New Hobby

Discussion in 'The Late Night Cafe (off-topic)' started by pete, Feb 11, 2003.

  1. pete

    pete Moderator Staff Member

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    I've found a great new hobby to occupy even more of what little free time I have. I have become an astronomy buff. It all started back in the summer when I bought myself a Stargazing program, for the computer, to learn more about the universe around us (I've always had a more than just a passing interest in astronomy). Well, buying the software got the ball rolling and I have spent countless nights staring up at the stars. But things got even better when Wanda presented me with a telescope for my birthday. It's not a big scope, just a 4.5 inch reflector (the kind where the eyepiece is on the side not at the back), but it is big enough for a beginner like me. I now spend as much time as possible (when the skies allow) tooling around the universe, checking out the sights and freezing my butt off. Sure, my views aren't nearly as spectacular as those you see in magazines and books, but the thrill of seeing Saturn, Jupiter or the Orion Nebula on your very own is worth a million of those pics. And the best thing yet, after an hour or so of observing in subzero weather, I get to crawl into bed and warm my freezing hands and feet on my wife, making her curse, once again herself for buying me 'that damned thing'!!!:D :D :D :D
     
  2. cape chef

    cape chef

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    :cool:
     
  3. momoreg

    momoreg

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    Fun hobby...

    Next year, maybe she'll buy you some foot warmers!
     
  4. thebighat

    thebighat

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    I bought a 4.5" mirror and made a reflector, and then sold it and bought a mirror kit and ground my own 6". Now, there's a project. I made a Dobson mount, but it's kind of rough. I'd like to rebuild it. Know a guy up the street with an 18" reflector. There is a ton of stuff on the web about homemade telescopes.
     
  5. kokopuffs

    kokopuffs

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    Being from the desert I really love stargazing around the beginning of August to watch and enjoy the Perseids. It's almost as if someones tossing colorful sparklers into the sky for my enjoyment.
     
  6. pete

    pete Moderator Staff Member

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    WOW!!! An 18'', that would be great!!! The views he gets must be awesome!! What a pain to move around though. Does he have his own observatory to house it in? I would love to build my own scope someday, but that will have to wait awhile.
     
  7. mezzaluna

    mezzaluna

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    I've been complaining (okay, I was really whining) that there's no where here to really see the sky without light pollution. I was hopeful when we visited the Grand Canyon a few summers ago, but wouldn't you know it? There was a full moon as well as parking lot lights where we were. A couple of years ago we went on a short cruise, and I thought, okay, now's my chance! No.... they kept the deck lights blazing all night, so that was out.

    Last weekend I went with the sixth graders from my religious school class to a retreat about 20 miles west of here on a small lake. I could not believe my eyes when I looked skyward. Hosannah! There was the Milky Way, clear as anything. I could even see the Pleiades clearly. I stood there for many frosty minutes exclaiming, "Wow! Wow!" :bounce:

    No need to say my sixth graders thought I was nuts. Now if I can just get out there in August for the Perseid shower.... Wow! :bounce: :bounce:
     
  8. peachcreek

    peachcreek

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    When I lived on the Salmon River I would go sit in the hot springs and watch the night sky. Drank a lot of beer, but never brought a telescope with me. It was @ 6400ft. in elevation and no light pollution whatsoever. I remember the Hyakitaki(sp) comet as being seen as a rip in the sky almost horizon to horizon. I catered a big party up there in years past that usually held the first or second weekend in August, and the Perseids on some years were like fireworks. I met my wife up there and blame it on the stars...
    Since I moved to the Big City my wife and I have sporadically attended local Astronomy Club meetings. We have yet to make it to an all-night star party they hold up at Craters of the Moon national monumant every summer. They sound like loads of fun if you can stay awake that late.
    This year the December Leonid meteor showers were a big disappointment. It was overcast around the entire region the whole time of the shower and it was supposed to be the best in years.
    Enjoy your new hobby. May your search for the inky dark night sky lead you to a new adventure.
     
