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Is purely observing a minority pastime now ?


John
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On 20/07/2021 at 04:38, John said:

Is the trend towards imaging growing or am I imagining it ?

 

Here is a slightly different question: in terms of absolute numbers, has the number of manly visual astronomers gone up or down? Is it possible that, over the past 20 years or so, the number of astronomers of all sorts has gone up, the percentage of mainly visual astronomers has gone down, but the number of mainly visual astronomers has not gone down? I do not have a feel for the answers to these questions, and I am interested in hearing what people think.

Personally, I am a purely visual. I have have taken zero pictures using my scope, not even with a mobile held to the eyepiece to capture the moon. This may because I don't own a mobile. 😀

My work day consists of doing technical stuff with books, lab equipment, and computers. When i get home, it is a nice change of pace to go out with my scope, and do visual observing while pondering the universe.

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5 minutes ago, George Jones said:

 

Here is a slightly different question: in terms of absolute numbers, has the number of manly visual astronomers gone up or down? Is it possible that, over the past 20 years or so, the number of astronomers of all sorts has gone up, the percentage of mainly visual astronomers has gone down, but the number of mainly visual astronomers has not gone down? I do not have a feel for the answers to these questions, and I am interested in hearing what people think.

Personally, I am a purely visual. I have have taken zero pictures using my scope, not even with a mobile held to the eyepiece to capture the moon. This may because I don't own a mobile. 😀

My work day consists of doing technical stuff with books, lab equipment, and computers. When i get home, it is a nice change of pace to go out with my scope, and do visual observing while pondering the universe.

Good question George and I don't know the answer to it either, but if anyone else does, I'd be pleased to hear from them :smiley:

Your motivation for observing very much chimes with me :thumbright:

Wish we had some clear skies so that I could do some universe observing and pondering. It seems to have been cloudy in the evenings here for some time now :rolleyes2: 

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There does seem to be a good number of those that are involved in technical employment, or were before they retired,  that just want to observe without the technical complications of imaging. 

Good point about the probability that there are more visual observers than ever although percentage wise there are more imagers nowadays. 

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Visual observer here who thinks people prefer a pretty picture than paragraphs of text. Hence, I tend to write 'reports' and not publish them. However, published observing reports really are incredibly useful to compare what can be seen through different optical equipment/skies. The amount of times I have researched online for comparative visual accounts....

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I could take pictures of the moon, but what for? There's nothing better than just spending hours going from one feature to another taking in all the detail. Much better than looking at a photo.

It's like having a photo of the beach but never actually walking on it.

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8 minutes ago, Mr Spock said:

I could take pictures of the moon, but what for? There's nothing better than just spending hours going from one feature to another taking in all the detail. Much better than looking at a photo.

It's like having a photo of the beach but never actually walking on it.

I dont get staring at something for hours though, seems like an incredibly pointless exercise?

Your beach analogy - neither of us get to walk on the beach - I take a photo and you get to look at it through a piece of glass - but none of us actually get to walk on it.  Little difference really.

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24 minutes ago, Mr Spock said:

I could take pictures of the moon, but what for? There's nothing better than just spending hours going from one feature to another taking in all the detail. Much better than looking at a photo.

It's like having a photo of the beach but never actually walking on it.

Controversial! 😄 I said the same once then I realised great skill and patience are required to produce great photos. Unfortunately I don't possess much of either attribute!

 Mr. Spock your remark could be applied to any art form. Why make a model of a spaceship if you will never fly in one? Why paint a landscape portrait of a magnificent valley and never walk through it? And so on...

Some like taking photos because, well they like it.. some may want to see the detail in DSOs they can't capture through an eyepiece. Others may just like producing a pretty picture. A smaller minority take up AP for its scientific value in certain scenarios.

Ultimately we're all amateur astronomers who may enjoy a broad spectrum of astronomical interests or a niche. We all want dark, clear skies and dry nights however we choose to follow this amazing hobby.

 

Edited by ScouseSpaceCadet
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5 minutes ago, tooth_dr said:

I dont get staring at something for hours though, seems like an incredibly pointless exercise?

Your beach analogy - neither of us get to walk on the beach - I take a photo and you get to look at it through a piece of glass - but none of us actually get to walk on it.  Little difference really.

Each to their own, we all have different interests in the same hobby so there is room for everyone.

I’m afraid I’m in the ‘stare at things for hours’ camp when time and conditions allow. There is so much to see on the Moon, whether it is the terminator slowly changing over several hours, or perhaps watching a lunar eclipse progress. Jupiter is ever changing, and watching moon or shadow transits, or the GRS rotate across the disc is fascinating.

Not saying imaging is pointless, I love looking at the images posted on here and have a reasonable knowledge of what it entails from reading many threads. It’s just not for me.

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3 minutes ago, Stu said:

Each to their own, we all have different interests in the same hobby so there is room for everyone.

100% agree Stu.  I think I just found the comment a little inflammatory, and assumed moderators werent supposed to take sides

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5 minutes ago, dweller25 said:

I enjoy staring for hours on end at planets, other get enjoyment from taking photos.

