Astronomy Pet Hates

This page is pure self indulgence. In the course of pursuing astronomy as a hobby I've picked up on a number of things that irritate me. And I'm not talking about getting an eyepiece stuck in your eye socket.

Don't feel you have to read this. Its purely a personal rant against the world... but there are some lessons to be learnt.


Astronomy is fuelled by money. Sometimes its only a small amount. Sometimes its quite terrifying "I could buy a house with that" sized lumps. If you have no money to spend whatsoever, then you can still enjoy astronomy. For most of us, eyeballs come free. Switching off the lights to get a better view even saves money.

I do not agree with the principle practiced by many people in our hobby: If they have a problem, they just keep throwing money at it, until it goes away.

Its only by solving problems in a more practical manner that gives you a good understanding of the issues. Astronomers who have this intuitive relationship with their kit will always produce better results as they grow in the hobby and progress in more expensive equipment. They understand the principles and can fine tune things to maximise their potential.

Most of us only have a finite amount of money to spend on astronomy. This should be spent wisely. Think first. Why buy some widget for $50 when a trip to the local DIY shop, a few hours on a cloudy evening and the outlay of a few cents might produce the same result?

The satisfaction of improving your setup with something you have made yourself is much larger and longer lasting than the transient joy of retail therapy.

I could spend $$$$$$ on lots of expensive toys, but I always ask myself... would I be having any more fun if I did? ;-)


Please, somebody, somewhere, save us from those people who take anything too seriously. OK, so if your job involves poking scalpels into peoples brains or managing a nuclear power station, then, admittedly, a certain degree of seriousness is perhaps a good thing. But Astronomy? Come on! We are involved in astronomy because its a hobby.

Lets look in the dictionary. Hobby: An activity or interest pursued outside one's regular occupation and engaged in primarily for pleasure.

Did you see the "primarily for pleasure" bit? Astronomy is supposed to be fun. Its not supposed to be a punishment. Next time you run into an overly serious astronomer... thump him.


I think it was Garfield who once preached "Its amazing what one can achive if one doesn't know what one can't do".

He was dead right. Any of the astronomers in the above "serious" category telling you that something can't be done, or can only be done with some absurd bit of astronomy equipment needs a slap. They may well be right, but don't let that stop you trying if the experience is going to teach you something.

I myself have measured the red shift of distant quasars and tracked 19th magnitude moons of Jupiter. All with a scope that cost less than some people's eyepieces.

Don't let them tell you it simply cannot be done. Try first. If it doesn't work, you have gain some valuable experience.

Small-minded stupidity

Tricky one this. It sort of contradicts the above entry. There is a breed of newcomers to this hobby who have this mistaken belief that they are going to achieve great things, very quickly, and don't, for a second, entertain the notion that they might be lacking a bit of experience.

More specifically, its people who don't even consider that there might be more to something than they first believe.

We have all seen these people - their first post to a forum is something along the lines of : My new webcam turned up today and I bolted it to my telescope this evening and couldn't see or image anything? Should I send my camera back? I have never done any astrophotography before. What do you suggest?

Usually the response is something along the lines of "point your webcam at the living room wall and learn to use the software before you go near your telescope".

I'm not trying to have a go at newbies - heaven forbid! Newcomers to our hobby must always be encouraged, however, people are not newbies to life - and they should have learnt by now to stop and think for a few seconds.

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