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John

Is observational astronomy on the wane ?

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I think the main point to come out of this thread is that while imaging has grown it hasn’t been at the expense of visual observers. They are not waning at all. It has increased the total number in this astronomy hobby not taken away from the number going the visual route. 

Edited by johninderby
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3 minutes ago, johninderby said:

I think the main point to come out of this thread is that while imaging has grown it hasn’t been at the expense of visual observers. They are not waning at all. It has increased the total number in this astronomy hobby not taken away from the number going the visual route. 

Perhaps I'll tell the poster on the other forum that he might be mistaken ?

He is a dealer though so I wondered if his comments were based on sales trends.

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5 minutes ago, John said:

Perhaps I'll tell the poster on the other forum that he might be mistaken ?

He is a dealer though so I wondered if his comments were based on sales trends.

FLO made the comment earlier in the thread that the visual side seemed to be doing OK. 🤔

Could the dealer be more of an imaging specialist?

Edited by johninderby

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1 minute ago, John said:

Perhaps I'll tell the poster on the other forum that he might be mistaken ?

He is a dealer though so I wondered if his comments were based on sales trends.

Yes, it might be quite a difficult thing to judge.  If people are buying cameras and filter wheels then it seems a fair bet that they're imaging.  But that doesn't mean they're not visual too.

James

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5 minutes ago, johninderby said:

FLO made the comment earlier in the thread that there didn’t seem to be any drop in sales on the visual side. 🤔

The comment that I read was posted by a well known and respected dealer in the USA, Don Pensack. Don posts here occasionally as well.

 

 

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Don specialises in visual observing accessories, which is why I thought his comment was interesting.

 

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6 hours ago, Saganite said:

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.

I have been a photographer for years but have almost given up photography due to the amount of time I was spending "processing" the raw images. When I re-entered the astronomy scene I was determined to observe and learn about what I was viewing, and for me that meant visual only. I am tempted by lunar, planetary and solar imaging and do have an older camera but so far I have resisted and am trying to improve my sketching which for me is challenge enough. I'm not saying this is right for everyone, but it's how I enjoy my hobby. 

4 hours ago, Tomjo59 said:

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.

 That is a real shame. I really enjoy the social side of star parties and looking through other people's setups to see how the views compare to mine, and sharing views through my scopes with others. 

The imagers that attend our observing sessions tend to be shooting widefield or star trails with a DSLR and once they are set up and shooting they join in with doing a tour of the eyepieces. 

1 hour ago, dweller25 said:

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

I love drawing what I see, albeit not very well, but it serves as a memory jogger for me. I do love seeing the images that others produce and seeing these images helps me to appreciate what I'm looking at. 

At the end of the day a hobby is a personal thing and from my contact with other astronomers at two local groups I'd say there was a fairly even split between visual and imagers, but most of the imagers I know do enjoy looking through an eyepiece too. 

Good to hear from FLO that they don't appear to be seeing a drop off in interest in visual astronomy. 

Last night was the first time that I managed to track down The Veil visually from my back garden under the Poole and Bournemouth light dome with my ED100. I admit to using goto and an Oiii filter but the joy I got from seeing the Veil from home will stay with me forever. Guess what's top of my list on my next dark sky outing. This is why I love this hobby. 

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It is on the wane. I have always been observational,  other than a dabble with planets when I had an EQ mount and a few with the phone 

I can"t say I wouldn't be tempted , if I had spare cash, to try narrow band from my light polluted sky.  As Carole said there is only so many times you can look.at the same things. I tend to track asteroids, comets, variables and try splitting doubles. I will probably always want a bigger scope with visual, and then will never tire of revisiting the lollipops. Having said that, the moon is still  captivating.

To me you can"t beat being in a cold dark field and finally tracking down a faint DSO. To look through a 30" + scope from a really dark site would be on my bucket list. Even if I did  imaging I would want to be outside under the stars. I wouldn"t knock anybody for how they enjoy the hobby, but for me remote imaging wouldn't give me the same buzz. I can appreciate the satisfaction you must get from producing the amazing images you see though.

