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John

Is observational astronomy on the wane ?

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1 hour ago, johninderby said:

I wonder how  future developments will change the observation vs imaging discussion. In a few years you’ll be able to buy a completly automated remote observing setup that you just bring home, open up and plonk down in the middle of the lawn and it sets itself up leaving you to go inside turn on your TV and select whatever you want to look at and just press a button to capture images with no technical knowledge or effort needed. 

Hmmmmmmm 🤔

That's what worries me John! None of the benefits of peace, concentration, relaxation and reward for effort and skill.

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For me it's about combining two hobbies, astronomy and photography.

Over the years I've moved more towards imaging, but it's for positive reasons: digital imaging has made photography sessions more rewarding and fun than in the days of film in my opinion. (I started both hobbies back in the 80's, so did dabble in astrophotography with film). 

Having said that, I still manually guide long exposures - though I'm not sure staring at a guide star counts as observing 😀.

Regards, Mike.

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1 hour ago, johninderby said:

I wonder how  future developments will change the observation vs imaging discussion. In a few years you’ll be able to buy a completly automated remote observing setup that you just bring home, open up and plonk down in the middle of the lawn and it sets itself up leaving you to go inside turn on your TV and select whatever you want to look at and just press a button to capture images with no technical knowledge or effort needed. 

Hmmmmmmm 🤔

This is a good point - when I eventually got around to buying my first scope (only quite recently Im ashamed to say) I made sure to choose one without any motor drive or GoTo system included. I'm forcing myself to manually slew the scope and hop around to find objects and manually track with the RA slow-mo to keep things in view. I enjoy the challenge of trying to track things down and the joy when they appear in the eyepiece.

Equally you can't beat sharing the excitement with others of seeing Jupiter and Saturn for the first time with their own eyes.

There is a definitely a place for both - amateurs around the world are making important observations and discoveries all the time, whether it's variable stars, comets or eclipses. Equally, the amazing images produced continue to inspire more people to look up.

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I'm sincerely hope that Observational Astronomy remains a desirable pursuit of all astronomers, both Amateur and Professional. Light pollution is certainly responsible for any decline in the numbers visually surfing the universe, but to abandon it completely would be a tragedy. 

Imaging has also had a negative impact on numbers eyeballing the sky,  mostly as a result of the rapid influx of the digital wizardry that is available to give the amateur AP's the tools that can produce results comparable to the Professionals.  These tools can be a drain on the pocket, but that may not be a deterrent to the ones determined to produce first class results.  Of course the tools are one thing, like any task, it takes more than just the tools, it takes much know how too.  One can run into much frustration, and despair, I can attest to that. So much so, I'm seriously contemplating selling my imaging collection, and investing in  a large DOB. The skies around where I live are not too Bad,  and  I always got much satisfaction from my observing sessions, and the sense of wonder you feel is far more emotional than looking at a picture, with all due respect to those who do image the Deep Sky wonders.

I will persevere with imaging this coming season, but that big DOB. Is always in my mind.

Best Wishes to both Observers, and Imagers.

Ron.

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by barkis
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Discussion in the pub ten years in the future.

”Ah but you’re not a real astronomer until you’ve actually looked through an eyepiece”

Reply

”What’s an eyepiece?”

🤔😳

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Just now, johninderby said:

Discussion in the pub ten years in the future.

”Ah but you’re not a real astronomer until you’ve actually looked through an eyepiece”

Reply

”What’s an eyepiece?”

🤔😳

By then we'll have VR headsets linked to electronic eyepieces to give real time technicolour views of the heavens  😂

Dave

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Quote

Is observational astronomy on the wane?

I hope so. Imagine all the eyepieces that become available on the used market.

 

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4 minutes ago, Davey-T said:

By then we'll have VR headsets linked to electronic eyepieces to give real time technicolour views of the heavens  😂

Dave

You mean “Remote imaging module” not electronic eyepiece don’t you? 😁

Edited by johninderby
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7 minutes ago, johninderby said:

”What’s an eyepiece?”

"Oh, you must remember!  One of those camera things that plugs into a laptop so you can see the pictures on it."

James

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Whilst I applaud the skill and patience of imagers, and I too love to see what they produce, I have no desire to attempt it myself and I am firmly in the camp of observational Astronomy. It is being at the eyepiece, under the stars in real time for me, and always will be, enjoying the peace and quiet. If I could not do that, I would not bother at all.

Edited by Saganite
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I suspect the ratio of imagers to observers has grown significantly too - I guess FLO would be able to tell us if that’s reflected in the retail market over the past decade or so. The unstoppable march of light pollution makes it inevitable really, particularly in small countries like the UK where the vast majority of the population lives in large towns or cities, and where suburbia spreads across what used to be green belt. In terms of live observational astronomy, night vision technology offers hope, though obviously prices need to come down - that may take some time. I think solar is going to keep growing. But despite all the problems that light pollution poses, I still think there’s more than enough in the night sky, even from the brightest urban locations, to reward the observational astronomer. 

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My perspective as an imager:

Quote

it does seem to me that more than a few are spending as much of their time pulling their hair out, cursing and cussing in frustration because things are not going right as I do on a whole nights observing.

Apart from that, the seemingly huge expenses that are involved in putting a good rig together keeps me perfectly happy to stick to simple observing.

You can say that again on both of these statements - and some.

However I find imaging VERY rewarding, and it is "something to show" afterwards. 

However I started off as an observer before I got into imaging.  Seeing things like Saturn, Jupiter, M42, the fuzz in the middle of Andromeda and M13 were really exciting, but many of the things we image are just too faint to be seen.

