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Benefits of goto?


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Something strikes me that keeps coming up on the forum.

Many people invest in goto mounts, with the aim of saving time, getting a gentle intro to the hobby and not having to learn too much up front. At the same time, it seems that the most common difficulty people have with their kit is achieving alignment and getting their goto mount to actually work.

I know star hopping can be frustrating the first few times - though to be honest I found that part of the fun - but after a few hours it becomes relatively easy. I suspect, from the balance of queries, that it may be simpler than using a goto mount.

If I'm right on this (and I accept i could be wrong) and goto mounts are actually more difficult and time consuming than manual star hopping, then what are the advantages over the old fashioned approach (for smaller scopes)? Genuine query, as I've not used one and am wondering if I'm missing something.

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When I first started out in this hobby, I had an ETX 70 goto. I had it for 10 years and used only the standard eyepieces plus a 10mm kellner, 4mm plossl and 2x Barlow.

The alignment process is very easy even for a newcomer, and had I not had this facility early on then I don't think I'd have continued observing.

I didn't have a computer back then, nor did I know of any astro clubs, so ETX was my teacher for that decade. I don't have goto anymore, don't need it anymore, but I'm very glad I had it when I did.

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Apart from the ability to find things without knowing where they are, once on target, the goto mount will automatically remain on target all night if required.

Manual star hopping is still fun, and does not require electricity.

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I've used and own both types of mount. As I know my way around the sky now and can star-hop to new stuff I find non-GOTO mounts quicker to set up and use but I can see the benefits of a nicely setup GOTO as well, especially when searching for a new and rather obscure target.

Frequency of use speeds up the GOTO setup process considerably as you get to know the mounts "little ways" and once setup most of these mounts can cover a lot of ground in a session.

Star hopping to find a target is fun (speaking personally) but if you have a group of non-astronomers waiting by your scope (I do public outreach star parties) then their attention can quickly wane as you inch towards your quarry.

Having the scope accurately track an object is also very helpful for public viewing sessions and also for teasing maximum detail out.

I do get concerned when I see folks on a limited start up budget considering very small aperture scopes on GOTO mounts. While the mount might point the scope at the right place (if setup properly), the actual view through the eyepiece of many objects might be lacklustre or practically non existent !.

 

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It's about personal choice.  I choose to have the option to let the system find faint targets for me.  There is nothing at all wrong in using star hopping to do the same and lots will choose to do it that way.  Under my skies I think I would struggle without GoTo.  Set up is a complete doddle so I don't buy that its a difficult task.

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I do not think they are more difficult. Over the time reading posts there are plus and minus aspects to both. I have always had a goto, never had a problem (well once) with alignment. The once was when the mount swapped itself from Alz/Az to EQ - still not sure how that occurred.

Many times and I see it more in recent times, people think it is a case of plonk on the ground, power up and it does it all for you. They are not plug-and-play, they never have been. I say more recently as people are seeming to buy more and more add-ons to in effect fully automate them.

Alignment means having some idea of what is going on also, few seem to get that either.

A lot of the peoblems are not helped by the scopes, Synta items seem to want sufficent power to work, but a little too much and you need a new scope. Firmware in them much be in the worst cheapest proms they can purchase. The manufacturers do not help.

The idea that you do not learn is likely the most stupid thing ever said. My Meade is such that if you level and North it then it goes to whatever chosen alignment star, but when it says Arcturus everyone with a goto will be learning or know where Arcturus is. In a way the alignment stars tends to teach you the main stars = read handset work out which star it is pointing at and ta-da you have learnt that star.

Are you familiar with the acronym RTM, even more RTFM. Because at times reading the manual is the key solution to problems.

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20 minutes ago, billyharris72 said:

Something strikes me that keeps coming up on the forum.

Many people invest in goto mounts, with the aim of saving time, getting a gentle intro to the hobby and not having to learn too much up front. At the same time, it seems that the most common difficulty people have with their kit is achieving alignment and getting their goto mount to actually work.

I know star hopping can be frustrating the first few times - though to be honest I found that part of the fun - but after a few hours it becomes relatively easy. I suspect, from the balance of queries, that it may be simpler than using a goto mount.

If I'm right on this (and I accept i could be wrong) and goto mounts are actually more difficult and time consuming than manual star hopping, then what are the advantages over the old fashioned approach (for smaller scopes)? Genuine query, as I've not used one and am wondering if I'm missing something.

do you refer to small scopes as in yours or do you mean even smaller ? didnt get the part about small scopes sorry. i find dsc brilliant especially if going realy deep, after a few minuites aligning off you go all night. but i understand the fun is in the chase

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Hmmm... Some food for thought here. I can definitely see the attraction, but not having used one am keen to get a feel for the pros and cons. At some point I'll probably upgrade from my eq5 and I'm not sure whether its worth skimping on the goto element to save some cash.

