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View Full Version : Whats up with "The Telescope is Here!!!" ?



RBG
2003-Jun-12, 06:53 PM
:-?

Warning: the following post is completely concerned with heretical ideas of such magnitude as to, perhaps, even be incomprehensible.

What's so interesting about seeing little white dots in the sky? Isn't it true enough that if you've seen one dot, you've seen them all?

I can understand the need for professional astronomers to catalogue & study the stars - but non-professionals? Isn't that a lot of money to invest in order to experience the fleeting stress-relief that must come with noting that this dot is "Rigel Beta 3" and that one is "Endoplasmic Reticuli 6 Once Removed"?

Deep breaths, now. And as soon as you've calmed to mere apoplexy, let me brush aside my above baiting and explain that after reading "The Telescope is Here!!!" thread, it began to occur to me that maybe I've been missing out on something really cool here.

So, as a personal & public service, someone please explain in poetic or scientific or anecdotal terms just what is so wonderful about amateur astronomy.

Inquiring minds sincerely want to know.

Cheers,
Rob BG

ChesleyFan
2003-Jun-12, 07:15 PM
Well, there's lots more in the sky than "little white dots."

You know, galaxies, nebula, star clusters, planets... you can see representatives of every one of those in even the smallest scopes. The Ten-incher discussed in "The Telescope is Here!!" could give you views that would knock your socks off (I have an eight-inch, and it's amazing). Other amateurs have scopes that cost as much as a luxury car, rival professional equipment, and leave little to be desired in terms of image quality.

I suggest you check out a local astronomy club. Most will usually have public viewing sessions. They'll be glad to show you a lot more than white dots!

SkyEyeGuy
2003-Jun-12, 07:25 PM
Pistols at dawn, you scoundrel! :lol:

Actually, it's a fair question. Why spend the money, the time, and the energy messing around with telescopes if all you see are little points of light?

Because you can see so much more than little points of light. Heck, I've gotten to use my small four inch scope a total of three times so far. But even so, I could see rings around Saturn, belts around Jupiter (okay, I could barely see them, but that's not the point), four Jovian moons, the Pleiades, and, of course, the moon.

The little scope really excels at lunar observation. The Moon is beautiful! Yes, I know I can go out on the net or pick up a book and look at hundreds of images without dragging gear out into the backyard, but believe me it just isn't the same.

But to each his own, I guess. I don't understand the attraction of birdwatching, or coin collecting, which are clearly wastes of money better spent on enormous telescopes and hideously expensive eyepieces :wink:

Psi-less, some of you more experienced backyard astronomers, help me out here!

jest
2003-Jun-12, 07:32 PM
I had a 4" refractor for years and yeah, I had a great time with it. One of my highlights was "discovering" (bear with me, this was a while back) Shoemaker-Levy. I think that's the one. Or maybe it was just Levy. Did he discover one on his own? Needless to say it was fairly high in the sky and I "found" it while just viewing the sky with the naked eye. It was a blurry patch, so I checked it out with my scope, compared the stars in the area with a star map, and realized it was definitely not supposed to be there. Days later I get the latest Astronomy Magazine and sure enough, it was a newly discovered comet which I'm certain a whole slew of backyard astronomers had also discovered in their own time.

Viewing the moon though, that's still pretty cool. I mean, you're outside, nothing between you and the Moon except a few layers of atmosphere. Also exciting even in a small scope is seeing Venus as a quarter crescent "moon" shape.

Yes, there really is something exciting about getting that new scope!

ToSeek
2003-Jun-12, 08:18 PM
http://www.covingtoninnovations.com/astro/DSCN0455-Jupiter-2-satellites-processed.jpg http://www.covingtoninnovations.com/astro/DSCN0457-Saturn-processed.jpg

http://www.covingtoninnovations.com/astro/00100901-Moon-Aristarchus.jpg http://www.covingtoninnovations.com/astro/00112710-Orion-1B-and-Tokai-filter.JPG

girlgeek
2003-Jun-12, 08:23 PM
ToSeek,

Very poetic! Love it. A picture truly is worth a thousand words.

