A Quick Guide to the Solar System
The solar system still remains a defining part of many an amateur astronomer's interest in the universe. These days, however, actual viewing of these subjects is being subjugated increasingly to the more indirect experience of CCD imaging. Effectively, this has taken much of the human element, and more particularly, the ready accessibility of these subjects, out of the equation. Some spectacular close-up views from spacecraft also may have robbed amateur observers of some of the wonder they used to have.
However, it is not all over for the visual astronomer. We should never fail to make distinctions between live telescopic viewing, telescopic imaging, and scenes imaged by spacecraft on the surface of the planets themselves. These all remain distinctly different types of revelation, and they are all valid and valuable. However, the direct, live experience remains not only the most personally impacting, but in a busy world it is still the simplest and quickest way to access our celestial neighborhood. There is still nothing quite like the crisp refinement and breathtaking impact of the live view, something impossible to duplicate by any form of imaging, and certainly far less time-consuming.