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Any amateur astronomers?

  1. #1
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    Any amateur astronomers?

    A couple years ago, I bought a small telescope on Craig's list. Then I did some research and started scanning the sky on clear evenings. I enjoyed it so much that a few months later I bought larger scope. And, about six months after that I bought an even bigger one. This one is as big as I can handle. I have it on wheels so I can roll it out into the driveway and start observing.



    I've found it to be a very relaxing hobby, just me, the sky, and the scope. In cold weather, I have hand warmers in my jacket pockets, and in warm weather I'm smeared with mosquito repellent.

    My sky is very bright from light pollution, so many dim objects like nebulae and galaxies are invisible even with a large scope. With the naked eye I may be only able to see a few stars. But, there are still a lot of pretty things through a telescope. I've seen all the planets (don't count Pluto), several asteroids, two comets, many multiple stars and star clusters, and a few galaxies and nebulae. And, the moon is amazing seen close up, with all kinds of geologic features.

    Planets and clusters can be very pretty, but a lot of the pleasure is mental. A while back, I looked at a galaxy that is 30 million light years from us. It was just a tiny dim fuzzy patch of light. But in my mind's eye I knew it was a collection of billions of suns. And the photons that were hitting my retina had been traveling through intergalactic space from those suns for 30 million years. It wasn't a picture, it was the real thing. I stared at it for quite a while.

    Don

  2. #2
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    Not an astronomer Don, but since I was a young child I always loved looking at the night sky. My father would point out constellations to me and I always found it very wondrous and peaceful. I still do a lot of star gazing when out camping in the wilderness, away from any artificial lights that are found around cities and towns. While tent camping in Canada many years ago, I experienced the Aurora Borealis/Northern Lights, a sight to behold. I would like to look sometime through a good quality telescope.

  3. #3
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    I would love to see an Aurora. Heck, I'd like to see the Milky Way again. It's sad to think that most people can't due to light pollution. When you see pictures of the earth at night from space, it's clear how much light goes straight up into the sky.

    Don

  4. #4
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    Don, have you ever taken any photographs of the stars and the moon with your camera? I have just with my little pocket camera, and they never come out well, I would at least need a better camera and telephoto lens.

  5. #5
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    Years ago my wife gave me a small table model telescope with a little tripod on it. I loved looking at the sky at night.
    I once picked out Saturn; could actually see the space between the sphere and the rings.

    My best views were from the lady in the window who forgot to pull down her window shade while changing her clothes.

    Never did look for planets again.

  6. #6
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    SeaBreeze -- I don't try to do astrophotography. It takes some fairly expensive equipment to do it right. But, here is a photo I took of the Moon by just holding my little camera up to the eyepiece.

    Celmoon1.jpg

    Falcon -- That little telescope wasn't a Questar, was it? Those are the Rolls Royce of small telescopes.

    Don

  7. #7
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    I doubt it Don. I forgot the name of it. It was many years ago.

    It had a little right angle eye piece to look through.

  8. #8
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    Great photo there Don, thanks for sharing!

  9. #9
    I've been casually interested for a few years, but I didn't get seriously into it until just this year. Right now, all I have are a pair of 7x50 binoculars and some star charts. I don't want to buy a telescope until I know the sky like the back of my hand (which may take a few years).

    I'd eventually like to get a Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope (I want to get into deep-sky astrophotography), but I'll probably start with a Dob.

  10. #10
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    Years ago I bought a telescope for my son. We had a lot of fun looking at the moon in it's phases.

    That same telescope has now been passed down to my grandson.

    We have discussions on the moon and its influence on the Earth.

  11. #11
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    Kaufen -- Some evenings I leave the scope put away and just sit in the driveway with my binoculars and tablet computer tracing out the constellations. Like you, I want to know the sky better, and that takes practice. Stellarium is a great free planetarium program that helps me find my way. I'd recommend that anyone who has an interest in the night sky download and try it.

    I've gone for the biggest light bucket I can handle and afford. And, that means a Dobson. My first little scope was an 80mm refractor. I made a web page about my experience with it that you can see here if you are interested. Then I bought a 130mm Dob, and now I have a 200mm Dob. I traded the 80mm to a relative for a 114mm Newtonian on an equatorial mount. I hated the mount, so I converted it to a Dob. It's now a very handy small grab and go scope.

    Camper6 -- It must be satisfying to see that scope still being put to good use. Maybe you've triggered a life long interest for your Grandson.

    Don

  12. #12
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    Camper6 -- It must be satisfying to see that scope still being put to good use. Maybe you've triggered a life long interest for your Grandson.
    It really is. He is ten and really interested.

  13. #13
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    Hey Grampa Don,

    If I knew how to post pictures, I could show you some of the 30 telescopes I've owned since 1963, from a 3" Equatorial Newtonian to a 20" Truss Dobsonian.

    I always enjoyed having the largest aperture in my Club, the High Desert Astronomical Society (HiDAS), of which I'm no longer a member.

    As I grew older, I became tired of hauling those monsters to Star Parties, so over the years I sold them all, except a manageable 10" Orion Dob.

    In my 3000-foot High Desert location, the skies are most always clear, and I observe only during a new or crescent moon to preserve the dark-sky conditions.

    My favorite deep sky targets are the Orion Nebula, and the Hercules Cluster, for which you'll need a really dark sky and a big aperture, 12" or bigger.

    Let's see your scopes!

    HiDesertHal

  14. #14
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    Hey Hal,

    I envy your location. I'm five miles from Disneyland. I have power and phone wires on two sides, and big trees on the other two. But, there is still a lot I can see. Most Nebulae and Galaxies are invisible, but M13 is no problem and the Orion Nebula is nice. My favorites are the clusters and asterisms. The double cluster in Perseus is one I'll look at over and over. A recent challenge was M104, the Sombrero galaxy in Virgo. It was dim, but I could see it.

    My 8 inch SkyWatcher dob is as big as I can easily handle. I've replaced the bearings with real Teflon, and balanced it and it moves nice and smooth.

    Don

  15. #15
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    I grew up loving astronomy. I lived on the 'Peak' in Hong Kong as a kid and one night a neighbour let me look through his reflector telescope and I saw the rings of Saturn. I was amazed and astonished!

    From there my imagination just flew. I discovered science fiction, read everything I could about theoretical physics (layman's versions!) and learnt all I could about the universe 'out there'.

    I think it made me realise how small we really are and how petty our fears and prejudices really are in the end.

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