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  1. #1
    pedalmasher's Avatar
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    Default I Guess I'm not going to miss any of the newbie mistakes



    I was up early this morning to meet my bicycle training partner for 5 hours of training. I had a few minutes, and I had my scope in the garage to keep it reasonably close to OAT. One of the things that I am anxious to view is Saturn, so knowing that it was out there above Venus, I took my trusty 8SE into the driveway and was disappointed to discover that for some reason, I was not going to be treated to a view of the rings, let alone the cassini ring which I hope I can see. I had no time to linger in that I had to leave to meet my partner, but prior to leaving a quick check of Stellarium revealed that at least one of the reasons I did not see the rings was that I was looking at Spica!

    When I was hired as an airline pilot back in 1966, the airlines were expanding rapidly and there was a shortage of pilots due to the Vietnam War and the fact that the military was not releasing pilots. Where typically a new hire pilot has thousands of hours of experience, there was a very short window of opportunity such that if one had a commercial pilots's license with instrument rating and one could write a high score on the so-called Stanine test which was an all day test encompassing about everything that one can cram into a day of testing, a person with little experience could conceivable be hired by a major airline. I was offered jobs by the three that I applied with (Eastern, United and TWA), and with eyes as wide as silver dollars, hardly being able to believe my incredible luck at being hired by a major airlines with only 11 months of flying and 226 hours of flying time under my belt, reported for my first day of duty.

    I'll never forget my first time at the wheel of a large aircraft. It was Christmas Eve of 1966, and I was flying a 4 engine Lockheed Electra, my first assignment. We were on a training flight in the traffic pattern at Miami International airport. I looked out the window on one side and saw those two monstrous Allison 501-D13 engines humming along and I thought that I was in heaven - even though I didn't have clue as to what I was doing.

    I tell this long story because it relates to how I feel about astronomy. I was fortunate enough to start with very nice equipment and accessories, but an empty brain vis-a-vis the subject matter. Now in the airlines I went on to become a Captain, and ultimately a check airman and examiner who tested fellow pilots to see if they were qualified to become Captain on the airplane that I was testing them on. So I travelled from wide eyed kid who knew nothing to the top of the food chain in the airlines. My hope is that I can make that kind of progress in this hobby, but my history of the past few days shows little promise yet!

    If you have hung on this long, sorry to use up this much of your time, but I simply wanted to convey the analogy between my airline career and what i hope will be my future as an amateur astronomer.
    Last edited by pedalmasher; 12-25-2010 at 04:17 PM.
    Celestron 8SE, Feathertouch focuser & SkyScout
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  2. #2
    Dublin sky watch's Avatar
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    Default

    Nice read on a Christmas day k2pp.
    For what its worth, how about this.. I once set up for to look at the sun.
    When my observing was finished I decided to leave the scope set up as I would do some night viewing and allow to cool down for the night..
    Anyway later that evening I tried finding Jupiter with no look. I proceeded to try and fail to find all targets for the next hour and a half.

    Defeated, I began to dismantle my rig very annoyed that I had just taken a huge step backwards in my astronomy learning. It was only after I had turned off the power and disconnected from the power pack that I realized.......I had left the solar filter on from the day time...
    Everything is learning....Everything...
    Declan.
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  3. #3
    pedalmasher's Avatar
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    Default

    Declan: LOL!! Merry Christmas.
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  4. #4
    AbbN's Avatar
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    Default

    Very interesting - thank you!

    I firmly believe that making mistakes is the greatest teaching device we have because we tend to learn a lot. Now you know what Spica looks like. All in good time.........

    In the 60's Cunard had a slogan for their ships "Getting there is half the fun". I don't have a goto scope nor do I have any desire for one at the moment because I enjoy "getting there". I make the same mistakes as you did......and I enjoy it

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    The Bible tells us God created the Universe; Science tells us how He did it; And through my telescopes I marvel at His handiwork

  5. #5
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    Don't worry about getting on a star and thinking it was a planet. It happened to me one time too, but experience quickly told me that what I was looking at was a star and not a planet, so I got back on the right track pretty quickly.

    I guess that is the bottom line: you have to gain the actual experience of getting out there and making the mistakes, seeing what things look like, etc. There is nothing quite like actually spending the time under the stars for learning. You're doing that and learning something every time, so don't get discouraged.
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    ) Filters, 2" Astronomik OIII filter, dew heater system, and Nikon Action 7x50 EX Extreme ATB 6.4* binoculars & Celestron 15x70 binoculars.

    I'm enjoying learning the sky by star hopping; just charts, my binoculars, and my Dob!

  6. #6
    pedalmasher's Avatar
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    Abb & Sam, it's just that I don't want to make every conceivable mistake in the book - something that I seem to be on track so to do! Actually, I am finding it all very fascinating and enjoying the journey - I just wish I could increase the speed. I hope when I finally get the opportunity to meet some local astronomers, I will take some giant leaps.
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  7. #7
    samgray1's Avatar
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    Meeting local astronomers is one of the best things you can do. I spent a few nights at my local astronomy club before ever buying my first telescope, so I was lucky enough to learn a lot from them before getting started on my own.
    Name: Sam
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    12” Collapsible Dob w/Telrad, Explore Scientific 30mm 82*, and 20mm, 14mm, & 9mm 100* EPs, Tele Vue 4X Powermate & Paracorr T2, 2" Lumicon UHC and ND13 (
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    ) Filters, 2" Astronomik OIII filter, dew heater system, and Nikon Action 7x50 EX Extreme ATB 6.4* binoculars & Celestron 15x70 binoculars.

    I'm enjoying learning the sky by star hopping; just charts, my binoculars, and my Dob!

  8. #8
    ferkijel's Avatar
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    Sandy, perhaps you will benefit and improve your starhopping skills if you got a Telrad. It gives you a great frame of reference and an idea of the distance you need to go from object to object.
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  9. #9
    pedalmasher's Avatar
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    Sam, in my heart I knew that the proper approach was to take my time, go to the astronomy club, see different telescopes in action, etc., etc. Unfortunately, I got carried away and forged ahead. I sometimes wish I would have gotten just a simple DOB. Having said that, I am going to check out the telescope building program that the St. Petersburg Astronomy club sponsors and runs every Saturday from noon to 4. Some incredible DOBs have come out of that program, and some of the mirrors are superior to commercial grade ones. I guess they have a couple of real masters overseeing the program:

    SPAC Mirror Lab main page
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  10. #10
    pedalmasher's Avatar
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    ferk, I've got my finder scope working very nicely right now, but I also ordered a Orion 9x50 RACI because my neck is not enjoying the angle needed to sight down the OTA.
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