Science vs Fun
As I get older (read less energetic!) it becomes harder and harder to keep up with everything. Busy schedule, lack or energy and much less multitasking ability, combine to make doing a hobby harder and harder. Since 2009 I have been heavily involved in the science side of the hobby of astronomy. Robotic telescopes, science conferences and seeking to improve your differential photometry skills have eaten up the bulk of my time and effort. Recently, I began to think about just looking through a telescope for fun and not a computer monitor for science. When I was a kid I would spend hours virtually every clear night looking through my small telescopes. What a thrill to see the moon, planets and stars even through the modest beginner scopes of my youth! Though doing science is awesome, I do miss actually looking through a telescope from time to time!
It is also good to take stock of where you are in life every once in awhile. I had a telescope laying around that I knew a friend wanted so I sold it to him. This opened up an internal debate of what to spend the money on. My decision was to try and pick up an ED or APO scope that would fit on a simple Alt/Az mount. Something fun to look through and light to carry. However, the size of the ED/APO scopes I could afford were just too small. So after much research I decided on a 102 mm F/6.3 achromatic refractor. Solid build, more aperture and even though it will have some false color just seemed like a lot of “bang for the buck!” Yup, this was the scope I wanted and it was on sale as well! Well at least until I saw an ad for refurbished cameras! Now, do I spend the money on a better camera for “science” or a “just for fun” telescope? Back to Science vs Fun!
There is a compromise in this battle for me. I am working on a way to get a refurbished camera and fun scope, but it has caused me to rethink my goals in astronomy. When a hobby starts feeling more like work it is time to rethink what you are doing! Sometimes I find myself feeling guilty because it is clear out and I am not taking data in the observatory. Sometimes I come home early from an activity so that I can open up the observatory and “get to work.” Lately these sessions that feel like “work” are getting fewer and fewer. Now I look forward to just having fun in my hobby!
When those photometry files upload to the AAVSO database there is a great deal of satisfaction in the completion of a complex scientific task. There is also a great sense of satisfaction when you see the rings of Saturn through your own telescope! Overall, as long as you enjoy what you do it is all good! For me…I intend to actually look through a scope a lot more this year and just do a lot more astronomy for fun!