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Combining Model Railroading and astronomy hobbies

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Combining Model Railroading and astronomy hobbies
Posted by Bubby on Thursday, February 13, 2020 8:56 PM

It's no secret that many (most?) of us model railroaders have more than one hobby. I love amateur astronomy as well, and if I recall correctly there are a few others on this forum who share these hobbies. Perhaps it's not just a coincidence that Kalmbach publishes Astronomy magazine as well as MR.

What prompted my thoughts was that I received the new issue of Sky And Telescope tonight, and the lead-off letter to the editor is from a model railroading/astronomy enthusiast who combined his hobbies by building an astronomical observatory on his layout, complete with a model of a one-meter telescope. On his background he used glow-in-the-dark paints to add constellations and the Milky Way, and a black light along the back for dramatic effect with the room darkened. He say he enjoys running his trains at "night", enjoying the simulated glow of stars in a summer night. He says he's glad he could combine both his hobbies on his layout. S&T even included a nice picture of his layout.

I wonder if he's a member of this forum? He's Brian Spradlin, of Harbor City, CA. Well done, Brian!

Alan

 

 

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Posted by mbinsewi on Thursday, February 13, 2020 9:03 PM

Interesting!  I've been active since 2010, and I don't remember any members that mentioned astronomy along with their model railroad.

It will be interesting to see if anyone respondes with that name.  

We only know forum ID's in here, a few mention their name.

Mike.

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Posted by RR_Mel on Thursday, February 13, 2020 9:20 PM

The closest I get to amateur astronomy is looking at the Astronomy Picture of the Day.
 
 
I don’t go to their site as often as I have done in years past but I still sneak a peak when I think about it.  Quite interesting viewing.  Today’s picture is Spitzer's Trifid.
 
You can go back using the < in the menu bar.
 
 
Mel
 
 
 
My Model Railroad   
 
Bakersfield, California
 
I'm beginning to realize that aging is not for wimps.
 
 
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Posted by York1 on Thursday, February 13, 2020 9:22 PM

I also have an interest in astronomy, but only an interest.  Before I moved to a small town, I once attended an astronomy club at the local university.

That idea for a model railroad layout sounds great.  I may have to get a copy of that magazine to see the picture.

I really hope he sees this and can post some photos.

I wonder if Model Railroader would ever be able to have an article on him?

John  --  Saints Fan  

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Posted by Bubby on Thursday, February 13, 2020 9:27 PM

Mike, I could be mis-remembering it (is that really a word?!). I thought it was in a post or posts in which people talked about other hobbies, and how some of them were even more expensive than model railroading. Amateur astronomy certainly can be, but I'm pretty thrifty with both. I feel you can do a lot with a little in both hobbies.

You are right that we don't usually reveal our full names on the forum, and that's just a well. I just thought I would give a shout-out just in case.

Alan

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Posted by mbinsewi on Thursday, February 13, 2020 9:39 PM

I did a little searching for a thread on the subject of hobbies other than model railroading, nothing yet.

The search the community thing doesn't work in here, so I was Googling around.

Mike.

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Posted by Bubby on Thursday, February 13, 2020 9:40 PM

I should add that the writer describes it as a small HO layout built in his garage. From the picture it looks nice, with well done trackwork, scenery, and structures. An Atlas D&H RS-36 is pulling a freight in the background. 

Alan

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Posted by mbinsewi on Thursday, February 13, 2020 9:43 PM

OK, nice!  I also did a search for his name, and his model railroad, nothing specific found.

We'll have to see what others find.

Mike.

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Posted by Bubby on Thursday, February 13, 2020 9:46 PM

mbinsewi

I did a little searching for a thread on the subject of hobbies other than model railroading, nothing yet.

The search the community thing doesn't work in here, so I was Googling around.

Mike.

 

Now you've got me questioning my sanity!

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Posted by mlehman on Friday, February 14, 2020 3:45 AM

I'm not really an amateur astronomer, but just your average stargazer, aided by enough time at summer camp in the scouts to remember a few constellations. I did use a bit of astronomy by using an online star chart to paint in some luminous stars that commemorate things of personal interest on the layout.

Behind Silverton, the stars are from the date that the Rio Grande finally reaching the town back in the early 1880s.

Another wall has the stars on the date of my wife and mine's wedding.

Mike Lehman

Urbana, IL

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Posted by BigDaddy on Friday, February 14, 2020 7:12 AM

I had a Tasco telescope and saw the rings of Saturn.  By the time I got my parents out to the telescope, things had moved and I never found it again.  Was also a subscriber to S&T.  

Although I grew up during the Apollo program, I thought the prospects for future astronomic discoveries rather limited.

I also thought the first craft brew pub in Baltimore saturated the market.  

Henry

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Posted by rrinker on Friday, February 14, 2020 7:55 AM

 Friend of mine lives in a somewhat isolated area outside of San Diego and has a pretty impressive telescope setup at his house. He gets these amazing professional quality images of galaxies and such - I really want prints to frame and hang on the wall. 

