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DSC's, GOTO, or Star Hop??

Started by wrroy, 03/29/2004 02:19AM
Posted 03/29/2004 02:19AM Opening Post
I know this has been beaten to death, but Charles' comments did stir my brain a bit. I've been in the hobby for 43 years. I have a Starmaster w/goto, a TV76 I use on a Gibraltor mount with Skytour DSCs and a Tak P2Z equatorial mount for starhopping. I don't see goto/DSC and starhopping as mutually exclusive. I like all three--depending on the mood, etc. I think having DSCs the past dozen years and goto the past 4-5 years has actually made my knowledge of the sky better, not worse. That said, I get great pleasure in taking my Sky Atlas and red flashlight outside and finding things by locating them in the Atlas and then find either the object or the background stars in the finderscope or at low power in my little refractor. Hey, I even enjoy using the mechanical setting circles--imagine that!

What do you think is best? This isn't a troll and I'll tell you right now, I do not think there is a right answer. For me, the object is to observe and I don't think it matters much how you get there--or maybe it does?


Randy Roy
Posted 03/29/2004 02:33AM #1
What ever it takes to enjoy and find objects is a good thing in my opinion.

[SIZE="Large"][/SIZE][COLOR="Blue"][/COLOR] Floyd Blue grin
Amateur Imager
Posted 03/29/2004 02:00PM #2
I have had both goto and non-goto scopes. The most important factor to me is actually to have tracking (i.e. either an equatorial mount/platform, or GOTO on a dob). I got GOTO on a big dob mainly because that was the best way to get it to track. Once I had it (I had already been starhopping with a 10" on an equatorial mount for several years), I did find it quite useful for showing things to other people (especially my wife, who would get bored standing there waiting for 10 minutes while I hunted down some faint object....). I found that when I was either with other people, or was tired and wanted to find something quickly, I used the GOTO. When I was by myself, I often just starhopped for the fun of it, then locked the clutches so the scope would track.

Posted 03/29/2004 02:52PM #3
I pretty much have to say I am a confirmed Starhopper. Some folks seem to be more "focused" on viewing specific targets but I enjoy the whole experience, viewing specific targets as well as wandering around the sky looking at stuff. Sometimes I find stuff I wasn't even looking for or didn't know existed. Just looking through the eyepiece with a 7 mm exit pupil and a 1.7 degree FOV can be pretty fine.

Tracking is nice but I spend enough time fooling with sophisticated electro-mechanical devices at work, I like simplicity and elegence.

The ideal vehicle IMHO is the bicycle, simple and elegent, allows a close harmony between the rider and the environment, one is not insulated from the world around him/her, rather one is in closer contact and can experience it more closely. It is both more challenging and healthier both mentally and physically....

In my view, I like a scope that is like a bicycle, it helps by doing the things I can not do for myself, together we are close companions.

Others may pursue different experiences and joys and will likely choose their equipment appropriately.


Posted 03/29/2004 08:50PM #4
Randy and everybody,

As a recent convert to DSCs (Argo Navis), I can testify that this technology has revolutionized the observing experience for me. My observing lists are 2-3 times longer per session these days, and I am actually spending more time on each object than in my star-hopping days.

I live in urban Phoenix, Arizona, so there is no opportunity to observe DSOs from home. I estimate that I get out to dark skies 12-15 times per year depending on the weather. This is a depressingly low number. So, I find my dark-sky time to be a precious commodity, and the efficiency I have gained by using the AN has shown me that I have been wasting at least 50% of this time star-hopping to objects.

As for those people who think GOTO scopes allow users to get away with "not knowing the sky," I say "balderdash!" Perhaps this is true of GOTO scope *owners*; that is, people who buy scopes and rarely use them, but I have found that every earnest observer must "learn the sky" in order to place his/her observing in context. For example, GOTO and DSC owners must know the names and reletive locations of many bright stars in order to get aligned. OK, Celestron GPS Nexstars are fully automatic, but the Nexstar 11 owners I know have become experts at the hardware (and still need to know at least the bright stars, which means you have to know many constellations, etc) because GOTO systems are far from perfect, and they don't always point correctly. The user often has to step in to make things right.

Oh, and GOTO scopes track objects. As has already been said, the higher the power, the more tracking matters.

My Argo Navis has directed me to objects I would not likely have ever "found." A good example is the Struve double catalog--in the city, star hopping to these objects would be extremely difficult. With the AN, it is almost too easy.

As always, YMMV, but I and my fellow SAC observers have discovered that serious observing can get more serious when modern technology is brought to bear.

Saguaro Astronomy club
Glendale, AZ