Focus, focus, focus

During past four or five years my interest in within astronomy and related fields have spread out enormously! I have been observing deep sky, variable stars, atmospheric phenomea, satellites, Sun, Moon, Planets, comets, meteors etc. This has been fun, but also quite energy and time consuming. I am now in a new situation in my life, and I have started in a new job. This job won’t let me stay up as much as I would want to, and it means that I have less time available. And besides this, I also have many other projects going on and all kinds of things in life which are demanding my time and energy.

Because of this situation, I have decided to narrow down my observing program and to focus mainly to visual observing of variable stars and deep sky. Especially visual deep sky observing has always been a very important aspect of my amateur astronomy hobby, and perhaps I could say, that it is the core interest and activity for me within amateur astronomy! Variable star observing is also very interesting and also scientifically useful! It is also very fascinating and motivating to observe these objects because I know, that it has some real use for science!

Also one thing that helped me to do this difficult decision was the fact, that numbers of visual observation in variable stars and deep sky are declining. I have always been a visual observer, and I decided that mayby I should try everything I can to continue the long tradition of visual astronomical observing! I decided, that even if everyone else jumps into the pretty pictures -wagon or just quits visual observing for whatever reason, I will still carry on visual observing as long as I can!

It means that from now on I won’t observe atmospheric phenomena or solar system etc as much as until now. I will be focusing my energy and effort into variable star and deep sky observing!

So let there be some graphite on paper!

Open cluster NGC 457 in the constellation of Cassiopeia - one of my favourite deep sky objects!
Open cluster NGC 457 in the constellation of Cassiopeia – one of my favourite deep sky objects!

3 thoughts on “Focus, focus, focus

  1. Gustav Holmberg September 23, 2015 / 15:42

    I agree, visual observation is fun! I focus on visual observations of variable stars, it is interesting to see with my own eyes how astrophysical phenomena like pulsations, dust formation etc occur over time. The objects are dynamic, you don’t know for sure what you will see when you begin the observing session. And then there’s the element of scientific usefulness, as you say.

    I do not think that visual variable star observations will go away, but sometimes it seems that some of the people recruited into amateur astronomy today have difficulties with visual observations, star hopping and generally knowing one’s way on the sky. I have published a small guidebook in Swedish on the subject, Att observera variabla stjärnor, in the Fokus series published by the Swedish amateur society SAAF, available here:

  2. Juha Ojanperä September 24, 2015 / 12:02

    Thank you for commenting Gustav! I guess that the trend in visual observing is similar also there in Sweden? At least in Finland almost all new observers and amateur astronomers go straight to astrophotography and taking pretty pictures. There are handful of new observers in Finland, who have occasionally made few visual observations or sketches. I haven’t heard of any new observer in Finland who would have started doing visual variable star observing. In Finland there are a very loose and informal network of variable star observers, but mostly the observers are working independently and individually. Sometimes there is some discussion on e-mail lists though. In 2013 we organized the meeting of European variable star observers in Helsinki, but there were less than 10 people attending the meeting, only 3 or 4 of them were coming from somewhere else than Finland. Since then, we haven’t had any kind of meetings.

    Med vänliga hälsningar,

  3. Gustav Holmberg September 24, 2015 / 13:55

    Yes, it is the same in Sweden, many people beginning in amateur astronomy go to photography of the pretty pictures variety (yet another image of M51, M27, M42). Some do visual observations, but not many: variable stars, sketching of deep sky objects, solar system.

    In the variable stars section, SAAF/V, we have a rather well organized group of people – 8-10 observers or so – that report to our database SVO in this group there are both visual and digital observers. Much of our on-line discussion takes place in the VS forum on Astronet:

    As for meetings, there is a variable star meeting every year or so, usually in April or May. 6-8 people, two days of variable star talk, maybe some practical workshop on photometry, and meeting socially in the evening. (We also have star parties of the standard sort, they sometimes have talks or workshop about visual observations.)



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