My long gone interest/hobby is back

in General Discussion edited January 2014
A lot of people here don't know that I used to be an amaturer astronomer. My real name is actaully the beta star of Gemini. My AI ID (also the name of the leading male character in my comic) is the ancient Greek version of "Leo"

I gave up this hobby 12 years ago and because of Mars I am "back to business"

A few weeks ago there was a "Mars party" in my city. Me and couple of my friends went there and lined up to see Mars behind the telescopes. When I was there I talked to my friends and all people lining up there about my lost talking to them my memory refreshed a lot....then I kept talking and talking and talking...

My friends was so suprised that I know "so much" about this area....then I told them what I used to be. They all were shocked and encouraged me to redevelope this interest/hobby. Since they find out it's not very healthy for me to have only 1 interest (computer stuff)........

Well...I listen to them and I realize my passion in this area is still quite strong....

As the result

I bought a new telescope two weeks ago and bunch of accessories last week....

Subscribe to magazine....searching for astronomy clubs etc etc

I have fallen behind a lot and it will take a while to catch up. But it could be fun

The tiny refractor that I bought 17 years ago is still in the closet and am thinking about just give it out to my friend's son....


  • Reply 1 of 17
    aquafireaquafire Posts: 2,758member
    My father introduced me to the joys of astronomy..We were too poor to afford a telescope..but we he did get a set of nice binoculars that were just as wonderful.

    I lost count how many nights I spent lying on my back staring up at the stars & moon.

    Poetic nights filled with scented summer air, distant swaying of trees in the soft night's breeze.

    I used to think if I concentrated hard enough, that I would simply float off into space..such was my rapture...

    Cute anagram

  • Reply 2 of 17
    leonisleonis Posts: 3,427member
    Actually telescopes are much more affordable these days (except those Maksutov-Cassegrain types with fancy computer "go-to" features)

    My new 6" reflector with a heavy EQ-3 mount is even cheaper than the tiny 6cm refractor (on EQ-1 mount) I bought 17 years was over $700 CDN back to that time!
  • Reply 3 of 17
    scottscott Posts: 7,431member
    I still regret not taking the observational astronomy course when I was a physics undergrad. They had the real shit too. Larger reflectors with CCD imaging arrays. You learned everything you needed to know and the prof was a kick ass guy too.
  • Reply 4 of 17
    shetlineshetline Posts: 4,695member
    As long as you're getting back into astronomy, you should check out my web site, the one in my sig line.
  • Reply 5 of 17
    applenutapplenut Posts: 5,768member
    I took Astronomy Lab at Stanford and it was awesome. They had a really good observatory. Took some great photos.
  • Reply 6 of 17
    bungebunge Posts: 7,329member
    A year or two ago, me and some friends got together to watch a meteor shower and we drank so much PBR we passed out. It was in November, and it was cold. So cold you could practically roll into the fire we lit without getting warm. But, I did see the meteors and we found out that PBR cans melt in a fire like paper cups.
  • Reply 7 of 17
    lucaluca Posts: 3,833member
    I am in a similar boat as you, Leonis! Except I'm much earlier along. I have been into astronomy all my life and I got an 8" reflector on a dobsonian mount about four years ago. I sold it last year because I was going to college and I had no place to keep it. But I'm still interested and whenever I get to someplace with some actual stars, I take out my 7x50 binoculars and look at the sky. I've tried to keep my memory fresh and I can usually still find and identify the brightest stars in the sky even just minutes after dusk.

    Anyway, when I get another telescope, I'm probably going to go with something smaller and more portable. That big reflector gave me some spectacular views of a moon occulting Jupiter, Saturn's rings, and many nebulae and clusters, but it was such a pain to carry outside (took two or three trips) that I rarely used it. Maybe half a dozen times per year.

    My next one will hopefully be a throwback to the good old days of astronomy, along with some little modern things that make observing more fun:

    1) Long focal length refractor, probably 80-100mm in diameter with an f/10 or longer focal ratio

    2) Very strong alt-azimuth mount, as EQ mounts are difficult and slow to set up

    3) No magnifying finder scope, just a red-dot finder

    4) Two or three somewhat inexpensive eyepieces, perhaps Plössls, Orthos, or RKEs


    I want something that will let me enjoy the simple pleasures of astronomical observing. I don't like the current industry trends. Refractors are all those cheap ones mass-produced in Taiwan, and the big telescope companies keep emphasizing short focal lengths and "fast" focal ratios. Why would I want an f/6 or f/7 refractor, especially if it's made with imprecise optics? You really need an apochromatic one for that sort of thing. And all these computer controlled ones! Argh. Anything that's worth looking at can be easily found by even a beginner. If you have to use a go-to system to find something, it's probably too dim to be worth looking at. I used to get a thrill out of finding some dim galaxy, but later on it just got boring to look and look and look and see a tiny patch of fuzzy, slightly less black sky.