What does that arrow point to on the pic of the moon?

girlgeek

The Bad Astronomer
2003-Jun-12, 08:29 PM
I'll add that some dots of light are prettier than others. Check out Albireo, or Gamma Andromedae sometime. Both are double stars with different color components. Even Vega or Betelgeuse (well, Arcturus this time of year) are pretty amazing for their color.

g99
2003-Jun-12, 08:31 PM
toseek did you take those with your scope? if so wow!

Glom
2003-Jun-12, 08:31 PM
Warning: the following post is completely concerned with heretical ideas of such magnitude as to, perhaps, even be incomprehensible.

You're not Cosmic Dave, are you?


What's so interesting about seeing little white dots in the sky?

They're not all white. Some are red, some are blue, some are yellow. It's only by taking a close look do you begin to see such a thing.


Isn't it true enough that if you've seen one dot, you've seen them all?

No two stars are exactly alike. It fascinates many of us to learn about the population of the universe and it becomes so much more accessible if we can see the stars about which we learn for ourselves. It's very satisfying to the look at Aldebaran and know what kind of star it is and how far away it is and to know that the Hyades open cluster, while looking like it's right next to Aldebaran is actually more than twice the distance.


I can understand the need for professional astronomers to catalogue & study the stars - but non-professionals? Isn't that a lot of money to invest in order to experience the fleeting stress-relief that must come with noting that this dot is "Rigel Beta 3" and that one is "Endoplasmic Reticuli 6 Once Removed"?

Don't fall into the classic trap that pervades the preconception of astronomy: astronomy is about the telescope. There is some really satisfying amateur astronomy that can be done with just the naked eye and a bit of investment in a good pair of binoculars that costs only about 100 and entire vistas are opened up. If you're going to spend hundreds or thousands of pounds on proper telescope equipment, then the sky is far more than just a load of dots.


Deep breaths, now. And as soon as you've calmed to mere apoplexy, let me brush aside my above baiting and explain that after reading "The Telescope is Here!!!" thread, it began to occur to me that maybe I've been missing out on something really cool here.

You have.

What do you like BTW?

Glom
2003-Jun-12, 08:49 PM
Actually RBG, take a look here (http://www.badastronomy.com/phpBB/viewtopic.php?p=101193#101193). The reason we spend so much money trying to satisfy our interest in white dots is because that's the only way it's going to happen.

crazy4space
2003-Jun-12, 09:06 PM
:-?

[quote]What's so interesting about seeing little white dots in the sky? Isn't it true enough that if you've seen one dot, you've seen them all?

I can understand the need for professional astronomers to catalogue & study the stars - but non-professionals?

How about because I am in awe of the universe and all that she holds. How about what else is out there? How about looking for and finding a new near Earth asteroid? To me its no different than exploring the Earth and her oceans - we are curious.

ToSeek
2003-Jun-12, 10:00 PM
ToSeek,

Very poetic! Love it. A picture truly is worth a thousand words.

What does that arrow point to on the pic of the moon?




My house. Can you see me waving?













Actually, it's Aristarchus. Here's the web page (http://www.covingtoninnovations.com/astro/exhibit.html) where I got all the photos.

pmcolt
2003-Jun-12, 10:00 PM
ToSeek may have put it best. And with only 40,000 words, too. :)

Those aren't just 'little white dots in the sky'. The little white dots have names and stories. Some of them are brighter, or dimmer, or more colorful. Some of them become fuzzies through an eyepiece. Some of them turn into disks with resolvable surface features. They're entire worlds, or dozens of systems, or millions of worlds.

There's always the chance of finding something new. Comets and asteroids are still found by 'amateur' astronomers. Just because the big boys get the neater toys, doesn't mean there isn't plenty of enjoyment for the littler guys to find.

