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Why do People Stay or Leave the Hobby?

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#26 Glen A W

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Posted 28 October 2012 - 03:32 PM

I have "considered leaving the hobby" for several reasons........first among them is that this turned out to be a LOT more expensive than I originally thought. It seems like there is *always* someplace to drop several hundred dollars :(
Secondly, although I have met a few nice folks here willing to share advice and help...........there seems to me to be a level of snobbery in this hobby, with a "mine is bigger than yours" mentality. (I ran into that at the local club as well, couldn't be bothered to help the "newb" - which is where I may have got off on the wrong foot, so I keep trying).
*Many* times, I have posted questions here, and although I did get a fair amount of help, I also! got many instances where my questions went unanswered.


Just don't worry about all that. I have been involved in this since 1989. You have to make it, and keep it, your own. There is a lot of snobbery and there is a lot of focus on equipment instead of the sky. Make it your own, enjoy it on your terms, and you will never tire of it! GW

#27 WaterMaster

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Posted 28 October 2012 - 04:17 PM

My father and grandfather taught me the constellations as a very small boy. I've been hooked ever since. Got my first telescope in 1967 (3" reflector). Scopes and binos have come and gone, but I don't really feel I've ever 'left' the hobby.

I think folks leave this hobby for the same reasons they leave other hobbies. :shrug:

#28 Grandpa Jim

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Posted 28 October 2012 - 04:28 PM


I have "considered leaving the hobby" for several reasons........first among them is that this turned out to be a LOT more expensive than I originally thought. It seems like there is *always* someplace to drop several hundred dollars :(
Secondly, although I have met a few nice folks here willing to share advice and help...........there seems to me to be a level of snobbery in this hobby, with a "mine is bigger than yours" mentality. (I ran into that at the local club as well, couldn't be bothered to help the "newb" - which is where I may have got off on the wrong foot, so I keep trying).
*Many* times, I have posted questions here, and although I did get a fair amount of help, I also! got many instances where my questions went unanswered.


Just don't worry about all that. I have been involved in this since 1989. You have to make it, and keep it, your own. There is a lot of snobbery and there is a lot of focus on equipment instead of the sky. Make it your own, enjoy it on your terms, and you will never tire of it! GW


Yep........that's pretty much the decision I finally made for myself as well. I will find help where I can, enjoy the good people I meet, and ignore the rest of it.

#29 BillFerris

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Posted 28 October 2012 - 05:36 PM

I think there are many reasons for many of us to have gotten into the hobby. I guess with this post I am asking 4 things.

1. What drew you to the hobby?


As a young boy, I was drawn to observing the Moon and planets to feed a desire to know that sense of exploration and discovery. As an adult, that attraction remained, and was enhanced by my enjoyment of being outdoors in nature and by the creative opportunities observing offered. Observing was a calming activity that allowed me to escape the pressures of work and life. Sketching my observations provided a creative outlet.

2. What keeps some in the hobby long term and why do others quit?


I don't know, it'll be interesting to read the replies to this survey.

3. If you've quit the hobby for a significant amount of time why did you leave?


My interest in science and astronomy has continued but my active involvement in observing has waxed and waned. There have been two extended periods during which I was not an active observer. My first extended break from active observing occurred during the decade spanning my early-20's to early-30's. I was focused on finishing school and starting a career. Money was tight, and any "free" time was heavily invested in building relationships with co-workers and, ultimately, my future wife.

My second extended break from active observing began about 5-years ago and is ongoing. My son was born in 2000. Over the next several years, my body clock adjusted to accommodate a toddler's schedule. The all-nighters I used to pull with the telescope became late nights rocking my son to sleep, and early mornings getting him fed and ready for school. I also re-discovered an old activity that offered new challenges. Growing up in northern California, summer vacations typically involved backpacking or canoeing in wilderness areas with my family. In 2006, I started hiking and backpacking in Grand Canyon. This activity has largely replaced visual observing at the center of my recreational interests.

4. What drew you back to the hobby?


My return to active visual observing in the early 1990's coincided with the early heyday of Hubble Space Telescope. My fiance gave me a 4 1/2 inch reflector as a birthday/Christmas gift in 1992. In March 1994, I purchased a 10-inch Meade Starfinder Equatorial and spent the next eleven years actively exploring the heavens. Though I'm not an active telescopic observer, I often carry mini-binoculars when backpacking and will use them at night to seek out old friends amongst the stars.