    Anyway, congratulations on getting back into a great hobby!
  • Reply 8 of 17
    leonisleonis Posts: 3,427member
    I always go pick the telescope with nothing but the equatorial mount. Dobsbian and the Altazmith mounts are huge nightmere for tracking.

    I don't know if it's just me. I found setting up the equatorial mount doesn't take me long at all.

    I totally agree about the portablity issue. Big scope is ideal but if you can carry it around it's still bullsh!t.

    To me (at least for now) 5" or 6" is the max I can go. I only rent a 10'x10' room. Imagine I already have a writing desk, computer desk, twin size bed, and a A TELESCOPE!
  • Reply 9 of 17
    leonisleonis Posts: 3,427member
    Oh yeah....those auto go to telescopes selling for under 1000 US are garbage. Meade is the worst of the worst in this catagory. You will be lucky if you have used their sub 1000 computerized scope for over 6 months with no problem.
  • Reply 10 of 17
    lucaluca Posts: 3,833member

    Originally posted by Leonis

    I always go pick the telescope with nothing but the equatorial mount. Dobsbian and the Altazmith mounts are huge nightmere for tracking.

    I don't know if it's just me. I found setting up the equatorial mount doesn't take me long at all.

    Hmm, I'd have to disagree on this. I only have to adjust the telescope's position maybe once a minute, and then it's so minor that it only takes me two seconds. To me, it's definitely worth a couple seconds every minute if it means I can just set it down and begin observing instead of having to fuss with counterweights and polar alignment. Now, at high magnification, alt-az sucks, but high magnifications aren't as good looking or fun anyway.

    Anyway, in an ideal world I'd pick up a TeleVue or something, but as it stands I think it's more likely that I'll get a cheap long refractor (maybe a guidescope or something) sometime in the next three years.
  • Reply 11 of 17
    aquafireaquafire Posts: 2,758member
    As a present to myself, I went out a got a couple of dozen packets of luminous plastic stars.. ( the type that glow in the dark..)

    Anyway..I decided to cover my bedroom ceiling with them, but instead of just hanging them any old how, I chopped them up so as to match various magnitudes of brightness.

    It took me three weeks of evenings..adding dobs of tack to the back of each little bit of chopped up glowing plastic, but finally I had my own replica of the milky way & various planets as seen from the southern hemisphere...

    I lost count at around1000 or so hand placed stars..but now when I go to sleep at night I can gaze up at the starry fermanent in miniature...

    And you know what ?

    Not only do I sleep better, but It has become a constant reminder ( In my small and humble way) .of God's superb handi~work.

  • Reply 12 of 17
    moogsmoogs Posts: 4,296member
    Were I to have had the mathematical discipline for it, I would have majored in Astronomy way back when. I love Astronomy, Cosmology and the related sciences... the only drawback is, the more I wonder about what's "out there" and why and how, the less I want to be here. It's almost depressing in a strange sort of way.

    But make no mistake, Astronomy - if you can afford it - it one of the most wonderful of all hobbies in my estimation.
  • Reply 13 of 17
    leonisleonis Posts: 3,427member
    Astronomy is good as a hobby.....but not a profession unless you are a real genius/geek
  • Reply 14 of 17
    Congrats, Leonis. I know it's nice to be back.

    I'm working my way back into astronomy (amateur) now that I'm all finished with graduate school. But it's been slow-going. I'm trying to get time now and then to get outside.

    I'm a big advocate, too, of giving away old scopes if they're actually useful to someone. My nephew (13) got a dept. store scope for his birthday a few years ago, and it was terribly frustrating for him. When I was home for the holidays we spent 20 minutes tuning things up and collimating the mirrors and two hours outside learning the basics. He's used it 1-2 nights per week since then.

    Astronomy is one of those hobbies that make you realize that you have to have a sense of perspective about things.

    For anyone interested in getting into the hobby and wanting to start small, several retailers still carry the Meade ETX 90RA, which is a small scope (3.5") with no computers (and they can't be added later, either). For about $200 and a photo tripod, you can be seeing things quickly. It runs for hours and hours on a few AA batteries, but I don't even use the drive on mine. When the ETX made it big a few years ago, Meade made a bunch of the manual ones and then the computerized models came out and left them in the dust. It comes with two eyepieces, and you'll want to make a "dewcap" out of some cardboard. The whole scope, though, is tiny and easy to carry around.

    And I can recommend that folks buy scopes from -- they're good people, and they check things out before they sell them to you. Their GTO eyepieces/accessories are great, too, and inexpensive.

    The other post was right about cheap computer scopes being junk. They can be frustrating for new users.
  • Reply 15 of 17
    moogsmoogs Posts: 4,296member

    You make a good point about professional Astronomers. I suspect unless you're at the top of your class in one of the top programs, you're not likely to get hired by sayyy, NASA or the Air Force. I guess most people without the genius status end up as physics, math and (of course) astronomy teachers in high school and universities....
  • Reply 16 of 17
    leonisleonis Posts: 3,427member
    Can't believe the money I invested on eyepieces is bigger than the cost of the telescope set itself

    They all have 66 degrees viewing angle though
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