When I go to places like Kelling Heath, there are tons of observers there only too happy to let me look through their eyepieces while my images are chugging away, so I do a bit of observational astronomy at those times, but the target has been found for me. 

I have to take my hat off to those with huge Dobsonian's (especially the ones where you have to climb up a ladder to see through the eyepiece),  their ability to find objects never ceases to amaze me.

However I do find what I see a bit underwhelming after seeing what you can get imaging, but again it's nice to see these things with you own eyes.

But at the end of the day - for me - there are only so many times I can look at the same target and say "wow".  

So the only real observing I do these days, is a bit at Kelling, plus I do a bit of outreach with my local group for the general public, and I find that rewarding listening to all the intakes of breath and the wow's from people never having seen these things before.  I am doing another of these on 4th October.

As stated above imaging is expensive, and can be very frustrating at times, so many things can go wrong, even after imaging for years something can come and bite you on the backside that has never happened before, but it is really my preferred choice.  

Carole 

 

 

 

Edited by carastro
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50 minutes ago, Saganite said:

It is being at the eyepiece, under the stars in real time for me, and always will be, enjoying the peace and quiet. If I could not do that, I would not bother at all.

I’m new to this and haven’t tried imaging so my opinion is pretty worthless but this resonates with me. I was walking along the shingles of Dungeness yesterday behind a long line of guys and girls sat patiently waiting for a fish to take their lure. It struck me that there might be a parallel there with this hobby- getting outdoors usually alone and often waiting for clouds to budge or like for me last night, Orion to peep over the horizon. The patience and the reward were a magical experience. I hope I never tire of peering through the thermal ripples to glean  fine detail of the moon or gazing upwards catching shooting stars or the iss. I did buy a set of rgb  filters though just in case 😂

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1 hour ago, Highburymark said:

I suspect the ratio of imagers to observers has grown significantly too - I guess FLO would be able to tell us if that’s reflected in the retail market over the past decade or so. 

I think you are right. As far as we can tell visual astronomy remains popular. No sign of a decrease. But we have seen a significant increase in people wanting (and expecting) to be able to attach a camera to their telescope. 

4 hours ago, John said:

Maybe some of the Facebook type culture is also coming into play - the "if there is no picture, it didn't happen" type thing perhaps ?

I am sure that is a factor.

Steve 

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If money was unlimited, I would venture into the dark side, simply because the great number of things to image which cant really be seen that well. But I would still keep doing visual  serving.

When I sit at the computer looking through a nights widefield images for meteors, or UFO's, I enjoy seeing I captured a good meteor. But there isn't the thrill of seeing one with my own eyes.

There's something with that eye brain connection that will keep many doing visual. Not to mention the idea that in ways it connects me to those great names in our past.

Edited by maw lod qan
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It would be a pity indeed if visual observing declined, but as other posters have pointed out, it may be due to circumstances, particularly light pollution.

I used to occasionally attend a get together of amateurs for a night’s observing here in the New Forest. At first, it used to be almost all visual, with people chatting, and wandering around looking through each other’s scopes; it was very ‘social’. As time went on though, more and more would bring along imaging kit, and most of them would spend the evening hunched over laptops, and not engaging very much with ‘non-imagers’.

a pity, I thought.

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29 minutes ago, johninderby said:

Perhaps the solution is to have one scope doing the imaging while you look though another scope. 🙂

I think that's what quite a few images do these days, get the rig running then use a dob to enjoy the skies. That I can understand far more than disconnecting yourself indoors watching TV while the scope is outside.

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Visual only for me as I don’t think I will live long enough to match  quality of images posted here 😊

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Now first win the lottery, buy the villa in Tenerife and build the obs with a 1m scope inside then do a bit of imaging. 😁😁😁

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4 hours ago, johninderby said:

Discussion in the pub ten years in the future.

”Ah but you’re not a real astronomer until you’ve actually looked through an eyepiece”

Reply

”What’s an eyepiece?”

🤔😳

You don't  have to wait that long I regularly crack that joke at my local astro club to keen eyeballers.  

Regards Andrew 

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Ah, but you're not a real astronomer unless you're sitting in the nice warm control room of a 10m telescope on a mountain.

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My astronomy journey has had 3 main phases.

 Visual including eye frozen to brass RSA threaded eyepiece. Could never find anything faint, poor eye sight very bright orange sky due to steelworks and sodium lighting. 

Imaging with good kit. Just seemed too easy  to capture images (I know, I know) with all the work at the computer afterwards.

Spectroscopy, challenge with the kit and capture with  self automation. Can study the results scientifically. 

In all this I still like just looking up under a dark clear sky with no other purpose than to enjoy the view.

I would make a distinction between looking and observing. To me the former is for joy alone the latter has additional purpose, as well, be it variable stars magnitude estimates or hunting to your limits etc.

But, in the end do what you enjoy in the hobby

Regards Andrew 

Edited by andrew s
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I think it’s great that imaging has grown, I really enjoy seeing the results.

I started off purely visual then moved to planetary imaging but after a while felt a bit detached so moved back to visual but tried to draw what I saw.....

post-13701-133877751758_thumb.jpgpost-1055-0-98695800-1370598270_thumb.jpgpost-1055-0-34805600-1394402074_thumb.jpg

Edited by dweller25
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I've really enjoyed reading though the posts in this thread - thanks so much for sharing your thoughts :smiley:

I think what really counts is that astronomy now offers a very wide variety of ways to enjoy and engage with it - hopefully that will enable a wider range of people to find  interest in the Universe around them. It's not just a hobby for "boffins" but has something to offer everybody :smiley:

 

 

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