Bill in Flag

#30 bumm

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Posted 28 October 2012 - 06:29 PM

Just been cogitating a bit...
A few people have brought up the expense of this hobby for reasons of leaving it, or the unpleasantness of snobbery. The snobbery concerning the expense of equipment can sometimes definitely exist, in this and many other hobbies. However, you can spend as much or as little as you want on this hobby. One can go for building the largest telescope in the world, (EX$PENSIVE!) or one can enjoy delving deeper and deeper into the naked eye aspects of the constellations, asterisms, Milky Way structure, etc, for absolutely nothing. (FREE) In between, carefully chosen pawn shop binoculars and such can add considerably to what one can see with very little expense.
Few pursuits can be more expensive, or as close to free, as amateur astronomy.
Marty

#31 Dennis_S253

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Posted 28 October 2012 - 06:40 PM

My dad had a 8" scope. I seen quite a few sites looking through that scope. But, I was in my last year of high school. I was playing guitar in a band and chasing girls. I remember one night he woke me up real early in the morning. He said, your gonna want to see this. So I got up and said what's going on? He said get dressed and dress warm. Then we "the family" went outside. Wow, comet West, I can still see that comet in my mind. But, years went by...job and family. Then one year I decided I was going to buy a scope. It's the B&L 4000. Mainly I just looked on a clear night when I knew a planet was up there. Sometimes I don't view, sometimes I do. In Florida, sometimes it just feels way to hot and humid. Right now is when my interest starts to peak and I pull out the ol' B&L and start viewing. I'll never quit, I just take breaks from time to time.

#32 AdirondackAstro

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Posted 28 October 2012 - 07:01 PM

I got into the hobby almost 2 years ago when my girlfriend bought me a telescope for Christmas because I had mentioned to her once that I wish I had a way to view the moon better than just with the naked eye, and the cameras zoom function wasn't cutting it. Ever since then I have been very addicted to the hobby.

Not once have I thought about leaving this hobby. There are times when it's clear that I'll pass up going out, but there is always regret the next day when it's cloudy. I don't see myself exiting this hobby, especially not in the near future. The only thing that would keep me from progressing further is my lack of money, but I do pretty damn good for someone with almost zero dollars to spend on the hobby.

The online astronomy community here, other astronomy forums, twitter, and google+ have kept me extremely interested in the hobby. There doesn't seem to be a day that's gone by in these two years that I haven't thought about or done something to do with astronomy whether it's editing images, reading about the latest astronomy news, or even just something as simple as looking up on a clear night as I walk to my car, or as I walk into work on a winter morning.

This is such a vast hobby that I can't see it getting old. I enjoy sketching what I see through the eyepiece, and doing long exposure photography. Seems just these two things alone will keep me busy until I'm too old to stand at an eyepiece. Even if I cover all the Messier objects I can move to IC and NGC objects, you also have the Moon and Sun to keep you occupied. There is always something more you can do with to sketches or photographs, and if you feel you have ran out of objects you can just get a larger scope, and it's almost like the old objects are brand new again... at least that's how I felt jumping from a 114mm to a 150mm. I can just imagine jumping up 4 more inches of aperture.

The other night I didn't feel much like going out; I didn't have my cameras charged, camera card cleared off, and just didn't feel like dragging the scope out because the moon was too bright for DSO observing. I did drag it out when my girlfriends daughter and her friend started asking me questions about astronomy. Brought the scope out, aimed at the moon, aimed at Andromeda, and even pointed out constellations with my green laser pointer. Spent about an hour and a half out there with them, and they both got to see their very first meteor, very bright and very slow with a nice vapor trail behind it. Definitely gave me the urge to continue on with astronomy for the night.

#33 Robert70

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Posted 28 October 2012 - 07:05 PM

1. Christmas present etx70at
4. Cloudy Nights and ES EP's

#34 joseph07081

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Posted 28 October 2012 - 07:11 PM

[quote name="JayinUT"]

1. What drew you to the hobby?

For me it was definitely the space race. I grew up during the 60's and I was an avid follower of the space program.


2. What keeps some in the hobby long term and why do others quit?

I think you will find this happens in many hobbies. Someone is exposed to something new, they think "this is cool" and take off with it, then as time goes by their interest wanes and they move onto the next "cool" hobby.

3. If you've quit the hobby for a significant amount of time why did you leave?

Usually the reason I step away is because of time or financial constraints. I am always looking up at the sky, but my active participation is subject to that little thing called "life". The past few years I have been focused on my wife's cancer and something like that can take a huge toll on time and energy.

