Are visual observers a dying breed?

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Bigzmey
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Are visual observers a dying breed?

#1

Post by Bigzmey »

I was hooked on visual observing when I was 7 years old and pretty sure I will keep going to the day I die. However, over the years I could not help but noticed that general interest in armature astronomy is shifting towards astrophotography and video astronomy.

Take my local club for example. It was founded in 1967 and was dominated at that time by manual DOBs. 40 years later and on a typical night I am the only visual guy at our dark site. I have been with club for 6 years and among 800 members have yet to meet another visual observer. And even if I meet one the chances are them will be using goto setup. Nothing wrong with it but it makes me with my manual mounts to stick out even more.

The old core of the club are pushing 70-80, they all started as visual guys but most converted to AP. A few shared sentiment that they got bored of visual and highlighted social aspect of AP - sharing images with friends and family and posting on social networks.

The younger members seems to go straight to AP, many could not even point constellations in the sky.

In all fairness it is also getting harder to observe visually, dark skies disappearing faster than rain forests. I fear that in 40 years visual observing will go the way of landline phones and record players.

Contrary to these predictions the used EPs market is as hot as ever. $300 EPs get snatched in hours, however there is a common sentiment which I share that most of these fancy EPs get looked at but not through them.

I am delighted to see observing reports from old and new members alike here on TSS, but it also feels fewer than before and not much interest in observing programs and monthly challenges.

Your thoughts?
Scopes: Stellarvue: SV102 ED F7; Celestron: 9.25" EdgeHD F10, 8" SCT F10, 6" SCT F10, Omni XLT 150R Achro F5, Onyx 80ED F6.3; Meade: 80ST Achro F5.
Mounts: ES: Twilight I; Bresser: EXOS2; SW: SkyTee2, AzGTi; UA: MicroStar.
Binos: Orion: Little Giant II 15x70, WorldView 10x50, Nikon: Action EX 16x50 & 8x40.
EPs: Pentax: XWs & XFs; TeleVue: Delites, Panoptic & Plossls; ES: 68s; Vixen: SLVs; Baader: BCOs, Aspherics, Mark IV; Russell Optics: SuperPlossls.
Diagonals: Baader: BBHS silver mirror, Zeiss Spec T2 prism, Clicklock dielectric; TeleVue: Evebrite dielectric; AltairAstro: Positive lock prism.
Filters: Lumicon: DeepSky, UHC, OIII, H-beta; Baader: Moon & SkyGlow, Contrast Booster, UHC-S; Astronomik: UHC, Orion: UltraBlock, SkyGlow.
Observing: DSOs: 2106 (Completed: Messier, Herschel 1, 2, 3. In progress: H2,500: 1635, S110: 77). Doubles: 1441, Comets: 18, Asteroids: 95
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Re: Are visual observers a dying breed?

#2

Post by Ylem »

I gave up AP when film got rare and I dismantled my darkroom 😆

However I think you're right, seems like everyone is going AP.

I can tell you this; the talent here on this site is amazing!!!!!
Some of the pics here look like Hubble images, I never tire of looking at them :)

I don't think I have the patience to do AP myself, but you never know, I might give it a try, it does appear addicting.
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notFritzArgelander
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Re: Are visual observers a dying breed?

#3

Post by notFritzArgelander »

I think you are right about the trend away from visual and toward AP.

I started as a visual observer at a tender age in 1955. The only significant AP I ever did was as an astronomy major in college. I did the AP in the service of taking data and mastering the technique of that only to become a theoretician. :lol: I then reverted to visual astronomy as a hobby in 1972-73.

I enjoy the esthetics of folks astrophotos. Really I do. But the process seems somewhat difficult and usually renders the beautiful image problematic as scientific data. I've been looking for a project that would justify scientifically the handstands necessary to get data sets that are useful but not necessarily pretty. I've flirted with the ideas of photometry and spectroscopy but can't commit.

