The tale of two astronomers

Got a question on astronomy that you'd wanted to ask? Ask your questions here and see if the old timers can give you some good answers.
Post Reply
User avatar
Posts: 2544
Joined: Mon Sep 22, 2003 11:15 pm
Favourite scope: Mag1 Instruments 12.5" Portaball

Post by acc »

If people enjoy trading and changing equipment, so be it lor... Steves will be Steve and Alfreds will be Alfreds. I don't see how having more Steves will reduce the number of Alfreds. Rather, more Alfreds and Steves will only increase the level of interest in this hobby. Let's not alienate our already small community. What is that song called? "Don't worry, be happy"... haha :) :)

Anyway, as Arief alluded, Steves can become Alfreds, and vice versa. Maybe all of us are to some extent Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde :wink:
We do it in the dark...
Portaball 12.5"
Takahashi Mewlon 210
William Optics 110ED
...and all night long!
User avatar
Posts: 2347
Joined: Fri Oct 31, 2003 7:36 pm
Location: Jurong

Post by rlow »

I suppose I started off like Alfred but in the last eight years, I have also took on some characteristics of Steve. This is partly because thirty years ago, there was not much astro equipment options and you have no internet to check prices and buy from overseas. Whereas in the last ten years, many quality manufacturers and dealers have come into the astro scene and there are many quality options to choose from. But I think it is not necessary nor easy to just categorise people into two camps as many people are a bit of both.
Just to share my experience: I had started observing using only a 10x50 Tento binocular for my first ten years when I was six years old, then my elderly neighbour bought from USA a 6" Bosch & Lomb SCT with fork arm, AC-powered drive but no tripod. He didn't know how to use it so he lend it to me on a permanent basis. At that time, I only had two Kellner (30 & 18mm) eyepieces and a 6x30 finder (and no other accessories), and I had to lie down flat on the ground just to aim the scope at the zenith! :) I used that scope for 12 years until it broke down literally (primary mirror crashed after I loan it to a school!) just one week before I was to conduct an astronomy talk cum stargazing for a corporate function. So I had no choice but to buy a C8 from the only astronomy dealer in Singapore then! Fortunately my speaker fees over the previous seven years covered that astronomical price! Still, I had no other new accessories except an additional Celestron SMA 25mm & 12.5mm Ultima eyepiece for the next seven years until 2003 when I joined Singastro. That is when my equipment database starts piling up... :cry:
User avatar
Posts: 190
Joined: Wed Jan 18, 2006 5:35 pm
Location: Near Xing Xing

Post by klutz »

If all move towards Steve (which is the current trend thesedays), then the appreciation on the art of astro and the equipment will be lost. Astro will become a hobby of collecting scopes or buying/selling rather than utilising them in the best way possible. Instead of talking about M objects (which is Messier objects), we might end up talking about the other M objects (screw threadsize as in M6 or M8). Although we are not at that kind of stage yet, that scenario will happen one day especially when equipments will become cheaper and the skies will become brighter. Question is, do we want the hobby of astro to become that way?
Actually, I do agree. Equipments will become cheaper one day and the sky brighter... If ppl focus more on the universe itself, then perhaps we can still "save" the sky a bit (by creating awareness)? But of cos, nobody says we should neglect the equipment. However, if we focus more on equip, it'll create a misconception that one could easily ob in bright light becos equipments are or will get more advanced someday. Then what would happen to those who cannot afford the same high-tech equip?

The point here is, one should balance between the sky & the equip. Of cos, if one could afford a better equip, then why not? Provided the person also utilize it. Else, it'll somewhat defeat the purpose.

To be a fan of astronomy, to appreciate nature and what lies beneath and to be a fan of telescopes, to be awed by it's technology, it's two totally different issues. In fact, it should be considered as two different hobbies. But yes, you can be a fan of both. One could be very interested in the sky and also the equipments they own. And I think most of the members here are. Then hey, it's definately perfectly healthy!

