20 August 2018 at 1:57 am #574113Ian KahlerParticipant
So, I have been a member for a a short while now. I have not said much or contributed much at all, but I HAVE done a lot of reading.
Why haven’t I contributed much at all??
Because I am one of those members who is at the “bottom of the totem pole.”
When I was in my last year of school I was looking at careers and I actually went to the University to ask about a career in astronomy. The dept. head was very gracious but I knew that he must have sat there in his office after I left, and laughed at what a waste of time it was for me to even ask for an appointment. I suck at math. Math is logic… and I cant even build a wooden box straight and square.
But that has not stopped me from enjoying astronomy. I DO read very well. I can understand so many aspects of astronomy but when it comes to math; when it comes to actually using a telescope to find ANYTHING other than the moon and planets… well let’s just forget that! I have had three telescopes in my lifetime with EQ mounts. Now let’s just step aside for a second and consider those school experiences where many of us where the victim of the annoying and sometimes terrifying bully in the school. Well, my “bully” has ALWAYS been an EQ mount. His worshipping followers who were always there with him… adding insults and humiliation, where setting circles, RA and sidereal time.
Now it seems the bully has grown to become an all enveloping cloud of judgmental humiliation. I look at/study the other folks and your equipment. I read about your achievements, and how easy it is for you to accomplish the one, yes the ONE process that has tormented me like a chronic cough, a painful lower back.
The one fulfilling engagement that I would so very much want to accomplish before I go to the next life, the next etheral plane, is to be able to operate a computerized telescope. Also to understand all the available attributes of such programs as Software Bisque’s The Sky, Megastar, C2A, Stellarium, just to name a few.
At this time, when I look at the achievements of so many folks who are able to see the amazing and beautiful universe, to photograph it, to plan useful and productive observations, and finally to write about it, I realize that I am not even on your planet!
IS it true?? Does one need to have a higher understanding and education to be able to operate these amazing precision machines? Does one really need to have college education in computer sciences, digital photography, and math to be able to achieve even somewhat mundane tasks when operating the of scientific software and equipment available today?
I feel that it is, but I would not be opposed to anyone telling me I am wrong and explaining why. I feel that this combination of computer software, cameras and machines are the domain of the bullying hoard, the “plastics” the nemesis that delights in denying me my ultimate joy?
Now before anyone gets all in an uproar and wants to shout out that I am trashing the honorable institution of astronomy, let me add that I extract a number of satisfying goals from such sources as planetary geology, celestial cartography and historical atlases to name a few attributes of this science. But the one goal that eludes me with such unwavering consistency is the concept of computerized celestial mechanics. I feel that it is very unlikely that I will ever master this concept in this lifetime, and that I must be satisfied to live vicariously in the shadow of those who excel in this branch of this science.
Ian20 August 2018 at 9:33 am #579896Mr Andrew Jonathan WilsonKeymaster
I think you are part of a silent majority who have trouble setting up telescope mounts. It is good that you raise these points as I am sure there are others who will read this post having the same experience as you. Over the years I have comes across a good number of people with an interest in astronomy who bought a telescope but never successfully got it working and gave up.
I do think things are easier now than 10 or 20 years ago. To track stars you used to need an equatorial mount, but now there are many cheap computerized altazimuth mounts that will track and locate objects from a 2 or 3 star alignment. This does of course mean knowing how to locate the bright stars used for alignment, and this is where I know some people fall down. It is also true that you get what you pay for, but an easy to setup mount is often not the most expensive one.
While I am one of those who does some fairly advanced astronomy, I still remember learning about equatorial mounts and being confused. Each step has taken me time to learn and then master. I also enjoy casual astronomy where I just look at the Moon, the planets, or a deep sky object without going to the lengths of making a recorded observation. It is important to get the balance right, to ensure you enjoy astronomy and it does not become a burden.