  9. thebighat

    thebighat

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    He keeps it in a shed in the backyard so he can just roll it out. It's a Dobson mount, if you know what that is, so it's pretty portable. This guy is into it, goes to Stellafane every year. I could clearly see the comet hit jupiter through mine. One night I was walking home with it from the big empty ball field down the street and the neighborhood drunk was on the loose. I showed him Saturn, and he pulled his eye away from the eyepiece and said, "That's really real!" It amazes me that you can see something that far away so clearly. Jupiter and Saturn are both very prominent right now.
     
  10. kokopuffs

    kokopuffs

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    Hey man, get into astrophotography. IT'S AWSOME! :bounce: :bounce:
     
  11. pete

    pete Moderator Staff Member

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    Light pollution is a hassle here in Fond du Lac also. Once it warms up I am going to take the scope out to the golf course and hopefully get in some better viewing. If not, it will have to wait until April, and our first camping trip of the year.

    Kokopuffs, I would like to get into astrophotography at some point but my scope is not very powerful and the drive motors are are not the smoothest so that will have to wait until I can afford better equipment and possibly a CCD.
     
  12. athenaeus

    athenaeus

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    I am glad you enjoy this Pete. My grandfather introduced me to the magical world of stars...

    Very soon you will feel the need to share what you see and you will start thinking of having a child :)
     
  13. pete

    pete Moderator Staff Member

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    We are already working on that one!!!:D :D :D
     
  14. kokopuffs

    kokopuffs

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    Yeah, I'm spoiled, having lived in the desert at altitudes of 7000 feet in remote areas. There, the Milky Way really appears milky and the desert floor phosphorescent. One can really hear onesself think.
     
  15. athenaeus

    athenaeus

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    Good luck Pete :)

    Kokopuffs, I envy you! It must be quite a spectacle!!!!

    Have you seen that? http://stardate.org/

    Edited to add: Regarding light pollution. Recently the municipality of Prague, asked UNESCO to declare "Night and Darkness" part of Human Cultural Inheritence and apply certain regulations regarding the lightening of public places!
    Cool! don't you think?
     
  16. mezzaluna

    mezzaluna

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    Yes Athenaeus, it's cool- especially in view of the fact that there's no place in North America except in very remote areas where it's totally free of light pollution. This according to a survey done from space (by whom, I've forgotten).
     
  17. phatch

    phatch Moderator Staff Member

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  18. chefboy2160

    chefboy2160

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    I hear you guys talking about the Dobson mount . Was this mount invented by Berkley Professor John Dobson ? If it was I can tell you I had the great chance to have taken a telescope building class from him in 1973 at Berkleys Lawrence Hall of Science . We used for our glass the portholes from the mothball fleet of old world war 2 ships in the bay and we hand ground our own mirrors and built our own mounts . I built an 8 inch Newtonian reflecting telescope for about 115 dollars . This was a highly portable telescope and depending on the eyepiece or the location you could see it all . I lost this scope in the new years day flood of 1997 but I saved the most important piece , the mirror . One day soon I hope to have it operational again . Man , its realy good to see so much interest in the universe and its investigation . A good site to pick up daily space news is
    www.spacewatch.com . Happy stargazing to all , Doug................................
     
  19. thebighat

    thebighat

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    Hear oneself think? Know how many times I've been told there ought to be a law against the way I think?

    I don't know if this John Dobson was a professor. I know he spent time as a monk and founded the San Francisco Sidewalk Astronomers, which is how I heard of him because PBS did a thing on him. He mentioned in that show about the portholes so probably it's the same guy. Having a class with him is pretty cool. I got him on the phone when I was grinding my mirror and recently spent some time on the sidewalk astronomer's web site reading how you can get him to come do a seminar for you or your group. this is refreshing..he will come for travel expenses, and I think a stipend, he would prefer to stay at your joint, not a hotel and only needs like ten bucks a day for walking around money. Try to get Todd English for that.
     
  20. pete

    pete Moderator Staff Member

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    Wow, I never imagined that there were so many amateur astronomers and stargazers floating around CT!! thebighat, I think I saw that same PBS special, quite awhile ago, on Dobson. Very interesting character, would love to hear him speak sometime.