I think I am just content to visually take out one scope to another and revisit old celestial friends.

One lingering flirtation is video astronomy. I'm thinking it would be fun to be able to share a view in real time and point at features of an object rather than talk folks through the experience with only an eyepiece.
Scopes: Refs: Orion ST80, SV 80EDA f7, TS 102ED f11 Newts: Z12 f5; Cats: VMC110L, Intes MK66,VMC200L f9.75 EPs: KK Fujiyama Orthoscopics, 2x Vixen NPLs (40-6mm) and BCOs, Baader Mark IV zooms, TV Panoptics, Delos, Plossl 32-8mm. Mixed brand Masuyama/Astroplans Binoculars: Nikon Aculon 10x50, Celestron 15x70, Baader Maxbright. Mounts: Star Seeker III, Vixen Porta II, Celestron CG5, Orion Sirius EQG
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Bigzmey
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Re: Are visual observers a dying breed?

#4

Post by Bigzmey »

Ylem wrote: Mon Feb 15, 2021 2:50 am I gave up AP when film got rare and I dismantled my darkroom 😆

However I think you're right, seems like everyone is going AP.

I can tell you this; the talent here on this site is amazing!!!!!
Some of the pics here look like Hubble images, I never tire of looking at them :)

I don't think I have the patience to do AP myself, but you never know, I might give it a try, it does appear addicting.
Agree! I love beautiful images people turning out. Who knows, maybe when I retire I will give it a shot. Can't beat them - join them. :lol:
Scopes: Stellarvue: SV102 ED F7; Celestron: 9.25" EdgeHD F10, 8" SCT F10, 6" SCT F10, Omni XLT 150R Achro F5, Onyx 80ED F6.3; Meade: 80ST Achro F5.
Mounts: ES: Twilight I; Bresser: EXOS2; SW: SkyTee2, AzGTi; UA: MicroStar.
Binos: Orion: Little Giant II 15x70, WorldView 10x50, Nikon: Action EX 16x50 & 8x40.
EPs: Pentax: XWs & XFs; TeleVue: Delites, Panoptic & Plossls; ES: 68s; Vixen: SLVs; Baader: BCOs, Aspherics, Mark IV; Russell Optics: SuperPlossls.
Diagonals: Baader: BBHS silver mirror, Zeiss Spec T2 prism, Clicklock dielectric; TeleVue: Evebrite dielectric; AltairAstro: Positive lock prism.
Filters: Lumicon: DeepSky, UHC, OIII, H-beta; Baader: Moon & SkyGlow, Contrast Booster, UHC-S; Astronomik: UHC, Orion: UltraBlock, SkyGlow.
Observing: DSOs: 2106 (Completed: Messier, Herschel 1, 2, 3. In progress: H2,500: 1635, S110: 77). Doubles: 1441, Comets: 18, Asteroids: 95
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Re: Are visual observers a dying breed?

#5

Post by Bigzmey »

notFritzArgelander wrote: Mon Feb 15, 2021 3:08 am I think you are right about the trend away from visual and toward AP.

I started as a visual observer at a tender age in 1955. The only significant AP I ever did was as an astronomy major in college. I did the AP in the service of taking data and mastering the technique of that only to become a theoretician. :lol: I then reverted to visual astronomy as a hobby in 1972-73.

I enjoy the esthetics of folks astrophotos. Really I do. But the process seems somewhat difficult and usually renders the beautiful image problematic as scientific data. I've been looking for a project that would justify scientifically the handstands necessary to get data sets that are useful but not necessarily pretty. I've flirted with the ideas of photometry and spectroscopy but can't commit.

I think I am just content to visually take out one scope to another and revisit old celestial friends.

