Reclaiming my observing

I do not like finding faint fuzzies.

There. I said it. I’ve always known it but for a long time I’ve been embarrassed to own it. It has often felt like if you’re an amateur astronomer, the whole point is to go hunting for faint galaxies and planetary nebulae. Which is why so many of them get aperture fever and hunger after ever larger and faster mirrors for their Dobsonians.

But I have a refractor.

This is actually a chicken and egg scenario. My – our – first telescope was a Tak refractor, because that’s what James bought me for my birthday. So with that to learn on, I went to what it was good at looking at: planets and double stars. Planets were always going to be one of the great joys of my observing life. I was initially unsure about whether hunting double stars was worthwhile, but with some time and an understanding of what refractor was able to do, I discovered the joy of tracking them down and in particular how awesome it is to look at the differently coloured ones. Having a 90mm refractor meant that looking at faint galaxies was never going to be worthwhile.

But even when James got his 16” Dob, and started chasing faint fuzzies, I didn’t get the bug. In honesty I don’t think I have the eyes for it, and that has certainly added to the frustration the few times that I have joined in the galaxy quest (heh). Plus I just don’t get it. All I see are fuzzy grey blobs that rarely have any shape to speak of (to my eyes) and so… what is the point?

All of this has meant that I’ve sometimes felt on the outer amongst amateur astronomers. As if looking at things that aren’t incredibly hard to find is somehow… cheating? A waste of time? Letting down the community? Demonstrative that I haven’t levelled up to being a ‘real’ astronomer? Which hasn’t been a lot of fun.

Of course this is all at the same time as having people comment that my refractors have excellent optics and that the stars look great through them and the view of planets are wonderfully sharp. I never said it was entirely logical.

Anyway. I’m slowly owning all of my own preferences and desires and peculiarities. I don’t have to go along with what anyone else likes and thinks is right in such incredibly subjective areas. I can look at whatever I like.

If I want to spend the entire night looking at Orion’s Nebula, Jupiter, and Saturn, and then the Eta Carina Nebula in a 31mm Nagler, then that’s okay. And would be quite a nice night, actually.

Of course if James pulled up the Eight-Burst Nebula or the Ghost of Jupiter, I’d sure go have a look at those. Maybe the Grus quartet. But anything from the ARP catalogue? Nah.

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