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Old 25-09-2009, 07:24 AM
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Recording visual observations

I would like to ask how other visual observers record details of what they are seeing at the eyepiece. Years ago I tried sketches but the amount of light needed to render accurate drawings didn't help night vision. It also restricted the number of objects I could see. I would like to record more details of what I am seeing. Are jotted notes and rough sketches the best way to go? I can't rely on memory an hour later after packing the gear up. Thanks for any opinions or help. Paul.
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Old 25-09-2009, 08:54 AM
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I jot down rough notes on a piece of paper describing the appearance of the object, approximate size, magnification used and any other pertinent details. Then I use those notes to type up observation reports. Sometimes I'll do sketches, get them as accurate as possible while at the eyepiece and then clean them up the next day if need be.
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Old 25-09-2009, 10:10 AM
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I use the Gstar to capture a visual logbook of my observations.
Just 50 subs stacked will give you an excellent record of how things were that particular night.
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Old 25-09-2009, 12:36 PM
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I am a big fan of the dictaphone. As a lawyer by day, I dictate all my correspondence, so it is an entirely natural extension of that to dictate by night too. I have a very small digital dictaphone - not much bigger than an eraser, so it slips in the pocket between objects.

The benefit of dictating is that you can record your observations WHILE you are looking at the object, rather than looking, then turning away to write/draw. This has transformed my observing - I find that I see and note a lot more. In the days before dictating my observations, my records tended to be very vague and sloppy. Now, my description of an open cluster can run for half a page!!!

The cumbersome part is making a transcript of the observing notes. I am hoping to find some software sometime soon that can do this for me without the time and effort of manually typing.
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Old 25-09-2009, 01:41 PM
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Thanks for the comments Rod. I am experiencing just what you have described. Trying to maximise eyepiece time and notes on the observations are scanty or non existent.

The dictaphone idea sounds great. I think lgcles uses one.

Converting what's on the dictaphone to text should be possible. This site:

http://www.softwaregeek.com/speech-t...verter/p1.html

has various conversion programs that could help. It might be a case of converting the dictaphone output to a .wav file and then converting that into text. It might be worth posting the question into the Tips, Techniques and Computers forum for some of those clever chappies to think about. Cheers, Paul.
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Old 25-09-2009, 02:51 PM
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Dennis ...?

Hi Rod & Paul,

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rodstar View Post
I am a big fan of the dictaphone. As a lawyer by day, I dictate all my correspondence, so it is an entirely natural extension of that to dictate by night too. I have a very small digital dictaphone - not much bigger than an eraser, so it slips in the pocket between objects.

The benefit of dictating is that you can record your observations WHILE you are looking at the object, rather than looking, then turning away to write/draw. This has transformed my observing - I find that I see and note a lot more. In the days before dictating my observations, my records tended to be very vague and sloppy. Now, my description of an open cluster can run for half a page!!!

The cumbersome part is making a transcript of the observing notes. I am hoping to find some software sometime soon that can do this for me without the time and effort of manually typing.
Well Rod, it would seem sensible to me to have the same person who is typing up your correspondence type up your observations. Or is your correspondence done "Dennis Denuto" way; as in The Castle?

As for the rest, I agree completely!

Hey Rod, how's about posting some observations then ??

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lismore Bloke View Post
The dictaphone idea sounds great. I think lgcles uses one.

Converting what's on the dictaphone to text should be possible. This site:

http://www.softwaregeek.com/speech-t...verter/p1.html

has various conversion programs that could help. It might be a case of converting the dictaphone output to a .wav file and then converting that into text. It might be worth posting the question into the Tips, Techniques and Computers forum for some of those clever chappies to think about. Cheers, Paul.
Yep, I do use a dictaphone of a similar sort to Rod's by the sound of it. I had a small cassette recorder until last year that served me well for 13 years but I basically wore it out in the end. If anyone comes up with a method to convert my MP3 mumblings to crisp text that is cheap, simple and can be made to work by a computer simpleton like me, let me know!

Paul there are several benefits to making notes. Obviously you will have a lasting record that can be useful for all sorts of purposes down the track.

Just as importantly, if you have a "system" of describing things and you do make notes, then it forces you to pause and look for detail. While you are making notes, it stops the glance and move on style observing and makes you observe critically and carefully. You will see more detail in things if you force yourself to look for it -- promise. You will also, because of the extra time at the ep, start noticing other things in the field (like other galaxies) that you didn't know were there or aren't marked on the more simple maps that you would otherwise have missed.

Sketching has the same effect as note taking but heightened. Its only drawback is that it takes quite a while and you need a light-source to draw. You have to constantly re-dark adapt. I only really leaned to observe Jupiter properly when I took up sketching the planet. The more I sketched, the more detail I saw.


Best,

Les D
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Old 26-09-2009, 06:13 AM
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To build on what Les just said, I find now that I see all sorts of things in the vicinity of the object I am observing. For examplle, have you ever noticed the beautiful tight double star near the Pavo Globular? I would have looked at that globular 100 times before dictating, and I never noticed the double. The first time I dictated my observations, the double jumped out at me.

In many cases, I start with the target object, then as I rove around the immediate vicinity, I stumble across objects not listed in Uranometria or Cambridge Double Star Atlas. When I return to this object, I have other friends to visit as well, so the exercise ends up being about visiting familar vistas of the sky, rather than just isolated objects plucked out of nowhere. Context is king - I find that objects are often far more beautiful when contrasted with what is around them. I use my 31T5 Nagler a lot these days - this helps in the process of scouting around. I then ramp up to a higher power EP if I find something of interest that calls for closer inspection.

Les, as for posting my observations, I don't know how interesting these will be to others, but happy to oblige!
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