My thinking re smaller scopes was that once you get to a size where you need servo motors to slew the thing around you might as well go the whole hog (by this standard my scope would definitely be considered small).

10 minutes ago, iwols said:

for a relatively new astrophotographer like me the goto is great as you cant always see the dso object till after processing so for me its a godsend,just my thoughts

Hadn't thought of the AP angle, and that's a good point. I tend to find in light polluted sites that the problem is less the star hop than my inability to see anything once I get there, but with a camera attached it's a whole different issue.

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The problem with "Goto" is the expectation given from their advertisements, in reality they should be advertised as one of the following --- " Nowhere near GoTo" ----- "Almost GoTo"------- "Very nearly almost GoTo". The later is my latest mount and it puts the target within the FOV of a 31mm eyepiece without any input from me other than switching it on.  I then perform a quick sync to get the target in the middle, then it tracks perfectly all night. ( so far this is the best I have used and I have tried at least four of the major players mounts)

Be it GoTo or manual star hopping I find both very enjoyable. Goto is great if you want to look at loads of targets or if you don't know your way around the sky and as John says if you have an audience they are a great asset, but this can be equally embarrassing if they mess up. Star hopping can be frustrating for the first year or so but once your familiarity with the night sky increases the better and more satisfying it is. There is also the added bonus of its simplicity and no need for power supplies.

I find that you miss either if you do not have both options at your disposal :hello:

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As others have said, alignment for GoTo is quick and easy, then GoTo works a treat - you soon learn to trust it, and it does save a lot of time.  (And I usually also refer to Stellarium just to be dead certain I'm or very close to target.)

But hopping is also good, and I use that with my frac.  (Having a wide field of vision helps with that approach.)

Doug.

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An experienced star hopper will beat a GoTo 9 times out of 10. They have the added advantages of never running out of power. Generally, you just add Jaffa Cakes or Beer, depending on the breed (particularly voracious breeds tend towards the Vodka or pricey Malt Whisky).

This isn't to say that a star hopper won't use GoTo / tracking. It is great for partially cloudy nights, light polluted sites, planetry observing and public events.

I'm a star hopper. I do not have th budget for good optics and good GoTo. Also, consider PushTo. Snuck simpler but no tracking.

Get yourself along to SGLXII in three weeks time. There, you will have more examples to observe than you can shake a stick at!

Paul

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I can see the attraction in GOTO for light polluted skies where often it would mean a massively long star hop from say a mag 3.5 star (or worse).  This gets very frustrating fast.  If you have mag 4.5+ sky then there's always a sufficiently close star to start a star hop from, but how many people that are living in towns and cities have even this level now?  From my apartment in Oxford I can just about make out mag 4.3 on one side where there are no big street lights.  The other side has main street lights and I'm lucky to see mag 2 stars - Impossible to find much at all!

For visual observations I go elsewhere to my mag 5 - 5.3 ish site.  Star hopping is easy and for I can generally find something quicker with my Telrad and RACI than I could if I had to enter the object NGC designation in the controller.

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4 minutes ago, Paul73 said:

An experienced star hopper will beat a GoTo 9 times out of 10. They have the added advantages of never running out of power. Generally, you just add Jaffa Cakes or Beer, depending on the breed (particularly voracious breeds tend towards the Vodka or pricey Malt Whisky).

This isn't to say that a star hopper won't use GoTo / tracking. It is great for partially cloudy nights, light polluted sites, planetry observing and public events.

I'm a star hopper. I do not have th budget for good optics and good GoTo. Also, consider PushTo. Snuck simpler but no tracking.

Get yourself along to SGLXII in three weeks time. There, you will have more examples to observe than you can shake a stick at!

Paul

So you've not seen Faulksy's dob then? It's lit up like blackpool illuminations :D
For me, the main advantage of goto is AP. I know guys who have spent a lifetime searching for the horsehead visually. With my goto on a permanent pier, once powered up I'm there in seconds. Of course I only know because of the camera.
For visual, half the fun is finding the target. If I was to give up AP tomorrow, I'd sell the lot and buy a big (18"-20") manual Dob powered only with a dew strip or two and a few of them ethos the dob mob keep rattling on about :D

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I have been studying the sky for 25 years had a pair of binoculars for 17 of them got a scope Skywatcher 150p on EQ3-2 mount which served me well for nearly 2.5 years until i suffered from 2 collapsed discs and found out had arthritis in my spine bending and contorting to star hop just wasn't good for me, I invested in the goto so I could carry on enjoying this hobby. I have had a few teething problems, aligning being one of them but found out it was my fault as was spinning the OTA between stars. Now a 2 star alignment takes a couple of minutes and I can sit down dial in view at my leisure then dial again no contorting.