One lingering flirtation is video astronomy. I'm thinking it would be fun to be able to share a view in real time and point at features of an object rather than talk folks through the experience with only an eyepiece.
VA is certainly tempting. I got my first goto mount for that and almost ordered a camera, but thought of having computer, wires, batteries, etc at the observing site made me run for the hills. :lol: So, no VA yet, but I do enjoy goto utility a home where is just too much LP for manual navigation.
Scopes: Stellarvue: SV102 ED F7; Celestron: 9.25" EdgeHD F10, 8" SCT F10, 6" SCT F10, Omni XLT 150R Achro F5, Onyx 80ED F6.3; Meade: 80ST Achro F5.
Mounts: ES: Twilight I; Bresser: EXOS2; SW: SkyTee2, AzGTi; UA: MicroStar.
Binos: Orion: Little Giant II 15x70, WorldView 10x50, Nikon: Action EX 16x50 & 8x40.
EPs: Pentax: XWs & XFs; TeleVue: Delites, Panoptic & Plossls; ES: 68s; Vixen: SLVs; Baader: BCOs, Aspherics, Mark IV; Russell Optics: SuperPlossls.
Diagonals: Baader: BBHS silver mirror, Zeiss Spec T2 prism, Clicklock dielectric; TeleVue: Evebrite dielectric; AltairAstro: Positive lock prism.
Filters: Lumicon: DeepSky, UHC, OIII, H-beta; Baader: Moon & SkyGlow, Contrast Booster, UHC-S; Astronomik: UHC, Orion: UltraBlock, SkyGlow.
Observing: DSOs: 2106 (Completed: Messier, Herschel 1, 2, 3. In progress: H2,500: 1635, S110: 77). Doubles: 1441, Comets: 18, Asteroids: 95
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Re: Are visual observers a dying breed?

#6

Post by Lady Fraktor »

I imagine it is where you are as well, there are mostly visual observers around my location with a small group of AP people.
Most people that I know doing AP are also doing it more for the science than to take a image for themselves.
There are many groups of undergrads and such needing extra observations or images so their efforts are helping someone.
One of my plans when I retire is to start doing the same but with spectroscopy.
Proper Telescopes: Antares 105 f/15, Bresser 102 f/13.2, Celestron 150 f/8, Stellarvue NHNGDX 80 f/6.9, TAL 100RS f/10, TS 102 f/11, UR 70 f/10, Vixen ED115s f/7.7
Mounts: Berlebach Planet w/ 410mm pier, Celestron AS-GT, Celestron CG-5 w/ Argo Navis & tracking motor, SLT w/ 250mm pier & tripod mods, Manfrotto 028b w/ SV M2C, Mantrotto 055Pro w/ 128RC, Skywatcher EQ-5 w/ dual drives, TAL MT1C w/ wood tripod, Vixen SXP w/ HAL-130 & 200mm half pier
Diagonal: 2" A-P Maxbright, 2" Baader Herschel Wedge (P), 2" Zeiss/ Baader Amici Prism (DX2), 2" Long Perng Amici Prism, 2" Stellarvue DX, 2" TeleVue EverBrite
Eyepieces: Antares to Zeiss
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Re: Are visual observers a dying breed?

#7

Post by notFritzArgelander »

Lady Fraktor wrote: Mon Feb 15, 2021 4:49 am I imagine it is where you are as well, there are mostly visual observers around my location with a small group of AP people.
Most people that I know doing AP are also doing it more for the science than to take a image for themselves.
There are many groups of undergrads and such needing extra observations or images so their efforts are helping someone.
One of my plans when I retire is to start doing the same but with spectroscopy.
Spectroscopy would be lovely. I'm finding it difficult to find a project with a duty cycle that my weather and health would permit. What kind of spectroscopy interests you?

In my youth I did spectroscopy on Be stars, eclipsing binaries, galaxy rotation curves.
Scopes: Refs: Orion ST80, SV 80EDA f7, TS 102ED f11 Newts: Z12 f5; Cats: VMC110L, Intes MK66,VMC200L f9.75 EPs: KK Fujiyama Orthoscopics, 2x Vixen NPLs (40-6mm) and BCOs, Baader Mark IV zooms, TV Panoptics, Delos, Plossl 32-8mm. Mixed brand Masuyama/Astroplans Binoculars: Nikon Aculon 10x50, Celestron 15x70, Baader Maxbright. Mounts: Star Seeker III, Vixen Porta II, Celestron CG5, Orion Sirius EQG
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Re: Are visual observers a dying breed?

