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What scope do you prefer for outreach?

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#1 GilATM


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Posted 04 March 2012 - 04:21 PM

For what kind of sky?
For what kind of group?

(I like the little 4.5" f10 dob I built with my daughter several years back - most people think it is big! Down side: it is a hassle to keep adjusting it between viewers. I have only done city sky programs)


#2 michael hester

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Posted 04 March 2012 - 04:36 PM

I prefer Goto SCTs for outreach as they automatically track and have the best viewing location for most public users. Depending on the location and the time involved it would be a C11 on a CGEM or a C6 on a Nexstar mount. Its just easy to funnel a group of kids past your scope when you don't have to adjust it every 20 seconds due to tracking.

Of course I also live stream objects through my photography setup sometimes.

#3 edwincjones


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Posted 04 March 2012 - 07:16 PM

binoculars for Wide FOV
-22x60s for kids and wilder groups
-100mms for more sedate groups


#4 Pharquart


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Posted 04 March 2012 - 08:11 PM

For most of my outreach, I use my 10" F/4.5 Dob. It looks huge and attracts attention. It's rock stable on its mount so it doesn't vibrate if someone bumps it moving to the eyepiece. I use a nice low power, wide angle eyepiece (the moon is my most common target with this scope) so I don't have to move it as often. I have a right angle finder on the scope, so I can peek into the finder to keep the scope adjusted without moving someone from the eyepiece.

For planetary outreach, I use a C8 with an RA drive so I don't have to keep adjusting that one. I will often set up the C8 looking at Jupiter and then spend most of my time next to the Dob.


#5 magic612



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Posted 04 March 2012 - 09:45 PM

I prefer to use my 5" f/9 refractor on the pier I built for it. Puts the eyepiece at a comfortable height for most people, looks more impressive than it is, and it is motor driven so I don't have to worry about "bump and nudge" to keep things centered. Plus it has enough light grasp to show outreach objects rather nicely, especially since it provides pretty wide field views for it's f-ratio, or can crank up magnification if needed without wheezing for photons.

#6 Skylook123



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Posted 04 March 2012 - 09:48 PM

My choices go with the crowd. Virtually all of my half-dozen events during the month are with a 10" SCT on an Atlas EQ-G. I can set the height of the tripod based on whether the crowd will be elementary school or older, and whether the interesting objects lean toward zenith or lower in the sky. I use the hand method on the tripod legs; two hands for mostly pre-teens, three hands for mostly adults like at the Grand Canyon Star Party. Then I can swing the diagonal around quite a bit to get "down" to the less altitudinally gifted. I use a small single step collapsable step up, and the combo works with those down to preschool if needed. I also use a walker as a corral and hand hold at the eyepiece. It helps the normal sized folks bend over if need be. The key part of the setup is a GOOD compass align and elevation set for the latitude, to keep the tracking steady on.

HOWEVER, if the crowd is mostly adults, I will sometimes break out the 18" truss dob. I use it for "all comers" public events on the Univ. of Arizona Mall, for periodic class support events we hold for UofA astronomy students, for the local parks periodic nights under the stars, and also for the Grand Canyon Star Party. For this one, I pick the 19mm, 120X Panoptic eyepiece to stretch the time between repointings (can go about five people before recentering), and I also pick items each night whose elevation allow me to stand flat-footed at the eyepiece. I can go three hours at the Grand Canyon Star Party showing The Ring, then The Dumbbell, and only 10 percent of the crowd needs even the first step on the ladder. Same for The Sombrero on the western horizon, and, depending on the dates of GCSP, the Sagittarius eye candy can all be made a flat footed sight for a majority of the audience.

I really don't mind repositioning when needed, and some special nights I'll jump up to a 9mm Nagler on The Ring, Dumbbell, and Sombrero. Since I choose each night based on the flat-footed philosophy, I will allow the occasional user to reposition since the Teeter is so smooth operating it reads your mind. This also works on Markarian's Chain when I only have a few customers late. Start on M84 and let them drop down a half field and pick up the Eyes, then they slowly lift the secondary cage upward for five or six medium power fields and the river of galaxies flow through. Depends on the audience. For schools, definitely the SCT on a GEM to avoid odd angles and keeping the target centered.