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1 hour ago, AdeKing said:

I have been a photographer for years but have almost given up photography due to the amount of time I was spending "processing" the raw images. When I re-entered the astronomy scene I was determined to observe and learn about what I was viewing, and for me that meant visual only. I am tempted by lunar, planetary and solar imaging and do have an older camera but so far I have resisted and am trying to improve my sketching which for me is challenge enough. I'm not saying this is right for everyone, but it's how I enjoy my hobby. 

 That is a real shame. I really enjoy the social side of star parties and looking through other people's setups to see how the views compare to mine, and sharing views through my scopes with others. 

The imagers that attend our observing sessions tend to be shooting widefield or star trails with a DSLR and once they are set up and shooting they join in with doing a tour of the eyepieces. 

I love drawing what I see, albeit not very well, but it serves as a memory jogger for me. I do love seeing the images that others produce and seeing these images helps me to appreciate what I'm looking at. 

At the end of the day a hobby is a personal thing and from my contact with other astronomers at two local groups I'd say there was a fairly even split between visual and imagers, but most of the imagers I know do enjoy looking through an eyepiece too. 

Good to hear from FLO that they don't appear to be seeing a drop off in interest in visual astronomy. 

Last night was the first time that I managed to track down The Veil visually from my back garden under the Poole and Bournemouth light dome with my ED100. I admit to using goto and an Oiii filter but the joy I got from seeing the Veil from home will stay with me forever. Guess what's top of my list on my next dark sky outing. This is why I love this hobby. 

lovely sketches. I've started sketching. Helps me take time to appreciate what im looking at.

 

 

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I quite like the idea of sketching.  I've done almost no real drawing since I did my Art A Level thirty-mumble years ago.  Once I have the imaging kit all working nicely I really should have a go.

James

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1 hour ago, Fraunhoffer said:

I've started sketching. Helps me take time to appreciate what im looking at. 

This is exactly what I've found. I really have to study the subject in order to try and reproduce what I see on paper. 

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I love the sketches Ade, you should post them more often. 

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1 hour ago, Fraunhoffer said:

lovely sketches. I've started sketching. Helps me take time to appreciate what im looking at

Reading your post, much as I'd like to I can't take ownership of those sketches, they are the work of @dweller25.

I wouldn't dream of adding mine........ Yet. :blush:

 

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James! Get drawing and show us the sketches! Please!!!

I have no talent and wish I could sketch what I see.

It's a funny one this, we've loved working with Helen (the mod) in school this year collecting images of comet 46p using the Faulkes Telescopes.

There's something special about capturing the images yourself rather than just looking at Hubble images.

However, I'm totally visual.

Even that's a quandary, as I can't see much in the distance with out glasses! :)

And, isn't there something about the photons you see having been physically changed or altered by the mirror, so that you're not actually seeing the original photon/image anyway?

That aside ( :D ),  there's something special about hopping to, finding, and seeing something through the eyepiece, even if it is the faintest fuzzy you've ever seen!

I'm not a "bucket list" person either, because having found it, I just want to find it again on a better night and see more clearly.

I love looking through the images on here, they're fantastic.

The cost of the gear is still a deciding factor for me, but even if I had the money, I'd still just buy a bigger dob! :D

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7 minutes ago, Saganite said:

I love the sketches Ade, you should post them more often. 

Not mine Steve they belong to @dweller25, isn't the quote box showing? You're the second to give me undeserved praise.

Mine look like something my 5yr old niece created. 

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I'm going out to prepare for a sketch of the Moon. It's a fine night and the seeing is good. The Moon just rose and it'll take a while before it is high enough, but there's so much more to enjoy.

