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I deem this a useless hobby


azrabella
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9 minutes ago, andrew s said:

"It's love's illusions that I recall
I really don't know fracs at all."

“But now it's just another Dob
And you leave 'em laughing when you sob
I’ll lick a lens, then focus knob”
 

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36 minutes ago, JeremyS said:

And for me, it's re-reading "Starlight Nights" by Leslie Peltier to remind myself why I love the sky so much - and always have

Interesting concept; that we all have "anchors" that prevent us from permanently drifting away. Like most here, I'm now in the "of a certain age" category and my love of astronomy has waxed and waned, with the mid-life hiatus thrown in.

My anchors have been the seasonal rising of Orion. He never fails to take me back to my childhood, looking up with wide eyes, thinking...just thinking. Second is the Summer Triangle and all that it encompasses. Again, fond memories of those long summer evenings looking up with wide eyes watching and waiting for Vega, Altair and Deneb to poke through the twilight, thinking...just thinking.

I work shifts these days and so get to see Orion emerge much earlier in the year than I used to. He still stops me in my tracks and I say "hi".

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A little ditty what I wrote entitled Not Daffodils:

Clouds are not often lonely like William W

But gather in crowds the more to trouble you

Light crossing the cosmos has a long way to go

to be blocked at the end by H2O

But still we plan the next shipment

of ‘spensive equipment

beg, steal or borrow

there’ll be clear skies tomorrow

 

Kerry 😀

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I'm just starting out. Only managed 2 nights since purchase. However November looks better already. I suffer from depression which worsens as days shorten. This hobby is an antidote to that whether active or just learning.

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Well, when "they" start planning the next incremental advance on the largest ground-based telescope (probably to be named something inspiring and inventive, like "The Really Quite Humungous Telescope") the one thing you can be sure of is that they won't be siting it in south Wales 😭.

As someone who has only taken up practical astronomy in the last year (and also living in the southwest), I feel lucky in retrospect to have had those fabulous clear spells earlier in the year. I agree that if I had only just received my order from FLO I'd be pulling my hair out right now. The other factor I would suggest is that the degree of frustration will likely be proportional to the amount of faffing involved in setting up your kit for a "speculative" evening, when the forecast is ambiguous. In my case, I have a Bortle 4 back garden and an undemanding scope; if I had a 10-inch and needed to travel an hour to a dark site each time, then I guess my patience might be tried quite a bit more.

As others have pointed out, there are some hobbies that are suitable to be the only call on your time, but observational astronomy in the UK is probably not one of them. (surprised that none of the folk detecting meteors with radio antennas have chipped in yet)

Hope you get your mojo back before you start listing stuff 😀

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6 minutes ago, mikeDnight said:

"Starlight Nights" - the ultimate vaccine to being down in the dumps!

The Starlight Night
BY GERARD MANLEY HOPKINS
Look at the stars! look, look up at the skies!
   O look at all the fire-folk sitting in the air!
   The bright boroughs, the circle-citadels there!

....although it appears that Peltier didn't name his autobio after the poem, it does seem appropriate given the context of this thread (and @andrew s mangling of Joni Mitchell, the tune of which won't leave my head)

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On 29/10/2020 at 09:59, azrabella said:

Practical visual astronomy is virtually off the agenda here in the south west of the UK - no clear night skies for several months. A fortune wasted in equipment and nothing to show. I have ben a visual astronomer since 1960 and have now given up on this pastime - 60 years of observations yet prctically nothing for most of this year. I'm too old now to move to sunnier climes so the only other option is to take up ASTROLOGY - at least that is not weather dependent.

That's not good from so many points, hopefully your kit will only accumulate a few cobwebs before it comes out again. One of our options is to move down your neck of the woods in the near future.....retirement, daughter and family, Exmoor and Dartmoor dark areas etc etc and we have been looking at the weather and it does seem to be a trifle moist compared to where we currently are; so part of my plans are to build a pier in an enclosure with removable roof so the telescope is always ready and no lugging it all about. Is this maybe something that you could look at?

p.s. the lady wife thinks we should all take up crocheting 

p.p.s. thanks for the Joni Mitchell ear worm 🤦‍♂️

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13 minutes ago, M40 said:

One of our options is to move down your neck of the woods in the near future.....retirement, daughter and family, Exmoor and Dartmoor dark areas etc etc and we have been looking at the weather and it does seem to be a trifle moist compared to where we currently are; so part of my plans are to build a pier in an enclosure with removable roof so the telescope is always ready and no lugging it all about.

