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    Thread: Tell me about astronomy.

    1. #1
      Omnipotent Being. nitsuJ's Avatar
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      Tell me about astronomy.

      I've decided I want a hobby and it's going to be astronomy. I've got my eye on a telescope and some other equipment I'll pick up along the way, I just haven't bought it yet. Do any of you do it for fun?

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      I used to own a few telescopes. Check out the thread "Space Events" in extended discussion, there was recent talk about telescopes in there.

      I'd recommend you start off with a good pair of binoculars (10x50) and learn the stars. Binoculars are cheap(er) and ultra-portable, plus they offer a nice wide field of view. What you can see depends heavily on the light pollution in your area. If you're in a city or dense suburb, you'll probably find astronomy pretty dull...
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      Zhumell sells a good 20x80 set for less than $100. If you look you can get a pair for $80. They aren't perfect but I love mine. You can see the moons of Jupiter and the Messier objects quite well with a binocular this size. You don't "need" a tripod; I usually don't use one, but it is recommended.

      Like he said, don't jump right into getting a telescope. Spend some time learning to navigate the skies first and use your binoculars exhaustively. This way if you decide to get a telescope you will not waste your money, and you will have a decent knowledge of where to point the thing.

      I spend half the year in the wilderness, and even when I am behind four walls, I end up lying out on the lawn all night looking up most days; and I still don't own a telescope. It just shows you how much is out there to see. There is no hurry.
      Last edited by Never; 11-11-2011 at 10:10 PM.

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      I used to have this


      Meade makes really high quality telescopes. The universe is beautiful.

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      Omnipotent Being. nitsuJ's Avatar
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      Quote Originally Posted by Spartiate View Post
      I used to own a few telescopes. Check out the thread "Space Events" in extended discussion, there was recent talk about telescopes in there.

      I'd recommend you start off with a good pair of binoculars (10x50) and learn the stars. Binoculars are cheap(er) and ultra-portable, plus they offer a nice wide field of view. What you can see depends heavily on the light pollution in your area. If you're in a city or dense suburb, you'll probably find astronomy pretty dull...
      I live way out in the country and not near any huge cities that give off a lot of fumes. So as long as their are no clouds the skies are crystal clear.

      Thanks to the others for posting, I'll try out the binoculars first. I've seen some pretty good ones, too.

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      LD's this year: ~7 tommo's Avatar
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      Also remember that water evaporation plays a pretty big part in viewing conditions. Not just pollution and light pollution. When you're looking at things magnified, they can look wavy from the water evaporating.

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      Expert LDer Affirmation! DeeryTheDeer's Avatar
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      I'm also interested in taking up astronomy. However, I'm moving to California soon, which is inconvenient, because I don't know if there's anywhere in the state, let alone where I'm gonna live, that isn't full of light pollution. I'd also rather skip on binoculars, save my money and wait until I've researched a high quality telescope, then spend my money on going all the way.
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      Vivid Dreamer TheSkies's Avatar
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      I live in the suburbs half the time, and the city (Manchester, UK) the rest of the time, and although it is noticeably better in the suburbs, the stars are still visible in the city.
      Last edited by TheSkies; 11-19-2011 at 11:58 AM.

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      That's what you think until you see the sky in the country.

      Also, I just found this cool site where you can view a live telescope feed of interesting events SLOOH SpaceCamera - Live Event

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      Cosmic Citizen ExoByte's Avatar
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      Expsensive hobby, but well worth it. I have 3 telescopes at home currently, and after 3 years of visual astronomy, I'm working my way into Astrophotography.

      I have a 110mm modified Cassegrain, the VMC110L from Vixen. I still have one of my first telescopes, which is an 8" Dobsonian by SkyWatcher, and lastly I have a 10" Meade Schmidt-Cassegrain, which I call the Frankenscope. Its the 10" Meade optical tube assembly, with a Telerad finder and a Celestron CG-5 computerized mount.

      What do you want to know?
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      Quote Originally Posted by ExoByte View Post
      Expsensive hobby, but well worth it. I have 3 telescopes at home currently, and after 3 years of visual astronomy, I'm working my way into Astrophotography.

      I have a 110mm modified Cassegrain, the VMC110L from Vixen. I still have one of my first telescopes, which is an 8" Dobsonian by SkyWatcher, and lastly I have a 10" Meade Schmidt-Cassegrain, which I call the Frankenscope. Its the 10" Meade optical tube assembly, with a Telerad finder and a Celestron CG-5 computerized mount.

      What do you want to know?
      What direction do you want to go for imaging, CCD?

    12. #12
      Omnipotent Being. nitsuJ's Avatar
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      Quote Originally Posted by ExoByte View Post
      Expsensive hobby, but well worth it. I have 3 telescopes at home currently, and after 3 years of visual astronomy, I'm working my way into Astrophotography.