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Post by Lady Fraktor »

I am still learning the basics of actual imaging and graphing results so have just been doing Fraunhofer lines of various stars and the sun of course.
Once I have the time to concentrate on it more, I am sure I will find a area I enjoy.
So far I am just having fun and being frustrated with the programs :lol:

At the moment I am just using a Rainbow Optics eyepiece so nothing fancy at all.
Still looking at the Baader DADOS system though...
Proper Telescopes: Antares 105 f/15, Bresser 102 f/13.2, Celestron 150 f/8, Stellarvue NHNGDX 80 f/6.9, TAL 100RS f/10, TS 102 f/11, UR 70 f/10, Vixen ED115s f/7.7
Mounts: Berlebach Planet w/ 410mm pier, Celestron AS-GT, Celestron CG-5 w/ Argo Navis & tracking motor, SLT w/ 250mm pier & tripod mods, Manfrotto 028b w/ SV M2C, Mantrotto 055Pro w/ 128RC, Skywatcher EQ-5 w/ dual drives, TAL MT1C w/ wood tripod, Vixen SXP w/ HAL-130 & 200mm half pier
Diagonal: 2" A-P Maxbright, 2" Baader Herschel Wedge (P), 2" Zeiss/ Baader Amici Prism (DX2), 2" Long Perng Amici Prism, 2" Stellarvue DX, 2" TeleVue EverBrite
Eyepieces: Antares to Zeiss
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Re: Are visual observers a dying breed?

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Post by notFritzArgelander »

Lady Fraktor wrote: Mon Feb 15, 2021 6:17 am I am still learning the basics of actual imaging and graphing results so have just been doing Fraunhofer lines of various stars and the sun of course.
Once I have the time to concentrate on it more, I am sure I will find a area I enjoy.
So far I am just having fun and being frustrated with the programs :lol:
I've just finished reading and rereading two books on spectroscopy for amateurs. I'm thinking of writing up a review of both. The are both excellent but in different ways. But this is getting off the thread topic.
Scopes: Refs: Orion ST80, SV 80EDA f7, TS 102ED f11 Newts: Z12 f5; Cats: VMC110L, Intes MK66,VMC200L f9.75 EPs: KK Fujiyama Orthoscopics, 2x Vixen NPLs (40-6mm) and BCOs, Baader Mark IV zooms, TV Panoptics, Delos, Plossl 32-8mm. Mixed brand Masuyama/Astroplans Binoculars: Nikon Aculon 10x50, Celestron 15x70, Baader Maxbright. Mounts: Star Seeker III, Vixen Porta II, Celestron CG5, Orion Sirius EQG
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Re: Are visual observers a dying breed?

#10

Post by Butterfly Maiden »

The majority of my astronomy is with naked eye and binoculars, at least at my current time of life anyway.

I'm not interested in getting into AP either. That's not to say things won't change in the future.

But for the here and now, I'm quite happy doing what I do :D
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Re: Are visual observers a dying breed?

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Post by helicon »

I agree Andrey. Part of the issue is the incredibly shrinking dark skies, at least in urban/suburban areas. It's common to look up and see just a few stars with no indication that there is anything interesting "up there" at all. So the desire to get a telescope many of us felt by learning the constellations when the stars could still be seen as kids is fading. Also, screen time amongst younger folks via phones/laptops is many hours per day and has surpassed television viewing, with new social networks going in and out of favor regularly, TikTok, etc. Plus now with streaming there is no need to abandon the device at all.

