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Are we really Astronomers.


astro mick
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This is a light hearted question,and i would be interested in any comments.

I have been into Astronomy for a number of years,braving the cold,and using very modest equipment,using charts,and noting down any observations.

But these last few years,i have noted a big change,we are inundated with images of fantastic equipment,both in the visual and camera line.

Most threads in these groups,are mostly dominated with discussions on equipment,upgrading,best eyepieces,must haves.We are spending fortunes(and yes i,m guilty too)on the latest gizzmos.I cant believe that eyepieces can cost six hundred pounds and more,CCD cameras,Thousands of pounds,software again often hundreds of pounds.

We want telescopes that think for themselves,cameras that produce fantastic pictures,without too much input from us.

Then the rare clear sky appears,and we all go out and try set all this modern eqipment up.Often it all goes wrong and we can spend half the nignt wondering why it does,nt work,missing that wonderful sky we have waited so long for.

So we think there is something wrong with our equipment,we must upgrade,out comes the wallet,browse the goody shops,this will sort it out.

Do we really need to spend all this money,is it the eqipment that is at fault,or is it really us.

I would hazard to say that the telescope you have is fine,that is until you see the latest GOTO with millions of objects in its Database,then off we go again.

So i say again (Are we really Astronomers or do we really love the eqipment more.)

Just an observation.

Clear skies.

Mick.

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that is a very good question and a good way of looking at astronomy as a theory rather than practice. Im only new to astronomy, and as such am still within my 1st £500 budget, im sure that will change very soon though.

For me i see the equipment as the 1 thing which changes the planets from tiny dots to actual resolved shapes & discs and therefore without it we would see nothing by comparison. On top of that without the cameras we could not picture what we see.

My honest answer to that question is when newton & co over the last few hundred years built their initial devices they were the 1st astronomers (rather than stargazers - ie people who charted stars with naked eyes etc) all we are doing as a modern planet is furthering that research and without these tools it would not be possible.We do love equipment but only because it goes hand in hand.

Edited by skywatcher250
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Good point. The complexity brought about by of using a lot of technology can detract from the reason why people are using it in the first place. It's the same problem that happens to any pastime that involves ever increasing technological advancements.

Personally, I got into imaging because I found visual astronomy a let-down, and I wanted to see things I can't with my eyes. I still get the same "wow" effect when seeing subs roll in as I would if it was in an eyepiece, only I'm sitting in front of a fire in my pjs :)

It's horses for courses, but I find the tech side of this hobby as much fun getting nice pictures, and makes it all the more satisfying when it all goes right

Edited by Euan
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Brilliant point Mic,

I have thought about this subject myself, although I am a novice I have been astounded by the prices of kit that you can use and spent a few pennies myself, only for visual use at the moment. As a keen Hi-fi and home cinema fan I have spent a decent amount of cash over the past thirty years on this and that. I remember a piece of advice given to me sometime in the 80's when I was buying a new set of speakers (B&W110s incase anyone was wondering), It was mentioned that if you were to spend around £1,000 that would probably do it, anything over that and you were getting into the realms of listening to the EQUIPMENT and not the music.

I know that cash is not problem then thats fine but for a lot of us its like you never quite have enough kit or seek to attain the next big thing. Televue Ethos?

Clear skies

Alan

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Every hobby has its "toys" and "gearheads", astronomy is no different.

I don't think the weather in this country helps as I'm sure a lot of my purchases are down to searching websites/ reading magazines in an attempt to stay connected with the hobby on the many cloudy nights we have in the UK.

(Well thats my excuse and I'm sticking to it!!)

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I will say we are not.

Astronomy is no longer really in the realm of looking up at the night sky and wondering what that is. To some extent Hubble brought that to an end, it also gave a greater awarness of astronomy to many millions.

You mention technology and imaging, anyone got a set up to surpass Hubble, or Spitzer or Chandra?

Galaxy Zoo put up 1,000,000 galaxy images for the public to classify.

The other aspscts of astronomy are now often in the theoretical and computer modelling realm using computers we cannot even get close to.

One aspect that I know has been performed here on planet earth is the search for exoplanets. Smallest scope I know of used for that was a 3mtr one with a liquid nitrogen cooled imaging system. I didn't have one in my back garden last time I looked.

To do "astronomy" now is the realm of research and the universities. One topic is Galaxy Collisions: How long do you have to hang around to see 2 galaxies collide and view the result? 2 billion years? More?

