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tomato

The Joys of Visual Astronomy

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Anybody who has seen my posts on SGL will know I have been well and truly seduced by the dark art of imaging.

However, I have just spent 3 days (and 3 clear nights) at Eddington Lodge in Cornwall and have been introduced to the joys of a large aperture Dobsonian and finding objects by star hopping with a Telrad. I got stunning views of M81, M82, M51, the Leo Triplet, M13 and finished off with Jupiter. I must confess some of these objects I have only ever viewed previously on a PC screen. I really did get a buzz from both finding the objects myself and registering the ancient light with my own Bio photon detectors.

PS I also did some imaging, and was blown away by the difference a proper dark sky makes, so I won't be selling my imaging set up any time soon. :icon_biggrin:

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I've always thought of it as 'getting up close'. A kinda 'just me and you' feeling.

I'm in awe of what the imagers can capture. But I love when it's just me and my view in the night ... oh, and that thought of sharing it with billions of stars.

OK, off now to take a look at the clouds and crash back to reality ... 😱

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It is amazing what these big Dobs can do but it is also quite surprising what celestial targets you can come across when not expecting them, for example, I was in the supermarket last week and came across these beauties :happy8:

Nebula – Amazing flavor Red Round Cherry tomato

Nebula tomato.jpg

Edited by Pig
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I'm purely visual and after six or so years am still amazed I can go out of my own back door with fairly modest equipment and spend time observing objects most of the human race has never seen.

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Visual observing will always be my prime passion in astronomy. I do dabble with 'imaging' using my iPhone, but that is largely just to keep a record of my observations and for a bit of fun.

Last night was a prime example; seeing the asteroid 2014 JO25 from my back garden, and actually having to do it the hard way i.e. Star hopping without a properly aligned Goto mount all added to the satisfaction.

All ways of doing astronomy are equally valid obviously, but I do struggle to get my head around being able to sit with your head in a laptop (which I do all day) when there is a beautiful sky overhead begging to be looked at. If I were ever to do AP then the idea of a dob sitting ready to be used once the AP rig is running would be the way to go.

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I started with visual then strayed down the rabbit hole for a little while with some imaging.  After 8 months or so I knew AP wasn't for me though and felt kind of detached from the objects, frankly becoming a bit bored...  So I sold off the imaging stuff and bought a 12" dob and some nice eyepieces...   IMHO nothing beat being out there with the scope and actually viewing the objects for yourself.

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I think everyone should have a go at AP.......its so rewarding

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Nice post tomato.  I've had a look at Eddington Lodge before as a possible destination for a break with the missus, the facilities look absolutely great and it'd be amazing to have use of those big Dobs, even if only for a few days.  I assume from your enthusiasm that it's definitely somewhere that you'd return to? ;-)

26 minutes ago, estwing said:

I think everyone should have a go at AP.......its so rewarding

I've thought about trying one of those remote observatories that you can access through a website.  It's probably not the same as having a hands-on experience with a rig under a cold, dark sky but the end results would be practically guaranteed. 

Could be a nice gift...to myself :icon_biggrin:

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2 hours ago, BeerMe said:

I've thought about trying one of those remote observatories that you can access through a website.  It's probably not the same as having a hands-on experience with a rig under a cold, dark sky but the end results would be practically guaranteed. 

This is good, Paul, because it points up the 'remoteness' element within our discussion. That remoteness is not what I want from the hobby.

I think it's great that some imagers set up their AP rig and then get on with some observing while it does its stuff. (Although my little experience of being out with imagers is that they stand around and seem very happy when offered the chance to actually see something!)  But it's the bit after that, the processing and tweaking on-screen that doesn't appeal to me. Too much like what I had to do when working. 

I get the idea of the huge kick folks get from pulling the data together and teasing out the detail. And I'm hugely appreciative of the end results. 👍🤘 It's just not for me.

Vive la difference!

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4 hours ago, BeerMe said:

Nice post tomato.  I've had a look at Eddington Lodge before as a possible destination for a break with the missus, the facilities look absolutely great and it'd be amazing to have use of those big Dobs, even if only for a few days.  I assume from your enthusiasm that it's definitely somewhere that you'd return to? ;-)

I've thought about trying one of those remote observatories that you can access through a website.  It's probably not the same as having a hands-on experience with a rig under a cold, dark sky but the end results would be practically guaranteed. 

