The article then quotes him as saying, "Some of the romance of astronomy is gone."
The scene he describes is not at all uncommon. Research just isn't done by naked eye. It's done with photometers, spectrographs, and CCDs. More and more telescopes are becoming operated by remote. Many professional astronomers are barely familiar with their constellations.
But does this detract from the beauty and romance of astronomy?
In my opinion: Hardly.
During my internship this summer, we visited Mt. Wilson observatory. This is the observatory at which Hubble made his groundbreaking discoveries.
At one point in the tour, our guide described and event in which a young relative of one of the astronomers at the observatory, who was very much enamoured with the field, was offered the chance to control the telescope for the evening. It was a cold night, in the mountains, in a telescope dome exposed to the outdoors. After a single night of freezing his ass off, the youngling gave up on astronomy forever.
I fail to see where the romance is in this.
But somehow, I'm not positive that's what Marcy was referring to. Possibly it was to the grand views that could be offered that cannot be replicated on a computer screen.
Yet, as much as I love stargazing, and have my own 8" telescope, there's really very little that looks like much of anything through even a modest telescope. Let's take a few examples. Here's a few images I took awhile back with exposure times that give images similar to what you'd see with your eyes:
If you don't recognize these objects, they're M31 (the Andromeda Galaxy) and M42 (the Orion Nebula) respectively.
Now let's see what those look like with long exposures from modern telescopes.
To me, these new visages have in no way diminished the beauty of the astronomical world. Sure, it's a bit less personal, but the views now are so far beyond anything available in the past, that it's just as captivating.
The romance isn't gone. It's just matured.
And now, I don't have to freeze my ass off to partake in it.