And you can always step back from the scope, look upwards, and see the heavens as countless generations of past humans have done. It's easy to get lost in the vastness of the sky on a clear night.

Why stare at little dots in the sky? Why knock around little dimpled balls with clubs? Why climb a mountain that has been climbed by dozens of people in the past? Why set off to explore new territories, or spend one's free time sitting in front of a glowing screen next to a beige box, reading posts on a message board? Because we enjoy it. Because we learn from it. Because it adds to who we are as individuals, and how we think about the universe and our place in it.

girlgeek
2003-Jun-12, 10:37 PM
My house. Can you see me waving?

Well, now that you mention it.... :lol: :lol:

Thanks for posting the link, ToSeek. Wow.

girlgeek

Psi-less
2003-Jun-13, 12:02 AM
Well, everyone is entitiled to their opinion (no matter how utterly wrong-headed and....'scuse me...ahem!). In my case I'm excited (and I was the one that started that thread) because I've always been interested in looking up. What is that? How far away is it? What's its name? Much the same way that I've learned about the geology of the area where I live, what birds, mammals and other critters are around here and the different types of trees and plants here. I pretty much draw the line at fungi and molds, but I'm sure they're just as interesting in their own way. I find the things around me fascinating; a continuing wealth of information, wonder and just the "wow factor", as is "WOW! Look at that!" After years of reading about things up there, I finally have the means to get to "know" them a bit better. The best argument is still the one propounded by ToSeek. Look at the pictures again and may I wish that you find something in the world (or universe) around you that invokes the same sense of wonder that those pictures do for me.

Psi-less (and may I add that the Tyco and Schickard craters were particularly lovely last night)

gethen
2003-Jun-13, 12:37 AM
To Seek, that's as eloquent an argument for amateur astronomy as I've ever seen. For myself, the first night that I set my new 8" Newtonian up, pointed in the general direction of Orion, and almost immediately was looking at the Orion Nebula--no words can express the feeling. Couldn't even exhale for a while. All those white dots are real worlds. The pictures in the books are of things that really exist. And I get to look at them all by myself, on my own time. It's like they're mine.

Hale_Bopp
2003-Jun-13, 12:39 AM
Don't forget that moderately skilled amateurs can contribute to astronomical research. Some notable projects are the American Assoiciation of Variable Star Observers (http://www.aavso.org), the International Occultation Timing Association, and the Glast Telescope Network. Contributing, even in a small way, to our body of knowledge is a powerful draw.

Rob

dgruss23
2003-Jun-13, 01:01 AM
Two things come to my mind. First as remarkable as the pictures are, there still something special about seeing the Moon, Planets, and deep sky objects with your own eyes. Second, I find pulling out the scope or even just a pair of binoculars is a nice way to relax and unwind.

SouthofHeaven
2003-Jun-13, 01:03 AM
:-?

Warning: the following post is completely concerned with heretical ideas of such magnitude as to, perhaps, even be incomprehensible.

What's so interesting about seeing little white dots in the sky? Isn't it true enough that if you've seen one dot, you've seen them all?

I can understand the need for professional astronomers to catalogue & study the stars - but non-professionals? Isn't that a lot of money to invest in order to experience the fleeting stress-relief that must come with noting that this dot is "Rigel Beta 3" and that one is "Endoplasmic Reticuli 6 Once Removed"?

Deep breaths, now. And as soon as you've calmed to mere apoplexy, let me brush aside my above baiting and explain that after reading "The Telescope is Here!!!" thread, it began to occur to me that maybe I've been missing out on something really cool here.

So, as a personal & public service, someone please explain in poetic or scientific or anecdotal terms just what is so wonderful about amateur astronomy.

Inquiring minds sincerely want to know.

