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I've been into astrophotography for a couple of years. We here in the UK arnet blessed with clear skies. I have gone months between imaging sessions. The cost of decent equipment and filters is expensive. There isnt a glut of strong nebula targets that make for seriously good imaging so when youve done the ones that matter its back to repeating shots rolled in different glitter. So my question is why bother? 

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Been wondering what ‘scope to buy for visual. Having seen the weather forecast earlier I’ve decided on a periscope.

I'd always suggest starting off in a cost effective way to see if astro-imaging is for you. Many would lead you to spending thousands of pounds just to get the basics when this is not at all the case.

Why bother with AP? - For me it's a way to see stuff that I wouldn't otherwise have a chance of finding in our light polluted skies. It's also a challenge to get the best data you can & to learn h

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I'd always suggest starting off in a cost effective way to see if astro-imaging is for you. Many would lead you to spending thousands of pounds just to get the basics when this is not at all the case. We can do nothing about the weather of course but depending on mind set many hours can be spent for example building a barn door tracker for next to nothing allowing you to explore how EQ mounts work, so a lot in this hobby is in the doing. However you don't need an EQ mount to take images an Alt-Az mount will give you that for a fraction of the price of an EQ set up and do see the 'No EQ Challenge' thread for much, much more on that.  

I think you have to accept the weather as part of the (cough) conditions under which you accept to pursue the hobby and yes months can pass between imaging sessions and it is frustrating. Telling people in the UK that they might get on average 30-40 decent nights per year to image won't help product sales of course but we need to go into the hobby with eyes wide open. Astronomy has been a great release this year with the virus about and lock down conditions in place; in fact you might consider astronomy heaven sent as an outlet under such conditions. Depending on personal interests much can be done to extend the range within this hobby-take up solar work for example or build a DIY meteor detection system from parts from a DIY store. You could explore the remote imaging sites such as Slooh or follow SGL's own IKI observatory thread. There are many aurora sites online to view displays too. Short of moving somewhere abroad I can't see our weather improving any time soon.

Chin up it will get better.

Cheers,
Steve

Edited by SteveNickolls
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Its a lifetime hobby for sure. There's plenty of things to image up there, just need to be dedicated and patient. Though it is very frustrating. Last 3 years November through to February has been awful.

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Well now, I think the answer to “why bother” depends on the reason you do astronomy.  Some come into astronomy via the imaging route having seen the work of others that inspired them. That route doesn’t always spring from a desire to learn about the universe we are all part of.

( I absolutely realise that some imagers do have a passion to understand what they’re producing images of ).

If all you want to see is pics of objects in our skies then maybe “why bother” could apply, a simple internet search will easily access more images than you have time to view, at zero cost, no hassle, no blood sweat and tears etc.

For me, I have a deep desire to understand our universe and have a passion to visually observe what I’m trying to comprehend.

Ed.

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I bought loads of imaging equipment the other year and have hardly used it due to work commitments and the weather and I must admit that I've been tempted to pack it in and sell up a few times. The things is that when I do get chance to get out it makes it all worthwhile so I'm going to stick with it and pray that the weather picks up.

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I have to say if you are asking Why Bother, you may have lost the love with the hobby for now.
But it is not surprising in present times and with the ongoing terrible weather.
Things will improve all-round soon enough and then on a clear night, yes we will get them you will know again Why Bother, or I hope you do.

As many others have done before you, we all have a dip with life, hobbies or work etc. but things work through.
Good luck and Clear Skies for all of us soon.

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I too am driven to despair with the weather. I have a brand new and very expensive RASA 11 that has been waiting 4 months to see first light. And it's still waiting. Sometimes I think 'why am I bothering with all this',  Then, when eventually the skies do clear, I know exactly why I bother - astronomy is in my blood and has been all my life. If it really is in your blood you will endure all the aggro alongside the pleasure you get from being under the stars.

As others have said, clear skies will return soon !

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I suppose you could ask dedicated wildlife photographers why they sit in (sometimes) cold cramped conditions for weeks on end tracking some animal or another!

I sold up about 18 months ago but have just bought some new gear, I just could not live without the challenge of "getting that shot".

I will never forget the excitement when I first saw M42 on my DSLR screen i ran into the house shouting at the wifey, "I GOT IT, I GOT IT, LOOK, LOOK, that for me makes all the waiting, all the frustration when things aren't going right and a multitude of other niggles very, very much worthwhile.

