Jump to content


Photo

Young Viewers with Eyepiece Difficulties

  • Please log in to reply
27 replies to this topic

#1 JMW

JMW

    Surveyor 1

  • -----
  • Posts: 1561
  • Joined: 11 Feb 2007
  • Loc: Nevada

Posted 27 February 2013 - 11:06 PM

I did outreach astronomy last night at an elementary schools with hundreds of small children. Some were 2 or 3 years old. They had older siblings in school. Most of the kids could figure out the eyepiece but I had some that were challenged. One child hit his forehead on the eyepiece 3 times in a row. It required me to reposition the scope back on the target. After the 3rd time I asked him to slowly approach the eyepiece and he finally could see Jupiter.

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.

#2 GOLGO13

GOLGO13

    Gemini

  • *****
  • Posts: 3180
  • Joined: 05 Nov 2005
  • Loc: St. Louis area

Posted 27 February 2013 - 11:44 PM

at 4ish my daughter actually did some observing. i use my gso 30mm superview on the moon. cheap and has a big hole to look through. what she likes the most is a green lazer and naming the stars as she lays on the ground. 2 to 3 years old didnt really work for her.

#3 Joe Bergeron

Joe Bergeron

    Vendor - Space Art

  • -----
  • Vendors
  • Posts: 1639
  • Joined: 10 Nov 2003
  • Loc: Upstate NY

Posted 27 February 2013 - 11:47 PM

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.

#4 Coy

Coy

    Vostok 1

  • -----
  • Posts: 188
  • Joined: 03 Feb 2012
  • Loc: Shreveport, Louisiana

Posted 28 February 2013 - 12:08 AM

The first lesson I received prior to a public star party was that I should be mindful of my scope in case a kid decides to knock it over. I've not had any of them even come close to tipping my dob yet, but I have seen some of the same things you mentioned. If it happens, don't be afraid to be stern and lay down the ground rules. Let them know where the boundaries are.

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.

#5 JMW

JMW

    Surveyor 1

  • -----
  • Posts: 1561
  • Joined: 11 Feb 2007
  • Loc: Nevada

Posted 28 February 2013 - 12:33 AM

I had a 3 step ladder with a large hand holding area at the top. I would tell the children to hold on to the ladder even if they were tall enough not to need it. It helps keep their hands off the eyepiece. I was using my TEC 140 on a Discmount DM6/Planet tripod so there was no danger of knocking things over. The expensive end of the scope was well out of their reach. I don't mind having to clean a few eyepieces after a public viewing. At least most children don't get mascara on the eyepiece.

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.

#6 Jon Isaacs

Jon Isaacs

    ISS

  • *****
  • Posts: 44704
  • Joined: 16 Jun 2004
  • Loc: San Diego and Boulevard, CA

Posted 28 February 2013 - 07:08 AM

I recent did an outreach at an elementary school, there kids of all ages. I think Jupiter is difficult object for very young kids, the magnifications are high, the exit pupils are small..

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.

Jon

#7 GOLGO13

GOLGO13

    Gemini

  • *****
  • Posts: 3180
  • Joined: 05 Nov 2005
  • Loc: St. Louis area

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.

#8 csrlice12

csrlice12

    Voyager 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 11462
  • Joined: 22 May 2012
  • Loc: Denver, CO

Posted 28 February 2013 - 08:11 AM

Belive me, ANYTHING that can hold a child's attention (and many adults nowadays too) for an entire minute, it's having an impact......The average attention span has dropped dramatically over the last 50-60 years...it's now down around 20 seconds (used to be up around 2 minutes).

#9 Saint Aardvark

Saint Aardvark

    Vostok 1

  • -----
  • Posts: 140
  • Joined: 25 Nov 2010

Posted 28 February 2013 - 09:30 AM

My two sons are 6 and 4 (whoops, nearly 5...ZOMG), and I take them out to look through the scope. At this age, they can see through the scope fairly well -- but earlier than that (say, 4 and under) they seemed to have a hard time knowing how to look through the scope.

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...)

