Jump to content


Photo

NEAF observations...

  • Please log in to reply
43 replies to this topic

#26 spsesq

spsesq

    Vostok 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 109
  • Joined: 03 Jun 2011
  • Loc: New Jersey, USA

Posted 23 April 2013 - 10:27 AM

This was my first NEAF, although I have been in the "hobby" since I was a kid. I had a great time, met some wonderful people and saw a lot of new stuff that I can scrimp, save and hope to buy. I did spend about $1,000 total and got everything I needed ("needed" was a word my wife didn't use)

Just a couple thoughts from a 50 year old male, husband and father of a 17 year old son. All three of us went to NEAF this year.

As to why there are only 45-50 year old males in the hobby, my observations are as follows: 1) 45-50 year old males were the 5-12 year olds from 1969-1975 when Apollo was all the rage. That's how I got into astronomy at a young age; 2) the 45-50 year old men and women are the ones that can afford (even in this economy) to spend discretionary dollars on telescopes and associated equipment. I am not paying for the same things I did when my son was 7-16. I am finished spending dollars on baseball and sports equipment, I am not traveling all over the state for Baseball tournaments and coming home exhausted and too tired to go outside to observe, there are no more birthday parties, Confirmation, sweet 16 or Bar Mitzvah gifts and parties; 3)45-50 year olds now "make time" for our hobby. 10 years ago my son was 7, baseball, soccer, birthdays etc took up all of our time. Now that he is 17, more independent, allowable to go places on his own, there is more time for my wife and I to relax, sit outside with the scope on a nice night and observe. familial obligations change in your late 40's and 50's. That is just the cycle of Life today.

As for today's kids not getting into the hobby, I don't blame light pollution, I blame Microsoft, Sony, Nintendo, and Atari (and us for buying these things for our kids). When we were kids we went outside day and night. We played ball, ran around and would come inside until called by Mom. We were outside in the summer and gazed upwards at the sky all the time. I am lucky in that my son is a science and math kid. He played high school and travel baseball, other sports and is going to college next year for aerospace engineering, but he got interested in astronomy through my and my wife's interest. Nevertheless, he and all his friends still spent hours that could have been outside stargazing playing Xbox, Playstation and Nintendo. I think that's evident in looking at the size of our biggest trade show NEAF v. Comic Con and CES.

Just my opinion as a father...

#27 kenrenard

kenrenard

    Surveyor 1

  • -----
  • Posts: 1562
  • Joined: 13 Dec 2012
  • Loc: Dunmore, PA

Posted 23 April 2013 - 10:29 AM

This was our first trip to NEAF. I have some impressions from myself and my daughter whom is almost 7.

I understand this is mainly volunteer's and I know they try their best. However, there was little in the way of activities for kids. My daughter was bored in about an hour. The kids booth had little to do. Crayon's and glitter glue only last so long. Young kids need to be kept active. She met another girl and they were asking about the indoor playground which we were told wasn't going to be there.

Al Nagler was very nice to my daughter spoke with her at her level let her touch everything in the booth and even took a picture with her. What a great guy.

My daughter did grind a telescope mirror which she liked and I thank the group who allowed her that priviledge. I liked looking at all of the stuff although quite a bit was out of our price range of folks who stargaze and are fairly new.


Ken

#28 amicus sidera

amicus sidera

    Skylab

  • *****
  • Posts: 4031
  • Joined: 14 Oct 2011
  • Loc: East of the Sun, West of the Moon...

Posted 23 April 2013 - 11:49 AM

It also effects the companies that sell to this hobby as well as this website. So you all better hope that the hobby doesn't die as everything will go with it.


I do not believe that it will ever die out completely, but even if interest in it almost disappears nothing will go with it that countless amateurs cannot live without, as they did for decades prior. It will once again become a niche interest. The stars will remain.

That said, amateur astronomy does not appear to be in the slightest danger of losing adherents for the foreseeable future... it is vibrant and growing, notwithstanding the average age of its demographic.

