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Shall I give up now?


AstroNebulee
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So right Noodles... Although the lack of clear nights doesn't stop one becoming immersed in the hobby. Astronomy simply isn't a quick fix and how much time it uses up really depends on how far a person wishes to take things.

Three years in and the surface has barely been scratched. There's plenty of background material to read and study. Going further, there's courses to pick from short certificates to degrees and beyond. Understanding what I'm looking at, how it got there and the object's relationship with its surroundings really adds to the 'Wow' moments.

Currently I'm ploughing through Universal: A Journey Through the Cosmos , Observer's Guide to Variable Stars (The Patrick Moore Practical Astronomy Series) and Galaxies, Stars and Planets (OU Free Course).

Let's not forget those Astro imagers who manage a good few hours under the stars have all that cloudy down time to process data and refine their results.

 

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9 minutes ago, ScouseSpaceCadet said:

Let's not forget those Astro imagers who manage a good few hours under the stars have all that cloudy down time to process data and refine their results.

That's an interesting observation. Although our imaging time is restricted, our processing should be second to none. 😄

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3 minutes ago, Astro Noodles said:

That's an interesting observation. Although our imaging time is restricted, our processing should be second to none. 😄

Yes they shouldn't be complaining about clouds with all that spare time to sit at computers intently watching progress bars move, fiddling with sliders and whatnot...

 

I'll get my coat...

 

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I must admit I have had the same thoughts this year.
I made a semi-flippant remark very early on in 2021 about selling my gear because the clear nights we got up North were few and far between, and that the huge investment really was just not worth it,  but now half way through August I really am thinking that the money I have invested in equipment is seriously going to waste.
Trouble is I do love the hobby, and even with these thoughts running round my head I stupidly went ahead and ploughed more money into a rotator and flip-flat panel.
So I obviously still want to carry on.

If it were just me I would sell up and move to what is generally considered a better area for weather and dark skies but my family must come first.

I have had some imaging sessions this year but not many and I bet very few have been clear all night.
I certainly have spent more time processing other peoples Data, such as the IKI observatory data competitions just to progress my PI skills and also have seriously considered still selling up most of my gear and maybe just having some grab and go stuff, and using my limited cash on remote observatory hours.
It just doesn't sit quite right with me letting somebody else basically get the data as I like the whole feeling of achievement doing it myself and knowing to get that image it was all down to myself, and my equipment and in a way all from my own patio.

But as a compromise and to keep in the hobby to some extent maybe remote imaging is still a way to go ????

Who knows, when I get one or two more clear dark nights all these thoughts will probably disappear again, for a while at least 🙂 

Steve

Edited by teoria_del_big_bang
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4 hours ago, Astro Noodles said:

I don't think that astronomy in the UK is viable as someone's only hobby. The frustration of fixating on weather forecasts in the hope of a clear night surely will lead to madness.

I'm already mad that set in a long time ago 🤪, astronomy is my only hobby. I started off seriously in April last year just observing and the odd smartphone shots. Then wanted to show family and friends what's up there so progressed to astrophotography. I still have all my eyepieces so can go back to observing if needed but I get such satisfaction and the thrill, even butterflies in my stomach when capturing those photons that will be my own, thats what keeps driving me on and learning the hobby even more, of course I'll still moan at lack of clear night's but hey I am a UK very amateur astromer. During the cloudy times I ask for advice on here, try and reprocess old data and learn new techniques and watch other astrophotographers videos online, so bits to keep me going but nothing like the thrill of being out there. 👍

Edited by AstroNebulee
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1 hour ago, Astro Noodles said:

I don't think that astronomy in the UK is viable as someone's only hobby. The frustration of fixating on weather forecasts in the hope of a clear night surely will lead to madness.

Yes I sort of came to same conclusion.
I think my first year in the hobby (only around 4 years ago) must have been a reasonable year as I seem to remember quite a few clear nights (all night) and seemed to spend quote a lot of time on the hobby.
This was great for getting all my equipment up and running and learning what to do with it but as I was learning the amount of useable data was limited.

Things do seemed to have gone downhill weather wise since, but that could be just the way I perceive things.

My other thoughts have been to increase my spending and get a proper automated obsy so that I could utilise every bit of clear sky, still be able to protect my equipment in case of that shower from nowhere.
But that does mean some serious investment, which probably I cannot really afford and also what does not help is that we probably soon will be moving anyway to downsize as keds are starting to move on. So don't want to put a lot of effort into something I then have to move within a couple of years. But certainly after the move this is the way I want to go.

Steve

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30 minutes ago, teoria_del_big_bang said:

It just doesn't sit quite right with me letting somebody else basically get the data as I like the whole feeling of achievement doing it myself and knowing to get that image it was all down to myself, and my equipment and in a way all from my own patio.

It's interesting as it shows all the different motivations and enjoyment we all get from the hobby.  This quote struck a chord with me as I enjoy the whole process and achievement from start to finish and I don't have any appetite to only process remote data.  I still enjoy processing to provide assistance if I can and the thought of collaboration.

Looking at August 2020 to April 2021 I remember around 70-100 hours of integration (maybe a bit more of the small stuff).  I remember maybe 2-3 nights where the kit was running 8-10 hours.  People outside the UK (or even in better parts of the UK!) might laugh at that but it is what it is :)  I still setup and tear down each night but try and keep kit together as much as possible - certainly a level of hardware & software automation made a big difference last year.

As also mentioned above, I find it helps to have other distractions - family or other hobbies.  I've mentioned before on SGL I don't think I could cope with hundreds of clear nights a year... but I'd still like a few more! :) 

Edited by geeklee
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14 minutes ago, geeklee said:

I don't think I could cope with hundreds of clear nights a year... but I'd still like a few more! :) 

I do know what you mean but still, it would be nice to see how we did cope with them 🙂 

Now that would be a thread I would like to see, "Should I give it up now - I can't cope with all these clear nights".
 