I'm a stone's throw from the edge of Exmoor if I've had my Weetabix and building an observatory has enabled me to get out a fair bit more, though the last couple of months genuinely have been pretty grim.  Spring and early summer was excellent however, so I guess it all balances out in the end.  The major difficulty in the south west at the moment seems to me to be the sheer unpredictability of the weather (which does make an observatory or roll-off shed a real boon).  For example, a couple of weeks back we picked most of our apples to press for juice.  My children are all fired up to help out and we were looking to do it tomorrow, but the forecast has changed so many times in the last three days (it's a sufficiently messy job that it needs doing outdoors) that I still have no idea whether it will be possible or not (it's "not" at the moment, as in the last couple of hours we've been slapped with a "yellow rain" warning).

James

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48 minutes ago, Mr Spock said:

Thankfully my other hobby is cloud watching :wink2:

Jesting aside, watching the sky was just watching the sky for me at one time. Didn't matter whether is was clouds, stars or aeroplanes even, all were worth looking up for. And still are to varying degrees.

Unfortunately this incessant grey isn't inspiring for any kind of sky watcher. Give me Cumulonimbus building towards a huge thunderstorm and I'm happy :)

Might as well embrace the predicament: https://cloudappreciationsociety.org/cloud-of-the-month/

 

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On 29/10/2020 at 17:58, nephilim said:

My other hobby is mountain biking. Im lucky to live in the Lake District so I have amazing natural trails right on my doorstep. Its at polar opposites to Astronomy, unless im riding solo (50% of the time) im in a group of friends & its a fantastic fun way to keep fit. Where as with my Astronomy im always solo (i'll sometimes have a friend tag along but their patience doesn't usually last 😂 ) & its not particularly of any benefit towards my fitness, unless you count lugging all the gear around but that tends to only result in a dodgy back 🙄.
 

Unfortunately Mountain biking is just as expensive as Astronomy so with both of them i'm not left with much spare cash 😒 But between the 2 they give me a good balance between physical & mental exercise.

My Daughters boyfriend competes internationally in the downhill mountain biking championships. It’s a good balance for you as you say leaves the cash reserves a bit tight. Flying is the same - not cheap but fun.

Thanks for sharing and I must say the lake district for dark skies must be amazing 

Steve 

 

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9 hours ago, Trikeflyer said:

Thanks for sharing and I must say the lake district for dark skies must be amazing 

Steve

What do you call a reflector in the Lake District?

A rain gauge. ;)

What do you call a refractor in the Lake District?

A buoyancy device. :wink2:

What do you call a domed observatory in the Lake District?

A coracle. 😉

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Sorry everyone....   It must be me,  I'm the Jonah.

In the past two years my interest in Astonomy was revived dramatically after a thirty year break, and I set up a permanent Pod observatory and all the toys that go with it. (SWMBO's definition of my purchases.)  I can't help it, the range of fairly affordable equipment is fantastic now, compared to back in the 70's....

I must admit I was surprised at the comparitive rarity of "good seeing conditions", or even just clear 'ish skies.

However, there's no danger of me giving up, because I'm fortunate to have retired to a very rural Bortle 4 location, so when it's good, it's really good. 🙂

As others have alluded on this thread, the secret is to have other interests, and luckilly none are dependent on clear night skies !

Although a permanent garden observatory is a considerable indulgence financially and space-wise, (no pun intended), it actually compensates greatly for the sporadic nature of  good seeing conditions.  It sits quietly out there,  scopes mounted and at ambient temperatures, computer all plugged together, mount polar aligned, all set and ready to go within 5 minutes.

Even just an hour's break in the skies is conveniently do-able with just 5 minutes to set up and 5 minutes to clear down.  The prospect of setting up all that gear out in the open would be very daunting.