 I'm not so much into astronomy per se, but space in general. I don;t really remember the Apollo missions, I was not yet 3 when Neil and Buzz stepped on to the moon for the first time, but my parents did wake me up to watch it. There's a display at the SAC Museum in Omaha of a typical 1969 household watching the moon landing, and I had an odd sense of deja vu looking at it, but some of the things in that display lasted in our house well into the 70's.

 I'm fascinated how we can still talk to Voyager - there's a great set of videos on Dave Jones' alternate YouTube chaneel (his main one is EEVBlog) where he got to tour the ground facility in Australia. Both the big dish outside and then inside with the communications equipment - including live audio of the signal coming in. 

                              --Randy

 


Modeling the Reading Railroad in the 1950's

 

Visit my web site at www.readingeastpenn.com for construction updates, DCC Info, and more.

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Posted by MisterBeasley on Friday, February 14, 2020 9:45 AM

I was actually a professional radio astronomer in my early years.  I was operations manager at Haystack Observatory, a 120 foot dish antenna in Tyngsboro, MA.

That was long before I had the resurrection of my trains, which I had since my early teens, but they were boxed up for all those years.

Now I just use binoculars to look at birds.

It takes an iron man to play with a toy iron horse. 

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Posted by York1 on Friday, February 14, 2020 9:50 AM

Bubby
the lead-off letter to the editor is from a model railroading/astronomy enthusiast who combined his hobbies by building an astronomical observatory on his layout, complete with a model of a one-meter telescope.

 

After rereading this, I think I've decided I might try to build something like that.  I have a desert mountain on the layout that is basically a blank space.

At one time, I thought about putting a crashed flying saucer there, but I really like the idea of an observatory.

Thanks for posting this.  It will give me a good project.

John  --  Saints Fan  

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Posted by NittanyLion on Friday, February 14, 2020 9:51 AM

I used to work in NASA's budget office.

One of the things I did was worked on the performance assessments of what they called high risk missions. Mainly, I was in meetings in bland offices. After I left, they started taking contractors on the hardware tours, which I only got to do once and never to the west coast. Disappointing. 

I had the opportunity to take some kapton that was trimmed from the James Webb Space Telescope, but declined. Sort of regret that. 

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Posted by dknelson on Friday, February 14, 2020 10:21 AM

If you do enough railfanning in the right places you have opportunities to be trackside in areas that qualify as "dark sky" and can really admire the night sky in ways that are harder to do in the city.

I remember a friend and I were trackside west of Galesburg IL on the Santa Fe late of a June evening and there was minimal light pollution.  Beautiful.  We even saw a weather* satellite moving across the sky.

And a headlight on the horizon was a LONG ways away.

*edited post - read MisterBeasley's comment. It was a satellite and we could even see it tumbling (using the telephoto lens on the cameras we had with us - too dark for photography).  For all I know it may have been space junk.  

Most of the light that we did see was from the abundant fireflies. 

Dave Nelson

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Posted by mbinsewi on Friday, February 14, 2020 10:49 AM

I experience that dark sky thing at our place up north, on summer evenings.  It is amazing what you can see.  You don't have to look to hard to see various objects moving across the sky.

Mike.

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Posted by riogrande5761 on Friday, February 14, 2020 11:14 AM

I imagine many have other hobbies or interests, but but seriously, what does astronomy have to do with model railroading?  Yeah, here it comes...  Dead

Maybe there is an astronomy forum out there for discussing that.  Clown

Rio Grande.  The Action Road  - Focus 1977-1983

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Posted by MisterBeasley on Friday, February 14, 2020 12:39 PM

dknelson
We even saw a weather satellite moving across the sky

In general, weather satellites are placed in geosynchronous orbits, about 22000 miles above the equator.  So, when you see them, they do not appear to be moving against the star background.

It takes an iron man to play with a toy iron horse. 

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Posted by mbinsewi on Friday, February 14, 2020 12:44 PM

It all started out looking for info on this Brain Spradlin guy's layout, and the observatory he built, and that's as far in line as it went.....it quickly went sideways...and continues in a sideways direction.

He probably can't post any pictures from the magazine the OP mentions, with the guys layout pictured, because of all the copyright mumbo jumbo, so I guess it will go .......

What was the question?????

I'll jump off here.  Smile, Wink & Grin

Mike.

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Posted by garya on Friday, February 14, 2020 6:19 PM

riogrande5761

I imagine many have other hobbies or interests, but but seriously, what does astronomy have to do with model railroading?  Yeah, here it comes...  Dead

Maybe there is an astronomy forum out there for discussing that.  Clown

 

 

Did you read the OP?

Gary

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Posted by BigDaddy on Friday, February 14, 2020 6:41 PM

I at least, had a Menard's HO kit in my post. 

It's a good thing management has let the topic stray off course a little rather than locking the thread.  It gives us a break from "should I model HO or N scale"  or "DC vs DCC" 

Just like any other thread, if the title doesn't interest you, you don't have to read it or comment on it.