 

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I had a phase where I decided to forget the AP and concentrate solely on observing.  I sold off all the camera gear and spent the money on a larger  scope . That was a good move from an enjoyment point of view less frustrating and more relaxing and have seen many more deep sky objects since. Lately, I have been thinking of AP again and perhaps getting a modded DSLR.  I was wondering if my GP can  give me some tablets to make me forget about it. Whatever, the weather is the weather anyway...Dave

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I wonder too. The kit in my sig would buy quite a nice car, a lot more than the car I actually drive.

With the warming North Atlantic pushing ever more water vapour into the air, which then gets chucked at us by the jet stream i wonder if UK astronomy has any future. The increasing light pollution doesn't help either.

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On 18/01/2021 at 09:29, Wasp said:

why bother

Hi

A big tip of the hat to all UK based astro-photographers. The images you produce under such conditions are amazing. 

I've visited UK a few times and to my eyes, the weather and light pollution (why do they put carriageway/street lights so close?) would be sufficient to conclude with a big no for astro-photography. Or at best, join a club and use their stuff if there was a clear night. But judging by the amount of gear which UK astronomers amass, there must be something worthwhile in it. There does seem to be much more of an emphasis among northern Europeans on equipment; there are threads on this forum of pictures of equipment. Just equipment. Mostly in daylight. Some are taken outdoors, others in a kitchen or dining room. The pride of ownership factor may explain this.

But hey, AP is a challenge. I like it because getting the myriad of parts to make the whole is difficult. If it were easy, I wouldn't bother. Adding an extra layer of difficulty (weather, lights...) can only make it more of a challenge. The guys who visit us with their AP gear (some from UK) invariably make fun of how easy it is in Spain with 367 clear nights per year. No matter how much I assure them that it isn't; rather you learn AP quicker here.

UK AP folk seem to be isolated. So maybe join a club or make a WhatsApp group; don't buy that filter, borrow it and share your own instead. Stick around for a bit. When we're allowed, make AP more of a social event? But yeah, once you've done the brighter targets over and over, then what?

Cheers from a dull, grey and cloudy Alicante.

 

Edited by alacant
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I understand the frustration. It's been fine this last year because there's not much else going on, but I do worry about how often I'll get the gear out if/when some form of socialising resumes!

 

That said, I don't know if I live in a good spot or am lucky or less fussy, but there's been at least two clear nights here in January that I've made it out and at least another 1.5 that I've missed.

When people say it's been cloudy for a month, is that literally no clear skies?

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7 hours ago, Roy Foreman said:

I too am driven to despair with the weather. I have a brand new and very expensive RASA 11 that has been waiting 4 months to see first light. And it's still waiting. Sometimes I think 'why am I bothering with all this',  Then, when eventually the skies do clear, I know exactly why I bother - astronomy is in my blood and has been all my life. If it really is in your blood you will endure all the aggro alongside the pleasure you get from being under the stars.

As others have said, clear skies will return soon !

If you're in Minehead then you'll be less than 15 miles from me.  It's driving me to despair too.  I think I've seen one properly clear sky since the first lockdown ended and at the moment several weeks can pass without any break in the cloud at all.  Rubbish weather, being stuck at home and having no work is fair doing my noodle in at the moment :(

James

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And when it finally (sort of) clears it's the fast moving clouds that drive me mad, deliberately spaced out to ruin each 2min exposure :(

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It's one of the reasons I keep to short exposures, We actually had the first clear-ish night a couple of days ago, and it was a case of take a shot, wait for the cloud to pass, take another, wait for the next cloud etc. If you are doing 5-10 mins and that cloud comes when you're half way through .....

It;s good to know I'm not the only 'going slowly insane' astronomer around !!!

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I see it as a long term hobby. I have no intention on chasing the tech, so will stick with the kit that I have got for as long as it continues to work.

But yes, it does get frustrating occasionally.