There are still aspects, those associated with the properties of the various moons in the solar system being one. Again this is very dependant of the images from passing, or orbiting, satellites.

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An excellent question! I think we are all astronomers on here but our goals are often very different. Equipment is an important part of many hobbies and without doubt, spending larger amounts of 'hard earned' can yield better results but only up to a point - this is very much the case with imaging which by its very nature is technology based but to some extent it must also apply to visual astronomy too.

I have only been interested in astronomy since the transit of Venus in 2004 and bought a couple of budget 'scopes from the Skywatcher range later in that year. Within a year I had become disillusioned with visual astronomy but my interest in imaging blossomed and my wallet started to empty in the cause of 'camera acquisition' but I still have and use those original budget Skywatcher telescopes as my sole optics but if I had the loot, I would buy into Takahashi if I could.

Has the technology quest stopped me being an astronomer? I don't think so.

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You make a very good point Mick. We all have a tendency to turn every problem into an economic one. We want to take up a hobby - be it astro, golf, whatever - so what do we do: spend loads on equipment, lessons, etc. We're conditioned to believe that the solution to everything comes from our wallet. There are businesses that claim they sell an "experience": to me that's a contradiction in terms. Experience is something you can't buy. Collecting gear is a hobby in its own right, and good luck to the people who enjoy doing it. Even if I could afford it, I don't think it would appeal to me. My major outlay is on the petrol I need to get to dark skies.

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astronomer [əˈstrɒnəmə]

n (Astronomy) (Business / Professions) a scientist who studies astronomy.

I did a GNVQ in science when i was 18 so Im claiming it!!!!!!!!!! :)

w

Edited by Wurzil
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The definition of the word astronomer is a star namer, so in that sense no we're not (unless we can claim a new star and name it) All hobbies benefit from technology, i still see it as the same hobby as when i was a boy and looked at the moon through my first cheap tasco from my mums catalogue and said wow! For me, gadgets are a means to an end, to see the cosmos in all its fabbyness... if a gadget or new eyepiece lets me see more then bring it on i say, although i think we're all guilty of buying something thats looks nice and shiny but is as useful as a chocolate fireguard. As long as we're looking up and continuing to say wow i think we can safely call ourselves astronomers

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i still see it as the same hobby as when i was a boy and looked at the moon through my first cheap tasco from my mums catalogue and said wow!

Apologies for being slightly off topic but this reminds me of my first ever telescope bought for me when I was just eight years old. It was a special offer from the 'Look and Learn' magazine (which I used to love reading with a passion!) and consisted of a long cardboard tube with a single glass lens at the front and a smaller tight fitting cardboard tube with a simple EP at the other. With great excitement, I pointed the 'scope out of the window of my bedroom, aiming at the Moon, pushed the focus tube inwards to try and focus it and the compression blew the front lens off where it fell onto the patio and shattered - clearly, I was mentally scarred for life :)

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Wonderful question, after much reading and taking advice from SGL as to my first scope etc, so far in total I've paid about £410 for scope and supplied bits a further ep and 2x barlow not a lot of dosh when you consider what there is on the market for sale. In many respects and all things being equal and at my novice level, that should be me sorted for a long time??, moneywise I think good value for this hobby, but unfortunately I can see it is going to be very intermittent in usage. I've now had the equipment for about 16 days, and I haven't had any decent skies to use it in anger, apart from 30 mins with the moon showing through the cloud, so Im not really sure what it will be like when I do. The big "BUT" would you believe is for the future and about further purchases, in my mind I'm already thinking about something more compact for when we go on our travels and it won't be a newt, but that as I say is for the future. Although I've been into photography for many years and currently using Nikon D80 and a canon compact, I don't think I would want to afford the expense of AP equipment, but who knows ( abandon all hope ye who enter here cos verily it could cost you mucho brasso). Currently Im well and truly satisfied, apart from the lack of clear skies, please don't tell me you know someone who can for a price supply me with clear skies!!!doh Lol.

I supose the main reason I became interested in astronomy and was prepared to spend the intial outlay is because of the WOW factor of the who's, the hows' the whys' the what's etc etc of it all in what makes the cosmos tick and what's it all about. Hopefully i will stick to astronomy and not just collect gadgets for no purpose other then to own them...... did i tell you about when i first started woodturning, ah well perhaps another time.

Phil

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Great question.

Last Autumn I decided to stop imaging the planets and start drawing them instead.

I am not an artist but the sense of involvement has meant I have really enjoyed the last seven months of Astronomy.

Just my two penneth.

