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How to best assist handicapped viewers

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#1 MikeCMP


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Posted 13 December 2012 - 01:41 PM

Hello all,
In the past I have been fortunate enough to be able to share the view with a nice woman in a wheelchair who came out to the park in our area. She just emailed me and stated she would be out tonight for the meteors.

In the past I have showed her the view through my wedge mounted LX200. I was planning on using my F5 refractor on my EQ-6 this time, maybe mostly pointed up at Jupiter. I think she would have no trouble viewing a few things, especially near zenith.

Does anyone have any other advice for making the experience better for her? Last time she looked through my scope she was super excited and happy, she never expected to be able to do that, and maintaining that enthusiasm would be great.

Thanks in advance,

#2 MikeBOKC


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Posted 13 December 2012 - 02:13 PM

There's a similar post up in beginner's which I also replied to. I recently spent part of the evening doing what you describe with a lady in a wheelchair. I found my CPC wth tripod legs fully compressed was ideal -- nothing like a fork mounted alt az scope for a consistent easy-access eyepiece position. All I really needed to do from time to time was swivel the diagonal to give her a better viewing angle.




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Posted 13 December 2012 - 09:49 PM

My set up for viewing by those on wheelchair at star parties. As posted elsewhere here.

C8+CG5 GT, TSA102+HEQ5 PRO, MK67+Voyager, NexStar 6SE, C5+Mizar K, WO ZS80FD+Kenko NES, Megrez 72FD+Kenko KDS, Mini Borg 50, PST

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#4 kfiscus



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Posted 14 December 2012 - 12:15 AM

My method removes the personal satisfaction of having an eye at the EP. For viewing of bright objects like the filtered sun, moon, Jupiter, or Saturn, I use a $35 black and white Meade electronic EP and pipe the image into a monitor through a 12-foot cable. Everyone can see at the same time.

#5 StarStuff1



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Posted 20 December 2012 - 01:52 PM

Our club has a scope in a roll off roof observatory set up for kids and handicapped visitors. It is a Meade 12-in S/C on a fork mount with a very short pier. We get a lot more kids than handicapped viewers but it is nice to be able to accomodate nearly everyone except those that are taller...like me! I keep a boat cushion in the observatory for taller people to kneel down on. :cool:

#6 ebusinesstutor



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Posted 25 December 2012 - 01:39 AM

I find most handicapped people have no problem observing through my 8" dob. It is usually a better height for them than the tripod mounts.

#7 MikeCMP


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Posted 27 December 2012 - 09:28 AM

I find most handicapped people have no problem observing through my 8" dob. It is usually a better height for them than the tripod mounts.

My dob is a 12", I can imagine for some objects it would be pretty easy, butshe had a bit of trouble leaning over close enough to see out of another dob that was there.

However, she did enjoy the meteor shower, and some views from a my refractor and some other scopes there.


#8 maroubra_boy


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Posted 10 March 2013 - 06:30 PM

This is a topic close to my heart.

A few years back I was invited to do a star viewing night at a childrens' paliative care hospital here in Sydney. I was warned that it could be confronting for a new comer to this special place as just about all the kids there are in wheelchairs. What greeted me was most unexpected.

I took two scopes with me, my 17.5" dob and my little C5 on its wedge. I also took my modified webcam and laptop as I had a hunch it could come in useful.

At the hospital I found that not only were all the young patients wheelchair bound, but that of the 7 or 8 who were there that night, only one of them would have had ANY chance of looking into an eyepiece. And it would have been achievable only with great difficulty.

The hero here is the little webcam. Coupled to the C5, it gave all the kids a real viewing experience. As the scope moved so did the image. As you focused, the image altered. As Saturn came into view, the joy in their voices is something I'll never, ever will forget. The 17.5" scope didn't even get assembled and not once was it even considered. What that little C5/webcam combinatiion offered no amount of aperture grunt could.

This single experience showed me the value of video astronomy. Not only to people with mobility difficulties, but even for novices in light polluted areas. Under an urban sky there is no way for a novice to view a galaxy, or to begin to come to terms with averted vision in a one minute look with 30 other people behind them. Even a bright nebula like M42, most people will find it difficult to make out much actual detail as viewing dim DSO's is an acquired skill.

If mobility is not an issue with the crowd that's attending, I now take two scopes, one for straight visual as everyone wants to look through a scope, and one for video. The video scope is only a little 80mm refractor, but that actually has enough grunt! If mobility is a factor, then it's just the video scope.

The camera I have now is a dedicated astronomy video camera - the webcam I used was only capable of showing the Moon and planets. The video camera with the 80mm refractor I have can show colour in M42, resolve into thousands of little stars a large globular cluster. It can show bright galaxies too like the Sombrero and M31.

Astrophotography is not my thing. Sketching at the eyepiece actually is. But that experience with those extraordinary kids showed me the power of video as a tool for us. It doesn't take from the experience either as it is live. And I make sure that a visual instrument is also there for that exclusive photon experience.

I've also just completed a rig exactly for this purpose on the weekend. An old Meade 8" fork mount that was destined for the scrap heap was salvaged in a nick of time, a platform for mounting the 80mm scope with a 50mm finder, a DIY wedge and a surveyors tripod. PERFECT! Nothing overly sophisticated, but it shows exactly can be done with modest gear that actually sees amateur astronomers make a real science contribution to astronomy. Occultation chasing, variable star spectrometry, planetary surveillence, and supernova finding - all very much doable science.



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#9 buddyjesus



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Posted 10 March 2013 - 07:34 PM

some great stories guys. I hate to stand and observe because of my back and I use a walker to get around most of the time. My scope has a pretty low eyepiece height so outreach is generally by solar projection.

Don't forget low tech!

#10 MawkHawk


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Posted 11 March 2013 - 10:58 AM

Very smart. Our club is doing a session at a camp for the physically challenged in May and I've been wondering about appropriate equipment. I think my Z8 will be just the ticket. I observe with it myself using a folding card table chair.

#11 Whichwayisnorth



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Posted 21 March 2013 - 11:37 AM

Live view through my dslr piped via usb to my laptop which I keep on the OTA case under the tripod. This of course only works with bright objects. For DSO's I take 60 second exposures and use deep sky stacker live to stack multiple exposures into an image. Basically like broadcasting on NSN only in person.

I also set up some police line type tape on stakes around my equipment so people don't get too close.

#12 GeneT


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Posted 23 March 2013 - 08:18 PM

The hero here is the little webcam

I have a friend who hooks up a cam to his eyepiece and shows the sky objects on a screen about 8 by 8 inches. This solves a host of problems for viewing, not only for physically challenged people, but also for children, older folk, and others. Also, several people can view the object(s) at the same time vs. one at a time through the eyepiece.

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