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Choice of clothing color when observing...

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#1 amicus sidera

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Posted 21 June 2012 - 08:00 PM

For decades now I've made it a point to wear at light-colored, clean and fairly new clothing while observing in public places. My rationale for this stems from encounters with peace officers and other authorities who might be responsible for patrolling the area in which I'm set up.

When one is wearing light, or especially white-colored clothing, it has a two-fold effect at a deep level on those who encounter you:

Firstly, white, at least in Western culture, is seen as a symbol of purity and innocence, which to a degree and depending upon circumstances, imputes a certain degree of these qualities to the wearer.

Secondly, anyone intent on clandestine criminal activities at night would have white clothing dead last on their list of fashion choices, for the simple reason that it makes one stand out from the background darkness with the slightest illumination, hence facilitating detection and possible apprehension.

When observing in the warmer months, I usually wear either a pair of dark slacks or newish blue jeans, and a freshly-pressed and laundered white dress shirt... during colder months, with snow on the ground, I opt for a light-electric-blue jacket over a white sweater.

While I realize that many factors (such as one's attitude, the area one is observing in, and the circumstances surrounding one's encounter) mitigate to result in a pleasant interaction with the authorities, I feel that my choice of dress over the years has done much to assure that these meetings (of which I've had many) have turned out well in every instance.

That said, I do have a dark jacket near at hand to throw on in the event I wish to present a low profile to nefarious types, should they show up!

#2 tejasdragon

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Posted 21 June 2012 - 09:02 PM

Always black tshirt and black jeans, Long hair and tattoos all over. I look the same anywhere I go. At one point
in my life I was the person your mom warned you about.
Never have had a problem with a law dog unless I deserved
it.


Henry

#3 Gastrol

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Posted 21 June 2012 - 09:09 PM

I try not to wear any red at parks where the Crips might hang out.
For the most part I like plain neutral colors and earthy tones and always observe where there are always other amateur astronomers present when going out to dark sites.

#4 Coolkid70

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Posted 21 June 2012 - 10:14 PM

I'd also like to emphasize that clothing colour definitely does affect the way passers-by perceive you, at least in a physical sense. I've done a good deal of "sidewalk astronomy" at my university. My usual spot was in a shadowy area of a large well-travelled walkway. I would usually wear a heavy black overcoat and some dark blue jeans. This combination has had me confused anywhere from a shady homeless guy to the grim reaper. My telescope has also been identified as a cannon as well as a grand piano.

Luckily (and very much to my surprise), I never once had a run-in with the campus police. When people would approach me, I would sometimes jokingly thank them for not calling!

#5 herrointment

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Posted 22 June 2012 - 03:50 AM

The thought has never entered my mind. We do have roaming gangs of elderly walkers about but they tend to fall asleep before sunset.

Come to think of it I tend to fall asleep before sunset too. I have to get up at 3.30 AM for work....well gotta go!

#6 csa/montana

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Posted 22 June 2012 - 08:18 AM

:lol: Stay safe, among those elderly walkers! :grin:

#7 BigC

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Posted 22 June 2012 - 09:22 AM

What color attracts the fewest mosquitoes ?

#8 amicus sidera

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Posted 22 June 2012 - 10:35 AM

What color attracts the fewest mosquitoes ?


White, I believe. :grin:

The effect is minimal, but I understand that it has to do with thermal signatures... dark colors giving off the most heat, or something along those lines.

#9 MikeBOKC

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Posted 22 June 2012 - 12:30 PM

I always figured if people can see me peering through the butt-end of an 11 inch SCT with a half-dozen various equipment cases scattered around they should figure out what I am doing. Every policeman I have ever encountered just wants a peek at the moon or Jupiter.

#10 amicus sidera

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Posted 22 June 2012 - 12:46 PM

My experiences might have to do with living in the generally higher population/higher crime rate Northeast... the gendarmerie tend to be a somewhat suspicious and cautious lot hereabouts (who can blame them?), although things generally defuse rapidly once the situation becomes clear to them.

I've had more than one of them tell me that having an accomplice acting as a lookout under an innocent "cover", while the other goes about their nefarious business, is a common ruse with some criminal types... for example, stargazing in the shadows of a cul-de-sac in an industrial park, in the wee hours of the morning, would fit that particular bill nicely.

#11 GeneT

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Posted 22 June 2012 - 01:05 PM

I try not to wear any red at parks where the Crips might hang out.


Gueeze. What is behind the problem of wearing red?

#12 ccaissie

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Posted 22 June 2012 - 01:22 PM

In our part of Maine it gets pretty dark. I find fewer people bump into me when I'm wearing white. Same goes for telescopes...white. I lost my flat black 8" one night for a few minutes.

#13 northernontario

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Posted 22 June 2012 - 05:02 PM

As long as it has lots of pockets, I'll wear it.

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#14 Pinbout

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Posted 22 June 2012 - 05:04 PM

I just want to wear something to keep the bugs off, don't care about other people. :smarty:

or is there something I can wear to keep away the guy that pulls up with his car, with his light glaring in my eyes and keeps them on...obviously a nob. :slap:

or something to keep the other guy from saying, "hey come look at what I have in my scope"...always bugging me from my eye piece time...to look at what he's looking at. :flame:

#15 amicus sidera

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Posted 22 June 2012 - 06:08 PM

I try not to wear any red at parks where the Crips might hang out.


Gueeze. What is behind the problem of wearing red?