Cheers,
Rob BG

Because one more episode of Friends, or American Idol or Everone Loves Raymond has gotten friggin boring! :D
Seriously, Saturn looks like a model and the 3D feeling you get when you look at it astounds you that this is a planet I am looking at a planet, not a picture, the real thing.
I am looking at the crab nebula, It was a supernova chronicaled by the Chinese more than 1000 years ago. They wrote about the New Star and I am seeing teh result of a process that created all the elements in teh universe.
I watch the Jovian move through the night. I am experiencing what Galilieo experienced when he looked up. And if I study a little I can experience the elation of figuring uot the celestial mechanics of the motion of the planets just like Kepler.
I am doing the same thing that some of the brightest minds of humanity have done and I didn't need to get a PHd (no offense BA)
I look at Betelgeuse and know that the light I see left there at th time or the explorers. When I see the Andromeda Galaxy the light I am seeing left its source before humans walked upright.
Looking through the little eyepiece I connect with those before me that did the same thing. It also brings me back to reality that I ain't so big and neither are you or anyone.
I guess that's why I look up at little points of white light.

Dickenmeyer
2003-Jun-13, 04:04 AM
My house. Can you see me waving?

You must have stepped back inside. I was looking around Clavius on Monday evening and I didn't see Jay out and about either...

ToSeek
2003-Jun-13, 03:04 PM
My house. Can you see me waving?

You must have stepped back inside. I was looking around Clavius on Monday evening and I didn't see Jay out and about either...

We went on a field trip to Tranquility Base that evening. I'll tell you, Jay makes really good deviled eggs. I just brought potato salad....

Russ
2003-Jun-13, 05:16 PM
I guess I'll try to put my spin on the answer to "What's so interesting?" qestion.

1) Looking at picture of horse race. Dull
Participating in horse race. Thrilling

2) Looking at picture of fighter jet. Dull
Flying fighter jet. Thrilling

3) Looking at picture of white dots on black background. Dull
Looking at the spectacular wonders of the universe with your own eyes..........SPECTACULARLY THRILLING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :D

tracer
2003-Jun-13, 05:51 PM
2) Looking at picture of fighter jet. Dull
Not when it's an F/A-18 Hornet right at the edge of the sound barrier:
http://www.wilk4.com/misc/f18.jpg

beskeptical
2003-Jun-13, 06:18 PM
http://www.covingtoninnovations.com/astro/00100901-Moon-Aristarchus.jpg

"Transient lunar phenomena are often reported there."

I think someone keeps forgetting to shut the door to the center of the Moon. :P

SkyEyeGuy
2003-Jun-13, 06:56 PM
beskeptical wrote:

"...someone keeps forgetting to shut the door to the center of the Moon."


LOL! That's a good one. Hollow Earth -- Hollow Moon -- yeah, it's ALL STARTING TO MAKE SENSE!

jest
2003-Jun-13, 07:01 PM
beskeptical wrote:

"...someone keeps forgetting to shut the door to the center of the Moon."


LOL! That's a good one. Hollow Earth -- Hollow Moon -- yeah, it's ALL STARTING TO MAKE SENSE!

"What're you doing, heating the inner Solar System? Close the door!"

aurorae
2003-Jun-13, 07:41 PM
Don't forget that moderately skilled amateurs can contribute to astronomical research. Some notable projects are the American Assoiciation of Variable Star Observers (http://www.aavso.org), the International Occultation Timing Association, and the Glast Telescope Network. Contributing, even in a small way, to our body of knowledge is a powerful draw.


Astronomy is one of the rare scientific fields where an amateur can still contribute useful data to the professionals.

Ornithology is another, maybe paleontology. Not sure if I can think of any more. Maybe botany.

But not physics, I can't build a partical accelerator in my backyard.

jest
2003-Jun-13, 08:06 PM
But not physics, I can't build a partical accelerator in my backyard.

Sure you can, just don't tell anyone. :o

kilopi
2003-Jun-13, 08:25 PM
Astronomy is one of the rare scientific fields where an amateur can still contribute useful data to the professionals.

Ornithology is another, maybe paleontology. Not sure if I can think of any more. Maybe botany.

But not physics
O ye of little faith. Physics isn't just about particle accelerators.