We all enjoy what we choose to do.

That’s it really 🙂👍

Those very brief moments of extreme atmospheric clarity...gets you hooked. 🙂

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10 minutes ago, dweller25 said:

I enjoy staring for hours on end at planets, other get enjoyment from taking photos.

We all enjoy what we choose to do.

That’s it really 🙂👍

Spending two hours watching a black dot transit Jupiter in hindsight may seem a bit nuts to most... I'll do it again though!

On the flip side an ap enthusiast might create a timelapse. Both are just as valid astronomy pursuits. 

Going back to the point of the thread, George probably hit the nail on the head. Astronomy is more accessible than ever before. There's undoubtedly greater numbers partaking than at any other time in history.  How those numbers are split we will probably never be sure of.

Edited by ScouseSpaceCadet
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7 minutes ago, ScouseSpaceCadet said:

How those numbers are split we will probably never be sure of.

According to well established physics, we're all doing both until someone opens the box and looks.

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1 hour ago, tooth_dr said:

I dont get staring at something for hours though, seems like an incredibly pointless exercise?

You do know it's a hobby, right?

 

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On 21/07/2021 at 20:15, niallk said:

Me too: I'm an electronic engineer so should enjoy mucking around with hardware and software, but I just like the "simplicity" of two mirrors, an EP, and a dob mount.  Nothing like seeing things with your own eyes, imho!

I also just love the peacefulness of being out under the stars, with big skies and low horizons if I go to a spot on the coast to observe - and the sounds of birds on the Marsh and the waves lapping on the shore.  Its good for the soul.  The last thing I want is wrestling with a dodgy connector or a software error 😂

That said, I did pick up one of those smartphone holders that clamps onto an EP - in a vain attempt to capture something to show to others what the telescope can do.  Let's just say Damien Peach needn't be worried 😂  

Yeah!  If it's becoming a minority pastime, count me in!

As for the smartphone holder, I tried one of those.  Sold it on a couple of days later, to maintain the pleasure-to-effort ratio.

Doug.

Edited by cloudsweeper
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I am 99% visual, but I totally understand why new people to the hobby might opt for AP. One look at the myriad superb results people are getting these days, and how accessible it is, is easily enough to tempt people to get in. Plus much of the equipment itself is very satisfying to handle and use.

My epiphany came 6 years or so ago when I visited a 21.8 place and exited the pub one night by chance on a Moonless extremely transparent clear night. It was utterly mesmerising and amazing, all the cliche words. I was completely and instantly hooked, and now I have several scopes, all for visual, and I live in that place!

That shocking visual experience simply doesn't happen any more to the vast majority of people who live in severely LP'd places. You look up and it's not "amazing". It's such a shame.

M

 

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16 minutes ago, Captain Magenta said:

My epiphany came 6 years or so ago when I visited a 21.8 place and exited the pub one night by chance on a Moonless extremely transparent clear night. It was utterly mesmerising and amazing, all the cliche words. I was completely and instantly hooked, and now I have several scopes, all for visual

Snap - for me it was one night stumbling out of O'Neil's pub in Allihies!

You can't beat that sense of awe at a big sky, just naked eye - at a really dark site!

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Some really good insights into what this pursuit means to individuals. In the end, it is all about enjoyment, however that’s derived. 
The process is something that I wholly understand, certainly more so with AP. But, for me, the basic, simplified approach with visual is what I connect with at my time of life. Maybe when the hustle of this rat race recedes later in life, and more importantly, I have more time to burn the candle on a week day, I might have a dabble in AP. For now, grabbing a couple of hours when I can, whilst constantly learning along the way (equally important to me), offers escapism from life as it is right now. Ironically, it was the slow down of last year that made me reach for my old scope that had been sat redundant in the garage for 5 years.

Edited by Stardaze
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So @John a couple of weeks into this thread and I think your original question of “Is purely observing a minority pastime now?” Has been answered with a resounding NO….excellent result I think and very encouraging for visual observers. 👍

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Oh, and I may have said something previously about kit, being a part of an interest/hobby for some. As much as I may have tried to be sensible and justify this to myself, I have moved from a basic starter package to a 10” dob with 5 high-end EPs and filters within a year 🙄 It helps of course, but it’s not everything. 

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, Jiggy 67 said:

So @John a couple of weeks into this thread and I think your original question of “Is purely observing a minority pastime now?” Has been answered with a resounding NO….excellent result I think and very encouraging for visual observers. 👍

It certainly does appear that there is still a sizeable percentage of folks for whom observational astronomy is important to their enjoyment of the hobby, which is nice to know :smiley:

What is even nicer to know is that there seems to be a healthy respect amongst the astronomy fraternity for the diverse ways that others like to pursue the hobby :icon_biggrin:

I'm glad I started the thread - the responses have left me feeling optimistic for the future of amateur astronomy in whatever forms people choose to pursue it :icon_biggrin:

Edited by John
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