Sometimes observational astronomy can seem "almost" silly. Yes, finding and spotting a faint NGC object can be rewarding in one way, but in another, it is like looking at the body of a beautiful woman and seeing only the light reflected off her knee caps and forehead. You are missing nearly everything of importance that makes her unique.
Every once in a while there is an exception that reminds you why you do it. Like everyone else, I was stunned and enthralled with the Hubble Space Telescope image of the so called "Pillars of Creation". It is awe inspiring. At Indian Trail Spring this week, I photographed the Eagle Nebula for the first time. As I was processing the photo, the hair stood up on the back of my neck when I realized I could see the Pillars in MY crude little photo. WOW! AMAZING!
THIS is why we spend nights in the bitter cold, and long blistering hot days (waiting for sunset) in the desert!!!
Thanks to the advent of affordable digital photography, even amateur astronomers have the means to enhance the observational experience.