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Here in the Netherlands the weather isn't exactly helpful either. I haven't been doing DSO imaging that long or that intensively, so there are still lots of fairly bright and big targets to chase. What I intend to do is keep going at some targets over and over again to see how much I can tease out of the object, simply by combining shots from many sessions. Case in point has been last summer's attempt at M27 with the Meade 6" F/5 Schmidt Newtonian. After gathering over 13 hours of data, I start to see the fainter outer shells

M27-46950.0s-NR-x_1.0_LZ3-NS-ref-qua-add-sc_BWMV_nor-AAD-RE-MBB10_4crop.thumb.jpg.84855d3877c4412e275621d294e35e80.jpg

This is a lot better than the first image, which only had 2 hours of data

M27-7260sSN6c2.thumb.jpg.edf83b0f89a00d428b76e8bfc33e7e62.jpg

These are indeed lots and lots of short exposures, to minimize the effect of the odd passing cloud, but also to because I haven't got guiding sorted out properly yet.

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Reading this thread has coincided with me looking at, and throwing out, some of my early AP photos from early/mid 2000s. Struggling with a not very sensitive compact camera held against the eyepiece!
I started 100% visual then wanted to record images - or memories. But after a while I found there were nights I spent fiddling with equipment instead of looking and enjoying.
Then I started trying to improve mount tracking and performance, and buy that better scope, or eyepiece. Though almost always 2nd hand.
But I enjoying tinkering and modifying. sometimes even successfully!
These days I like to have short simple sessions at the scope. But I know it may well change.

Fortunately I did not sell 'last years' kit. I'm a natural hoarder. But it means I can easily swap and change direction as the hobby takes me. Or grab a scope on impulse.
That is (to me) a way to enjoy the hobby. I can (and do) spread the enjoyment by lending equipment to others.
My quite old Canon 1000D astro modded still works. As does my alter D6 mount.
Would they work better painted shiny red? Could I buy a better mount without having to add a big pot of money to the D6 sell price?
Why buy a £1000 item knowing full well it will be difficult to raise £700 selling a month later if I don't get on with it?
If I buy it used for £700, the chances are I will lose little on resale - unless it is years later.
As much of the kit has been around for a long time, I don't view it as money lost or tied up. The spend is long forgotten.
I also don't view it as wasted money if kit stays in the box for a long time.

My car? Old enough to buy its own petrol and not too long before it can buy a pint at the pub.
Why buy a posh car to get trolley rash in the (too small) supermarket parking spaces?
I like the idea of spending over a year, the money some spend in a month to 'own' a car.
My astro kit is much the same.

Apologies for the ramble.

David.

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Why bother with AP? - For me it's a way to see stuff that I wouldn't otherwise have a chance of finding in our light polluted skies. It's also a challenge to get the best data you can & to learn how to process it.

Just finding & verifying this stuff is real is a buzz!

I also find it fascinating to plate-solve & annotate the processed image to identify very distant galaxies & then calculate their distance by looking up the redshift/radial velocity on Simbad. Finding a few pixels that represent light from a galaxy that has taken 1-2 billion years to reach the camera is mind-boggling.

It's also nice to sit outside whilst the scope/camera/computer is doing its stuff. I've seen some spectacular shooting stars... and (with the light pollution) I can see the bats and the occasional flock of migrating birds. It's peaceful just watching the few stars we can see stars revolve... Also using a pair of bins & my pocket Sky & Telescope atlas to identify & learn where things are is neat.

Cheers
Ivor

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I don't get that frustrated by the weather, or the lack of clear skies. I don't see AP as a competition, but rather a journey and a lifetime hobby and way of life. Sometimes it's good to try and turn negatives into positives, and in a way I think our fickle weather patterns add to the excitement of the hobby. I would obviously love to live somewhere where there is clear skies consistently as I think it's such a vast hobby and there are so many different objects to image... from widefield scopes to really long focal lengths, so there would still be a huge sense of satisfaction in learning and improving. 

That said I do feel a certain sense of excitement and a bit of a buzz when we get clear skies here, as they don't come in abundance. That probably stems from the challenge of astrophotography as well, it's a hobby which requires dedication, and part of the satisfaction for me, is being able to produce images amidst all of the technicalities, set backs and challenges AP encompasses.

 

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On 18/01/2021 at 19:02, StuartJPP said:

I see it as a long term hobby. I have no intention on chasing the tech, so will stick with the kit that I have got for as long as it continues to work.

But yes, it does get frustrating occasionally.

I second that though I have to admit I am a sufferer of chronic Gear Acquisition Syndrome or GAS for short!

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If you don't see it as a long-term hobby then it's not really a hobby.  You're just keeping stock :)

James

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Been wondering what ‘scope to buy for visual. Having seen the weather forecast earlier I’ve decided on a periscope.

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