Steve

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When I first started out as just a visual amateur I used to get very frustrated when the clouds rolled in but now I've started with AP which is far more faff than setting up just to observe, I've come to just accept its not always going to work out. I wont set up though unless theres pretty much a certainty that it'll be clear for at least two hours. I tend to just try & switch off when its constant cloud for days/ weeks on end although I do obsess over forecasts which are never right anyway.

As for processing remote data, getting the practise in is a good thing as I'm only just starting to get to grips with PI (a fully consuming hobby in itself 🙄) but I could never just do it for the sake of processing images that others have taken data for or that I hadn't had hands on work with. It is a massive monetary investment for what would seem to an outsider very little return. For me though, I'm still amazed (and always will be) that we can capture these targets in the first place, the distance & size of them astounds me & the thought of capturing light photons that have travelled for thousands & sometimes millions of years on my camera sensor to create an image of them makes me feel like a kid on xmas morning 😁 

All i've written here is really just a way for me to try justifying spending very hard earned money very shortly on a Quadruplet Refractor (Its galaxy season soon so it's pretty much the law that I get one). If I keep repeating everything i've said to myself above over & over again then everything will be fine & dandy 🤣

My other main hobby is mountain biking (Yet another bottomless money pit) so that keeps me going, although I can foresee that both hobbies could interfere with each other as Its usual that I'll have a big ride organised with a couple of friends on a weekend but suddenly the evening before the sky will have  cleared. I'll end up imaging most of the night (it's only happened once so far as i'm pretty new to this but it will keep happening) then grab 2 or 3 hours sleep before heading out for anywhere between 8 & 12 hrs on the hills, all the while i'm riding thinking 'I wonder how good that data is.........' 🤔

Steve

Edited by nephilim
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I hear spotting and imaging clouds is more popular than ever! Anyone able to consistently distinguish between altocumulus and cirrocumulus clouds?

Back on topic, since creating a script to generate keograms from my all sky camera frames I've noted that in the last ten months or so we've not had many nights where its been clear throughout, but quite a few when it has been clear for a few hours around midnight. Too late to be bothered to open up the observatory and too risky to then leave everything going for the rest of the night, but clear none the less.

I think long term, you can't justify buying equipment for just one season, think of the enjoyment you get over five to ten years and you start to feel better about it all. Likewise think of the value other halves get from astro, with all the time we are out of their way 😀...

I know this isn't helpful but this stint of poor weather in general just can't last forever!

I'm actually looking into remote telescope services again (ones which are a service rather than just offering a great location to then setup your own equipment at). Good for consistent stress free imaging but lacking the "fun" factor of tinkering. With credits carrying over they are certainly more attractive as an option when weather in the UK is poor and you want to image something. 

 

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13 minutes ago, 7170 said:

I think long term, you can't justify buying equipment for just one season, think of the enjoyment you get over five to ten years and you start to feel better about it all.

I've definitely bought my set up for the long run, it's taken me till now to know what setup I really want, now with my scope, mount, asiair pro and dslr (saving up for a osc as it will out perform my dslr) but when I finally see those distant galaxies, nebula coming in I know it's all worth it in the end. Just like to get some haha 

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Definitely need to look at this hobby in the "long haul" perspective. And  don't let it be the only one. In my case: 3D printing, beer brewing, gardening and  lately CNC machining. And fishing of course.  And aquarium fish keeping. 

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20 minutes ago, Viktiste said:

Definitely need to look at this hobby in the "long haul" perspective. And  don't let it be the only one. In my case: 3D printing, beer brewing, gardening and  lately CNC machining. And fishing of course.  And aquarium fish keeping. 

@Viktiste I went down the salt water fish keeping road a few years ago. I ended up with a 1400ltr aquarium with live corals, Trigger Fish, Puffer Fish & the rest......Now that is a time consuming & expensive hobby.

 

Edited by nephilim
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I wanted to go salt water , but (luckily?)  I didn't. I have an 450 liter fresh water Aquarium. The kids said: Dad can we have an Aquarium?  I said yes, and I went BIG (stupid dad). I don't think the kids expected the size of it. But it's been a good hobby for several years.

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I have have a mantra (that I do not necessarily stick to):  Every year - learn something new!

Astrophotography counted for about 3 years (and is still counting....) It has been a super steep learning curve.

Edited by Viktiste
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11 minutes ago, Viktiste said:

I wanted to go salt water , but (luckily?)  I didn't. I have an 450 liter fresh water Aquarium. The kids said: Dad can we have an Aquarium?  I said yes, and I went BIG (stupid dad). I don't think the kids expected the size of it. But it's been a good hobby for several years.

I agree, my 1400ltr was 7ft long & took up a big part of the living room, it was rather big 🤣No photo description available.

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6 minutes ago, Ags said:

@nephilim My little 30 liter nano tank actually gives me the same satisfaction as my 700 liter monstrosity of former days.

@Ags I agree with you there, I just kept wanting fish that needed a lot of space, then there was the whole compatibility issue with certain fish definitely not allowed to be kept with others. I did enjoy it though, I could feed my Niger Trigger, Porcupine Puffer & snowflake eel by hand although my Clown Trigger would have had my hand off 🤣

Edited by nephilim
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Totally going off topic here: 

Beer brewing (in the glass). 3D printing - the DIY feeder on the top and the flag inside the aquarium. CNC macining - the  PCB inside the DIY feeder. 

Sorry  AstroNebulee  - just goes towards thinking there is more than one hobby

image.png

Edited by Viktiste
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