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PostPosted: Wed Jul 12, 2017 5:46 am 
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Location: Portslade, Sussex Lat 50deg 51min Long 0deg 13mins West
If the uptake of the use of this Forum is anything to go by, things do seem to be very much in the doldrums of late. The poor weather may be part of the problem and the lack of any really exciting sky events like bright comets and eclipses (even the next solar eclipse is hardly visible at all from here) another. Many people say that they are "interested in space" although in reality this often means something completely different from going out under the stars, planets and galaxies and actually looking up at them. Maybe things will improve once the longer nights of autumn set in. regards maf, (a rather sad skywatcher from the land of the South Saxons ie Sussex).


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PostPosted: Wed Jul 12, 2017 12:10 pm 
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As we know Mike, tastes and interests change over time in step with cultural and technical changes. These days, there's such a vast choice of activities, not all of them necessarily good for us, that amateur astronomy - which always has been a minority activity - is overlaid by numerous distractions.

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PostPosted: Wed Jul 12, 2017 6:08 pm 
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You have to wonder if the Forum is "losing out" to the SPA pages on Facebook and Twitter. For instance the SPA twitter feed claims 11,400 followers, and the Facebook pages claim 3,550 followers. The Forum for comparison claims 4381 members. Are "followers" and "members" equivalent terms? Maybe the "bulletin board" concept has run its' time and fallen out of favour with younger generations?

On the other hand there have been regular "doldrum" periods for the Forum over the years, and there has always been a recovery (eventually) :)

Regards,

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PostPosted: Wed Jul 12, 2017 9:07 pm 
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I don't even know what Twitter is, and have no desire to find out.

Looking out into the street, 70% are on the phone, day or night, or playing with their devices, or have earplugs in.
Women drive their large Land Cruisers around the corners with one hand on the phone, the other on the steering wheel. One child in the back. I would just take their licence away. 3 months first time. 1 year second. Permanently third time.

The pedestrians look at nothing, see nothing.
Except the digital Thing.
They don't talk to a companion, who is also phone absorbed.

This is not only the young.

The ones not actually on the device have it clutched in one hand.

There is a lovely girl, now a young woman, every morning. She used to walk her dog, now sadly missing, I hope O.K. as a young Norwich terrier.
She plugs the digital device in her ears as she walks very fast at 8.28 a.m. +/-4 minutes every work day.
She eats an apple.
Same large handbag, but very well dressed. Clothes vary with season.
Very disciplined. But a different world to when I was young.

I have now been made a life member of the BAA as well as ALPO.
I have been an observer for 60 years plus.
I actually joined the BAA in 1957.

Most astronomers that there are nowadays seem to be photographers rather than visual observers.

Regards,
David


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 13, 2017 5:37 am 
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Location: Macclesfield Cheshire
You have a point there about imaging David,

There are now I think, more people doing Astro imaging than visually looking at an object. I am one of them.
I used to be very active in visual astronomy. But I started to show an interest in CCD and digital imaging with my DSLR.

That said.
I now want to return to visual observing again. When the season begins next month. I enjoy taking pictures and will continue to do that. But at the end of the day. That is all they are.

You can't beat that thrill, of looking at a distant galaxy through an eyepiece. Knowing the light that left that object is more ancient than you, the observer.

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PostPosted: Thu Jul 13, 2017 7:56 am 
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Location: Manchester
Dear al(L)
Yes & No ! I tend to come & go a bit, with regards using this forum. My own interest in astronomy has changed over the years. I started as a lone stargazer as a youngster many moons ago (and in some respects - I wish I'd stayed that way, really enjoying seeing M31 which I "discovered" myself, even though I thought it was only 750,000 light years away). Then I maintained a casual interest for many years (not increasing my astronomical understanding, but enjoying seeing M31 from time to time. I even joined the BAA but let my subs laps after a few years because its literature seemed a bit high brow for me. I don't recall ever knowing the SPA existed for many years - possibly when I was a ageing 19 year old I thought the JAS as it was then was for little kids and not the likes of me. Then well into middle age I got a proper astronomical telescope. I'll never forget my first real view of Mars seeing the polar cap was amazing - I'd never been to either of the the Earth's polar regions only a few thousand miles away - but I could then see one millions of miles more distant. However, by that time seeing m31 very easily from home was a thing of the past LIGHT POLLUTION. A few years later I took up the new astronomy rage CCD and the Deep Sky was arguably amazing, although as Paul says taking fancy pictures ain't really like seeing things properly with your eyes. I even joined the BAA again although we were never really comfortable with each other - or I wasn't. Then unfortunately I took a medical turn for the worse and night sky observing became a No! No! I subsequently took refuge observing the Sun. I suppose I could have tried that Citizen Science thing, or even very remote HUGE telescopes but it never appealed to me.
Best wishes from Cliff


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 13, 2017 10:09 am 
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The huge numbers attributed to Facebook "friends" and huge "membership" of some "on-line" astronomy groups really means little in real terms and if this Forum has 4381 members, this must be the total of those who signed up for it over the years.
Even the Foredown Tower Astronomers (once the Foredown Tower Astronomy Group run by the Council by me, at the Tower, but now meeting elsewhere and run by a committee), is going onto Facebook and perhaps even Twitter to promote the group and increase income from visitors to the talks. I take an opposing, somewhat "Luddite" viewpoint.
As David wrote nearly everyone is walking around clutching mobile /smart phones or with them plugged in their ears. There is nothing more soul-destroying than a non-user being in a room with three other people tapping away, lost in their own worlds, in silence.
That amateur astronomy / skywatching is a minor hobby pursuit, is no problem at all and for membership of any group, quality rather than quantity is probably best. regards maf - the Luddite!


