There is a lot of info on the web about how to do two big things with electronic devices for astronomy. The first is usually about “electronically assisted astronomy”. Local astronomer Jim Thompson was interviewed for the website AstronomyConnect.com and he defined EAA the following way:
…the application of any sort of technological aid for the enhancement of astronomical viewing falls under the EAA umbrella. Devices such as light intensifiers and video cameras both fit into this category. The purpose of the technological aid is either to increase the observable detail over what’s possible with a conventional eyepiece, or in some cases to make it possible for those with vision problems to see anything at all.
In short, it helps you or your equipment see better. Tightly tied to it is the idea of using the electronic devices to actually capture the images for astrophotography.
Stepping back — Smartphone astronomy
Some people like to use their smartphones with their astronomy setup, but not always in those first two big ways. » Read the rest
As part of my education on all things astronomy, I try to read a variety of modern sources of information including discussion forums on Facebook and Cloudy Nights, helpful tips from blogs, the big name astro books like Nightwatch, and the various monthly magazines like Astronomy, Sky News, and Sky and Telescope.
A couple of years ago, one of the members of our astronomy club, Paul, passed away and another member, Attilla, was helping his widow clean out some of the astronomy collection that he had accumulated. He had a collection of Sky and Telescope materials going back to 1966 to get rid of, and while some people might see that as merely an opportunity for hoarding, I saw it as an opportunity for learning. Could I read through some 50 years of astronomy articles aimed at backyard astronomers rather than scientists, and if I did read them, what would I glean? » Read the rest
As readers of my blog know, I am an amateur astronomer. And my road into astronomy has not been paved with the remains of rainbows or yesterday’s sunbeams. I have struggled mightily over the last 7 years, including some epic battles with my scope to get aligned.
In the end, two people in the club really helped me nail down my wayward astro gremlins, and now I try to pay it back whenever I can. I have a couple of posts that get a lot of foot traffic about the “proper” way to do alignment of a Celestron GoTo scope, and I’m of the firm belief that users of the SE series of scopes fall into very set categories:
75% of owners will use their scopes right out of the box without any trouble, it will work as intended, no gremlins;
10% will not get it to work, but it is more user error than anything else, and they will never get ANY scope to work, because it just doesn’t make sense to them;
10% will struggle mightily but will learn how to make it work; and,
5% will have serious gremlins that they won’t be able to banish, or even know what gremlins they face.
About two years ago, a member of our astronomy club was helping the widow of another astronomy club member who had passed away. Like many of the survivors of astro lovers, the widow inherited a bunch of astro equipment, digital remnants and a bunch of accumulated reference material. To wit, he had left behind a large collection of issues of Sky & Telescope.
For those of you who don’t immediately know (and why would you?), S&T started publication way back in 1942 and has been going strong ever since. Almost immediately, even during WW II, it moved to 12 issues per year. The late astronomer had every issue, as far as I can tell, from 1966 through to 2017. Quite the collection. And when the helper guy sent out an email asking if anyone wanted them, my initial thought was not “Hell no” but rather “What an interesting project.”
I have traditionally NOT been a binoculars guy when it comes to astronomy. If I’m totally honest, I’m even a bit judgey for those who respond to newbies questions about what type of telescope to get with “get binos, great way to get started” advice. It’s a common refrain, by experienced amateurs, and I think it can be amongst the worst advice to give anyone.
Why NOT recommend binos to newbies?
First and foremost, the learning curve is enormous for the sky. Yes, you can look at stuff easily and pan quickly, but almost EVERYONE starts with hand-held binos. Which shake in your hands. It is VERY hard to get decent sized binos to stay solid unless you are naturally still OR you rest against something with your harms. But they don’t tell people that, they just say “buy binos”.
Second, for many people learning, sometimes the best aspect is sharing it with others. » Read the rest