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Cosmic Geoff

Amateur Astronomy kit - the future?

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Mainly for fun, I would like to ask two connected questions:

What do you think amateur astronomy telescopes and mounts will be like in the future?

What developments would you like to see?

I think that we will see more of the computer-assisted mounts aimed at beginners, and at advanced amateurs.  Some people will buy new types of expensive high-performance instruments that require computer technology for their design and manufacture.  Some people will continue to buy traditional unpowered designs. The refractor, Newtonian reflector and German equatorial mount are all old designs that continue to sell in large numbers. 

I'd like to see computer-assisted models that are easier to use. Why should GoTo mounts not all have GPS and a permanent internal clock? Why not have outfits that just need to be taken outside and turned on, with a small camera and plate-solving doing the work of alignment? No need to assemble the OTA, mount and tripod. No need to level the mount. No need to fold up the mount to get it through a doorway.  If you think this is a pipe dream, you need to see a Starsense-equipped C8 SE in action.  To my mind, this is an open goal waiting for a canny manufacturer and marketeer to take aim at it.

On the computer-assisted front, why not equip GoTo mounts with a third control axis? I understand this is the system used in the latest giant telescopes, where it is more practical to have an alt-azimuth mount with camera rotation than an equatorial without.  In combination with plate-solving, one could perhaps have an alt-azimuth GoTo suitable for astro-photography, which can be erected, turned on and left to sort out its own alignment, eliminating at a stroke polarscopes, Polarmasters and all the lengthy faff of polar alignment.

No doubt astro-photography will become even more popular than today. I wonder if we will start to see pre-packaged astrophography outfits, with the most popular scope, mount, software and camera bundled together?

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I think the next step will be in VR with reattime 360 images, at the moment I'm doing a lot of exsploring the solar system in VR not realtime yet with a program call space charts for the oculus rift, its amazing, the images of our solar system are the best ive seen, the darkside of the moon is a feast for the eyes and Jupiter and its moons are fantastic, and theres nothing like holding sol in your hand in HA. clear skys, charl.

Edited by xtreemchaos
lack of letters

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I dont think it will be many years before mobile phones will have the sensitivity and inbuilt tracking capabilities (steerable sensors) to match anything you can get with today's portable DSLR/lens set ups on mounts like the Star Adventurer. 

I think it would be nice to have digital mirrors made up of tiny micro elements much like a DLP projector so you could not only collimate at the flick of a switch but change its parameters and focal length too.

The other thing that will help future astronomers is much faster computers to handle the new generations of CMOS cameras and better cheap batteries.

Alan 

Edited by Alien 13

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There will no doubt continue to be further advances in computer assisted designs and astro photography technology, which is perhaps the most popular form of amateur astronomy. In the longer term, quite uncertain really, when you factor in the effects of global warming, the seemingly unstoppable advance of light pollution and the retention of stable economies, perhaps the future lies with an increasing approach to a more virtual technological experience. Educational and outreach opportunities provided through societies and observatories such as at Kielder and aimed at school children, will shape a vision for future generations.

 

 

Edited by scarp15

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7 hours ago, Cosmic Geoff said:

On the computer-assisted front, why not equip GoTo mounts with a third control axis? I understand this is the system used in the latest giant telescopes, where it is more practical to have an alt-azimuth mount with camera rotation than an equatorial without.  In combination with plate-solving, one could perhaps have an alt-azimuth GoTo suitable for astro-photography, which can be erected, turned on and left to sort out its own alignment, eliminating at a stroke polarscopes, Polarmasters and all the lengthy faff of polar alignment.

This does already exist, to a degree. Look up the Track The Stars Panther mount - an alt az mount with goto that is suitable for imaging. The third axis is implemented using a mechanism to rotate the tube.

Tom

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I've been into astronomy for about twenty-three years and into deep sky imaging for about ten. Most people would assume that there must have been a revolution on the imaging kit side in ten years. There hasn't. The budget end kit has become better and cheaper but I could go back ten years and lose precious little in technological terms.

What has happened is that this community has shared ideas about capture and processing and continued to raise the bar. That's why images are getting better and better.

There is no need for electronic faffing around to polar align a mount. Takahashi have a simple polar scope routine which ditches mount levelling and uses a spirit level on the RA housing to orientate the reticle (which is what mount levelling is all about.) You can get a good alignment on a Tak mount in two minutes just from the polar scope.

