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#1 Charlie Hein

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Posted 22 June 2012 - 11:39 AM

Front Yard Astronomy

By Drew Farwell

#2 buddyjesus

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Posted 22 June 2012 - 11:43 AM

I greatly enjoyed the article. thanks for sharing it.

#3 Scott Beith

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Posted 22 June 2012 - 04:30 PM

Very nice article. :waytogo:

#4 Gastrol

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Posted 22 June 2012 - 05:00 PM

Thanks for posting this article. I really enjoyed it!

#5 Scott in NC

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Posted 22 June 2012 - 08:49 PM

Great article, Drew--thanks for sharing that! :waytogo:

#6 operascope

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Posted 22 June 2012 - 09:49 PM

I'm so glad you posted this article. I also do the same thing, and love the reactions among my neighbours. Here is a link that captures the reaction of one of them:
http://www.youtube.c...&feature=colike

#7 Daniel Mounsey

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Posted 23 June 2012 - 12:15 AM

I enjoyed this article and I loved George Carlin. He was always very truthful in his jokes. He surely saw the light during his time. Speaking of light though, I do agree, it would be nice to have black skies but one thing astronomers do a bad job of on their own is trying to educate the public on what they're actually seeing. For example, about 80% of my observing is in heavily light polluted skies and it hasn't stopped me. I think this is why I love Burnham's Celestial Handbook so much. Burnham spoke a lot about stars and it helped me through all the years. During a recent star party in light polluted skies, I was showing a few observers a double star in Draco in my 6" refractor. I explained that it was 760 light years away and explained what light years were. Then I told them the stars had a common proper motion in space and that they were 886 AU's apart. Then I explained what all that meant. That was all somewhat helpful until I used the Voyager spacecraft as en example. I explained that Voyager has barely traveled 120 AU's. I explained that Voyager has only traversed about 1/7th the distance they were seeing between these two, faint stars. Think of all the complexity of the human race, all taking place within a fraction of this space. Then I told them to look at the entire sky so they could grasp how much more space there is out there. Sure, it was light polluted, but people were absolutely awestruck at the site of those tiny stars after they understood that. For the first time, they really had a sense of scale and they kept staring at them just totally blown away. Those are the kind of descriptions that can make a light polluted sky an interesting place. The other problem are these monotonous observing companions with nothing but visual descriptions. How can anybody truly appreciate what they're seeing if they don;t even understand what they're seeing? I don't blame people for not being intrigued by astronomy sometimes. Observers don't spend enough time educating the public by finding more interesting ways of making astronomy fascinating. Also, let people know that the Moon an planets are no better in darker skies, in fact I explain that they usually look worse. Any amateur astronomer who doesnt understand that is proof of what I'm talking about. You don't encourage beginners by telling them there's little to view in the city. Anyway, great article.

#8 Philip Levine

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Posted 23 June 2012 - 07:16 AM

Hi Drew,
Very insightful, thoughtful article, thanks. To paraphrase Groucho Marx...if you don't find astronomy fascinating, then you're not paying attention.
Phil

#9 stevetaylor199

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Posted 23 June 2012 - 09:56 AM

I loved the article -- it was refreshing and thought-provoking.

As I'm immersing myself in the hobby again, for about the third or fourth time in my life, I have to say that my main attraction is that astronomy allows me to see the unseen. Light pollution is just one more veil to draw away.

It sounds like many among the public also find it compelling to see something completely unexpected, even in the orange haze that has become our suburban night skies.

#10 AntMan1

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Posted 23 June 2012 - 11:08 AM

What a great story. I have been thinking about trying out my front yard and now I definitely will!

#11 lcaldero

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Posted 23 June 2012 - 09:13 PM

What a great article and challlenge. I loved the outreach -- the sharing-- at the eclipse & transit? Why not share the night sky too

#12 RocketScientist

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Posted 24 June 2012 - 11:25 PM

There was a local Venus Transit outreach event here at a regional park, and it was quite well attended. There was viewing ranging from disposable sun-safe glasses (yes, I really could see Venus naked-eye) to scopes ranging from a Coronado PST up to large scopes with either white-light or hydrogen alpha filters.

The public really does enjoy this stuff, but you have to reach them in a public location. Our back yards don't work for that.

#13 tedbnh

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Posted 25 June 2012 - 08:42 AM

Love the feedback I get from the public when doing sidewalk astronomy. While I try to do that as often as possible, I ended up with a giant Meade reflector in my garage for some repairs. Once I got it working pretty well I wheel it out to the street and boy do the neighbors come out! Lots of fun.

#14 meteorite

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Posted 26 June 2012 - 09:48 AM

A great article indeed. Even though I observe with just a 6 inch reflector, I will also bring it out to the sidewalk this summer.

Just as soon as tropical strom Debby clears out!

-Walt

#15 bluedandelion

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Posted 27 June 2012 - 08:05 PM

Excellent report.

I cannot help but respond to one thought:

When society asks “what have you done for me lately?” the amateur astronomer has no answer.


That's taking on too much guilt. Astronomers, amateur or professional, cannot be blamed for the loss of stars in our night sky. If anything you (and the rest of us) make society aware of the loss.

Keep up the good work.

Ajay

#16 cheapersleeper

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Posted 27 June 2012 - 08:48 PM

"When society asks “what have you done for me lately?” "

I answer: "I have shaken my fist and silently cursed your motion sensing security light."

#17 Epicurus Rex

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Posted 28 June 2012 - 01:09 AM

While I agree that Astronomers are not to blame for the loss of our night sky, we are to blame for not doing enough to show the public why light pollution should matter to them. Too often I too have "shaken my fist and silently cursed your motion sensing security light" without ever showing my own neighbors why they should care about MY problem. There's an old saying that goes something like this:

"If you're a hammer, every problem looks like a nail."

In other words we only see how the problem affects us. We need to show the public how it affects them. Get them to look through your eyepiece and I guarantee you your problem will become THEIR problem too. Even a target as simple as the moon (which inspired our entire space program) can make a huge impression to someone who has never seen it with anything but the naked eye.

My point in writing this article was not to place blame. My concern was that all too often its easier to go to a dark sky location than it is to raise public awareness or inspire them to care. It wasn't all that long ago you could see the stars from your own backyard. Most adults still remember that. We must bring dark skies back to our communities before an entire generation grows up without ever seeing stars in their backyards.

Thank you,
Drew Farwell

#18 Connor Walls

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Posted 28 June 2012 - 09:25 AM

Well, at least we'll always have the Moon and the planets to observe...

#19 bluedandelion

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Posted 28 June 2012 - 11:58 AM

While I agree that Astronomers are not to blame for the loss of our night sky, we are to blame for not doing enough to show the public why light pollution should matter to them. Too often I too have "shaken my fist and silently cursed your motion sensing security light" without ever showing my own neighbors why they should care about MY problem. There's an old saying that goes something like this:

"If you're a hammer, every problem looks like a nail."

In other words we only see how the problem affects us. We need to show the public how it affects them. Get them to look through your eyepiece and I guarantee you your problem will become THEIR problem too. Even a target as simple as the moon (which inspired our entire space program) can make a huge impression to someone who has never seen it with anything but the naked eye.

My point in writing this article was not to place blame. My concern was that all too often its easier to go to a dark sky location than it is to raise public awareness or inspire them to care. It wasn't all that long ago you could see the stars from your own backyard. Most adults still remember that. We must bring dark skies back to our communities before an entire generation grows up without ever seeing stars in their backyards.

Thank you,
Drew Farwell


Couldn't agree with you more on that. Outreach is our best tool.

Ajay






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