#7 desertstars



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Posted 05 March 2012 - 01:17 AM

I almost always use the 8" Newtonian that serves as my primary telescope for observing purposes. However, last Halloween I used a 4" refractor to show kids the Moon. Listening to parents talking as the kids took in the view, I got the impression the smaller telescope made the idea of owning one seem more accessible. That's something I'll keep in mind when planning future events of that sort.

#8 James Ling

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Posted 05 March 2012 - 06:18 AM

I like to bring along bigger size scope, such as my C14 and the 8" big achro, simply it can really attach crowds....
And I know there is plenty of preparation to be made for each outreach, that I only limit to weekend and holiday .

The crowds always want to know how much can they see with such a scope size , and they usually will ask when will we be here again..., simply we can only show them one or two objects in the sky , at each outreach event.....


James Ling

#9 MikeBOKC


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Posted 05 March 2012 - 08:21 AM

I piggyback my AT72 on my CPC1100 to give two distinct views, as well as to illustrate the differences in the types of scopes (there is almost always a larger Dob set up clsoe by to complete that lesson.)

#10 BSJ



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Posted 05 March 2012 - 08:52 AM

6 or 8" SCT on a GOTO mount.

#11 Jay_Bird


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Posted 05 March 2012 - 11:15 AM

Not specific scopes, more thoughts on approaches"

Clock driven scope (for me, old C-8)
Lets the outreach focus on what's in view vs. tracking - either higher power DSO or planets, fine lunar detail. Discussion is what's seen, not how to point; although lots of folks like a quick look through red dot finder to see exactly where the DSO is located. Clock drive allows for some conversation at eyepiece and let's people coax out more detail.

Alt-Az scope - 80mm short tube on Porta for me.
Keep to lower power, max is 80 for entire moon in one FOV. Usually more like 20x to 40x for showpiece DSO. Show people the slow-motion cables and let them try tracking (same approach works great with Dobs).

Binoculars on parallogram mount.
For bigger groups 7m exit pupil makes IPD less picky. Kids can point 7x50s themselves or easily view thru 11x80. For smaller groups explain more careful IPD with 16x70.

#12 ChipAtNight


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Posted 05 March 2012 - 11:55 AM

I like my 14" and the wife likes her 10" - easy to move from object to object quickly.

#13 tedbnh


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Posted 05 March 2012 - 12:19 PM

I try to bring along an Orion 6" XT dob on all of our city skywatches. The views of the planets and Moon are fantastic and people are amazed they can own one for less than $300.

That way when they ask what some guy's 18" Obsession costs, you have something concrete on hand to prove that they can enjoy this hobby for a lot less than he paid, and their own eyes are the proof.

But to maximize efficiency, I like the iOptron MiniTower alt-az mount with tracking and go-to. No need to polar align, tracks all night on 8 AA batteries or a week on a 7AH external battery, carries up to a C8 or ES127 easily, in fact you can put two scopes on it, one on either side of the main shaft. My favorite outreach mount by far.

#14 GilATM


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Posted 05 March 2012 - 11:36 PM

I try to bring along an Orion 6" XT dob on all of our city skywatches. The views of the planets and Moon are fantastic and people are amazed they can own one for less than $300.

I have some of the same experiences. With our little dob people don't feel intimidated - and they are overly impressed that we made it (and they don't care if you made the mirror or not). They are also happy to hear that it cost well under $100. Here is a pic from several years ago.

A few times, back when I had an lx200 schmidt cass, people would ask me "is it real?", turns out with all the electronics, they thought it was a projection! That never happens with the little plywood and cardboard dob.


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#15 Jason B

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Posted 06 March 2012 - 06:51 AM

Our 16" LX200 is a big hit at the Fox Park Observatory. We usually have few scope running but the big 16 usually gets the most attention.