As far as older people (including me) unless you have pristine dark skies you will start to run out of new objects that you can see from home. Hence, the move to AP where you can do some great work even with LP that would frustrate visual observation, plus the sharing of work and feedback makes AP more social in nature than solitary observation. It also seems like folks greatly enjoy processing and re-processing their data to get optimal results. I'm sticking my toe into the water as I got my first camera in December. Will see how it ends up.
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Various scopes, 10" Zhumell Dob f/4.9, ES AR152 f/6.5, AWB 5.1" Onesky newt, Oberwerk 25x100 binos, two eyeballs. Camera: ZWO ASI 120
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Re: Are visual observers a dying breed?

#12

Post by kt4hx »

Thank you for raising this Andrey, as I believe it certainly is worthy of discussion and has many factors involved. The point you made near the end of your thoughts struck home to me, namely “Contrary to these predictions the used EPs market is as hot as ever. $300 EPs get snatched in hours, however there is a common sentiment which I share that most of these fancy EPs get looked at but not through them.” I agree that there is a fast and furious used EP market, so someone somewhere is doing something with them. New models are always being brought out by the main and secondary labels, so again, there certainly is a market for them. Why is that the case in a world where AP seems to be the dominant factor in the hobby? As you mentioned it could be simply the work of collectors. We all know someone who has a drawer full of EPs simply because they can and want to. Their intent may be good in that they feel they will all get used, but for most, that never truly happens. However, I think that is a small group within the hobby. I still think most buy them in order to evaluate, compare and use, which speaks to a larger, hidden pool of visual observers.

I do think there are far more visual observers than we know about, though sadly a lot fewer than we used to have. I simply believe that many do not make themselves known for reasons of their own. If you look at our reports forum, and thinking back to that at the old site, the majority of reporting was done by a relatively small number of people. Yet, those reports were read by many, many people. Also, I believe the majority of amateur astronomers do not belong to clubs, either because there are none near them or they simply do not wish to engage. I can say that we have a local club and there are several within my general region, but I belong to none. I have never been a club-type person, who wanted to go to meetings or star parties. I suspect there are a substantial number that simply are not participatory, including those that only read posts on this and/or other sites yet never comment.

I see this being the case with the challenges and award programs that we and various groups offer. I myself have never been an awards person, and have never participated in programs like those offered by the Astronomical League. I have participated in the awards and challenges on the previous site and this one, but that was done solely in hopes of encouraging others who are just starting out to set goals and engage more within the sites in order to learn and grow. In reality that is why I file observing reports as well. If I can encourage one person to get out under the sky and push their limits beyond what they might otherwise set for themselves, then I feel I am successful.

Gabrielle mentions an interesting aspect with regard to regional differences. The high cost of going into AP in a truly serious and effective manner would preclude many in various parts of the world from taking that path. That factor alone may mean that most will remain visual observers for their lifetime, or at least until their interest in the hobby wanes. So in some areas, the ratio of visual to AP may be skewed more to the former.

As mentioned there is the social and coolness aspect of AP. You have something tangible (hopefully) that you can display, show-off and/or share with friends in the hobby. It is a learning and supportive group which help one another through critique and advice. However, I also know there are many more people engaged in AP than post images. Again, I suspect a shyness factor at play for some. For still others they simply don’t feel the need to engage.

We live in a technological world as never before. The ability to churn out images rivaling professional results have become commonplace as APers hone their craft. People are swept up in the current technology and gain the rudimentary skills at an early age. It simply becomes a matter of something igniting an interest in astronomy thereby shifting their focus to applying their skills within that realm.

Then we come to the matter of our shrinking dark skies within a reasonable proximity to the population. Many people simply do not wish to travel to darker skies in order to see something. In some cases the logistical hurdles are simply too prohibitive. They want the comfort of being able to relax at home and casually observe the beauty of the universe from their backyard. But as Michael said, people start to run out of things to see because of the slow creep of sky glow, which only in very rare circumstances gets addressed and lessened. For the overwhelming majority that gradual creep continues unabated.

