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Alan White

Visual only Astronomy?

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I am finding although I am drawn to the idea of astro-photography and would love to combine my love of photography and  astronomy:
time and money are not allowing this.
Is this common in this fine hobby of ours?

I so much enjoy short 2-3 hours sessions at the scope in an all manual set up.
Photography mainly appeals when here on the net and not when under the sky so I have not commited to other than some basic playing.
Time and money restrained for some years to come yet.
So I may just remain a visual only observer, I that such a bad thing?

What are your thoughts please?
 

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No bad thing at all!

 

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I was a very keen amateur photographer and took thousands of insect macro shots. However, I have tried ‘astro’ imaging once on the moon and really didn’t engage as I felt the camera was hogging the ‘moonlight’ and I was missing out.

As a solely visual observer I have literally no interest in imaging and really enjoy what I feel is a direct contact with the skies. I do sketch which you could argue is a type of imaging but I just take the view that it makes me a better observer as I concentrate more and extract the maximum detail that I can. I feel that in some aspects I see more detail than the imagers produce e.g. with white light and hydrogen alpha solar observing where I see more detail, more sharply than I ever see on images.

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Hi,lots of people on this forum are just visual observers, and a lot who just like imaging. Why not sketch what YOU see, this will help you to see more detail, it`s  pennies to set up and its good fun which is what it`s all about, and you will see your results.This is what I do.Yes I do enjoy trying to take images of the Moon & planets.

But visual observing comes first. Just enjoy yourself.

Des

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Whatever floats your boat. I'd guess that visual astronomers outnumber imagers by a wide margin for various reasons. I'd like to explore more of the visual side myself but tend to be too busy messing about with cameras when the skies are clear.

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Nothing's wrong with doing just visual at all. As for astrophotography you can get great results, but nothing beats looking at the real thing through the EP on your scope, rather than on a display on a gadget or PC. 

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I'm a Bird photographer but like to visually observer. I have dabbled in astro imaging and have the setup but haven't got into it seriously enough. Looking is relaxing and love to see with my own eyes.

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Alan - "Is that such a bad thing" - your kidding right ?.  Visual Astronomy I think is just about as rewarding as it gets, just casually walking around on a night - happening just to gaze up skyward - Yeah just a few bright points of light with a lot of haze and light pollution - yeah - then put a pair of binoculars or a scope skyward - BINGO - this is where it all begins, not having to worry about exposure times, lights, darks, subs - you don't EVEN have to know your way around the sky - get comfy and warm and just take it all in - these points of light are still points of light - but then you start to notice all the asterism's and patterns up there - it sort of intrigues me just to look a little further - yep - get a good book like Turn Left or even the one I started with - Norton's Star Atlas - what a read!! and visually you start to see little faint smudges in the Bino's - always in the same place night after night (taking into consideration that 4 minute difference) swing the scope onto that faint smudge, add a little power - then things become a little more interesting - the colours to the points of light, the double/triple star systems separated by a whisker of darkness, the Globulars wanting you to add a little more power - the outer parts begin to resolve into little more points of light with a mass of light towards the centre, searching the atlas for these wonderful objects, break them down into constellations, then begins the star hop or GOTO - just wondering how long the lights been travelling to reach our eyes - the brighter Galaxies become their own smudges - each with such a different shape/characteristic - spending a little time on each one - look again at the brief notes with each object yeah Millions of light years away - WHAT!! - and still visible through the Bino's or the scope, Andromeders VERY BRIGHT smudge at around 2 and a half million light years away and glowing away there.

So to sum up - "a bad thing" well depends how old you are ?? - at star parties I've heard people say that's wicked! no really! that's sick!! and DON'T even get me started on the Moon, Sun and Planets!!!

Paul.

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At night I usually just go for visual. Very relaxing. I did try some shots in the distant past, and more recently I got some planetary, lunar and solar imaging kit and like using that. 

Still, for a relaxing night out, visual is best (for me)

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A number of years ago there was a letter sent into Sky & Telescope magazine. In the letter, a father told the tale of how his teenage daughter built her own small reflector telescope. After completion she invited her friends round to view Saturn. Her father thought he'd try an experiment where he printed out a NASA image of Saturn in all its glory. He then showed the image to the kids, and asked the question, "Which is better, the NASA image or the view through the telescope?" They all agreed it was the view through the telescope!

We are tactile creatures and like to connect to the physical world through touch. Unfortunately we can't touch Saturn, but studying the surreal view of it on a one to one basis, and seeing it hanging there almost in 3D, is always going to thrill the appreciative observer. Through the telescope, the planet's and moon as well as many deep sky objects are vibrant and alive, whereas in the main, images tend to look lifeless, even taxidermied in some instances! 

Don't worry about not going down the imaging route! Enjoy your time at the eyepiece! I've been a visual observer for 37 years and not once have I ever felt inclined to try my hand at imaging. I love visual so much! :icon_cyclops_ani::icon_bounce:

If I ever did decide to try imaging, my nature is such that I'd do it whole souled, just as many of the superbly talented imagers on SGL already do. I doubt I could do both and do justice to each, but that's me!

Mike

 

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If it's a bad thing then I've been doing wrong for over 60 years!. I love looking at other peoples images however and also find the eventual solutions to the never ending problems imagers have interesting. :evil4::icon_biggrin:

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I am essentially a visual only observer. That's what I love and I find that proper observing i.e. sitting comfortably and really taking the time to tease out detail calms me down and helps me relax; I can actually feel my heart beat slowing when all is well :). I do fiddle around with an iPhone or even a camera every now and then; I like having the record of the event, but do find it a much more stressful process. I get so little time to observe currently that I would never achieve anything if I tried imaging!

