don't have to be a great master to enjoy it. Imaging can be enjoyed at a beginner, intermediate or advanced level. I can enjoy my current and early images even while being very critical of their flaws. Also, as observing does, it gives you a different perspective on the fascinating subject of astronomy, there is nothing quite like learning by doing.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This is a very interesting question!

For me the thrill has always been the chase, that is for sure. The main appeal in imaging for me, is the technical aspect and tinkering with equipment. I have spent up to 3 years tweaking and modifying to get my current imaging gear working the way I want to. Now this has been done, I recently started making another imaging instrument.

Although it is very rewarding to see good data coming in, the image processing part is the most unappealing part of the hobby for me.

The contact with the nightsky is so much more important to me, than spending +10 hrs behind a pc screen trying to wring the neck out of some imaging data.

Processing is also very subjective (what some really like, may look overpushed to others) and maybe too artistic for a "technical nerd" like me I guess? :grin:

The great thing about astrophotography is, it is a fusion of so many interesting things! So pick your preference I guess...

Pieter

Edited by pietervdv
  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Until I found SGL I thought images that pop up here every day were the product of professional observatories.

Even so it's scary what you can spend, and as I have other priorities as well for me the challenge is getting the most out of inexpensive kit. I love making things that work and I always prefer making things (like tools, battery chargers) that have a practical use so making astro kit that I can then use is rewarding. Making it work matters more than what it looks like to me, so many might say my gear looks 'unfinished'... but it's great to find a hobby that builds on my engineering and electronic hobbies rather than competes with them - it gives me projects to tackle.

I've discovered as well that the amazing range of economically priced & free software out there means image processing is really rewarding too.

What is amazing is that, although I am still leagues behind the top notch imagers on here, I already have got a few photos that are as good or better than the ones in my pre-digital era textbooks. Images I would not have dreamt I could produce a year ago.

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Interesting question, Stu!

I tried my hand at deep sky some years back. I really liked the idea of it. But after the excitement of buying the gear, I found it a pain putting it all together (I had no obsy, so it was setting up from scratch each time - something I would not do again if I go back to it some day as I hope I will when life is more compatible).

I hated the capture part. Something about being frozen stiff on a cold December night wondering why my rig was not guiding accurately was not my idea of a fun hobby.

I didn't really enjoy the effort of processing, which is odd as I love Photoshop.

Due to life happening, I had to give up deep sky imaging and switched to solar imaging. That has been a revelation. The sun is far more active than I had realised, I actually enjoy the capture process (sitting out in shades drinking ice cold coke is more me and you get a live view while you capture, so I feel like I am observing a bit too), and I love the processing, as it takes less time and I enjoy messing about trying new ways to process the same (very dynamic) object. Setup time is not too bad either, no obsy desperately needed.

I love observing too and have decided to image only in summer so I don't get too carried away with it and fit in plenty of observing over the year.

EDIT: Yes, I would go for the off the shelf kit!

Edited by Luke
  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have no interest whatever in problem-solving an imaging rig! It's just a chore that needs to be done. I think this may put me in a minority, though. I like a rig that 'just works' and I have one which is as close to that, now, as it is ever likely to get... (Touches wood...)

For me the thrill of the chase comes from planning a challenging image and from teasing out the most that I can from the capture. I love processing good data. That's why I'm up to my neck in this game.

Olly

Looks like we are certainly in the minority Olly!  :D

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Looks like we are certainly in the minority Olly!   :D

It does indeed, Sara. Can't say I'm surprized though. The solution is obvious: Pieter captures the data (he's just a bit good at it!) and he gives it to us to process! Perfect!  :grin:

Pieter, I do indeed spend hours and hours at the PC screen but that's not what it feels like. It feels like being in space, getting to know the object, tickling out its secrets. There is no sudden Big Thing you can do to make an image shine. It's a slow, iterative, creative, investigative process and one I love being involved in. It's a bit like archaeology. There's more in the data if only you can separate it from the dust.  But, as you say, the great thing about AP is its multi-sidedness. Is the new imaging scope under wraps or are you giving away any clues? The last one was a demon.

Indeed a great question and thanks to the OP.

Olly

Edited by ollypenrice
  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My question is simply this. If you could buy an off the shelf solution of the same quality and a similar price that just worked out of the box, would you do it? Or, is there a large amount of satisfaction to be gained by the fact that it was you that put everything together and made it work?

There's a market for both IMHO. Thats why companies like Avalon are investing and bringing things like this to the market:

http://www.avalon-instruments.com/products/merlino-personal-remote-observatory

The flipside is that you need deep pockets as the whole thing is bought in one go. In my case, buying the kit that I currently have in one fell swoop would simply not be possible for my limited means. Plus, my knowledge (hopefully) develops overtime so I can build an evolving rig over time.

Personally, I get a lot of enjoyment, and frustration, from fiddling with the kit. Which is a damn good thing given how limited my imaging time currently is.

Is it all about the data, processing and the images, or is there also a lot of enjoyment had from the technical side?

Both. I love seeing the detail emerging from an image, especially in Lunar and solar work. Hitting the wavelet button and seeing all sorts of detail emerging from a blurry mess is a real buzz (I need to get out more). I also like getting the kit doing what it should do. For example, I couldn't get my Mesu to do an automated sky model. Even though I did it manually, I still kept plugging away to get the damn thing to do it automatically. Why? I don't really know, other than I knew that it could do it therefore it should do it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

25 years ago I built some of the first CCD cameras around using the Texas TC211 and TC245 chips. The TC211 had a miserable 192 *165 pixels on a 3mm square chip but it was the only affordable way in to the subject. The chip alone cost about £90 back then and you did all the electronics yourself. It was a whole bunch of fun just to get it working at all and we marvelled at the grainy B+W images of M13 and M27. Just getting the target on to the chip with my 5" f/10 refractor without GOTO mounts was an hour's work sometimes. Then Terry Platt came along with an off-the-peg camera that democratized the whole thing with a far better and cheaper product that worked straight out of the box. It did kill a lot of the sense of technical achievement but the results were so much better I wouldn't go back.

I think the same amount of creative technical skill is sill required though, just in different areas. I've recently come back to astrophotography after a long absence ( I did old-fashioned film 30 yrs ago before the first CCDs) and it's taken me about 2 years to get my rather simple 80mm rig up and running. One of the biggest mistakes has been to buy everything piecemeal as it becomes available secondhand without really understanding how it all fits together in detail. I bought a Vixen Sphinx mount specifically for AP which in retrospect was a lousy choice with the original electronics and software. I fixed it with the NexSxd replacement electronics and now it works beautifully but it's one more hassle you don't need. I've been through several field flatteners trying to find a good match; software has been inoperable with the operating system....some telescopes I've tried don't have enough in-out travel to accommodate all the accessories I 'd like in the optical path...the list goers on. Just learning all the software packages is an IT course in itself. It seems to be a rite of passage with AP that you have to suffer for your art just to get that first decent image!

I would pay serious money for an astrograph scope that can handle in a co-ordinated way a field reducer, filter rack, flip mirror, OAG all in one that worked out of the box!

RL

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Terms of Use.