My observing from home is next to non-existent, gradually waning after we got established at our second house under dark skies. With my ability to go over there for multiple nights if desired, I can get my fix of serious observing with serious aperture and find the environment at home to be depressing comparatively. However, most don’t have the luxury of a permanent dark site that can be utilized. Therefore, they struggle to find enjoyment under the LP in their area, as well as being subjected to the glare of streetlights or neighbor’s porch lights. So they either labor on with what they have, turn to AP where they can accomplish more or simply leave the hobby altogether.

You also mentioned “many could not even point constellations in the sky.” That sadly is becoming an all too typical scenario for some that rely heavily on automated systems, whether they be go-to or push-to. With huge databases in the handsets, one doesn’t have to know the sky like those of us who do everything manually. While they have to learn a few bright stars in order to do alignments, they have not driving need to learn the sky beyond that point. That is not to say that everyone who uses some sort of electronic locating assist never learns the sky. I have known folks using go-to that routinely turn off their systems to do star hopping, and their intent is not to become too reliant upon automated systems to find their way. As they tell me, what are they to do if they are at a remote site and their power source depletes? They want to have the satisfaction of being self reliant should the need arise. Unfortunately there are some who don't see that skill as important, and should their power source fail, then they simply pack up and go home.

I have had similar conversations with Bryan on more than one occasion, whereby he related the same lament from his outings with his local club. During outreach events, one of his club colleagues that used a go-to system could not identify a bright star when asked about it by one of the guests. Bryan of course could help out with that because he learned the sky as part of his entry and growth within the hobby. I lamented to Bryan my concern over the proliferation of what I call “experienced beginners”, those of our number who simply choose not to grow beyond a certain rudimentary level of knowledge despite having being in the hobby for years. Obviously everyone is free to pursue the hobby as they see fit, but I find it sad that some simply do not wish to learn and grow within a hobby that offers so much.

In the end, like you, I plan to remain a dedicated visual only observer, unless some drastic life changing event changes that direction for me. I have nothing more in the field than my scope, eyepieces, charts and a red light. Over the decades I have learned a great deal of the sky like the proverbial back of my hand and can find many objects without a chart. But every time out I still learn more and see things that I’ve never seen. Whether that be a dim and distant dust mote of a galaxy, or a curious star pattern. All those things serve to encourage my sense of discovery. I simply love to cruise the night sky in order to take in its wonders. I don’t have to have a lot of showy detail in every object I observe. While they are nice and aesthetically pleasing, I can enjoy and relish the smallest and faintest little pip of light reaching my eye from a very distant galaxy. The wonder of that light traversing time and distance to tickle my senses and feed my sense of awe is my reward for time and energy spent to learn the sky and delve into its infinite riches.
Alan

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Re: Are visual observers a dying breed?

#13

Post by Piet Le Roux »

One person that is very anti visual astronomy is Dylan O'Donnell here is his latest YouTube video on the subject :
This was some of my comments about his video :
"I personally feel that to be competent in using your telescopes you have to start with visual observations using eyepieces and that any collimation can only be confirmed with a eyepiece and a star test. especially with a SCT. There can be reasons why some people struggle with visual observation like bad eye sight and night blindness, for them electronically aided observation or astrophotography is the answer but I do think there are a few stargazers that moved to astrophotography because their initial phase in astronomy (visial observation) were not adequate."
Main Equipment : 15" Obsession F4.5 Classic, Tele Vue 7&13mm Nagler, Tele Vue 2" 27mm Panoptic, Tele Vue Big Barlow, Tele Vue Paracorr II : 8" Meade LX90ACF with Meade 2.0" Enhanced Diagonal, Baarder Hyperion MK III 24-8mm zoom : Camera Fuji XT100 : Into my third year and its just getting more interesting!
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Re: Are visual observers a dying breed?

