Young Viewers with Eyepiece Difficulties
Posted 27 February 2013 - 11:06 PM
I had 3 or 4 other young kids who would put the eyepiece against the bridge of their noses with much success observing anything. I would hold up my finger and thumb in a circle around my eye socket and show them how to look. A couple of the young kids were so quiet that you weren't sure that they were seeing anything at all.
No real questions here. I am just curious what others have experienced when show young children how to look through a telescope.
Posted 27 February 2013 - 11:44 PM
Posted 27 February 2013 - 11:47 PM
Posted 28 February 2013 - 12:08 AM
The most common thing I see kids do is peek at the eyepiece and then quit. They view everything far too quickly, so I'll bend my knees and get down at their level, talking them through whatever it is I'm showing at that moment. They stay at the eyepiece longer when I'm giving them challenges or additional info.
I really love it when I can get the wow's and the ooh's/aah's from kids. Jupiter, Saturn, and the moon always put on a good show. I always get away with some very high power views that most people don't show. Very rewarding to give a show like that.
The second most common thing that happens is what I'm calling the whammo. They do swing right in there, bumping the eyepiece and throwing the target object out of view. Happens all the time. It's frustrating, but all part of the experience, I suppose.
I've had kids in line think that the way to view things is to look down the tube toward the mirror. That's always good for a laugh.
I've only had one pair misbehave. They were smacking each other near my scope and I simply stood up, leaned over, and gave them a brief talking to. That ended that. Their mother was at the eyepiece and I was trying to make sure she enjoyed her view. The person at the eyepiece is always my first priority.
With small kids, I've learned to keep a stepping stool on hand so they can climb up and take a peek. If I know a lot of kids are in the line, I won't pick out an object near Zenith because that puts the eyepiece out of reach.
Kids are worth it, though.
Posted 28 February 2013 - 12:33 AM
When you have entire family lining up at the scope you get all ages so I give everyone a chance to look. Somethings the parent is holding the little one who can't manage the step ladder on their own. The boy who hit his head 3 times in a row on the eyepiece was about 8 or 9. It was little of hard not to crack up a bit. He may have had a depth perception problem.
I would ask them if they could see the bands on Jupiter and then have them look for the 4 moons around the planet. The majority of children were quite exited about what they were seeing. It was worth taking a few extra minutes to try to help them succeed. Most of my outreach viewing is with adults or teen age youth but I periodically give the club a hand with school star parties.
Posted 28 February 2013 - 07:08 AM
What I did was setup two scopes. One was aimed at Jupiter most of the night, some of the smaller kids were clearly not seeing anything and were confused.
The second scope was a 4 inch F/6 refractor with 32mm TV Widefield pointed at the Pleiades. It was on an GEM with a motor drive and I set the eyepiece height for the youngest crowd. Everyone else had to stoop down but the young folks could look directly in the eyepiece without assistance.
Big exit pupils mean eye positioning is not critical and focus is not critical, I think it worked... The Pleiades in a 3 degree TFoV is quite impressive and one can point them out and there is something to be see naked eye.
Posted 28 February 2013 - 07:32 AM
I experience that it's generally a waste of time. When kids are that young, even if they manage to look through the eyepiece they are unlikely to have any grasp at all of what they are seeing. I don't like seeing anyone younger than six approach the eyepiece, and seven or eight is better.
My daughter (4) was certainly studying the moon. Again, you can't have a 5mm plossl in there...or have a faint galaxy. She certainly knows what the moon is. Points it out all the time. With my 30mm 2 inch she spent about one minute looking at the moon. You could see the bright light in her pupil. I personally find a minute for her to be like 20 for me ...still I was impressed.
Now, I agree that it would get better with age. Like I said, at 2 or 3 she didn't know how to look through it or have the patience.
Another key is a steady observing chair and you have to hold them steady.
Posted 28 February 2013 - 08:11 AM
Posted 28 February 2013 - 09:30 AM
Maybe I wasn't doing it right; Coy has some good suggestions about kneeling down with them, and I wish I'd tried that. But it seemed like, at that age, they really didn't know what to do with such a narrow thing to look through. They were much happier with toilet paper roll binoculars I made for them. As they got older, they seemed to "get" it, and now it's just the bumping I have to watch out for. (Sometimes I really wish I had something on an EQ mount I could lock down, rather than a Dob...)
Posted 28 February 2013 - 09:51 AM
Posted 28 February 2013 - 11:51 AM
Posted 28 February 2013 - 12:27 PM
Posted 28 February 2013 - 12:40 PM
Anyway, I can't imagine much, if any, success with a telescope until self-awareness kicks in.
Posted 28 February 2013 - 12:56 PM
Post on the Video and Electronically Assisted Astronomy forum and you'll get many suggestions.
Posted 28 February 2013 - 01:00 PM
You can't turn your back for 10 seconds when young children are milling about, especially with easily-upset small telescopes. One time a young girl began to pull a small refractor down so she could look through the objective lens. Another time a kid twisted the diagonal roughly around before I could stop her.
Posted 28 February 2013 - 03:47 PM
Another thing that happens with very young children, is that they will fabricate, or maybe imagine into their own reality, stuff through the eyepiece. No big problem, though bigger kids may wonder why they can't see the unicorns.
Posted 28 February 2013 - 04:53 PM
Another time when he was around 6 or 7 I had him look at an object I was observing. I wish I could remember what it was but I know it was either a galaxy or a nebula. I asked him to describe what he saw and he said everytime he looks away it grows! He discovered averted vision all on his own.
Posted 28 February 2013 - 07:42 PM
Many of the younger children would say 'moon' when they saw Jupiter in the eyepiece, confusing the magnified view of bright Jupiter with the Moon. Most of the older kids where excited to see Jupiter's moons and the details on the planet.
We had quite a bit of haze so I stayed on Jupiter most of the time because many other objects were clouded out. Near the end of the scheduled event the clouds cleared so we looked at M42 and M45.
Posted 28 February 2013 - 10:24 PM
Another option, as mentioned previously, is using video. I have used the old, common, and cheap black & white Meade digital EP with a TV. This works great for glass filtered solar viewing, moon, Jupiter, and Saturn. It does NOT work for anything deep sky. That's what you get for $35.
Posted 28 February 2013 - 11:12 PM
Posted 28 February 2013 - 11:22 PM
Posted 01 March 2013 - 08:55 AM
Posted 01 March 2013 - 06:08 PM
It has enabled me to have a line of kids looking through the scope without the inevitable "hanging on the eyepiece" even that pulls the scope down.
The youngest kids that I think, in general, have enough concentration to be able to listen to you explain how to look are about 6 or 7. I've had very bad luck with younger children.
Posted 01 March 2013 - 10:55 PM
Posted 02 March 2013 - 01:33 AM
Saturn even if it's small shows its shape and never fails to please.
On my transit of Venus expedition the youngest who looked through my PST was 4 1/2 and she could perfectly describe what she saw.
I don't bother with DSOs.
For single eye viewing just have them cover the unused eye and don't bother trying to close it. Little ones have difficulty trying to close one eye at a time.
Can't say I've ever has a bad experience with young'uns. We think alike.