 

Pod.jpg

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1 hour ago, Astro-Geek said:

I must admit I was surprised at the comparitive rarity of "good seeing conditions", or even just clear 'ish skies.

Yes. When I started in 1999 I was under the false impression that in the UK the night sky was mostly clear on most nights.

Since people only write observing reports after good nights there was almost no information on the frequency of bad nights. This seems to be the opposite of equipment reports: where people generally only publish complaints, and only rarely (if ever) praise. So we have the situation where newcomers will think there are a lot of observing opportunities - but that most of the equipment is junk.

Whereas in reality in both cases the opposite is true!

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4 hours ago, Rusted said:

What do you call a reflector in the Lake District?

A rain gauge. ;)

What do you call a refractor in the Lake District?

A buoyancy device. :wink2:

What do you call a domed observatory in the Lake District?

A coracle. 😉

What do you call an EQ6 mount in the Lake District?

An outboard motor.

What do you call a Berlebach tripod in the Lake District?

A paddle.

What do you call a dew heater in the lake District?

A kettle.

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What do all Lake District astronomers have in common?
Trench Feet. ;)

I must say that having built an observatory it has absolutely transformed my time spent actually doing real astronomy.
Within a few short minutes from making the decision I can be tracking and imaging the sun [or moon.]
I often sit there for most of the day if the seeing conditions allow. Or if I'm snapping patiently, between clouds.

My wife jokes that I am off to work as I leave for "The Office" in the morning with my laptop case, cameras and filters.
I probably enjoy more time imaging in a single day than I did in a whole year before I had the observatory.

When I had to work from the ground, outside, surrounded in tall hedges and trees there was a huge psychological hurdle.
Lifting heavy refractors onto a mounting, tall enough to need a stepladder, just to close the rings is a thing of the past.
Bringing them back down again when they are covered in ice is now just a bad memory.

The big imaging monitor is sheltered and in the deep shade of the dome. So no nasty reflections in a tiny, little, laptop screen outside.
I am judging the best seeing moments and framing features in a hugely magnified section of a disk, probably four feet, or well over a meter, across.

When I have to pause for lunch I can just walk away and come back knowing everything is still set up and running.
I can leave an image half processed and it will still be there waiting for me to finish it off.

An unexpected shower just needs the shutters to be closed. 10 seconds or less.
I turn on the overhead lights and continue processing, blogging, browsing or posting images online.
 

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  • 1 month later...
On 29/10/2020 at 17:32, Trikeflyer said:

What other hobbies do people have? Apart from Astronomy, I’m into fountain pens, scale modelling, cycling - a bit but not much and recreational flying light aeroplanes. My mojo for all these things comes and goes and I think that is normal from what I hear others saying.

Steve 

 

After my experience with our cloudy skies, I swore my next hobby would be weather independent, and it was: board gaming!

I always loved playing board games as a kid and sort of got into modern board gaming by fluke. Our son was fascinated by Monopoly but he was only about four and it seemed far too long a game for him, so we got a quick card game version: Monopoly Deal. We enjoyed it and tried a few other games. Then Amazon had a big board games sale, and we got games like Carcassonne, Stone Age and Puerto Rico, and were soon hooked!

I find it a very convenient hobby.

I also love computer programming. I am learning Kotlin currently, for Windows and Android.

I took more or less a break from astronomy for three or so years, partly because it was solar minimum plus I was a bit disheartened about problems I'd had with my solar filter.

Anyway, I decided to come back to night time observing for this winter season. And I have had half a session with patchy thin cloud so far!!! And several solar views.

I would definitely recommend trying solar, especially if you have a nice frac that can be used with a Herschel wedge. My little Lunt 1.25 Herschel wedge was not that pricey and gives lovely views in my 85mm and 100mm scopes and I have used it many times. And the sun is hopefully picking up now and should give us lots of spots over the coming years.

For the night time stuff, I figure, my eyepieces and scopes should last many years, so I am sure I will get some great views sooner or later!

Wishing you all some crisp, clear skies soon.

Edited by Luke
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