#10 csrlice12

csrlice12

    Voyager 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 11462
  • Joined: 22 May 2012
  • Loc: Denver, CO

Posted 28 February 2013 - 09:51 AM

In another year or two, take them to a public viewing night at a local ovservatory. Here in Denver, they do them once a month at Chamberlin Observatory, where the public can come view thru the Clark 26 foot length, 20-inch aperture, f/15 Alvan Clark-George Saegmuller refractor built in 1894. Not only some astronomy history, but some great views as well.

http://mysite.du.edu...cel/Chamberlin/

#11 GeneT

GeneT

    Ely Kid

  • *****
  • Posts: 12837
  • Joined: 07 Nov 2008
  • Loc: South Texas

Posted 28 February 2013 - 11:51 AM

You do use a step stool, right? What I did in those situations was to have the child take a step up on the stool, and tell them to keep one hand on the arm of the stool, and stop their eye about an inch from the eyepiece. I then had them move slowly closer to the eyepiece with their other hand on the focuser. When they saw something, I had them turn the focuser until the image popped into focus. I also bought inexpensive eyepieces with a lot of eye relief. When doing outreach, people have shown up with mechanics grease all over their hands, heavy eye shadow, cotton candy, sodas, and so on. I decided if an eyepiece was ruined, it would be an inexpensive one, not an expensive one. Lastly, I also always kept one hand on the telescope because sometimes the youngsters like to give it a twirl sometime when viewing.

#12 Jeff2011

Jeff2011

    Surveyor 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 1994
  • Joined: 01 Jan 2013
  • Loc: Sugar Land, TX

Posted 28 February 2013 - 12:27 PM

I did an outreach a week ago at a junior high. Most of the kids did not have any issues seeing through the eyepiece, but some of the adults did. The kids were mostly junior high age but some of the parents did bring their young ones along. I used my 13mm Baader Hyperion which has good eye relief and targeted the moon. I probably should heed Gene's advise and use a cheaper eyepiece. The EP got pawed up a bit, but I was able to clean it OK. This was my first school outreach and I learned a lot. I will be better prepared for the next one.

#13 Paco_Grande

Paco_Grande

    Surveyor 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 1594
  • Joined: 14 Jul 2012
  • Loc: Free State of Arizona

Posted 28 February 2013 - 12:40 PM

Ages 2-3, that's when most children become self-aware. For those running late and are not yet self-aware, they would most likely struggle using any kind of instrument. Heck, even some adults struggle with their first time at a telescope.

Anyway, I can't imagine much, if any, success with a telescope until self-awareness kicks in.

#14 S.Boerner

S.Boerner

    Ranger 4

  • -----
  • Posts: 349
  • Joined: 29 Apr 2010
  • Loc: Eastern Missouri

Posted 28 February 2013 - 12:56 PM

Piggyback a low light security video camera like a Samsung SCB-2000 on your scope with the output going to an inexpensive LCD TV. With a 1/3" sensor a 300mm lens will give a good sized image. The camera is sensitive enough to get bright DSOs too and has a FOV about 1 degree. Give the people the opportunity to see it on the TV so they know what they will be looking for.

Post on the Video and Electronically Assisted Astronomy forum and you'll get many suggestions.

#15 Dave Mitsky

Dave Mitsky

    ISS

  • *****
  • Moderators
  • Posts: 36809
  • Joined: 08 Apr 2002
  • Loc: PA, USA, Planet Earth

Posted 28 February 2013 - 01:00 PM

I've done quite a bit of public outreach over the years, much of it on public nights at the ASH Naylor Observatory, and have found that many young children (older than 2 or 3, however) have trouble looking through an eyepiece. I tell them to put their hands behind their backs so they won't grab the telescope and slowly approach the eyepiece, looking straight into it. They are then usually able to see the target.

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.

Dave Mitsky

#16 Doc Willie

Doc Willie

    Surveyor 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 1687
  • Joined: 31 Mar 2010
  • Loc: Mid-Hudson Valley, NY, USA

Posted 28 February 2013 - 03:47 PM

I have found that below 2nd grade, kids can't really get the hang of an eyepiece view in a public setting. If you have your own kids at home, with lots of time, probably younger kids can be taught.