Human just tend to have different level of contentment... :)

Maybe we should all get a treat from "the guy who offered us earlier" and see "beautiful stars" together... :lol: (Olrite, I'll stick to my ribena)
You know dat children are growing up when they start asking questions that have answers...
User avatar
Posts: 2306
Joined: Sun Sep 28, 2003 7:01 pm
Location: Andromeda Galaxy

Post by VinSnr »

they had sp-c8 over there, with 6x30 finders and 30mm eyepieces. to many of u guys, those are gd scopes. but to me, i never liked them. the long focal length of the c8, together with the 30mm eyepieces made me feel clastrophobic. the mounts were overloaded and shaky. the finder was dim and of not much use in singapore. i struggled for weeks, trying to find simple objects like m6 and m7.
exactly the reason why I tell beginners to start with a simple scope. A C8 on an equatorial mount is not easy for a beginner to handle. But it is a very good setup for people who are already familiar with the pros and cons of such scopes and knowing what to expect.

But strangely, people tell me that newbies should start with the best, biggest and affordable scope they could, which in most cases a bulky GOTO system because they are cheap now. As you now know and experience it yourself, a big , best affordable scope may not be the way to go for beginners. When I started astronomy, the SP-C8 is a dream, de-facto scope, but if I started with that, I think I will end up like you. So I started with a 40mm refractor, simple to use, very portable but trained my eyes to search like an eagle. Today, if any of my fancy GOTO scopes breaks down, I don't have to feel despair. I can find those objects myself or use my star map the old fashion way. Why should we end our session just because some electronics failed or the scope refuse to align?
User avatar
Super Moderator
Posts: 5706
Joined: Tue Sep 30, 2003 11:49 pm
Location: United Federation of the Planets

Post by Airconvent »

wow...they left out the third category...those who also check reviews, and does not enjoy the "hunt" for objects, learns enough constellations to find alignment stars and simply want to see the objects as best as possible for the money he can me :lol:
The Boldly Go Where No Meade Has Gone Before
Captain, RSS Enterprise NCC1701R
United Federation of the Planets
Posts: 299
Joined: Mon Feb 20, 2006 9:21 pm

Post by alvinsclee »

Hmmm... remember the small scope vs big scope topic? Like I mentioned: "The best hi-fi sound system is the one you listen to most often".

But new hi-fi systems are pretty expensive. So... for starters, buy a reasonably good basic system and get the additional components bit by bit from previous owners or second-hand systems dealers... or grab the opportunity in anniversary sale offers.

When your ears are keenly trained, you'll be prepared to configure the one that appeals best to your 'internal equaliser' and listening preferences. By then, the sweet spot will be truly a heavenly bliss. And along the way to the higher heavens, there is always music enjoyment at every levels.

Nevertheless, the magic is in the total music enjoyment of the system. No use having a Bang & Olufsen (or any other top-notch hi-fi systems) but playing only sound system alignment CDs on it.

Just a simple analogy from a not-so-rich audiophile wanna-be... hahaha.
Last edited by alvinsclee on Thu Aug 24, 2006 11:32 am, edited 6 times in total.
User avatar
Canopus Lim
Posts: 1143
Joined: Fri Jun 03, 2005 12:46 pm
Location: Macpherson

Post by Canopus Lim »

I agree that both Steve and Alfred can coaxist. I am interested in optics and astronomy at the same time. I do not feel it is a waste of money to spend on optical things; it is like people spending on audio things because they are interested in tne sound quality, the what ever hi tech and low tech vacuum amps etc. Also, those audiophiles spend more money than astronomy, they not only buy equipment, they also had to change their house to have sound proofing etc. Then..there are people who love cars and buy all the fancy and super expensive sports car because they love to drive.. while people like me will be satisfied with 4 wheels that can move and bring me from point A to point B.

About modern GOTO. Yeah, it is probably better to start off with a non-GOTO scope or a binoculars. I feel that it is very important to know the constellations and stars as that is the basis of astronomy. Starhopping to me is fun but sometimes I also want to relax in the search for objects or because of crappy weather, there is a need to find objects fast. Astronomy is a hobby, sometimes we want to be challenged for the search and sometimes we want to just enjoy looking at the objects and spending more time at the objects instead of spending too much time finding the objects.