#16 StarStuff1



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Posted 06 March 2012 - 05:17 PM

At my one club's home location there is a 12-in S/C computerized GoTo scope. At my other club's location we sometimes have public observing and I often use my 5.1-in Celestron GoTo on the Moon or other objects for outreach. For both situations I usually use my Samsung SDC 435 camera to display celestial sights. People/families love to see the images on the monitor as a group.

#17 cheapersleeper



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Posted 06 March 2012 - 08:30 PM

Public interest is high when I drag out my ATM 12" f5. I built it big on purpose and since it is tubed it looks BIG. I also bring a tall stool for the kid crowd.

#18 David Pavlich

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Posted 08 March 2012 - 12:30 AM

My current outreach scope is a C6R on a CG5-GT. It's not so much the scope, although the C6R is pretty impressive looking, the important part is the goto and tracking. It makes it quick and easy to change objects then keep them in the eyepiece for the viewers.


#19 skyward_eyes


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Posted 08 March 2012 - 08:57 AM

Depends on the weather and whats going on in my day. Usually I prefer larger scopes like my 16" dob. It's usually out 99% of the time.

But, if the weather looks windy or really iffy I bring the 6" Mak or 127ED.

#20 Joe Bergeron

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Posted 09 March 2012 - 02:49 AM

I prefer my 6" driven equatorial refractor. Few star parties offer better planetary or widefield telescopes. I sit near the eyepiece so I can observe people as they approach it, light it when necessary for them to find it, and make sure they're looking through the main scope instead of the finder (surprisingly common).

My short 92mm refractor is a reasonable substitute. It's much more wind resistant, and people are often surprised at what such a small telescope can do.

#21 RTLR 12



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Posted 09 March 2012 - 08:36 AM

I only do 1 or 2 nights a month, but I set up 5 scopes. It gives folks a good variety of views and equipment involved in astronomy. A C8 on a CGEM for deep space, an Sv115T20 on a C-5 for planetary, an Onyx 80 on a CG-5 for wide field, An Sv 70 on an SE mount for general observing, and a hit with the small kids is a Sf 130 vixen refractor on a Porta II. Tripod set low and the kids can point it what they want to. It's a great 'Hands On' set up for the kids. I prefer what the people like...and the people like them all.


#22 Jason B

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Posted 09 March 2012 - 09:27 AM

At Fox, we have an XT4.5 that is a big hit with the kids to just push around and find thing themselves. It's funny when they find something new, even as simple as the moon or planets. They get very excited to find it themselves!

#23 ColoHank



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Posted 09 March 2012 - 10:08 AM

I use my Questar for outreach, but sometimes I set up the replica Galileo scope I made in 2009 so folks can better appreciate the remarkable discoveries he made in spite of some pretty serious optical limitations.

Other club members have bigger guns, so attendees always enjoy a variety of views and experiences.

#24 Astrosetz


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Posted 10 March 2012 - 08:34 PM

I really like my Celestron Classic 8 for general public outreach. It tracks, so I can use medium-heigh power on the planets and not be constantly attending to the scope. It's also manual so I can point it to any outreach-suitable object in seconds, even in broad daylight.

For more intimate sessions with a small group, or when I'm teaching a class, I prefer my stock 8" Hardin Dobsonian. Newbies can push it around and point it to the Moon or a bright planet after a few minutes of demonstration.

Both scopes cost around $400, which I also like for public events.

#25 Jon Isaacs

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Posted 10 March 2012 - 10:16 PM

The most important thing is using a scope I enjoy myself. Thursday night I set up my 12.5 inch F/4.06 Discovery/JStar truss Dob and my NP-101. I used my good eyepieces... 50-60 people, 2 telescopes, me and my buddy...

Dinner at the Hyatt Hotel, a talk by astronaut Scott Altman and then we were the show.

We all do these things our own way... I like manual tracking scopes because people quickly recognize the rotation of the earth. If there is time, I can teach them how to find their way around sky and I let them operate the scope, I want them to believe that this is something they can do, something easy... With a complicated scope, it can seem like it takes a wizard to conjure miracles from the magic box.

Jon Isaacs

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