#29 csa/montana

csa/montana

    Den Mama

  • *****
  • Posts: 86183
  • Joined: 14 May 2005
  • Loc: montana

Posted 23 April 2013 - 12:23 PM

[quote name="amicus sidera"][quote]It also effects the companies that sell to this hobby as well as this website. So you all better hope that the hobby doesn't die as everything will go with it. [/quote]

[quote]I do not believe that it will ever die out completely, but even if interest in it almost disappears nothing will go with it that countless amateurs cannot live without, as they did for decades prior. [/quote]

Yes, we all can live without CN; but do we really want to? CN is the glue that holds the interest of thousands of members, while promoting astronomy tirelessly. Without the discussions, assistance, etc., you would see many, many members lose interest in astronomy.

#30 amicus sidera

amicus sidera

    Skylab

  • *****
  • Posts: 4031
  • Joined: 14 Oct 2011
  • Loc: East of the Sun, West of the Moon...

Posted 23 April 2013 - 12:58 PM

Yes, we all can live without CN; but do we really want to? CN is the glue that holds the interest of thousands of members, while promoting astronomy tirelessly. Without the discussions, assistance, etc., you would see many, many members lose interest in astronomy.


I think that by the time CN has ceased to function, amateur astronomy would be on its last legs, so no worries... :)

It's important to keep in perspective that, while CN is a wonderful and valuable venue, it is at its core a social gathering. This is in sharp contrast to the manner in which the majority of astronomical pursuits by amateurs are pursued: in a solitary fashion. Not every amateur needs to have their astronomical interests stoked by social interaction; many, likely the majority of observers worldwide, have little or no need of a forum like CN to maintain their interest. Everyone marches to a different drum.

Younger observers just coming up rely more heavily on forums like this one, as well as social media, to obtain information and create friendships, so CN looks to have a promising future. Old guys like me are more prone to hang around to answer questions, solve problems and argue with anyone who'll listen about the good old days... :grin:

#31 okieav8r

okieav8r

    I'd rather be flying!

  • *****
  • Administrators
  • Posts: 4187
  • Joined: 01 Mar 2009
  • Loc: Oklahoma!

Posted 23 April 2013 - 12:59 PM

As for today's kids not getting into the hobby, I don't blame light pollution, I blame Microsoft, Sony, Nintendo, and Atari (and us for buying these things for our kids). When we were kids we went outside day and night. We played ball, ran around and would come inside until called by Mom. We were outside in the summer and gazed upwards at the sky all the time.


I agree 100%. Kids are more withdrawn into today's electronic gaming and social media world.

About a year ago, my nephew called me over to his computer to show me something "really cool"--Google Sky. "Isn't that cool Uncle Rex? Now you don't have to go outside to look at the stars!". :tonofbricks:

#32 amicus sidera

amicus sidera

    Skylab

  • *****
  • Posts: 4031
  • Joined: 14 Oct 2011
  • Loc: East of the Sun, West of the Moon...

Posted 23 April 2013 - 01:11 PM

Great anecdote, Rex! A fair percentage of young people have chosen to live in a virtual world, preferring it to the real one just outside their door. Yet another seduction via technology that does not bode well for the future...

#33 Jim Lafferty

Jim Lafferty

    Mercury-Atlas

  • *****
  • Posts: 2640
  • Joined: 30 Jun 2007
  • Loc: Southern California

Posted 23 April 2013 - 01:59 PM

With regard to the women in the hobby---go solar! They love it AND they get to see you at night!

Jim

#34 REC

REC

    Fly Me to the Moon

  • *****
  • Posts: 5060
  • Joined: 20 Oct 2010
  • Loc: NC

Posted 23 April 2013 - 04:09 PM

Hopefully your group will be there next year:)

#35 Fred1

Fred1

    Vanguard

  • *****
  • Posts: 2037
  • Joined: 19 Sep 2007
  • Loc: Somewhere in the Orion Spur

Posted 23 April 2013 - 04:12 PM

Far too many "exhibitors" in the free raffles. They were there at Astro-Physics, Stellarvue and OPT that I saw, shamelessly dangling their exhibitor tags standing with the unwashed anxiously awaiting the drawing. I guess I don't mind them being in a free raffle as much as I mind them actually winning one or even several (yes, I enter them all). :crazy:
Every time I see an exhibitor win a free raffle I think that some kid (or maybe even me) would have had their number pulled out of the hat instead. There should be a rule similar to those contests where employees and their relatives can't enter. :poke:

#36 George N

George N

    Mercury-Atlas

  • *****
  • Posts: 2740
  • Joined: 19 May 2006
  • Loc: Binghamton & Indian Lake NY

Posted 23 April 2013 - 06:29 PM

..... In addition to Astronomics, I noted the absence of Orion, Normand Fullum, Charlie Bates, and the Night Sky Network. ....


Astronomics: already discussed at length.

Orion: Has, to the best of my memory, only been at NEAF one year, not sell anything, but to show off some new prototypes. Considering all the guff they got from folks right here on CN, I'm not surprised that they have not returned.

Normand Fullum: Do we still allow French Canadians into the country??? :smirk:

Charlie Bates: Much of his funding for his solar out-reach comes (came?) from NASA. Can you spell "sequestration"? My club has been told by NASA that all speaker requests are up-in-the-air right now.

Night Sky Network: They were suppose to be here? One of their two 'operatives' just retired and NSN also "lives" on NASA out-reach funding, which has been cut.

#37 George N

George N

    Mercury-Atlas

  • *****
  • Posts: 2740
  • Joined: 19 May 2006
  • Loc: Binghamton & Indian Lake NY

Posted 23 April 2013 - 06:37 PM


Actually, when I went last year as one of the classic telescope displayers, my impressions of NEAF were disappointing. It seemed geared to UBER-HIGH-END stuff, with very little that even I, who makes decent money, could ever consider buying.

I guess it's a chance for those high-end manufacturers to show off their stuff for the likes of S&T and Ast. magazines to write articles on. I have a hard time believing that a young man with children, unless he's a trust-fund baby, could find much there to take home.


Gee.... I had a friend who finally has a few free bucks, and he bought a nice Celestron C-6 on GoTo mount with two eyepieces for something like $650. That's a pretty good telescope for a price that is lower, in real dollars, than astro gear has ever been.

#38 hopskipson

hopskipson

    Apollo

  • *****
  • Posts: 1203
  • Joined: 24 Jun 2010
  • Loc: Queens, New Yawk, Light pollution Headquarters!

Posted 23 April 2013 - 06:51 PM

This was my second NEAF and I noticed a big difference from last year. I went on Sunday afternoon because of the weather and my schedule. The solar party was smaller than last year which I attributed to it being late. The attendence seemed lower but again it was 1:30 when I got there. The biggest dissappointments were no Astronomics and no ES trailer. It not being so crowded did make it easier to talk to vendors.
I made the mistake of bringing my small children. It was mentioned that there was to be an obstacle course for the kids. They were bored and the kids corner closed early. It made for a very frenzied buying spree by me with many sour looks from my wife. I did get most of what I went there for and got more info on future purchaces.
I think kids these days just have too many electronic distractions. If you want them to be interested you have to show them you're interested. My 7 year old wants to do everything his dad does.

#39 George N

George N

    Mercury-Atlas

  • *****
  • Posts: 2740
  • Joined: 19 May 2006
  • Loc: Binghamton & Indian Lake NY

Posted 23 April 2013 - 06:52 PM

With regard to the women in the hobby---go solar! They love it AND they get to see you at night!

Jim


About a quarter to a third of the members of my astro club are female. They are more interested in the science and observing, and not gear. While you may hear the guys talking about which eyepiece is providing the best performance, the girls are all talking about what's in the eyepiece, how cool it is to see, what it really is, how far away it is, etc. The ladies are interested in astronomy, but they not gearheads. They are not really concerned with having the best scope on the field. It just has to work OK.