Could be a nice gift...to myself :icon_biggrin:

Yes, a very nice few days at Eddington Lodge, great facilities, and for once I was fortunate with the weather with two superb clear nights. We also had  no delays driving down and back to North Yorkshire which adds to the experience. 

Would certainly return.

I still cannot get my head around remote imaging, I think I like watching the kit dew up too much to do it all from indoors....

 

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Glad you got to appreciate a big dob @tomato, I am slightly jealous! M13 must have looked incredible, its pretty amazing through my 8" SCT.

11 hours ago, Floater said:

But it's the bit after that, the processing and tweaking on-screen that doesn't appeal to me. Too much like what I had to do when working. 

This is one of the things that I like about EAA (aka Video Astronomy). I started with EAA due to poor skies at my previous house and although the laptop experience is not quite the same as visual, the detail which can be recorded whilst at the scope, after just a few seconds in some cases, is incredible, particularly for faint fuzzies like galaxies. And best of all NO POST PROCESSING.  :thumbsup:

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Hello All,

This post is really giving me hope, as I'm about to loose it. I started visual observing like 5 years ago and astro photography is not an option for me because not now not even later I will be able to get a tracking mount.  

I own a 10" Dob for like 3 years now and was dying to see DSOs other than M31 and M13. But all I can see is bright objects like planets. I feel angry when I read "Turn Left at Orion" for example and go through all the objects I should find but sometimes I feel that book is lying :)

But anyways any advise is welcome and thanks for the good thread.

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Sounds like you had a great experience, @tomato. It's great you got 3 clear nights! 

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I would highly recommend trying one of the several ‘dark sky retreats’ that are advertised both here and abroad. Being a keen imager I booked a stay at Olly Penrice’s place back in 2016 and it promised to be a great week. Alas, I was called back to work to help deal with a major crisis after just one night (and what a crisis, my job was made redundant 6 weeks later, but that’s another story) but the skies there are superb, and with a much better chance of being clear than in the UK. Olly does have some fine visual scopes as well.

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On 04/12/2018 at 01:52, tomato said:

I would highly recommend trying one of the several ‘dark sky retreats’ that are advertised both here and abroad. Being a keen imager I booked a stay at Olly Penrice’s place back in 2016 and it promised to be a great week. Alas, I was called back to work to help deal with a major crisis after just one night (and what a crisis, my job was made redundant 6 weeks later, but that’s another story) but the skies there are superb, and with a much better chance of being clear than in the UK. Olly does have some fine visual scopes as well.

Thanks about this suggestion, it's really worth looking into.

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Hang in there @Maged. Depending on your sky quality a ten inch will show plenty. I started to feel like this a few years ago, then observed with some other people who were more experienced at star hopping and it really moved me forward. Turn left.... is a great book, but I also need sky Safari, a Rigel or telrad, a RACI finder and a comfortable seat (yes really!) to find stuff. If there's a club near you where you can find others to learn from it'll really help.

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I am dabbling with AP but so far am limiting myself to exploring what I can capture with single fram exposures mating my Sony a6300 to my 150mm Newt. I like some of my results, getting a it more detail etc. Nothing however, beats the satisfaction of finding and observing a target visually. I am interacting with the actual photons that left the subject of my observations, sometimes thousands of years ago. That is quite a humbling experience for me.

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I like both visual and photo visual astro but even with some moderately good cameras and eaa gear having dark skies here when clear the choice I make will be more often than not visual, ah but my visual experience is backed and supported by the works hard works of many astronomers past and that includes astrophotographers too. My best reasoning for my astute preferred method of observation is when some AP person (and this has even been me doing this) creates a photo that is supposed to represent the view of an object as it is seen through the eyepiece but in reality never even comes close as there seems to be at least to me quite a large difference between the brilliance of unadulterated light observed directly and light that has been captured stored and proccessed then displayed on a quite noticeably square flat surface...even a 3.5 inch achro at a true dark site and an hour of dark adaptation will be enough to convince most as too what they might be missing, its just that good...at least to me...

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