Also, it as what VinSnr had said, it would be good to start with a refractor since it does not give too much collimation problem or mounting problem; but many cheap scopes are mounted on GEM. However, the person must be prepared to appreciate what he sees in the small aperture. If he is that kind of newbie expecting photographic images at the eyepiece, then he is in the wrong hobby.
User avatar
Posts: 621
Joined: Thu Oct 02, 2003 9:41 pm
Favourite scope: 1x7 binoculars (my eyes)
Location: Toa Payoh

Post by zong »

Why are we talking about Steve and Alfred? Whoever they are, they're enjoying the night sky now, and that's what matters, right?

Is the sky nice? Let's go out object hunting again :) Hopefully we get a few curious passers-by and let them see the nice views of the universe and get them on Singastro as well!
Posts: 390
Joined: Wed Oct 01, 2003 4:46 pm
Location: Singapore

Post by Grievous »

I'm guilty of being both an 'Alfred' and a 'Steve'.

I started off young with books (and mostly just imagination) and only the skies where it wowed me night after night with the simplest of desire - to hold the skies close and enjoy the naif beauty of what it could bring. Scopes? Never used them either. A simple plastic lens bino (yes, it was THAT simple) was the only sheer trembling aid I've got from countless nags to my parents.

Star-gazing was so much simple and a joy to spend sleepless nights.

I got into Poly. Mingled with my first scope ever, the good ole workhorse C8 and got seriously hooked. Through the looking hole, what was pieces of imagination resolved to some entities with deeper meaning. I dived straight in. Digesting all the outdated books that the poor club could offer to her members and with the ease of the WWW, information glues into knowledge.

And i purchased my first scope, the WO FLT110 on the GPD. I was so sure that it could quench my thirst for as long as the skies stay dark. But alas, the sheer bulk of the setup becomes a setback. I was committed to bring the setup anywhere i could, from educational institutes to out of place ob sites like Ubin and some ulu machiam Amazon islands in Indonesia accessible by boats only. Time passes and the idea of hulking 3 bags and a tripod totalling almost 30kg AND travelling by public transport (taxis were outta question then) puts me off totally.

I sold the setup to some deserving people here this year.

And I don't regret it at all.

I knew they will and they could enjoy the setup as much as i did and perhaps maybe more. Given the setup, I know she (yes, fondly a 'she') will be much more appreciated by her new owners than what i had.

Now, I go back to the skies with a good bino and a few pieces of starmaps. Nothing more. And I had enjoyed myself even.

It's been a long time away from the skies, but I'm happy to be back and in a simple way. =]
The gentle light of a distant galaxy
must needs pour into mine eye.
Or i shall with bent and turned,
fall me down, distraught..To die.
User avatar
Posts: 2306
Joined: Sun Sep 28, 2003 7:01 pm
Location: Andromeda Galaxy

Post by VinSnr »

Now, I go back to the skies with a good bino and a few pieces of starmaps. Nothing more. And I had enjoyed myself even.

It's been a long time away from the skies, but I'm happy to be back and in a simple way. =]
I am glad that you at least went back witha bino. I have seen many who give it up totally.

As I always said...start small, unless you have the means to carry those big scopes around. Going for big and bulky setups is the number one killer for most new comers. You are not the first one. But still, many here tell newbies to go for the "biggest scope you can afford" because it is no fun seeing tiny things with a small scope. But fact is, astro is not just about seeing things (if it is, we just have to look at need scopes), it is also about the process of finding those things which fortunately you realised it now with your bino.

Same with those who just got their driving licence. Going for the most powerful, fastest car the moment they got their licence is really a recipe for disaster. Start with a car that you can manage and that gurantees you somehow the longevity of your driving.

Meanwhile, hope you continue to enjoy with your bino. No difference from me who also own a 66mm scope just to remind myself how I started Astro.
Post Reply