#14

Post by helicon »

One other thing I failed to point out is that newish category of "camerascopes" for a lack of a better word that one can set up and watch as the image gradually turns into, say, a photographic rendition of the Orion Nebula. From what I have heard these devices are selling pretty briskly, aiming at beginners and those interested in new gadgets who may have no present interest in astronomy at all. Needless to say they are more expensive than telescopes and advertise both on television and facebook (for example), with the selling point being that one can simply set it up, catch an object in view, and enjoy a miniature Hubble-esque experience. For experienced visual folks this seems a bit heretical because one is not really viewing the image in real time with your own eyes catching those very same photons that left the object thousands or millions of years ago. And for APers, the challenge of learning the craft and processing the data is not there. So it is kind of an instant gratification type of thing.
-Michael
Various scopes, 10" Zhumell Dob f/4.9, ES AR152 f/6.5, AWB 5.1" Onesky newt, Oberwerk 25x100 binos, two eyeballs. Camera: ZWO ASI 120
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Re: Are visual observers a dying breed?

#15

Post by kt4hx »

Honestly never heard of the guy before. Then again, I rarely go to youtube anyway except for some music. I am not impressed by the guy personally. :)
Alan

Astro Sky 17.5 f/4.5 Dob || Apertura AD12 f/5 Dob || Zhumell Z10 f/4.9 Dob
ES AR127 f/6.5 & ED80 f/6 on Twilight-II || Apertura 6" f/5 Newtonian on Twilight-I
TV Ethos 100° 21mm, 13mm || ES 82° 24mm, 18mm || Vixen LVW 65° 22mm
Pentax XW 70° 10mm, 7mm, 5mm || barlows
DGM NPB Filter || Orion Ultra Block, O-III and Sky Glow Filters || Baader HaB Filter
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"Astronomers, we look into the past to see our future." (me)
"What we know is a drop, what we don't know is an ocean." (Sir Isaac Newton)
"The eternal silence of these infinite spaces frightens me...." (Blaise Pascal)
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pakarinen
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Re: Are visual observers a dying breed?

#16

Post by pakarinen »

helicon wrote: Mon Feb 15, 2021 2:17 pm Part of the issue is the incredibly shrinking dark skies, at least in urban/suburban areas. It's common to look up and see just a few stars with no indication that there is anything interesting "up there" at all.

As far as older people (including me) unless you have pristine dark skies you will start to run out of new objects that you can see from home. Hence, the move to AP where you can do some great work even with LP that would frustrate visual observation, plus the sharing of work and feedback makes AP more social in nature than solitary observation.
I think Helicon hit it dead on. One certainly can do visual observing in the 'burbs (I do). But based on which Little Dipper stars are visible at home, my naked eye limiting magnitude is about +3. :sigh: Faint extended objects like galaxies are a visual no go for the most part here. The allure of AP or EAA becomes evident. The social aspect wouldn't be a primary driver for me though - I prefer solitude when observing.

Variable star photometry would be interesting and potentially scientifically useful, but that would be veering back into a broad AP/EAA realm, certainly not staying visual.
Whoomp! There it is.

Orion ST120, Meade ST80, Skywatcher 90mm Mak
Twilight 1 / Astro Devices encoders / Nexus II / Manfrotto 475B / Skywatcher AZ5
Nikon Aculon 10x50 / Orion Giant VIew 15x70 / US Navy 1944 Mark 30 7x50 binos

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John Fitzgerald
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Re: Are visual observers a dying breed?

#17

Post by John Fitzgerald »

I am a purely visual observer, double stars from home and DSO/clusters from my dark site. I have dabbled in AP back in the film era, but have little interest in doing AP myself now, except for an occasional cell phone photo.

The post above is likely referring to the EVscope. I think it's way overpriced, overhyped, and not very good at all. Only someone who has way more money than knowhow or someone who needs a sign (as in "here's your sign") would buy one.
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Baurice
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Re: Are visual observers a dying breed?