Henry

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Posted by Enzoamps on Saturday, February 15, 2020 8:48 PM

My ISP has a screen saver that changes.  REcently a large city at night was the picture.  A generic big city at first, but then I recognized the Griffith Observatory in the foreground.  So I knew it was Los Angeles.  I did in fact think that Griffith would make a good subject to model.  Something different and substantial on high ground.  It is an attractive building.  SO many observatories look like radar domes or other industrial buildings.  Kinda like Union Station is a great old building to contrast the basic warehouse or grain elevator.

I watch the skies, know what planets are where, enjoy the aurora.  Try modelling the aurora.  I saw the thread title and half expected to see a new Lionel Telescope car.

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Posted by BATMAN on Saturday, February 15, 2020 10:24 PM

I remember begging for a telescope as a kid an I eventually got one. I was space crazy and still to this day I read all about astrophysics and physics in general. Stephan Hawking in one of his books said want to see who the thinkers are in the crowd? Say something outrageous but true and see how people react, it points out the thinkers real fast. I must say I took that and ran with it.Mischief

I carefully painted the stars accurately on the ceiling of both kids bedrooms when they were very young. You cannot see any evidence of the tiny dots of paint I applied until you turn the lights out. To this day they will tell you it is one of the best things about coming home. 

I have dimmers in the trainroom and it is nice to have the Hudsons pulling my CP coaches in the dark with the lights on along with the other lights I am gradually installing around the layout. I still have the star paint and will be painting the night time view on the ceiling in the train room at some point.Big Smile

My sons girlfriend just goes WOW! when the lights go out in his room. It is the stars she is talking about.Laugh

Brent

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Posted by Bubby on Saturday, February 15, 2020 11:14 PM

I have edited the thread title somewhat, hopefully making my original intent a bit clearer. I definitely didn't intend it to be confusing or deceptive.

My primary message was The model railroader who built a nice HO scale astronomical observatory on a mountain on his layout found an interesting way to combine two of his favorite hobbies. Somehow along the way, I got the wrong impression there were a number of MR's who shared these two (seemingly unrelated) hobbies. As best I can recall it was a thread a while back in which people were bemoaning the high cost of model railroading, and several posters said their other hobby -amateur astronomy- was even worse. Maybe it was that "other" forum...

The reason it popped up in S&T was a December article about "Hobby Killer" telescopes, the plethora of poorly made junk telescopes that flood the market, especially around Christmas time. The author said they are so unusable and frustating that many would-be astronomers toss them in a closet and take up model railroading. I've invested a lot of time and money in both hobbies, I can say with honesty I've experienced plenty of frustration with each one. 

Alan

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Posted by York1 on Sunday, February 16, 2020 7:15 AM

Bubby
I have edited the thread title somewhat, hopefully making my original intent a bit clearer. I definitely didn't intend it to be confusing or deceptive.

 

Don't worry about some critical comments.  I thought your original title was fine for the subject, and I have enjoyed the discussion.

If someone doesn't want to read a forum thread, it's not that difficult to click out of it.

Thanks for starting an interesting topic.

John  --  Saints Fan  

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Posted by groundeffects on Monday, February 17, 2020 7:14 PM

Besides model railroading, I've had a long interest in astronomy too.  As a kid I lived out in the high desert (The Mojave Desert) about 60 miles north of Los Angeles.  I had a cheap 200X refractor telescope in the 60's-70's, but it was okay.  Before the area started getting alot of light pollution, the night sky was usually quite dark, and we'd  often see satelites travel across the night sky. 

About 15 years ago,  a friend and I backpacked out of Tuolomne Meadows (Yosemite National Park) about 7-9 miles to Nelson lake for a few nights. We were able to witness the Perseid Meteor Shower far from any lights and that was very cool. 

Finally, one of the best night skies I'd ever seen was up in Northern California's Trinity Alps.  Very little light pollution, and very clear there too.  I saw many stars and a few satelites at night while camped there.  It might be cool to add a small observatory to a layout, or perhaps have a few astonomy hobbyists gathered together with their portable telescopes on someout of the way hillside.

Thanks for a great topic by the way,

Jeff

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Posted by JDL56 on Tuesday, February 18, 2020 9:42 PM

Not exactly model railroading and astronomy, but I did take a photo of a "total eclipse" on my layout a few years ago. (Real photo of a total eclipse positioned on the layout.) 

John Longhurst, Winnipeg

 

 

 

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Posted by York1 on Tuesday, February 18, 2020 9:49 PM

JDL56
Not exactly model railroading and astronomy, but I did take a photo of a "total eclipse" on my layout a few years ago. (Real photo of a total eclipse positioned on the layout.)  John Longhurst, Winnipeg

 

That's a really neat photo!

John  --  Saints Fan  

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Posted by Enzoamps on Wednesday, February 19, 2020 5:37 PM

Either an eclipse or a black hole about to devour our Earth.  I still have a Unitron calalog from 60 years ago, I always wanted the biggest one of course.

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