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Joe12345

How do you 'observe'?

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When looking through the eyepiece, I always find that I look for up to 5 minutes before moving on to the next object on my list. This means each session is over within an hour and a half.

Recently I was reading that some people stare at the same thing for over an hour - I would never be able to do that!

I was wondering if there was a secret to it, as I really would like to make the very most of any clear skies I get.

Any advice appreciated,

Joe

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I am one of those people who will spend a good length of time viewing an object. It is really true to say that for some objects, Jupiter for example, the longer you look the more you see. Fine detail is more noticeable as your eyes adapt to your target. Also you are liable to be looking when one of those rare moments of near perfect seeing occurs, however briefly. I also try to sketch the view through the eyepiece. I am no artist, but with practice you definitely find more detail.

Everyone is different. The main thing is to enjoy what you do. If you prefer quick views then make larger lists. Look for something like double stars. There are more than enough of them to keep you busy for a whole night.

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45 minutes ago, Joe12345 said:

When looking through the eyepiece, I always find that I look for up to 5 minutes before moving on to the next object on my list. This means each session is over within an hour and a half.

Recently I was reading that some people stare at the same thing for over an hour - I would never be able to do that!

I was wondering if there was a secret to it, as I really would like to make the very most of any clear skies I get.

Any advice appreciated,

Joe

I do spend a good long time looking at planets when they are visible as you definitely see more the longer you look. With Jupiter in addition the moons and GRS move around relatively quickly so it's interesting to watch the changes.

With other objects it varies. A faint smudge of a galaxy which I know will only ever look like a smudge is not something I spend too long on, but something like the Double Cluster or M13 I can easily look at for ages, picking out the tiniest stars or looking for the 'propeller' for instance. Other nebulae like the Veil also give up more detail the longer you spend on them (if your skies are good enough), so it's worth while tracing as much of it out as you can and that takes time.

As others have said though, do what you enjoy, not what you think others might expect of you!

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I am still very new to the hobby. Jupiter is something I can spend 15 minutes watching when I see it well. Some deep sky objects I also watch quite long, just to see more detail and to check if there really isn't more to see. Long is then 10 minutes or so. But the tiny grey dots that don't become interesting in more magnification are skipped after a short time. I do enjoy looking pretty clusters, but also for maybe some 10 minutes.

i try to watch the moon longer, but don't find it super interesting. After 20 minutes, I have seen it and tried out all magnifications.

I guess that when you know a little better which details to look for, you might look for a longer time.

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How do I observe?

Answer: Currently, very infrequently, due to weather. 

But when I do, I spend a reasonable length of time on planets, usually trying to squeeze as much magnification as I ca out of it. This usually entails much EP swapping. For galaxies, although I'd probably get more out of it, I tend to find, pat myself on the back and then go on. The exception being galaxies that show particular detail, such as the Black Eye gx, or the Needle gx (dust lane I think), and such. I like particularly finding the dust lanes through galaxies. 

But as I said at the start, this is woefully infrequent in recent times...,

Barry

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Great question. I'm new to star gazing, but one of the things I realised fairly early on (from the observing reports on this forum) was how much more detail other folks saw than me, even on the same targets on the same night from similar locations (so there was no blaming the conditions). Some targets are simple - once you've found them you quickly see all the detail they have to offer. For me, easy double stars might fall into this category (although I could happily gaze at some of the famous colourful doubles for a fair while). Other targets drip feed you detail, and you need to be patient. I'd say most targets fall into this category for me - faint galaxies, star clusters, nebulae, Jupiter, detail on the moon, complex/difficult doubles. I think seeing conditions play a part in this - you may have to wait for a moment of better stability. I think too that for really faint targets, the visual stimulus is right on the threshold of what you can detect, and it takes time for your retina, neutrons and brain to figure out that there is a spiral, or dust lane, or nebulous wisp. Different eyepieces and filters can reveal different detail, and swapping these around can take up some of the time that people report too I guess. Agree with the points above though - go with whatever you enjoy.

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I can easily spend hours viewing the Moon. Jupiter often warrants long intense periods as well. I've been testing my bino's recently and I easily spent two hours shifting between the Moon and Jupiter during the conjunction. I've been known to spend over four hours viewing the same object (often the Moon). The Terminator regularly reveals things I've never seen before. There is so much detail with the Moon, although you need around at least the 150x mark to really appreciate it. 

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I tend to spend long periods observing single objects. I sometimes take a break somewhere else in the sky and then come back to a primary target.

It took me years (literally !) to learn that the more you observe an object, the more you will see but experience has taught me that this really is the case if I want to see the more subtle and challenging details. 

With the benefit of hindsight I really did not exploit the potential of some of the good scopes I owned a few years ago simply because I skipped from object to object.

You live and learn ! :icon_biggrin:

 

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I'm very impatient and jump around from one thing to another far to quickly. Planets I will keep going back to, same with comets. I'm trying to make myself slow down and spend more time with each target.

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I tend to spend a lot of time on a relatively limited number of objects, with the scope tracking so the object remains centre field, while I change EP to see which gives the best view, and waiting of course for those occasional moments where the seeing is excellent!

Chris

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Sometimes I set my telescope up, look at a couple of objects for a few minutes, then sit out on my deckchair with binos and a beer just enjoying it all!

Other times, I do a lot of advanced preparation, select a constellation for example that is in a good viewing area of the sky, print out skymaps or screens from Stellarium etc, research interesting objects, read up on what I'm supposed to be looking at, science, history, mythology etc. Then I can observe for hours!

I guess it depends on my mood.

