I love the variety of categories in the Amateur Astronomy community. Most of us will be interested in several and passionate in a few. I’m just listing the following from the top of my head and I would appreciate your input.
We can categorize by equipment: naked eye, binocular, wide-field camera, telescopes, and a few who adventure outside visible light to study radio waves. Telescopes range in aperture, focal length, geometry, optical quality; plus mount style, motors, and automation.
How about by target: the constellations, the sun, the moon, the planets, binary stars, and the deep space objects – nebulas, clusters, and galaxies. There are also the ephemera: meteors, auroras, and the occasional comets. There are also the more predictable events such as eclipses, conjunctions, and occultations.
Some people simply observe, while others record notes, sketch, or photograph. Astrophotography has quite a range, from single shot, to stacking, to long exposures with specific filters.
There are some specific studies, such as variable star photometry, spectrography, or plotting annual parallax. My 31-year- long time series of lunar phases and my recent addition of measuring changes in the lunar diameter would fit here.
And then there are the arm-chair categories – too many to be exhaustive: studies in stellar evolution, planetary evolution, exoplanets and exobiology, galactic evolution, astronomy across the entire electromagnetic spectrum and now gravity waves, black holes, and cosmology. Space travel and technology is a huge category on its own. I have a particular interest in the history of astronomy – how we got to understand things so distant and complex with simpler equipment and theory.
I know members of our community interested in every single one of these categories! And it makes me rejoice that we are together at all our different levels and complementary interests and skills.
Randy Enkin Email