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Why do you observe?


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Following from the stargazer v astronomer topic why do you observe?

I have several reasons.  For instance I may be trying to split a close double.

However, the overwhelming reason is to appreciate the beauty of the the skies (no, not clouds!).

It's the same reason that I like admiring beautiful scenery here on planet earth.

 

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I am a wannabe Astronomer....:smiley:

I love the peace and tranquility of observing.  I get my kick out of using a beautiful and powerful instrument  to do so.

Edited by Saganite
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Being outdoors in the fresh air, encountering the stillness of night-time is calming and soothing and with a clear objective to focus upon studying then observing within the night sky. 

It is remarkable to the extent that you can visually intimately connect with a celestial object from the comfort of your backyard or a dependable dark sky location. 

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I like observing because I find it both relaxing, and exciting at the same time. Each observing session is full of adventure, not to mention the amazing company I also have from time to time, both human and otherwise.

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I find that my observing sessions just don't compare to my planetary imaging ones. The totally visual observing is what grounds me. Looking into the vastness of space and realising how tiny and insignificant I am in the grand theme of things. I also seem to spend more time at the eyepiece on each target to draw out the most details. I have found that when going quickly with a multitude of targets a lot of the subtle details are missed. Each to their own i suppose.

Edited by bosun21
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Its the closest thing to perfection, a cold crisp night, peace tranquillity and the whole universe in its glory , its breath taking and just something that cannot be matched.

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22 hours ago, mikeDnight said:

I like observing because I find it both relaxing, and exciting at the same time. Each observing session is full of adventure, not to mention the amazing company I also have from time to time, both human and otherwise.

where you based? im in Lancashire also

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#Beardy30, you nailed it first shot. I was sitting there thinking what a great fundamental question from #Second Time Around.

I am by nature an optimist, and an inquisitive social person. But I do find that day to pressures, work, money, etc tend to stretch my patience and astronomy is that total peace to deflate and move away from all the 'noise'.

It is my guilty pleasure that I guard closely and rarely if ever share the moment. Perhaps it is a behaviour trait of mine but as a comparison I love the idea of Golf. But it becomes unappealing to me when it would seem that to  play 18 holes it is done in pairs. Now that is a good walk ruined!

Marv

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For me there are several reasons. 

First and foremost is the sense of enjoyment I get.

I also like challenges such as spliting doubles or teasing detail out of the planets. 

The other main reason is, I like solving celestial puzzles. My current pet project is STF216 a 0.3" pair is Casseiopeia.  ( A shout out to Robin_Astro for his help with this 😀)

Cheers

Ian

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That’s a good question, especially when mainly observing cloudy skies, but when the chance arrives to look up into the night sky I find myself outside with my own thoughts, with nothing else to worry about.

Observing the night sky provides me with the chance to decompress and provide me with one of the very few chances to destress and look after my own mental wellbeing. 

Edited by DPF
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Because I love it! 😉

In a bit more detail…

I have always found the universe and all the wonders it contains, carved by the rules of physics to be awe inspiring. Hunting down those objects, which are often more beautiful than the most gifted artist could conceive and simultaneously appreciating the physics behind what I am observing (thanks physics degree) adds an extra dynamic for me.

I guess I also feel a bit like an explorer, visiting far away places that few will ever see and knowing that the photon’s journey, which in some cases will be millions of years ends when it hits my retina adds a personal connection to the universe.

It is also very peaceful to be out under the stars, though I do also enjoy the activity in groups and sharing the skies in outreach events.

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Observing for me provides the kind of complete absorption that gives a real break from everything else going on in life, personal timeout being essential to keeping life’s batteries charged. 

It combines a degree of practical skill development with scientific learning & a dash of physical adventure in the outdoors  at night. The pleasure of selecting, acquiring, configuring & mastering precision-engineered technical equipment and then, most magically, the sense of wonder at the aesthetic beauty of some sights and the profound perspective gained from contemplating the vast spans of time and distance involved, even if the view is of a grey smudge! 

Lastly I’d add the pleasure of sharing all those experiences & constantly learning from like minded individuals, often here on SGL whilst warming up from an observing session with a well earned single malt! 

 

Edited by SuburbanMak
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Getting something to work that’s not easy to use. It may be second nature now but hark back to your very first sessions, where everything seemed to go wrong and you failed even, say, the alignment.

And once you’ve got it figured out, being presented with a scene of beauty with an endless list of things to see. Or not, on bad nights: that sense of “will it, won’t it” making it all the more special when you get the good seeing.

