3 comments on “Focus, focus, focus

  1. 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: http://www.saaf.se/telescopium.php

  2. 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,
    Juha

  3. 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 http://var.astronet.se/ in this group there are both visual and digital observers. Much of our on-line discussion takes place in the VS forum on Astronet: http://astronet.se/phpBB3/viewforum.php?f=26

    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.)

    Vilpittömästi,

    /Gustav

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