#40 George N

George N

    Mercury-Atlas

  • *****
  • Posts: 2740
  • Joined: 19 May 2006
  • Loc: Binghamton & Indian Lake NY

Posted 23 April 2013 - 07:07 PM

One of the reasons for the amateur astronomy community’s high number of middle age men is that over the last 10 to 15 years a new group has been coming into the hobby that is in that age demographic. These are the technocrats: MDs, scientists, engineers, whose kids are out of the house, and who are no longer healthy enough for ‘extreme sports’, and such. They are looking for a cool new hobby that fits in with their technical skills, and they have found it: CCD imaging! Many of the imagers I’ve run into were not into astronomy as a hobby before the CCD, computers, GoTo, drew then in. Their interest in visual observing is often limited.

#41 gatorengineer

gatorengineer

    Vanguard

  • *****
  • Posts: 2484
  • Joined: 28 Feb 2005
  • Loc: Hellertown, PA

Posted 23 April 2013 - 07:27 PM

Well, with ISON just a few months away, this could / may be the biggest thing to happen to the hobby since hubble..... Hopefully it will get some interest going nationally, and get the schools thinking scientifically instead of socially.

NEAF is what NEAF is, and has become, but our local club is now standing room only at meetings, which is a good thing (LVAAS)....

Gear is as cheap as it ever has been. New products however have largely dried up, even though vendors like Explore are hitting home runs, they cant seem to fill their orders....

I wish Astronomics the best and hope they make it next year, and again want to thank them for this site.

#42 PF9000

PF9000

    Lift Off

  • -----
  • Posts: 20
  • Joined: 11 May 2011
  • Loc: NJ

Posted 23 April 2013 - 09:54 PM

This was my third NEAF. My first one was about 15 years ago. My second one was two years. Not sure why I missed all those intervening years. Especially considering I live in NJ only about a half hour drive from the show. What got me there this year was the desire to get up close and personal with the Celestron AVX mount. When I went by the Celestron booth they didn't have it plugged in. I asked if they could hook up the Powertank so that I could play with it. They did it ASAP. The reps were friendly and helpful. The only problem was that the rep who was demonstrating it for me said the Dec motor hadn't been working all day for some reason. The reason, as I quickly and politely pointed out, was that there wasn't any dec cable present. The dec motor wasn't plugged in! All day mind you. I can only hope this lack of product knowledge was do to a lack of sleep. On the bright side, I loved the mount. It was smoother and quieter than I expected. In fact, this may be the mount that finally gets me into computerized astronomy after all these years. In any event, I'm fairly certain that I'll be back at NEAF next year. Love looking at all that high end equipment I'll never own. :-)

Paul

#43 bierbelly

bierbelly

    Fly Me to the Moon

  • *****
  • Posts: 6585
  • Joined: 23 Jan 2004
  • Loc: Sterling, VA

Posted 24 April 2013 - 01:54 PM

About a year ago, my nephew called me over to his computer to show me something "really cool"--Google Sky. "Isn't that cool Uncle Rex? Now you don't have to go outside to look at the stars!". :tonofbricks:


Well, at least it's never clouded over...

#44 jturie

jturie

    Vostok 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 130
  • Joined: 19 Nov 2012
  • Loc: Valley Forge, PA

Posted 25 April 2013 - 08:05 PM

One of the reasons for the amateur astronomy community’s high number of middle age men is that over the last 10 to 15 years a new group has been coming into the hobby that is in that age demographic. These are the technocrats: MDs, scientists, engineers, whose kids are out of the house, and who are no longer healthy enough for ‘extreme sports’, and such. They are looking for a cool new hobby that fits in with their technical skills, and they have found it: CCD imaging! Many of the imagers I’ve run into were not into astronomy as a hobby before the CCD, computers, GoTo, drew then in. Their interest in visual observing is often limited.


George, you hit it right on the money, at least for me. I've always been interested in Astronomy, and had a telescope from age 12 to age 20. Then college, work, marriage, kids, bills, and life in general got in the way. I am an engineer by degree and an IT guy by profession. Just got a telescope this past Christmas, joined my local club, and am having a ball. All this at age 58.

I also think it's my revolt against the Internet and the world of computers and insipid Television. It's incredibly enjoyable to sit out in the dark by myself or with like-minded people just enjoying the simple show.






Cloudy Nights LLC
Cloudy Nights Sponsor: Astronomics