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astronomer [əˈstrɒnəmə]

n (Astronomy) (Business / Professions) a scientist who studies astronomy.

I did a GNVQ in science when i was 18 so Im claiming it!!!!!!!!!! :)

w

Are you still studying astronomy?

The definition uses the present sense, not the past.

I suspect that one could say that reaserch astronomy, universities etc, and amateur astronomy are now so far apart they are different things.

We image over a few hours, the Hubble deep sky was performed over 10 and 11+ days, and their scope is pretty high tech.

We look through 8, 11, 14 inch scopes, university PHd students spend 3 weeks on Hawaii and use Keck 1 and 2. They are still studying to be called astronomers

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Are you still studying astronomy?

The definition uses the present sense, not the past.

I suspect that one could say that reaserch astronomy, universities etc, and amateur astronomy are now so far apart they are different things.

We image over a few hours, the Hubble deep sky was performed over 10 and 11+ days, and their scope is pretty high tech.

We look through 8, 11, 14 inch scopes, university PHd students spend 3 weeks on Hawaii and use Keck 1 and 2. They are still studying to be called astronomers

i agree with you - my tongue was firmly in my cheek. I would never (seriously) call myself an astronomer - im just someone with an interest in astronomy, who likes to look at cool stuff through a telescope.:)

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Are you still studying astronomy?

The definition uses the present sense, not the past.

I suspect that one could say that reaserch astronomy, universities etc, and amateur astronomy are now so far apart they are different things.

We image over a few hours, the Hubble deep sky was performed over 10 and 11+ days, and their scope is pretty high tech.

We look through 8, 11, 14 inch scopes, university PHd students spend 3 weeks on Hawaii and use Keck 1 and 2. They are still studying to be called astronomers

That's why we refer to ourselves as Amateur Astronomers, the point of the thread is a philosophical one not a discussion on whether or not we can claim to be Astronomers

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Well I'm not an astronomer....just a guy who likes to look at what is around me, the garden, the wildlife, the reefs and fishes when I can get a dive in and I like looking at the BIG THING out there. I sometimes look at the threads on the big bang and the evolution of everything but in astronomy as well as psychology Im afraid I am a phenomenologist.....sod the explanation, its the experience that counts.

Clear Skies

Mike

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I am now fascinated by a slight turn of events here! There seems to be some sense that calling yourself 'an astronomer' is some kind of a problem. Errr, why? You can call yourself a cyclist, photographer, dog walker, skier, swimmer horse rider, stamp collector, sports car driver, cook, gardener ............................... etc. etc. without trying to be pretentious so what is so 'special' about being an astronomer? :)

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I am now fascinated by a slight turn of events here! There seems to be some sense that calling yourself 'an astronomer' is some kind of a problem. Errr, why? You can call yourself a cyclist, photographer, dog walker, skier, swimmer horse rider, stamp collector, sports car driver, cook, gardener ............................... etc. etc. without trying to be pretentious so what is so 'special' about being an astronomer? :)

Well its not a problem, just a matter of degree and humility LOL.

Im a keen gardener but wouldn't call myself a botanist.

I love my SE8 and its goto capability looking at the objects out there but I depend on my goto. I fly gliders and in fact instruct but dont call myself a pilot unless prefixed with glider. Perhaps its just a matter of degree?

A specialist is someone who knows more and more about less and less till eventually he know everything about nothing.

A generalist is someone who knows less and less about more and more till eventually they know nothing about everything.

I guess I would expect a certain knowledge and skill level before I claim the title .

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A specialist is someone who knows more and more about less and less till eventually he know everything about nothing.

A generalist is someone who knows less and less about more and more till eventually they know nothing about everything.

amazing quote!!!!:)

Edited by Wurzil
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The question is "Are we really astronomers?"

So by the nature of the title it would appear that someone has "doubts" we can claim to be astronomers. Meaning that there are a number, apparently, that would class themselves as astronomers. I appreciate that not all and probably very few. Also I know that there are some who have Astronomy and Astrophysics qualifications.

However take the experience of the continent, in Germany and many others - most of Northern Europe, you cannot be an engineer unless you have a degree, and a degree in a relevant subject. Here in the UK a man drilling holes in walls, bolting in a metal stand and attaching a satellite dish will claim the title Engineer.

So apply that general criteria to the question.

It is a bit like a jogger running along the road probably isn't going to be a 2012 olymic candidate. In this instance you certainly would not expect them to go round claim to be an olympian or olympic candidate.

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