For me it has always been about the direct connection with the object you are observing, knowing that real photons are reaching your eye from so far away, and so long ago. I recall seeing the supernova in M82 a while back. Observing with a 4" scope under light polluted skies it was one of my toughest observations, but one I won't forget, using averted vision to help that little glimmer become visible.

As Shane says, seeing detail on the solar surface that takes your breath away is an amazing experience. It's not uncommon for me to utter a choice word or too when the seeing steadies for a while to allow views that are better than photographic.

I do think that astro photography is so far removed from normal photography that the link is actually fairly tenuous. I say just enjoy doing what you enjoy doing, and if that visual only, so be it.

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Absolutely nothing wrong with putting an eye to the lens and just sticking with that, I guess i am a visual astronomer but i happen to enjoy putting a camera on the scope for Luna imaging, if you have a DSLR and got a t ring with nose piece you could take luna shots with your kit, best of both worlds

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I like both, viewing the moon with my tiny Mak always brings a smile but I also have my camera on a static tripod taking 20 second exposures with a wide lens to capture the ambiance of the session and hopefully some meteors.

Alan

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I've been a visual only astronomer for 30+ years. I've dabbled a couple of times with basic planetary and lunar imaging but I think my future interest in imaging will be admiring the efforts of those who can do it well :icon_biggrin:

I know people in the hobby who don't image or observe. They like reading about astronomy, watching films on it and going to talks about it though.

It's all good :icon_biggrin:

 

 

Edited by John
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A nice thing about astronomy is that it can be enjoyed at many levels from naked eye to truly deep imaging, and everything in between. I see visual and AP as being different and complementary, there is no right approach. Something I've been enjoying recently is to use my camera as an enhanced viewing device, taking short exposures as a bridge between the two. It helps me relate DSOs to what I can see by eye. It's also a good way of making use of less-than-ideal conditions, which is more typically one of the advantages of visual.

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2 hours ago, Alan White said:

I so much enjoy short 2-3 hours sessions at the scope in an all manual set up.
So I may just remain a visual only observer, I that such a bad thing?
 

Thank you folks, that helps galvanise my mind.

The line 'Is that such a bad thing?'   to put one mind at rest, I was in my dry humour suggesting that to me visual is not a bad thing at all, If anything as suggested fully agree it's the best thning going, honest.
Visual observing does for me as some have said here, slow my heart rate, let me chill out and become one with the world and beyond, wonderful.

 

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I bought my first 60mm Refracting telescope in 1965 so I would say I am a visual astronomer. I suppose if I lived in Arizona I might have taken up Astro Photography but the amount of clear skies in the UK means I prefer to take out my scopes and enjoy the visually experience.

I am a member of active astro society with some members very good at astro imaging other prefer visual and some very knowledgeable armchair astronomers.

I have just gone out with my Helios Apollo 15x70 binos and enjoyed 15 minutes looking at various clusters and a few delights in Gemini, Taurus and Orion.

Can't complain being a visual astronomer :happy11:

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Mark

Have to agree, I love my snatched binocular sessions as well.
My 10x50 sit in the dining room ready for near immediate use.

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It's visual only for me. I find AP a bit time consuming and I have no inclination to sit in front of a computer screen processing images for hour on end. I will try to set up for solar imaging in the summer when the Sun is higher in the sky. But this will only be for record shots.

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Does it need to be one or the other?  I enjoy both, I like the technical challenge of astrophotography and the excitement when the image finally appears through all the fuzzy data. At the same time, I enjoy the more personal contact at the telescope and the carefree approach that sees me just wandering across the sky to find new wonders or revisit old ones.  

 

Jim

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It is a remarkable sensation when you have your feet firmly on the ground and you are reaching visually with empathy upon an object in the night sky through an optical path. Observing is in the moment, you can relate the encounter to a particular time and place and yet the image or set of images can become embellished in your minds eye, a lasting memory. With visual astronomy you can get to share and contrast your own encounter and relate this with references to drawings and photographic images and verbal or written accounts and descriptions. You can research the background and the science behind what it is you have engaged with. 

That rush of excitement each time I discover something new for the first time (or second, or third) perhaps after sweeping around the sky for some time, in which I remark ''there it is'', can be actually quite intoxicating and gets you coming back for more. Whilst it is fundamentally a different pursuit and attitude to imaging, both are equal and thrilling, each discipline endeavours to push, explore and even pioneer. How you approach is perhaps determined a little by individual mindset, personality perhaps and then if you were a skier, would you prefer to go down hill or would you prefer to go off piste (or a mix). I think that astronomy societies embrace and are more popular with imaging a little more over visual observing, perhaps visual astronomers are a bit more solitary, or get together as informal small groups of friends.

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I am amazed by the quality of the photographs that amateur imagers get, but I only do visual and have so far never felt a desire to do imaging and I don't have a clue what imagers are talking about when they describe how they've made their images! I'm more interested in the nature of the things I am looking at rather than what they look like - so even a washed out view of a dso from a light polluted sight is great to me if I'm seeing it directly. However I would never say never!

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3 hours ago, scarp15 said:

..... perhaps visual astronomers are a bit more solitary.....

Funny you should say this. It took me until last year to join my local society :rolleyes2:

I'm very glad I did though :icon_biggrin:

 

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