One of my favorite cartoons is by Harris I think and it shows a huge industrial/science facility and it's labeled "Little Science" and the second panel shows Einstein in a chair noodling some papers, and it's labeled "Big Science."

ToSeek
2003-Jun-13, 08:45 PM
Don't forget that moderately skilled amateurs can contribute to astronomical research. Some notable projects are the American Assoiciation of Variable Star Observers (http://www.aavso.org), the International Occultation Timing Association, and the Glast Telescope Network. Contributing, even in a small way, to our body of knowledge is a powerful draw.


Astronomy is one of the rare scientific fields where an amateur can still contribute useful data to the professionals.

Ornithology is another, maybe paleontology. Not sure if I can think of any more. Maybe botany.

But not physics, I can't build a partical accelerator in my backyard.

HUb' claims to have a gravity wave detector. (http://www.badastronomy.com/phpBB/viewtopic.php?t=6049)

tracer
2003-Jun-14, 02:46 AM
You sure that's what HUb' is claiming? I haven't been able to parse any of his sentences since I got here.

kilopi
2003-Jun-14, 05:39 AM
You sure that's what HUb' is claiming?
Of course, it was modified somewhat.

RBG
2003-Jun-16, 11:52 PM
Madness. Madness, I say:

Psi-less: "...I pretty much draw the line at fungi and molds, but I'm sure they're just as interesting in their own way."

Says I with biology degree in hand: "Can there be few things more sublime than a good mold?"

SouthofHeavan: "...because one more episode of Friends, or American Idol or Everyone Loves Raymond has gotten friggin boring!"

Afterwhich I threw all that away to aspire to TV production...

Anyway: Last Summer, I had located where Jupiter was going to be in the sky via an interesting web site, the type of which I'm sure you are all familiar with. Clever me. Out at my bro's farm, we set up a hunter's spotting scope to have a look and... What? My God! What are those little dots on both sides?!? Can we actually be looking at Jupiter's moons? No, this is impossible... must be some kind of scope internal reflection effect. But then not all those dots are lined up in a plane. Back to the web site...

Anybody here ever experience that sort of thing? :wink:

RBG

Thanks for the inspired responses.

Glom
2003-Jun-17, 10:55 AM
Yes you probably were seeing the Galilean moons. I have resolved them through a pair of 842 binoculars.

gethen
2003-Jun-17, 08:09 PM
Yes you probably were seeing the Galilean moons. I have resolved them through a pair of 842 binoculars.

Ditto, with a telescope. Takes your breath away, doesn't it?

Melanie
2003-Jun-18, 02:00 PM
RPG - I saw exactly the same thing. I think Saturn is the best though. As well as being beautiful though, its also freaky. I still can't really comprehend the fact that what I'm looking at is the past (coz of speed of light/huge distances).

Psi wrote:

I pretty much draw the line at fungi and molds, but I'm sure
they're just as interesting in their own way.

If you haven't discovered the beauty of mould, I really have to take some photos of the inside of my flat. At times, I proudly sponsor at least 5 different species. They are extremely attractive.

Mel.

pmcolt
2003-Jun-18, 02:25 PM
Despite all the time that mold and I spend together in my dorm, I still find it less fascinating than the moon pic. Or even whatever's on tv at the moment. I guess I'm just not biologist material. Then again, I guess I could classify mold as 'breathtaking', but not for the same reasons as the Galilean satellites.

Psi-less
2003-Jun-19, 01:25 AM
Now, come on. I said I was sure molds and fungi were very interesting in their own way. Would you guys please call off the "Mold and Fungi Anti-Defamation League"? :o I'm tired of the guy in the portobello suit standing on my porch and making that "fungi/fun-guy" pun nine bazillion times a day!

Desperately yours,
Psi-less
{and on an astronomical note, for more information on the contributions of amateur astronomers, can I recommend "Seeing in the Dark" by Timothy Ferris? It's all about amateur astronomers and their achievements. I really enjoyed finally learning a bit more about John Dobson.}