Half the time (or more) electronics are not the solution, they are the problem.

Olly

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48 minutes ago, ollypenrice said:

There is no need for electronic faffing around ...

...Half the time (or more) electronics are not the solution, they are the problem.

This may be true for the 'hardware' aspects of electronics, but do you think the same of the software side?  There IS a lot of faffing around with the processing, and also continuous development of algorithms (albeit, perhaps not a 'revolution'.)

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In the future we will install friendly lighting in our cities and this will significantly reduce light pollution.  We will modify the full spectrum LEDS to get a version that is friendly for the sky and the cities will generate much less light pollution.

Hopefully.

--> I see a dark sky for the inhabitants of the earth where a simple small telescope could be used to look at many DSOs.

 

Edited by N3ptune
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1 hour ago, AKB said:

This may be true for the 'hardware' aspects of electronics, but do you think the same of the software side?  There IS a lot of faffing around with the processing, and also continuous development of algorithms (albeit, perhaps not a 'revolution'.)

Software tools are certainly advancing and I use them, as do all imagers. However, there is a problem with 'bought in' algorithms which take too many steps not under the direct control of the imager. They tend to produe a characteristic and predictable result.

Olly

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21 minutes ago, ollypenrice said:

...a characteristic and predictable result.

...can't imagine what you're thinking of... :icon_biggrin:

There is, of course, always room for the artistic touch.

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Just now, AKB said:

...can't imagine what you're thinking of... :icon_biggrin:

There is, of course, always room for the artistic touch.

Well, I'm not sure that I'd call it artistic. Extracting what is buried in the data is better desribed as craftsmanship in my opinion. I tend to see art as a matter of invention. Nothing wrong with that, I've spent most of my professional life in literature, but I feel that astro image processing is a bit like archaeology. You painstaingly remove the dust and grime, repair a few bits and present it to the world. If it's an Etruscan vase you're excavating, you are not the artist. The Etruscan potter was the artist.

Olly

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Ah!  I was wondering where you drew the line.  There is, however, great art in craftsmanship.  Take a look at your beloved Avalon mount, for example.  (Sorry, probably getting a bit off-topic here.)

 

 

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It seems to me that it won't be long before an amateur will not even need a telescope. For me, that would be a sad day/night.   :icon_biggrin:

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Large, accurate, affordable and VERY LIGHT WEIGHT mirrors please!

:)

Paul 

Edited by clarkpm4242

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I'd imagine that within a decade, some form of adaptive optics will start becoming available for amateur scopes which would be a real game changer on the large aperture ones.  If and when it goes on sale in the UK some sort of cloud dispersal system would also have to be included in the package :)

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In the future I would expect to see an eyepiece with an internal screen upon which a real time processed image will appear of the object in view. :icon_biggrin:

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21 minutes ago, timwetherell said:

I'd imagine that within a decade, some form of adaptive optics will start becoming available for amateur scopes which would be a real game changer on the large aperture ones.  If and when it goes on sale in the UK some sort of cloud dispersal system would also have to be included in the package :)

I'd want it to be one which didn't involve skyward lasers... :BangHead:

We already have 'active' optics for those who can face the task of making them work. I'm not one of those people!

Olly

Edit: I wonder if it could be done in software. The system would need to be reading continuosly to know how a chosen star were 'boiling' and then a spacial correction coud be fed in to correct it. We would just need continuous-read chips, I guess. 'Just...'

Edited by ollypenrice
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Yes, my guess would be just that. Some sort of software on a guide star that deformed the mirror to make it look like the theoretical diffraction pattern. As you say, skyward lasers wouldn't be so good!

 

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6 minutes ago, timwetherell said:

Yes, my guess would be just that. Some sort of software on a guide star that deformed the mirror to make it look like the theoretical diffraction pattern. As you say, skyward lasers wouldn't be so good!

 

Mirrors? Oh no!

Am I going to ask Mr Petrunin about deformable oil spaced triplets or are you? 

:icon_mrgreen:lly

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2 hours ago, ollypenrice said:

I wonder if it could be done in software. The system would need to be reading continuosly to know how a chosen star were 'boiling' and then a spacial correction coud be fed in to correct it.

I think you're describing something very like this (a nice online demo) ...

Online Multi-frame Blind Deconvolution with Super-resolution and Saturation Correction

Edit: I'm looking at using this on individual subs acquired without guiding, where the PSF should be the same over the whole image.

Edited by AKB
added PS

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