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Thread: Actually, I guess I've been a naked eye astronomer all along

  1. #1
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    Default Actually, I guess I've been a naked eye astronomer all along



    I said in my profile biography that I have been an armchair astronomer for 44 years, or something like that. But last night when I got my scope out for the first time on a really impossibly cloudy night, and failing to have enough sky or clarity to do a staralign, I looked up, just as I thought Saturn was going to be un-viewable, and there it was. I motored the telescope over to it, looked in the eyepiece, and there was Saturn!

    I cannot tell you how wonderful it was to see Saturn's photons again myself, finally with my own telescope. I'm still giddy 24 hours later. And I wasn't using the computer!

    So, all these years, of looking up and saying yep, that has to be Mercury. What other really bright star goes down with the sun? Or, that's Mars for sure, bright and red. So really, I've been a naked eye astronomer all along.

    I had a set of Bushnell 7 x 35 birding binoculars I never took seriously until recently in Fort Collins extremely light polluted skies. Why did I not take these seriously?

    I started using them as a telephoto lens for my smartphone camera one day. Then I started noticing how many more stars I could see at night with them. As soon as that happened, they became something I always grabbed as I left home or went outside.

    I fitted my cheap (but safe) solar glasses to them and started preparing for solar eclipse viewing and photographing. Then I thought, hey, maybe these underestimated binoculars could see sunspots? I looked up the current sunspot activity and then went and looked long and hard at the sun working to get it really steady. Lo and behold, there they were! Sunspots! And tomorrow I'm using my binocular / smartphone platform to take enough pictures of it to make a short movie.

    Unfortunately, I called a single day late to have a solar filter for my 8SE. So sad.

    So, I'll just be in the yard with my second most used (at least til now) astronomical optic: binoculars.

    The first is my own eyes which have been drawn to the sky ever since I saw Saturn in my grandmothers backyard with a telescope my uncle built from parts he got through Edmund Scientific in 1973.

    I've been watching the sky all along, and every time I looked up I thought of that telescope that I knew I just had to have.
    Last edited by DeeFitz; 08-21-2017 at 04:38 AM. Reason: typo, added details
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  2. #2
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    Default Re: Actually, I guess I've been a naked eye astronomer all along

    Binoculars are one of the most important tools for astronomy!
    They are always handy to have close by and are great for taking a quick look around when you do not have time to set up
    I was using binoculars before I got my first telescope too.
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  3. #3
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    Default Re: Actually, I guess I've been a naked eye astronomer all along

    That's awesome, Dee! Great thread.

    Binoculars drew me into this stuff, and they are still my constant companion no matter which scope I have in the yard. Great for scouting the area prior to pointing the scope, or for just lying back in a zero-gravity chair and looking up.

    I learned to star hop with my 10x50's, and that skill has carried over quite well to the scopes. My binoculars hold a revered place in my astro stable.
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    Bryan

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  5. #4
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    Default Re: Actually, I guess I've been a naked eye astronomer all along

    I love the story, Dee. I have to agree that the tool isn't the important thing here, looking up is the key. Glad to hear you have been after this for so many years and enjoying different levels of the hobby. I have to admit, I have a teeny binocular we have used for close-ups of birds in the yard for years, that I took out at the end of an imaging session a couple of weeks ago. Used them to track down M31. Maybe I'll look into something more substantial now.

    But those views of Saturn in the 'scope, those are priceless. I hear from more people who recall seeing Saturn through an eyepiece as their "aha moment" than any other object. Keep looking up!

    Bob
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    Default Re: Actually, I guess I've been a naked eye astronomer all along

    Most of us probably use our Bino's as much as we use our scopes.
    I carry mine with me all the time.
    A great and interesting post.
    Thank you.
    Clear skies.
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  9. #6
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    Default Re: Actually, I guess I've been a naked eye astronomer all along

    Thanks Bob,

    good to hear I'm not the only one discovering how powerful those tiny binoculars can be!

    Clear Skies
    Dee
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    Default Re: Actually, I guess I've been a naked eye astronomer all along

    Star hopping.

    I have done very little of that.

    I need to expand my skills no doubt.

    But binoculars really are in my hands quite a lot these days.
    Clear Skies
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