4. What drew you back to the hobby?

I have always managed to sneak back into the hobby. This site and more specifically this forum often sparks my interest. While there may not be sufficient time for me to get outside and observe, I can still take some time and read about all of the exciting happenings in the universe on Cloudy Nights.

#35 FordGalaxy

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Posted 28 October 2012 - 07:29 PM

1. Went outside, looked up.
2. My lack of committment, and willingness to alot astronomy to times when it's optimal, rather than obsessing over cloudy nights or fretting over poor weather with astronomy as a nearly sole hobby.
3. I'm never fully "in" this hobby, but I bounce back in from time to time. I walk outside at night quite a bit (feed the chickens,etc), and if it's a nice night-out I go starwatching.
4. The venus transit made me realize that I hadn't replaced an old scope that I had given to a friend's kids, and that I missed observing with something a bit better than cheap porro prism binoculars or an old russian spotting scope.

My advice is to get a great daytime hobby, and a great indoors only hobby. Rotate your time amongst them as time permits. Don't get so tied to a hobby that you obsess over it day and night, but don't forget about it so long that you lose touch with current trends in it.

#36 GeneT

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Posted 28 October 2012 - 07:32 PM

When I was two, living in Minnewaukan, N. Dak, my grandmother took me outside and pointed up at her Mag 7 skies. I was struck with awe and their beauty. When I was about 10, a friend took me to Ruth, Nevada--about 7 miles from Ely. :grin: A doctor friend had a 3.5 inch Questar. He pointed it at the moon, and I was startled with the detail I saw. I still consider the moon a friend, not an enemy of the night sky. I have been looking up for 67 years. Astronomy is the only hobby that has remained with me throughout my life. Over the years, I got into photography, hunting, a variety of sports and many other hobbies. They all went away. Astronomy did not. Astronomy gave me continuity in my life. My life's dreams always had astronomy as part of them, and my life's disappointments were often softened by the beauty of the night sky.

#37 bumm

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Posted 28 October 2012 - 08:03 PM

Very well said, GeneT.

#38 alrosm

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Posted 28 October 2012 - 09:14 PM

1.A TV show not that long ago(The sky at night).
:bow: :bow:
2.Probably light pollution and lack of time.

#39 Gary Riley

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Posted 28 October 2012 - 09:22 PM

I became interested in Astronomy as a teenager during the Apollo Moon missions. My first telescope was a Jason 60mm refractor my parents got me one Christmas. I used that little 40X scope for a few years until I graduated high school.

I waned from the hobby for many years after getting married, raising a family, work and other responsibilities. Got back into the hobby a few years ago after my daughter and son-in-law gave me a Meade 70mm refractor one Christmas. This re-ignited my passion for stargazing again. Later on I purchased a 12 inch dob and several months ago purchased a Celestron 4 inch refractor.

I still have times of ebb and flow with the hobby but I still stay connected with it regularly and try to observe a few nights each month as time and the weather will allow. This hobby has taught me many amazing things about our universe. It also gives me a sense of peace and wonder each time I view a distant object thru an eyepiece. I hope I never outgrow that!

Clear and starry skies everyone!
Gary

#40 Dave Hederich

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Posted 28 October 2012 - 10:11 PM

1. What drew me into the hobby was a fascination of looking up at the night skies and seeing the moon, planets and stars as a little kid, becoming attracted to science fiction stories, and then my parents buying me a "40mm, 40X" Tasco telescope in 1955 at age 10.

2. What's kept me in the hobby on and off is that I keep going back to my original childhood fascination with the universe beyond planet Earth.

3. I've quit and returned several times for various reasons, mainly work-related, that didn't leave me much time for hobbies, and I've been attracted to many different hobbies over the years.

4. What drew me back the most recent time is that I've finally retired from a full-time job and I no longer have any excuses for not going back to my first true love! :)

#41 mistyridge

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Posted 29 October 2012 - 01:52 AM

I got intersted at an early age with a 60mm refractor Christmas gift at age 10 and even more interested when in highschool with the launch of sputnik. This got me motivated to grind and polish and construct an 8" newt mounted on a GEM. which was a big scope in the late 1950s especially for a highschool student. From that point I have been active and inactive on and off until I retired. Now I can devote as much time as needed following various interests within the hobby, currently planetary imaging, at least for this year.

#42 bunyon

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Posted 29 October 2012 - 07:42 AM

I think a definition might be in order: can someone who maintains an interest in astronomy but who doesn't find the time or money to be an active observer/imager be said to have left the hobby?