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Started out star hopping, and it is enjoyable. I use goto now after I found it impossible to locate certain objects because of light pollution, and I'm getting interested in AP and EEA. With certain skies it's just not possible to star hop as the stars aren't visible. I've always found the disagreement on this subject quite strange, regardless of the method used we all have the same objective.

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I find a big difference between using GoTo with the hand controller on my Evo 8, and using SkiSafari. On my previous GoTo scope which only had the hand controller, it worked but I found it a bit laborious to enter stuff. Using SkiSafari I rarely have trouble with three star alignment, and once set up I can make good use of the few times clear skies are available. Using SkiSafari, I can either use the list of interesting objects for that night, or just go to whichever object looks interesting. Tapping on an object and then tapping 'GoTo' is a great way of making the most of the time available.

Bear in mind I'm relatively new to this, and being able to go directly to objects and get information on them at the same time means I'm learning as I observe.

However, I can see the attraction of star hopping as a means of getting around the night sky and becoming familiar with it, and I'm sure one day I'll have a crack at that as well...

Eric.

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For me, go-to was my way in. It made targets available to me that I might not have been able to find under the light polluted slies where I started. This is still true to some extent several years later. I found it was also very useful to have go-to and tracking with heavier scopes. The main reason I still stick with go-to is staying on target once acquired - time on target to see more detail on planets and in DSOs, to see finer splits in doubles and so on. It allows me time to get my eye in without having to distract myself with moving the scope manually.

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I have always been manual, star hopping, this is why i cant find any DSO`s dimmer than a planet :grin:

I did have an HEQ5 syntrek thing and it was superb for tracking, but a right faff to set up, so these days if a scope wont go on an AZ4 i wont have it, i do enjoy the challenge of trying to find stuff, and still tend to use a pocket guide but im starting to struggle to read these at night so i try to plan what i want to view and then use internet to "get an idea", i still have a tracking mount in the form of EQ5 with dc drive and this is perfect for tracking moon and planets

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I really like the combo of GoTo and Stellarium.  The latter shows what's there, then can be used to confirm I'm on target (which I usually am, with GoTo).   The glare from the laptop is eliminated with a red plastic sleeve plus an extra layer of red cellophane.

I did have a WiFi module, but sold it on as I prefer the hand controller, freer hands, and 2-star alignment as opposed to three-object alignment.

I think we all find our own ways that we like and that give the results we want!

Doug.

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2 hours ago, Scott said:

So you've not seen Faulksy's dob then? It's lit up like blackpool illuminations :D
For me, the main advantage of goto is AP. I know guys who have spent a lifetime searching for the horsehead visually. With my goto on a permanent pier, once powered up I'm there in seconds. Of course I only know because of the camera.
For visual, half the fun is finding the target. If I was to give up AP tomorrow, I'd sell the lot and buy a big (18"-20") manual Dob powered only with a dew strip or two and a few of them ethos the dob mob keep rattling on about :D

:icon_biggrin::icon_biggrin:

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2 hours ago, Scott said:

 If I was to give up AP tomorrow, I'd sell the lot and buy a big (18"-20") manual Dob powered only with a dew strip or two and a few of them ethos the dob mob keep rattling on about :D

Go on then, I dare you. :D Join the light side...

True to say GOTO is perfect for AP and that observing is partly a treasure hunt. I was able to find some difficult targets last night but also experience frustration at not being able to find others...

Big dobs are fun.

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2 minutes ago, Beulah said:

Go on then, I dare you. :D Join the light side...

True to say GOTO is perfect for AP and that observing is partly a treasure hunt. I was able to find some difficult targets last night but also experience frustration at not being able to find others...

Big dobs are fun.

nicely put sam. go on scott we dare you :icon_biggrin:

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7 minutes ago, Beulah said:

Go on then, I dare you. :D Join the light side...

True to say GOTO is perfect for AP and that observing is partly a treasure hunt. I was able to find some difficult targets last night but also experience frustration at not being able to find others...

Big dobs are fun.

Apparently 18" dobs are still big in Scotts eyes!!!....

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