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.

sgl_imaging_challenge_banner_through_the-_eyepiece_winners.thumb.jpg.236833c5815bb321211a43f4d5214ba8.jpg

digital_davem

The point of amateur stargazing

Recommended Posts

I love the search for a new object I've not yet seen myself, and the thrill of trying to catch a passing comet you may only have a window of a couple weeks to get the best view of it. I love the thought of how long it took the light to reach my eyes from the time it left it's source. I love that I have the chance to see all of this with my own eyes, and not just in pictures. It's kind of an escape from reality as well. While you're out there at the scope, you're focused on your charts and getting the scope to where you want it, once you do get there, you're in awe of what is on the other side of the scope. For me, all of the worries about bills, work, and life in general goes away, and I'm pulled away into another world of my own. I was born in a really weird timeframe in my opinion. I was born in 1992, so well after the hype of the Apollo missions and well before the hype of sending people to mars, mining asteroids for resources, and setting up outposts on the moon. I'm not sure where my uh.... obsession?... with astronomy came from. Probably just the curiosity that I've always had with space and wondering where everything came from and how everything works and why it is the way it is. Oh... and its just fun... My two cents... 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

"We are all in the gutter,but some of us are looking at the stars"~Oscar Wilde

"We choose to go at the Moon,not because it is easy, but because it is all shiny and lovely"~JFK

"I can do science,me"~LukeSkywatcher

Ive looked at the night sky since about the age of 6 (with an interest in astronomy). I dont expect to achieve anything from it apart from the sheer enjoyment of being able to look at the wonderful,awe inspiring sights that it has to offer. 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I had a long response planned, but after looking at all the comments, I see that what I planned to say has already been said much more eloquently than I could have said it.

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

For me it's about seeing things directly for myself but not so much because I'm interested in what things look like. It's more that I'm interested in what things are and what they mean.

I can be very interested in looking at just a single star and wondering about what it is even though it's just a point of light - maybe a huge giant, maybe a spectral double that you could never split visually but you know its there, maybe a variable that you would never notice yourself but you know what it's doing... and then there's all the other objects!

I only do visual observing using maps and reading books to get things in my head so when I'm out I can think about what I'm looking at. Finding things myself helps me to build a picture of how things fit together up there. I don't personally use computers to help find things or cameras to help see and record things. I admit I've got stellarium on my PC and some star apps on my phone but I never use it them. I use computers enough in normal life.

I like being out in the field - it's quiet and you slow down and tune in to your surroundings in a way that rarely happens in other aspects of life.

I like seeing things for myself that I wondered about as a child which I never realised or imagined I would be able to see.

I like that astronomy is about things that are way outside of the normal experiences that we are designed to understand (distances, velocities, energies, etc). That makes trying to understand/comprehend what is out there very interesting.

I also like the camaraderie of SGL - it is good to hear of and share experiences with like minded people.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I guess the main point of "what is the point", is that amateurs can and do contribute a hell of a lot to professional astronomy because its amateurs who spend hours and hours looking at much of the night sky whereas professional astronomers spend hours and hours looking at one little slice of the night sky gathering data on maybe one particular object.

I know a guy here in Ireland who (on my last count) has discovered 3 SN from his LP back garden on the northside of Dublin city using (i think) a 14" scope (and most likely some computers and software).

As mentioned above, amateurs have also discovered exo-planets, pulsars, galaxies etc.

ALL very valuable contributions to the world of "professional" astronomy.

My only discoveries are those sporadic meteors that i catch a fleeting glimpse of on any given night and i wonder to myself: "I wonder if anyone else on this planet saw that?".

Its kind of a nice feeling to have that perhaps i am the only person on the planet too have seen it. Probably not, but they are so faint and last but a fleeting glance..........thats quite possibly i am and will ever be the only person to see it.

Edited by LukeSkywatcher
  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I can remember watching very early "Sky at Night" episodes back in the sixties. They were interesting but I had other things on my mind, like girls, drinking and the usual stuff every young lad goes through.

It wasn't until I had laid back out on a ships deck, after a long hot watch in an engine room, that I really saw the stars whilst downing a cold beer. That was the real start of my interest in astronomy.

Much later in life as I either saw a nice sight of our heavens, or captured a view in the ccd I realised that no matter how many fantastic images I saw in magazines or on TV, none of the photons I captured had ever been seen by any one else, just me. Those precious photons would allways be mine. And so it is for every one of us in this hobby.

You do not have to be good or the greatest, there is room for every ability, from starters to the most advanced and accomplished.

Derek

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You have my permission to laugh out loud at the following comments (but you were gonna laugh anyway):

Gazing up at the night sky is so second nature to me that I once wheeled my wheelchair off of a curb and fell flat on my face on the road. Another time i was so busy looking up that i crashed into a street lamp.

I really do get that absorbed in the night sky that i dont look where i am going.

Edited by LukeSkywatcher
  • Like 7

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

if you search for "pro am spectroscopy projects" in your search engine of choice, you'll see some examples. there was a very interesting workshop by the BAA about spectroscopy recently which covered this very topic. extremely motivating.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

But the 'correct' answer to all questions of this ilk is always 42.;)

Rich

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well quite a few things have been discovered by amateur astronomers of late - some exoplanets, comets, meteors etc.  The hit on Jupiter from Hale Bopp (?) fragments was imaged by an amateur as far as I recall and missed by the professionals.

Don't forget the big boys in the Atacama and at Mt Wilson, Palomar etc are focusing (pardon the pun) on really distant stuff with highly specialised gear.  They arent often looking at the local neighbourhood.  Its a bit like being a good neighbour - the MoD with their submarines, jets and tanks wont take much notice of a beer can lobbed onto someones lawn, they wont even be aware of it, but you as a local neighbour might pick it up.

A lot of good science is done by amateurs - only yesterday there was an article on R4 about a guy in the 1930s who kept a super detailed log of wildlife on a spit of land in Dorset - the data is invaluable now because of its accuracy it will now allow latter day entymologists to assess population declines (and increases) of various butterflies and to be able to estimate what the key factors may be in some species declines.

Don't forget Pasteur never held a medical degree - thats how much of an impact an amateur can have if they spot something at the right time. Shoulders of giants and all that....

For me though I am just a dilettante  - i meddle with stuff - electronics, astronomy, music, writing, chemistry, rocketry etc etc so for me its just 'seeing the sights' - I don't imagine I will ever discover anything new and don't even try to :) I like to be out in the cold night with a clear sky, drinking my hot choc, listening to Bach seeing the sights.  Thats it really.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think it's because I find the Universe amazing and to be able to see it with my own eyes is amazing, Yes, you can see fabulous images of Jupiter in books, but no image I have ever seen generates quite the same feeling as seeing it at the eyepiece. Or if you are imaging, working with the photons you captured has something special and personal about it. A book is more distant.

A few people I know don't get why I like doing astronomy. They wonder what the point is. It's funny, because they also have hobbies that some would consider completely pointless!

The bottom line is that I just really love astronomy, why does someone love dancing, singing, playing guitar, watching TV, sewing, etc? Isn't it quite hard to explain why? You just love/enjoy doing it.

For me, astronomy is just a hobby. But a hobby itself is really important, whatever it is that floats your boat. It gives you somethiing to look forward to, be excited aboout, something that puts a little spark in your eye, skip in your step.

For me that makes stargazing or whatever your hobby is, one of the most meaningful things in your life, even if it's hard to explain exactly why it is that makes it so important to you!

Edited by Drop Of Sun
  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×

Important Information

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