Thread: Scope's-R-us
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Old 18-08-2008, 08:19 PM
rally
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Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: Australia
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Dare anyone enter the fray !

The OP raised the point about the matter of preference to methods of data collection and this has veered off to a degree about the ethics of data collection.

Jase entered a competition made a full declaration and the judges judged.
So there cannot be a debate about whether this is right, wrong or indifferent - the judges ruled on their competition accordingly.

But it would be fair to debate if there should be a wider breadth of competition category and just like the legislature catching up with technology paradigm shifts, the competitions possibly need to keep up with technological progress in our field to cater to all facets.
I still think its great that the competition can exist and gain such interest and produce such results.

Not 5 years ago the concept of pay as you go remote imaging was probably not even an amateur astronomers wet dream.
Now they are becoming common and chances are their use will become common place.

When we buy a telescope (god forbid we didnt make it ourselves) - the playing field is immediately unequal - different types of scope, different apertures and different qualities of scopes from different manufacturers perform vastly differently and with vastly differing prices.
Same goes for the mount, the camera, the focusser, the filters, filter wheel, rotator, the guiding, the site . . . and without stating the obvious - everything else to do with it such as PCs, software etc

So to be honest - I do find it difficult to see a really serious distinction - between buying time on a top class setup that a large number of amateurs could in fact buy and replicate at home if they really wanted to (albeit with some sacrifice or higher mortgage).
After all you dont actually need the entire rig that is on offer, just similar scope, similar camera and similar quality mount.

Clearly there are differences - BUT and this is the issue - how different is this really to the more significant difference of buying a scope (whether its great or small) verses making your own - and did you make the mirror yourself or just the OTA etc ?
That is but one example of the huge differentials that exist that could be claimed as distinctions to entry in a competition.

If someone travelled to the high plateaus in South America for a week of imaging verses staying in their local burbs - there is going to be a difference in Image quality.

As time progresses the opportunity to remove what some regard as the mundane part of astronomy and what others (importantly for them) regard as the very essence of amateur astronomy
- making the scope (OTA, Optics etc)
- making the mount
- taking mundane flats and darks yourself or having this done by someone else
- focussing a scope manually or electronically and automatically with temp compensation

So what I am trying to say is that there are degrees of what is acceptable, and of course there are almost as many opinions as there are atronomers) and that the goal posts are shifting (rapidly) from what they were 10 years ago today to now and what will be in the future.
Just as almost everyone wouldn't consider trying to make their own camera, and nor would they consider hand winding their GEM in lieu of a high quality mount with PEC guiding, and how would Goto and guiding have been regarded 10 years ago by the then purists ?

I am not sure any of us could be classed as purists (I am sure there are still some) these days - we are all using lots of tools for the job and most of us were not involved in their manufacture, design or even their settings - we just use all these tools at our disposal to best use to fulfill our respective intentions (whatever they are).
When I say tools I mean the software tools and the hardware tools, the books and atlas's, the image processing software and all the addins designed by third parties, the guiding software etc etc etc

So - Is not the use of a remote imaging site just another tool to use ?
Sure not everyone wants to use one, not everyone wants or can afford to pay for that - just as not everyone can afford a 24" RCOS.
But its just another tool to use for collecting data if that is the aim of the individual.

I am sure the judges will add other categories to their competitions or make an open category, but as time progresses these would need to be refined also - technology and affordability marches ahead and no man will stop it.

Astronomy is not a simple and singular hobby - it is really many hobbies with many vastly different facets bundled into one generic category.
For some its about making the gear and using it, for some its just about exploring the visual sky, for others its the imaging and that includes the science/black art of processing and of course there is much, much more.

I dont think we should be so judgemental with our opinions of what's right and wrong and how others should think and act, but open our eyes to the enormous diversity that this hobby encompasses and be compassionate to the fact that there are many whose interests and passions just so happen to lie in just a few of the niches.

We are all different and we are seeking different things for different reasons and gratifications from our pursuit.

My 2c worth

Cheers
Rally

Last edited by rally; 18-08-2008 at 08:21 PM. Reason: typo
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