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Best skywatching equipment at my disposal:

Displaying poll results.
One or more eyes -- that's all
  8332 votes / 41%
I have a handheld monocular or binoculars
  4948 votes / 24%
My own telescope, convenient to carry
  1751 votes / 8%
My own telescope, inconvenient to carry
  2956 votes / 14%
My friends' much better equipment
  711 votes / 3%
Easy/regular access to institutional scope
  464 votes / 2%
I run the planetarium
  966 votes / 4%
20128 total votes.
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  • Don't complain about lack of options. You've got to pick a few when you do multiple choice. Those are the breaks.
  • Feel free to suggest poll ideas if you're feeling creative. I'd strongly suggest reading the past polls first.
  • This whole thing is wildly inaccurate. Rounding errors, ballot stuffers, dynamic IPs, firewalls. If you're using these numbers to do anything important, you're insane.
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Best skywatching equipment at my disposal:

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  • by billstewart (78916) on Monday January 20, 2014 @06:42PM (#46018805) Journal

    Personally I've got two eyes, some eyeglasses, and varying qualities of binoculars, which have been useful for watching comets or lunar eclipses, and I might still be able to find the dark-film eclipse-watching glasses. I've also got a hand-held collapsible telescope, but the optical quality is somewhere between "looks cool sitting on the fireplace mantel" and "goes with the parrot on my shoulder, yarrr!"

    I do have friends who are more serious about astronomy, though. One of them built a fairly large reflector scope which folds up into the trunk of his Miata (this was some years ago; don't know if he still has the car.) Another has a backyard observatory shed, 8-foot sliding roof, computer-controlled motors for the scope. ("Engineer with lots of time on his hands after he retired?" Yup. He can do some really cool stuff with it.)

    The most interesting astronomy gear I've seen the results of recently are from a Pentax digital SLR camera that does image stabilization by moving the sensor, and has a GPS in it. Apparently there's a mode you can use to tell it to track the sky for a really long exposure, so my friend who had it was able to take some good galaxy pictures.

  • by imatter (2749965) on Monday January 20, 2014 @07:12PM (#46019097)
    Really it's one or more eyes plus Google Sky.
  • by NixieBunny (859050) on Monday January 20, 2014 @10:55PM (#46020773) Homepage
    I work on the Submillimeter Telescope on Mt Graham in Arizona. It's a 10 meter dish with several receivers in the ridiculously high frequency range of 200-800 GHz. We mostly do molecular spectroscopy, finding interesting molecules in faraway places. The 'images' that come out of my spectrometer are spectrum graphs, not photos.
  • Best is subjective (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Nos. (179609) <andrew@theker r s . ca> on Tuesday January 21, 2014 @10:38AM (#46024399) Homepage

    I live in a small town, and after 10 minutes or so of my eyes adjusting to the dark, I can easily make out the arm of Milky Way. We have a hot tub, and I love sitting out there, with the lights off, floating and just looking up at the sky. We see satellites usually every night and the ISS occasionally. Jupiter and Uranus have been really bright the last week or so as well. There's no telescope or other equipment that could enhance that experience.

    Just so relaxing to be out there, especially in the winter when the air is cold and clear on a moonless night.

  • Re:Missing option (Score:4, Interesting)

    by fatphil (181876) on Tuesday January 21, 2014 @03:58PM (#46028671) Homepage
    Even though I've always been a city boy, I used to live closer to the countryside. I was just at the edge of the capital conurbation (i.e. same urban area, different city), but had only a 20-30 minute walk across the bay to countryside (across the bridge seen here: http://farm2.static.flickr.com/1023/1118483171_e59c8cfecf_o.jpg ).

    We did that trek for pretty much every lunar eclipse, meteor storm, high aurora activity, and comet religiously for about a decade. Every freaking time there was heavy cloud cover. Clearly an elemental conspiracy.

    So being in the smog (no joke, plenty of wood-fired heating here) really isn't that much worse. However, as you can tell from the fact that I did head out so often, I don't need a spark to be planted, I already have that flame. Fortunately my g/f has star-gazing connections back in the middle of dark-skies USA, so we get star porn e-mailed to us occasionally, which makes up for some of our failures. (And pre-release ISS porn too, they're good connections ;-) )

    But your point is a good one, and not wasted on me.
  • Re:Missing option (Score:4, Interesting)

    by xaxa (988988) on Tuesday January 21, 2014 @08:03PM (#46031003)

    How about a capital city. Right in the centre too. I guess I can see 20 stars on a typical good night. (Totally clear sky tonight, I guess I could tally 100, but at -13C out, I'm not going to put that to the test.)

    I managed to count about 5 last month, and was really pleased. Central London isn't a good place for stargazing. ("From brightly lit Midtown Manhattan, the limiting magnitude is possibly 2.0, meaning that from the heart of New York City only approximately 15 stars will be visible at any given time." -- presumably about the same)

    Stars are something I look at abroad: http://mnras.oxfordjournals.or... [oxfordjournals.org] -- it's probably around 6 hours travel time (by land) to get somewhere that map classes as dark.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/L... [wikipedia.org]

  • by sk999 (846068) on Tuesday January 21, 2014 @10:36PM (#46032133)

    "I'd think the guy that ran the Planetarium . . . was limited to the presentations someone sent them."

    For a while I had the opportunity to "run the planetarium". Yes, mostly I showed someone else's presentations, but I also did live shows where I could do things like advance the seasons, change the latitude, precess the earth so the North star wasn't any more. Seemed to impress people. Reseting the projector after all that was a bit of a challenge ...

"Indecision is the basis of flexibility" -- button at a Science Fiction convention.

 



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