      I have a 110mm modified Cassegrain, the VMC110L from Vixen. I still have one of my first telescopes, which is an 8" Dobsonian by SkyWatcher, and lastly I have a 10" Meade Schmidt-Cassegrain, which I call the Frankenscope. Its the 10" Meade optical tube assembly, with a Telerad finder and a Celestron CG-5 computerized mount.

      What do you want to know?
      Yeah, I've seen where people take images. That's pretty sweet. I'm most likely going to order a pair of binoculars starting out to see if I like it and if I do I'll invest in a telescope. Expenses won't matter to me, I've already found a telescope I'd like to buy and it's not that high (to me anyways). I have a friend that went to MTSU and took an Astronomy class and he uploaded a bunch of notes and stuff that he had from the class for me to use whenever I want if I do decide to take it up.

      I'll probably be in the same boat as you though. I'm going to start out with binoculars, move up to telescopes, then most likely start photographing. The pictures look amazing that I've seen. One of my favorites is the HorseHead Nebula.

    13. #13
      Disorder. Pris's Avatar
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      Astronomy is my love.

      Everyone should experience that wonderful feeling when standing in awe below the clearest night sky, somewhere up in the hills. To amplify that feeling of being part, being small in size, but relevant in actions... huge in your mind, but the smallest in reality... and all of those wonderful perspectives that dance together when understanding you don't understand anything... where was I? ... you need to get some knowledge a priori. I recommend, to all who haven't done so, getting familiar with Carl Sagan. His words manage to open a whole new world of facts, as well as optimism, hope, curiosity. "Cosmos" and "Pale Blue Dot" are a must.

      As for the equipment, use the apps on smartphones: Stellarium or Google Sky for orientation. Binoculars are awesome, and definitely enough for beginners. Go slowly, you'll enjoy more, trust me. No need for greed. Reward yourself with a telescope once you know exactly what you want to look at. Explore little by little, leave some space for childish toy cravings as you go! Plus, binoculars are the one thing you will always carry around when going on field trips, not telescope!

      As for the setting: up in the hills far away from the city, where there is no evaporation and no light pollution. Also, if you wanna witness standing below the Milky Way, you don't want to share the night sky with the Moon! So follow the calendar.

      I truly wish you will fall in love with astronomy as much as I did.
      Last edited by Pris; 11-27-2011 at 06:37 PM. Reason: Sorry if there are some mistakes, english is not my language.
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      LD's this year: ~7 tommo's Avatar
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      You have better English comprehension than most English speaking people on the internet. Also, great post!

    15. #15
      Xei
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      Man, Jupiter's still so impressive right now.

      I've been meaning to find Andromeda recently. Anybody looked at it before?

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      LD's this year: ~7 tommo's Avatar
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      Not through a telescope.
      Yeah Jupiter is amazing. I've been looking at it every time I'm out there in clear skies.

      Also checked out Betelgeuse and Sirius the other day. Pretty amazing. You can see them both clearly with naked eyes.

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      Quote Originally Posted by Xei View Post
      Man, Jupiter's still so impressive right now.

      I've been meaning to find Andromeda recently. Anybody looked at it before?
      Check out Stellarium for finding anything in the sky.

      Andromeda is really easy to see with binoculars, even in the city. Try looking for the great square of Pegasus, then follow the upper left corner a few stars left and up.


      Spoiler for M31 on the left, M33 on the right:

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      Or just down to the left slightly, from Jupiter.
      Or.... up to the right slightly from Northern Hem?.

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      It's not that close to Jupiter, a few constellations away.

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      It's close by my standards lol
      I just look in Stellarium and then remember where it is when I'm looking at the sky according to the approximate distance from another object.
      I suppose it would be harder if you were under really dark skies, coz there'd be more objects you could confuse a specific one with.

    21. #21
      Disorder. Pris's Avatar
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      Andromeda is something special Funny thing is, once you find it with binoculars, you never lose it and it can easily be spotted with naked eye, when knowing exactly where to look at.

      The thing with buying a telescope as a beginner: have you ever looked through a telescope, or better yet - set it up for observation?? Space objects move pretty fuckin fast Setting the telescope, finding an object in the objective can be very frustrating if you don't know what you're doing! That's why it's not a good option for beginners, cause there is a far better chance of getting annoyed than excited. Also, there's a big risk of being ripped off in the store, paying huge amount of money for a telescope with the biggest magnification number, regardless of the fact that the magnification is not as important as some other factors like the objective lens diameter, e.g. So you end up turning your back to this wonderful scientific field, simply cause of greed and impatience. Please, please, please, consider my rambling, buy binoculars and explore the universe step by step. You'll get greater satisfaction and knowledge.
      Go take a flying fuck at a rolling doughnut. Go take a flying fuck at the moon.

    22. #22
      Cosmic Citizen ExoByte's Avatar
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      Quote Originally Posted by Spartiate View Post
      What direction do you want to go for imaging, CCD?
      Yeah, I find CCD provides better images than digital personally. A lot of people find digital more aesthetically pleasing, but something about the 'realness' of CCD appeals to me.