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 13, 2017 3:54 pm 
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Alas, there are iPhone zombies everywhere. It's the conversation killer par excellence. I still use an old Nokia mobile 'phone , circa 1980s. It's built like a T-34 tank and it might be a collector's item these days, but I wouldn't part with it.
If we scroll through some of the other astro-forums on the Web, they do tend to be sluggish, in varying degrees, at this time of the year.
For us older hair-shirt observers ( to borrow one of Mike's descriptions for low budget observers ) the amount of slick, anodised, equipment available these days can be over-facing; especially when we recall how much we could see in the past ( and present ) with binoculars and with an uncomplicated 8-inch Newtonian reflector.
There's an added sentimentality for the 'scopes that we cobbled together ourselves from scrap parts, using a file, saw and pistol drill. Earlier editions of "SKY & Telescope" and the BAA's journal featured many an interesting DIY article.

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PostPosted: Thu Jul 13, 2017 6:23 pm 
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Refering back to the Springer book, "Astronomy for Older Eyes", the author James L Chen also comments on the "greying" of astronomy groups in the USA. He writes about the downward trend ( of backyard astronomy becoming progressively an older persons' hobby), which was similar among other traditional pastimes like stamp collecting, model building and ham radio, all of which suffer from the lack of young people, which he suggests are these pastimes not exciting enough for today's youngsters. The book itself is aimed at older retiree who are looking for a hobby and those aging astronomers who need to adapt from using lumbering telescopes to more manageable ones.
I also would suggest that for all the "excitement" stirred up by the various "nature groups" ,re bird and butterfly, wildflower and animal enthusiasts, makes little difference in the long run and that most birdwatchers, insect-watchers and wild-flower enthusiasts are generally "grey-haired" oldsters with just a few obsessive youngsters here and there. When these youngsters age, and become the next "greys", perhaps they will then look at it all again. I am talking about amateurs here of course, as a considerable number of youngsters take the academic route as a career, which is a different thing entirely.
Anyway this book is certainly worth a read, especially if you are a "grey".
The full information is
"Astronomy for Older Eyes - A Guide for Aging Backyard Astronomers" by Adam Chen, It is part of the Springer Patrick Moore Practical Astronomy Series, (also listed as under "Springer Nature".), is paperback at about £20. and recently published. regards maf


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 13, 2017 6:23 pm 
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Duplicated, sorry maf


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PostPosted: Fri Jul 14, 2017 12:53 pm 
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I used to be in the local naturalists and antiquarians society. There were very few young people in it - mostly middle-aged and elderly.
Why would elderly amateur astronomers need an astronomy "guide book" when we already know the basics?

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PostPosted: Fri Jul 14, 2017 4:56 pm 
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brian livesey wrote:
Why would elderly amateur astronomers need an astronomy "guide book" when we already know the basics?


To help keep Adam Chen in the manner to which he has become accustomed? :lol:

I'll get my coat.......

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254mm LX90 on Superwedge, WO ZS66SD, Helios 102mm f5 on EQ1, Hunter 11x80, Pentax 10x50
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 15, 2017 3:53 pm 
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Well Brian and Brian, I found it interesting! regards maf


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PostPosted: Sat Jul 15, 2017 7:49 pm 
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Location: New Farnley, Leeds lat 53.8N long 1.6W
Why bother looking at the stars,
Image instead with cameras,
For the rhymes they are-a-changing.....


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PostPosted: Sun Jul 16, 2017 10:23 am 
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Location: Portslade, Sussex Lat 50deg 51min Long 0deg 13mins West
I am uncertain whether Bob's comment is ironical meant or not?
I guess it all depends on why you are an "astronomer/ skywatcher.".
If you go out to look at the sky with unaided eye, or binocular, or telescope is really an extension of looking at nature and the world/s around us. The Sky & Telescope page somewhere actually says something like "this is an outdoor nature hobby".
A computerised telescope is a first step away from this (I think), and once one uses a computerise scope to take "images" and then fiddles about with them in the computer, this is
another step away. Then you can of course use the Internet to take superb images from larger scopes set up in other locations, and finally you can look at wonderful pictures on the Internet taken from professional observatories and spacecraft. At some point along this path, it changes from a skywatcher looking up, to "photography" (today I guess they would call it "imaging) and then to technical pro-am serious science/astronomy, and then "Space", where the watcher does nothing but look at a screen or printed album of photographs.
Actually I do do a little photography myself but limit it to snapping the Moon, rainbows etc etc, really just as a nice way of recording what I have seen in the sky.
Each to their own - "chacon a son gout"* as they say. But I like to "keep it simple" - hence a bit of a "Luddite" - regards maf (So much so that I do not know how to add the two accents missing from the French quotation!)


Last edited by mike a feist on Mon Jul 17, 2017 10:47 am, edited 1 time in total.

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