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.

#17 City Kid

City Kid

    Vanguard

  • *****
  • Posts: 2374
  • Joined: 06 May 2009
  • Loc: Northern Indiana

Posted 28 February 2013 - 04:53 PM

I started having my grandson look through my telescope when he was six months old. It was somewhere in the 3 yr. to 5 yr. range when I had him out one time looking at the moon. I pointed at the moon like I always do and then had him look in the eyepiece. I wish I had a video of the look on his face. He looked in the eyepiece, then up at the moon, and then back in the eyepiece. You could almost literally see the lightbulb pop on above his head as he realized what he was seeing in the eyepiece. It was that first time he understood what the telescope was really for. Priceless!

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.

#18 JMW

JMW

    Surveyor 1

  • -----
  • Posts: 1561
  • Joined: 11 Feb 2007
  • Loc: Nevada

Posted 28 February 2013 - 07:42 PM

With Jupiter I was using an ES14mm 100 AFOV with an eye relief of 14.5. Most people could see the equatorial bands fairly easily at 70 magnification.

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.

#19 kfiscus

kfiscus

    Vanguard

  • *****
  • Posts: 2293
  • Joined: 09 Jul 2012
  • Loc: Albert Lea, MN, USA

Posted 28 February 2013 - 10:24 PM

I've seen posts on other threads where scope owners put a paper or styrofoam plate (with a 1.25" hole in its center) at the focuser to give the newbs a target to aim for.

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.

#20 core

core

    Surveyor 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 1506
  • Joined: 23 Feb 2008
  • Loc: Mostly in Norman, OK

Posted 28 February 2013 - 11:12 PM

Here's my Styrofoam-over-eyepiece solutions, worked with a couple of cub scout aged boys. It also keeps fingers off the focuser.

Attached Files



#21 bremms

bremms

    Mercury-Atlas

  • *****
  • Posts: 2761
  • Joined: 31 Aug 2012
  • Loc: SC

Posted 28 February 2013 - 11:22 PM

My son is three and a half.. Looks at the moon through the scope and sees craters. It seems to be difficult for him to center his eye properly. He seems to get the connection, but attention is short.

#22 csrlice12

csrlice12

    Voyager 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 11462
  • Joined: 22 May 2012
  • Loc: Denver, CO

Posted 01 March 2013 - 08:55 AM

Pentax, or Rebel Yell Bottle? Winner wins it?

Great idea!

#23 Starman1

Starman1

    Vendor (EyepiecesEtc.com)

  • *****
  • Vendors
  • Posts: 23379
  • Joined: 23 Jun 2003
  • Loc: Los Angeles

Posted 01 March 2013 - 06:08 PM

I have a Starmaster chair that doubles as a ladder with railings when turned around.
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.

#24 kevint1

kevint1

    Viking 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 579
  • Joined: 19 Apr 2011
  • Loc: West Michigan

Posted 01 March 2013 - 10:55 PM

I turn my Stardust chair around so my 4 yr old grand son can kneel on the seat and hold onto the top of the back. He is comfortable on the padded seat and doesn't need to touch the scope. He is really only interested in the Moon, Jupiter or Saturn don't interest him. He likes the Moon at low power so he can see a good portion of the surface and the edge. Higher powers showing close up views seems to confuse him.

#25 Bill Weir

Bill Weir

    Mercury-Atlas

  • *****
  • Posts: 2538
  • Joined: 01 Jun 2004
  • Loc: Metchosin (Victoria), Canada

Posted 02 March 2013 - 01:33 AM

The youngest I've had view succssfully is 4 yrs old and that's been on a few occasions. I stick to the Moon, Saturn and the Sun (white light and H-Alpha). For the Moon I like using my cheap bino viewer. That way they don't need to close both eyes. I line up the beam of light with one eye then start queezing together the sides until the beam hits the other eye. I can always tell when they've got it because with the little ones they generally freeze in place. It's the complete lack of movement that tells me they are locked on.

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.

Bill






Cloudy Nights LLC
Cloudy Nights Sponsor: Astronomics