Apologies if I am stating things you already know, but I would advise that you start simple. A low power eyepiece with a wide field of view, so that accurate mount setup is not as important. Though it is easy to find the Moon and planets without a goto mount, start off by using your mount to find those easy objects which you already know where they are. That way you will spot when something is wrong, and when it is working right. With fainter objects it can be difficult to know whether your telescope is pointing at the wrong bit of sky, or if the object is too faint for your telescope and sky conditions.
If you still have your telescope(s), then you could try posting specific questions on the mount you use. There may be others on the forum who know that mount and can offer advice. Otherwise someone may be able to post advice on relatively cheap, easy to use mountings from their personal experience.
Andy20 August 2018 at 3:36 pm #579898Dr James DawsonParticipant
Ian, you certainly don’t need a college education or an in-depth understanding of maths to use a computerised telescope. It is something which is much easier to learn from someone else, hands-on, than trying to read a manual though. If you have access to a local club or society I would strongly encourage you to get acquainted with them and get some help. Understanding some basic maths is useful for some aspects of astronomy, for celestial coordinates, working out magnification etc, but you’ll get by fine without it. Having an open mind, patience and a willingness to learn something new is far more important, as some computerised telescopes are not always as intuitive as they could be.
James20 August 2018 at 9:46 pm #579899Grant PrivettParticipant
Go to some observing meetings from your local society – they are not experts, they are ordinary people like you and me and are normally more than willing to show you what they do when they set up. It can’t be difficult or we wouldnt all be doing it.
Alternatively, if you have the means, a Meade LS scope does the trick. Place on level(ish) ground with a decent view of the sky, plug it in, make coffee, come back, start observing. It fails about 1 in 10 times.
No wizardry required. I borrowed one for 6 months and had a great time.
But long term, its better to learn than spend money up front.20 August 2018 at 10:39 pm #579900Ian KahlerParticipant
Well guys, I have given my commentary/opinion a great deal of thought the last 2 days. I have decided to give my telescopes to the physics & astronomy dept. at the local university. I am going to remain focused on what I like doing best. And that would be focusing on the history of astronomy…. the people behind the discoveries, the geology of the solar system and so on. I know now, that without any doubt than continuing to try an master the use of a telescope, EQ or Alt-Az would continue to frustrate and eventually destroy any joy I experience with astronomy.
As for spending time outside under the stars, I have binoculars 25×100, and a tripod to hold them. And so I will wander randomly without needing to know what I am seeing. Rather I will focus on enjoying the absolute magnificence of the view.
Thank you for your opinions and ideas, but the reality of it for me is to understand that telescope operation has always ended badly for me, and it will not change; so I have to change my priorities and my reality.21 August 2018 at 6:30 pm #579905
<< And that would be focusing on the history of astronomy….
Nothing wrong with the history of astronomy!
I own a telescope, but I tend to use binoculars, simply for convenience and ease of use. I have a small pair for general use and sky browsing, and some “big buggers” which get wheeled out for total eclipses (totality only!) and other short-duration events. I’m not a dedicated observer and binoculars work for me.
I hope you’ll be able to come along to some historical section meetings (usually held late spring). Are you on our historical section mailing list? If not, send me your email address and we’ll send the section newsletter twice a year.
Mike Frost, Historical Section Director3 September 2018 at 12:09 pm #579957Mr Nicholas John AtkinsonParticipant
Are you comming to the Christchurch meeting?3 September 2018 at 6:49 pm #579960
<< Are you comming to the Christchurch meeting?
Was this one for me? I am unfortunately unable to make it to Christchurch – a really nice part of the world. I hope everyone who goes enjoys the week-end.
Mike Frost3 September 2018 at 7:32 pm #579962Mr Nicholas John AtkinsonParticipant
Should you come down this way another time you would I would be happy to show you around my Observatory and look at the software I use
Nick3 September 2018 at 9:50 pm #579963
Thanks Nick! Hope I can visit some day.
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