Edited by Ruud
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I started out with a firm intent to image, and its still my main goal - but having not had any gear setup for most of the year I found great enjoyment in using an old Meade LX for a bit of visual. There have been some wow moments, and some really enjoyable random sky scanning but I get a similar level of enjoyment when I see that first sub come in of an object, or the first time I get that **** platesolver to work :D

I, like others have mentioned, enjoy the technical challenge involved, the projects, the learning how to do new things and try to bolster up some of the tech learning with studying some basic astrophysics / science history etc.

This is why I enjoy this hobby so much, there is an element to fit every mood and some nights you can be geared up to do 8 hours of imaging and 8 hours of processing the following day and other nights you just want to get a quick view of Jupiter and share with the fam or spend a couple of hours under the stars browsing. And when its raining you can always learn a little more on SGL/Youtube/Documentaries/Books etc.

One comment I did particular think relevant was about light polution. I think a lot more people would be into visual if they lived under dark skies - looking up at orange murkiness doesn't scream "quick lets get the scope out"

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Since returning to more active astronomy 5ish years ago I've been astounded by the quality of astrophotography being done.

It seems to me that imaging is increasingly accessible with increasingly rewarding results. It's its own purpose! 

Observational astronomy has less defined rewards. I can't easily compare the results of my observations of Saturn last night with those of any other observer. Its highly subjective. Observing rewards only the observer unless specific objectives are achieved or discoveries made. So maybe the tangible  results are much more sparse for observers? 

As astro imaging becomes ever more rewarding the images published here and elsewhere give views of celestial objects that can't ever be matched visually. Often the view at the eyepiece is woefully inferior to images a given subject. 

How often have we heard newcomers being disappointed with the view through  their new 8in Newt?

I blame the imagers... :)

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Personally I think astrophotography is a steep-learning curve. I am purely a visual amatuer that gets a buzz of excitement seeing something viewed with my own eyes. I have only seen one solar eclipse to date and no form of media, film, video, CCD, CMOS, etc., can ever record with what I saw on Wednesday 11th August 1999 with my [then, 38 year old] eyes.

I do appreciate the time and effort by SGL imagers, (and those on other astronomy forums), do help and acheive, to show a wider audience that do not own a telescope the birth, life, death, beauty and destruction in nature of something so near, yet so far away.

Edited by Philip R
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9 hours ago, AdeKing said:

Not mine Steve they belong to @dweller25, isn't the quote box showing? You're the second to give me undeserved praise.

Mine look like something my 5yr old niece created. 

:grin:... mine too.....( My defense Ade....I read the post last night after falling asleep, putting my Grandchildren to bed  )

 

My apologies to David ( dweller 25).....lovely sketches !

Edited by Saganite
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On Thursday at the O2 with Prof. Brian Cox the open sequence had a Carl Sagan quote from the opening scene  of episode one of the cosmos,  amongst others. This prompted me yesterday to watch that episode. It's startling to see the images of galaxies and nebula used in that TV series which would have been cutting edge at the time and I belive won an award.  It's stunning by comparison the quality of images amateur's can produce these days from their back gardens. It's easy to see why imaging is so popular, quite literally. For me images satisfy a need to know more observing satisfies my need to explorer and feel like I am part of the cosmos. They are different for me. I can get the former from other amateurs work and books but I can only satisfy the later with my own eyes.

Edited by StarryEyed
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For me at least I have limited time and I'd sooner spend it doing what I enjoy most. That is finally tracking down that faint object or that planetary/lunar/solar feature with my own eyes, relaxing under the skies. 

What has spoiled it for me is inconsiderate people and specifically poorly sited and directed lights. I can cope with ambient/domed general light pollution but other more local lights coming on really destroy the enjoyment. This is the main reason I have recently begun work on an observatory in the hope I can observe in (darker) peace.

I think Stu's point about communication is very apposite. Given the popularity of astronomy I suspect the numbers of visual observers is probably more than there has ever been but maybe they don't showcase obs as often and maybe as a percentage of total observers (also surely extremely high comparatively) the number is smaller than usual.

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I'm visual only I've dabbled with smart phone photography and probably will do that I've just started sketching double and multiple star's so I have a great deal to observe and sketch to keep me busy.

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