I got my first scope in 1983 at the age of 12. I'd be reading Astronomy and S&T for a couple of years before that and have maintained a subscription to one or the other since. I have never not owned a scope. When the net came around, astronomy sites were the first bookmarked. However, there were long periods, occasionally a couple of years at a stretch, where I did not take a scope out. There were periods where I fell far behind in my reading.

Looking at the comments above, I'd have to say many of you would say I was "out of the hobby" though I don't consider myself to have ever not been an amateur astronomer. I would only consider someone to be out of the hobby if they come to a point where they are simply not interested in what is going on and even if they suddenly won the lottery and their kids were all raised and their spouse gave them leave to spend as much time as they liked out with a scope they still wouldn't.

It's a hobby, life will intrude and most of us, I hope, have more interests than astronomy.

#43 Rick Huber

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Posted 29 October 2012 - 07:53 AM

The gods do not deduct from man's allotted span the hours spent in fishing. ~Babylonian Proverb

I think the same goes for amateur astronomers..

#44 Tony Flanders

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Posted 29 October 2012 - 08:37 AM

Here are some random thoughts.

Broadly speaking, I think people are drawn to astronomy for three different -- though overlapping -- reasons:

  • nature study
  • science fiction
  • techno-geek

In fact, just about all serious amateurs that I know combine all three, but in very varying degrees.

Science fiction is the most tenuous, because it really has nothing to do with astronomy. Science fiction is all about fantasy; astronomy is reality. Nonetheless, it's an empirical fact that a very large fraction of all amateur astronomers are or have been science fiction fans. Obviously no accident!

As for people dropping out, there are two very different categories here. Most people who think they might be interested in astronomy drop out almost immediately, when they find out it doesn't live up to their expectations.

Using a telescope isn't easy, even if it has Go To. And if you approach astronomy with nothing but sci-fi expectations, you're bound to be disappointed. No light sabres and space ships, and precious few knock-you-socks-off views. Like any serious hobby, astronomy requires effort; it's not passive entertainment.

But as I said earlier, once people have gotten past that initial (and quite substantial) learning hump, they never really drop out of astronomy. They may stop observing for a while, but the potential to resume is always there.

#45 FJA

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Posted 29 October 2012 - 09:05 AM

1. What drew you to the hobby?

Various things really - a dark starry sky seen from the ocean chief among them, plus my love of Star Trek (and other science fiction) which also got me interested in space and astronomy.

3. If you've quit the hobby for a significant amount of time why did you leave?

I quit it for a while in the early 2000's, lack of money forced me to sell my scope and I just lost interest for a while.

4. What drew you back to the hobby?

I just can't stay away. I love astronomy.

#46 Raginar

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Posted 29 October 2012 - 09:38 AM

I'm old enough to have left "High School" behind long ago, and I don't like the behavior...............


I totally relate to what you're saying. It's the "did you google this first" attitude.

If you need some help, send me a PM :).

#47 Messyone

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Posted 29 October 2012 - 03:59 PM

I started in the mid 70's as an 8 year old. My dad had a book on navagating which had a double page star chart. He would take me outside and work out what was what. That was enough to get me in. My father was a scientist so getting a scope was an good thing...a Tasco 60mm f13. Spent years looking up with that small scope. Gave it away for a couple of decades while life got in the way but always looked up. Back in it again now I have time to put into it, just wish I lived in a better part of the world weather wise.
Matt

#48 Carol L

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Posted 29 October 2012 - 04:30 PM

1. What drew you to the hobby?
Basically it was curiosity - i just wanted to learn/know.

2. What keeps some in the hobby long term and why do others quit?
All of my hobbies/interests take turns getting put on the back burner.
It doesn't mean i don't like them any more or that i'm 'quitting'.
It just means that they get put on the back burner for a while. :smirk:

3. If you've quit the hobby for a significant amount of time why did you leave?
Ask the cloudgods. :lol:

#49 FJA

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Posted 29 October 2012 - 05:53 PM

3. If you've quit the hobby for a significant amount of time why did you leave?
Ask the cloudgods. :lol:


Yeah, most of 2012...so far. :cloudy: :help:

#50 Alan Grant

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Posted 29 October 2012 - 07:03 PM

Another great thread Jay, hope all is well in Herimann and Chief Greenshirt hasn't got you.

What drew me to the hobby?
Sleeping out in the backyard as a kid and wondering, 'what is all that up there?"

What keeps me in?
A small, easy to use, intuitive telescope that can be used virtually instantly. This gets me out of the house more often and I am basically lazy.

I couldn't consider ever quitting, nights with the stars are too endearing.






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