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My usual method is :

  • think about putting scope out
  • put scope out
  • come in and make a brew
  • run outside as it's started to rain or walk if it's 'just' cloud
  • bring scope back inside
  • sit down and sulk/watch the soaps with my wife

On the odd occasion I get to observe (although solar is more often these days for some reason) then it really depends what I am looking at. Planets on which you can detect detail or e.g. moon/shadow transits etc I can spend all night on. A tight double that refuses to yield quite a while too. In general though I want to make the most of my available time and rush about trying to see a few new and old objects. In countries where there's reliable sun/clear skies at any time during the year I expect the main benefit is being able to plan to observe a week next Thursday and be pretty sure you will. If only........ 

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Here is my latest routine- pick a target for the evening sky conditions. I then will bounce around seeing this, seeing that and enjoy. The last target in the bouncing around phase is usually something that warms me up for the DSO I want to see - I view the Veil before the Crescent to get my "nebula eyes going" or view some galaxies before my faint galaxy target of the night. I will spend piles of time on the target..... and keep coming back if there are nuances to be had.

I save a couple of bright objects to finish the session with, just for fun.

As far as lunar and planetary...is just plain old stare at them for hours :)

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When I first started observing it was a case of looking at as many objects as I could in the time available.

Now it depends on what is available at the time, the moon I can spend all evening observing, using Virtual Moon Atlas on the laptop to identify features. Jupiter, Saturn and Mars, when well placed I sit comfortably and observe for an extended period. The advantage of this was really brought home after just glancing at Mars on a few occasions and seeing just an orange/red blob and then one night viewing for an hour or so and seeing detail on the surface, a real eureka moment. With DSOs it really depends on the objects, open clusters repay long viewing, making out asterisms within each. I tend not to observe the fainter DSOs as I have neither the equipment or skies to make them a worthwhile use of time.

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Its easier to linger upon observing an object, I find, if relaxed and composed, so for some this would involve comfortably seated on an adjustable observers chair, just adopting a relaxed stance for others. Whilst embarked on studying for example a planet, the experience becomes similar to reading an engaging novel, time drifts by unaccounted for. This indeed is under good circumstances, as Moonshane's 'method' may also apply.  

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Wow, my attention span must be pathetic. Been at this game for many years and I STILL tend to spend only a few minutes on each object for the following reasons:

1) Cold sets in after 50 minutes

2) Risk of cloud ruining the session

3) A bad season makes for few observing sessions - which creates the need to cram as much in as possible. I often go back to the object 2 or 3 times as sky conditions change according to neighbours' lights, street light turnoff, atmospheric turbulence, etc.

I really would like to change this habit and have 'reason 1' sorted by acquiring the right sort of gear to stay warm. I would also like to spend more time on each object - just need to chill out a bit more! (Without getting chilled, LOL).

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I'm new too. One thing I'm learning quickly is that you have to be comfortable while observing. I have a dobsonian so the eyepiece is at the top end. A lot of the time I have to stoop to get to the eyepiece it gets uncomfortable after a while. I haven't solved this yet. I did see on this website someone recommended a seat (from FLO) where you can adjust the height but it's quite expensive. I thought about trying to adapt an old office chair.

Steve

 

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Indeed, comfort is a keyword. In het beginning I had a bad observing posture, giving a pain in het back. Or sitting om my knees on the bare ground. The last few times at home I have used a garden chair, on which I also can sit on the armrest. That is a lot more comfortable.

Some of my sessions have been extremely cold. -13 Celsius pluss wind or so. So I have learned very fast to wear long woolen underwear, skiing trousers, thick downjacket, muts, thin glooves and thick mittens over. Last time I also had a thick blanket on my lap. Such days are not ideal. Usually I sit very long, trying to locate some object that I really want to find. But then I don't sit for another 45 minutes after I found it. I prefer the autumn which had nice dark evenings and more acceptable temperatures.

An observing chair to bring along to other locations is on my wishlist.

Edited by Linda
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10 minutes ago, woodblock said:

I'm new too. One thing I'm learning quickly is that you have to be comfortable while observing. I have a dobsonian so the eyepiece is at the top end. A lot of the time I have to stoop to get to the eyepiece it gets uncomfortable after a while. I haven't solved this yet. I did see on this website someone recommended a seat (from FLO) where you can adjust the height but it's quite expensive. I thought about trying to adapt an old office chair.

Steve

 

A lot of members solve your problem with an ironing seat which are inexpensive, about £25ish from various outlets.

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33 minutes ago, woodblock said:

I thought about trying to adapt an old office chair.

Steve

 

The dining chair I bought for my son (age 2 or 3 at the time) seems just the right height for my Dob. Came from IKEA, and can't have been more than a few quid, although on the other hand, it did involve a trip to IKEA.

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58 minutes ago, Linda said:

Some of my sessions have been extremely cold. -13 Celsius pluss wind or so.

You have all my respect. At temperatures like those, I tend to fake it with Stellarium and Hubble photos inside a nice warm house. Maybe I'm just a wimp!

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I'm new as well, haven't had many observing nights so far, maybe half a dozen, due to working patterns or weather. I managed to get out one evening last week and got a glorious view of the moon, it was stunning! I went out specifically to view the moon and spent about an hour just viewing that. It really is surprising how quickly the earth moves, when i took my eye away from the EP for a couple of minutes, i had to adjust my scope as the moon had disappeared out of the centre of my EP.  Haven't had the chance to view any of the planets as yet, i'm hoping to get a proper look at Jupiter soon...

 

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First I choose a scope for the things I'm interested in. Haul it to my viewing area. And let it sit for awile to reach a full ambient state with nature. Then I'll spend a "Jovian Day" enjoying the beauty and wonder being unveiled across the universe.

Ever since my encounter with a black-cloud making a straight line at me - and nowhere else - I always keep an eye on Doppler-Radar in case I need my big, blue roofers' tarpaulin. The universe definetly has a sense of humor.

Dave

Edited by Dave In Vermont
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