And the sheer pleasure of owning and using extremely fine equipment.

Magnus

Edited by Captain Scarlet
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Very much the same reasons as you @Second Time Around 🙂  I used to be with SEKAS too.  The Kent skies were darker then and, in places that I know and visit regularly, are still better than anything I’ve been able to find in Surrey.  

It’s more than a casual question you ask!  Though I think of myself as a ‘serious’ amateur (I have plenty of nice kit and have been observing visually and imaging for decades from the UK and prime locations overseas) deep down, it’s a love of the natural world, land as well as sky, that drives me to keep observing -  delusions about ‘doing science’ don’t figure anywhere in there at all, I’m afraid. (Help! I’m a stargazer 😬)

In the UK, however, natural beauty is increasingly hard to find and unspoiled skies are more or less a thing of the past. Even those places that appear dark on dark skies maps are, when you get there, polluted by horizon glows and light domes from villages and remote towns.  The Brecon Beacons, which I’ve known and walked on by night and day for, ahem, 70 years, are a case in point - once pitch dark but now polluted by sky glow from the Valleys to the South which, incidentally, were themselves ubiquitously pitch black when I was a child and all the lights went off at 11.  Many people growing up now in the UK have known no natural darkness, so have no yardstick. They will believe that the Beacons, for example, are genuinely ‘dark’.  I know that they are not because I have experienced them much darker - we are slipping into a creeping acceptance of the mediocre and rebranding it as good. 

Rant over, and to return to the question …  I do find that, here in the UK, a key component of what gives me reason to get the scopes out and observe is now in short supply.  I still do get the scopes out, but what I enjoy most is to be out under a beautiful sky. For many years, I used to image from La Palma and there, as the mounts ticked away and the data was being gathered, there was time to enjoy the visual wonder of natural night.  I still have some of the data, tucked away somewhere.  But what stays with me is the presence of the sky.
 

 

 

 

Edited by JTEC
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7 hours ago, mikeDnight said:

Not far away James, around 30 to 40 mins drive - Burnley. The land of cloud! ☁️

It’s high time we has a Lancashire stargazers club here in the forum 

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9 minutes ago, JTEC said:

.....we are slipping into a creeping acceptance of the mediocre and rebranding it as good.....

 

Sadly very true IMHO and not just in astronomy 😔

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40 minutes ago, Beardy30 said:

It’s high time we has a Lancashire stargazers club here in the forum 

Sounds good to me! :thumbsup:  Others may object though, especially when we start holding entire conversations using nothing but vowels.

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Edited by mikeDnight
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For me, maths and mathematics are or were not my strong educational subjects. I observe because it makes me think as to how small planet Earth and the solar system is in comparison to the vastness of the cosmos and universe… then there is this… the late Carl Sagan’s Pale Blue Dot…

 

Edited by RT65CB-SWL
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11 hours ago, JTEC said:

we are slipping into a creeping acceptance of the mediocre and rebranding it as good. 

I agree! I recall as a teenager on holiday down in Cornwall, walking back home from dinner in a pub say, and not being able to see my hand in front of my face it was so dark at times. I can’t remember the last time this happened, there always seems to be some light around, even with my much less sensitive eyes.

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2 hours ago, Stu said:

I agree! I recall as a teenager on holiday down in Cornwall, walking back home from dinner in a pub say, and not being able to see my hand in front of my face it was so dark at times. I can’t remember the last time this happened, there always seems to be some light around, even with my much less sensitive eyes.

 

My comments below are more along the lines of “why don’t more people observe” but maybe that’s helpful…

When we went on holiday with friends to a place that just happened to be “dark” the topic of light pollution came up over dinner. Our friend’s teenage daughter had zero interests in simply just looking up. It was almost as if she was frightened of something. I had the feeling that she believed doing so is nerdy and she was cool! She also asked the question:

“does it matter if you can’t see the stars anymore? Does anyone really care?”.

Attempting to answer made no difference. Her mind was set. 

When my daughter enthusiastically mentions to my in-laws the enjoyment she gets out of stargazing the response (not said directly but you can tell) is like “errrr… that’s odd… why on earth do you do that?”

Alice is in an after school club called “Space Club” which includes astronomy. I’ve taken a telescope along. This initially had 11 kids (Alice the only girl) but now it’s sadly down to 4. If anymore leave it could be cancelled altogether. When I asked Alice why her answer was “The boys were called nerds by other kids for wanting to go, so they dropped out” - what can you say!

Edited by PeterStudz
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