#18

Post by Baurice »

I'm now over 90% photography and only 10% visual. I don't do the driven mount/long exposure stuff but mostly use a DSLR.

I wasn't happy with my Mars photos last year, so tried a few visual sessions.

I also enjoyed watching the Lyrids live for the first time, during the first lockdown last year.

I've been following Betelguese and think that it is brightening and is about mag 0.45.

I sometimes make drawings of sunspot patterns from visual observations.

One of the main reasons I went mostly photographic can be found in the "Vendors" section!
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John Baars
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Re: Are visual observers a dying breed?

#19

Post by John Baars »

Started in the 1970s as a visual observer. The search for the great unknown was what drove me. Rolled into analogue AP in a group in the eighties. After a while, I got fed up with staring at a tracking star for hours. Watching a star on a cross hair, while you could have enjoyed for hours and be amazed by the overwhelming beauty of the universe. Not to mention the annoyances about failing technology. Moreover, the development of digital photography went so fast that I had to learn everything from scratch again. This had nothing to do with hobby anymore. That is why I have returned definitively to the womb of astronomy: visual observation and the occasional sketch.
The amazement of seeing with your own eyes is the most beautiful for me. Call it romance.

Amused, I watch how astrophotographers in their search for perfection finally reach Valhalla after years of technological problems. A fully automated system, to be operated from home or remotely. A system that captures the photons while they themselves are sleeping. It must have cost them tons of money and time. And all this time have not enjoyed the immense beauty of the universe. Why they do it?
Even more amusing I find the development that many of them end up purchasing a small telescope to observe while their main instruments are at work. The same amusing development is underway among owners of large and heavy main telescopes. The concept of grab and go is also very popular there.

No, visual observers are not a dying breed. This will continue for centuries. Man will alway be curious. It starts with looking up into the universe. Soon followed by the help of binoculars and we know the rest of that circle.....
Telescopes in Schiedam in frequency of use : * SW 150mm Achromat F/5, *grab and go: SW 102 Maksutov F/13,
*SW Evostar 120ED F/7.5, *OMC140 Maksutov F/14.3, *Vixen 102ED F/9, on Vixen GPDX.

Most used Eyepieces: *Panoptic 24, *Leica ASPH zoom, *Zeiss barlow, *Pentax XO5.

Binoculars in frequency of use: *AusJena 10X50 Jenoptem, *Swarovski Habicht 7X42, *Celestron Skymaster 15X70,
*Kasai 2.3X40, *Swift Observation 20X80.

Rijswijk Observatory Foundation telescopes: * Astro-Physics Starfire 130 f/8 on NEQ6, * 6 inch Newton on GP, * C8
on NEQ6, * Meade 14 inch SCT on EQ8, *Lunt.

Amateur since 1970.
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starfield
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Re: Are visual observers a dying breed?

#20

Post by starfield »

Well, I know for myself I do a lot more AP or EAA than visual work anymore. Light pollution in my Borttle 7 skies has pretty much put a lid on what is possible from my backyard. When I do haul my Dob out, it's usually for the planets, moon and the brighter globs. I find that I always enjoy these objects more thru the eyepiece.

When I go out to a dark site, I like to bring both. At a dark site, some of the DSOs are just magic visually. M24 thru my 26mm widefield always takes my breath away.

I hope visually AP doesn't disappear, but I do think the new AP tech is really changing things. While we may mourn the slow decline in visual use, I think AP/EAA has the potential to recharge this hobby and bring in an entire new generation of amateur astronomers.
Scopes: Esprit 100, 12.5" Telekit Dob
Camera: 294 MC Pro, 224 mc, 294mm
Guiding: ZWO 290 mini on 120mm guide scope
Mounts: EQ6R-Pro, EQ Platform.
Filters: Optolong L-Pro & L-Enhance, Astronomiks L2 & RGB Astronomiks 6n HA,OIII, SII
Software: SharpCap, SGP, StarTools 1.7, Photoshop, Pixinsight
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