      Quote Originally Posted by nitsuJ View Post
      Yeah, I've seen where people take images. That's pretty sweet. I'm most likely going to order a pair of binoculars starting out to see if I like it and if I do I'll invest in a telescope. Expenses won't matter to me, I've already found a telescope I'd like to buy and it's not that high (to me anyways). I have a friend that went to MTSU and took an Astronomy class and he uploaded a bunch of notes and stuff that he had from the class for me to use whenever I want if I do decide to take it up.

      I'll probably be in the same boat as you though. I'm going to start out with binoculars, move up to telescopes, then most likely start photographing. The pictures look amazing that I've seen. One of my favorites is the HorseHead Nebula.
      Take a look at the Pleiades when you can. They're regularly in the night sky. With the unaided eye, they'll look like a faint fuzzy patch about the size of a dime held out at arms length, not far from Orion.

      They're one of the most beautiful things I've ever looked at through a telescope, even in light polluted areas.



      Quote Originally Posted by Xei View Post
      Man, Jupiter's still so impressive right now.

      I've been meaning to find Andromeda recently. Anybody looked at it before?
      Awesome sight. Just the fact that you're actually seeing something that is 2.5 million light years away, is just mind blowing. You're quite literally looking back in time, the image of Andromeda we're seeing now being 2.5 million years old.

      To find it, there's a constellation called "Cassiopeia", kind of looks like a sideways W. Around midnight, its in the North Western sky. Its bottom "arrow" actually points towards the Andromeda galaxy which is slightly to the right of a star called Mirach. And to find that, find the Great Square of Pegasus, which will just be rising over the horizon around midnight, at WNW. The brightest star in the square is Alpheratz, and as you look upwards above that, is Mirach. Now right to the right of that, and ever so slightly downwards, you'll see a faint fuzzy, cloud-like ellipse. That is the Andromeda Galaxy.

      I love astronomy. Its been my passion for years now. The mere idea of looking at such vast distances, such large objects and so many different stars and systems in mind blowing and humbling. Some of the most beautiful things I've ever seen are up there in the sky, forever distant and unreachable. But more importantly, I find the most beauty in knowing that that's where we came from. Every single atom of every single cell in our body, every single one, was born in the heart of a sun in some distant epoch, eons ago. We are literally made of star stuff, and star dust. We're part of the universe as much as its a part of us. The same elements that make up our body, skin and bones, is no different from the elements that make up a planet, or an asteroid on a collision course with Earth, or a Nebula formed from a violent stellar explosion. Each one was created in the hearts of stars, and eventually became part of us.

      Its weird, to feel so small yet so large at the same time. Nothing other than Astronomy has been able to do that for me.

      I think Neil DeGrasse Tyson said it best, when he said the feelings he has from being an Astrophysicist, and the things he says to communicate those feelings, almost identically mirror those feelings and things said of people who've had religious revelations, or experiences from God or Jesus Christ. Which I find amazing, and completely correct. When I look at the sky, I feel like I've had a revelation.
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      LD's this year: ~7 tommo's Avatar
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      Quote Originally Posted by ExoByte View Post

      I love astronomy. Its been my passion for years now. The mere idea of looking at such vast distances, such large objects and so many different stars and systems in mind blowing and humbling. Some of the most beautiful things I've ever seen are up there in the sky, forever distant and unreachable. But more importantly, I find the most beauty in knowing that that's where we came from. Every single atom of every single cell in our body, every single one, was born in the heart of a sun in some distant epoch, eons ago. We are literally made of star stuff, and star dust. We're part of the universe as much as its a part of us. The same elements that make up our body, skin and bones, is no different from the elements that make up a planet, or an asteroid on a collision course with Earth, or a Nebula formed from a violent stellar explosion. Each one was created in the hearts of stars, and eventually became part of us.

      Its weird, to feel so small yet so large at the same time. Nothing other than Astronomy has been able to do that for me.

      I think Neil DeGrasse Tyson said it best, when he said the feelings he has from being an Astrophysicist, and the things he says to communicate those feelings, almost identically mirror those feelings and things said of people who've had religious revelations, or experiences from God or Jesus Christ. Which I find amazing, and completely correct. When I look at the sky, I feel like I've had a revelation.
      It's so true. So so true. You don't even have to be doing "astronomy" per se. Just looking at the sky with naked eyes is almost exactly the same.
      I realised the other week that I was literally sitting on a rock in space. We only don't realise this every day because the sun is blocking space from view, and night seems sort of like another "sky" in a way.
      There's just some gases surrounding this rock, which allow us to live.
      Once you fully understand that, it's mind blowing.

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      On Andromeda: If you don't have great skies, it helps not to look directly at it. You can often spot it with the naked eye in this manner. Look just off to the left or right.

      It is very easy to find by first finding the constellation Andromeda. The two stars that make up her waistline point to a third bright star directly above at roughly the same interval as the last two, and directly above that is the galaxy.

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