Wearing a sufficient amount of red clothing (it needn't be much) in gang-infested areas might lead to the gangsters called Crips mistaking you for a member of the Bloods, a rival nation-wide gang whose gang "colors" are predominately red. The reverse can also occur if you are wearing blue, the Crip's gang "colors", and members of the Bloods spot you in their "turf". Alternatively, wearing either red or blue can lead to the gang members affiliated with those colors attempting to determine if you're one of them, and asking you to "rep yo set", or represent your gang affiliation, usually via hand signals ("throwing signs") and occasionally in conjunction with other means. Failure to do so successfully can lead to violent consequences.

Obviously, choice of observing apparel matters considerably more in some areas than in others.

I must admit that schooling the forum regarding the Crips and Bloods was entirely unanticipated when I made my original post. :grin:

#16 izar187

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Posted 22 June 2012 - 09:16 PM

For public out reach and when observing in public places, so folks can see me, light colors for me too.
Light colors may work better for skeeters, and do work better for crawling insects that bite.
In my case it's a cargo pocketed unlined field jacket from a local Military Surplus store.
It is somewhat skeeter proof due to it's weave and long sleeves.

Some kind of a light colored shirt/top, and a light colored tripod or pier, work very well for sharing the night sky with others.
Additional glowing or winking lights are certainly optional, but not necessities IMHO. Strategic passive light colors are simpler.

#17 mountain monk

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Posted 22 June 2012 - 11:44 PM

I have never seen anyone at the places I normally observer from--perhaps the lights from a distant truck, or, more likely, my wife wondering when I'm going to come to bed. A vehicle at a remote site in Wyoming at night is something most people leave alone. The owner is probably a law-abiding, if slightly odd, citizen with a dog and a gun. Red and blue clothing, gangs!? My urban/suburban education continues...

Dark skies.

Jack

#18 Jon Isaacs

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Posted 23 June 2012 - 05:26 AM

I have never seen anyone at the places I normally observer from--perhaps the lights from a distant truck, or, more likely, my wife wondering when I'm going to come to bed. A vehicle at a remote site in Wyoming at night is something most people leave alone. The owner is probably a law-abiding, if slightly odd, citizen with a dog and a gun. Red and blue clothing, gangs!? My urban/suburban education continues...

Dark skies.

Jack


Jack:

Your main concern is probably dressing to avoid the appearance of food to a hungry bear...

:)

I have never concerned myself with what I look like when observing. There is rarely anyone around and if there is, it is almost certainly someone I know or someone I should know. My concern is for my comfort.

Jon

#19 tecmage

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Posted 23 June 2012 - 08:46 AM

Dressing for Bears, Gangs and Skeeters- wow! I usually dress for comfort.

#20 mark8888

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Posted 23 June 2012 - 09:46 AM

I often wear a dark hoodie. If anyone would be foolish enough to stereotype me based on that, I would see it as their problem, not mine. If white imparts the quality of purity and innocence on the wearer in someone's mind, that's a result of their own unfortunate stereotyping and misperception. On the other hand, I'm all for avoiding the skeeters!

#21 amicus sidera

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Posted 23 June 2012 - 09:52 AM

I often wear a dark hoodie. If anyone would be foolish enough to stereotype me based on that, I would see it as their problem, not mine.


True, but in the case of the police, they have the ability to make it your problem, as well. :grin:

The perception of white as "pure" runs much deeper psychologically than a simple stereotype throughout Western culture; it may even be a genetic predisposition. Other cultures vary regarding this effect; in parts of Oceania, for example, white is seen as the color of death.

#22 mark8888

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Posted 23 June 2012 - 09:58 AM

I often wear a dark hoodie. If anyone would be foolish enough to stereotype me based on that, I would see it as their problem, not mine.



True, but in the case of the police, they have the ability to make it your problem, as well. :grin:



That's true, but how much of a problem if I'm not breaking any laws? Which I wouldn't be. Anyway I like my dark hoodie, it's comfortable and the hood is useful, and I wouldn't avoid wearing it to impress anyone. I put on a white shirt and tie for work, for me that fills my allotment of dressing up per week.


The perception of white as "pure" runs much deeper psychologically than a simple stereotype throughout Western culture; it may even be a genetic predisposition.



There are also a good number of people who find it offensive.

#23 amicus sidera

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Posted 23 June 2012 - 10:03 AM


The perception of white as "pure" runs much deeper psychologically than a simple stereotype throughout Western culture; it may even be a genetic predisposition.


There are also a good number of people who find it offensive.


I've never met anyone who was offended by a white shirt, but perhaps I've led a sheltered life. You do realize that we're discussing fabric color?

#24 Adam Taylor

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Posted 23 June 2012 - 10:04 AM

Dressing for Bears, Gangs and Skeeters- wow! I usually dress for comfort.


Agree. Comfort is key. And during this part of the year in the desert, it's a light-colored t-shirt, shorts and barefeet.

#25 mark8888

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Posted 23 June 2012 - 10:12 AM



The perception of white as "pure" runs much deeper psychologically than a simple stereotype throughout Western culture; it may even be a genetic predisposition.


There are also a good number of people who find it offensive.


I've never met anyone who was offended by a white shirt, but perhaps I've led a sheltered life. You do realize that we're discussing fabric color?



LOL of course I didn't mean that anyone is offended by a white shirt. What some find offensive is the idea that white is "pure" while "dark" is, as you put it, a color to wear to "present a low profile to nefarious types", and there are countless websites and books discussing the idea that white=good/pure and black=bad/nefarious, and why some find it offensive, for more information.






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