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#1 jerwin

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Posted 30 May 2013 - 09:35 AM

My astronomy club does a great deal of public outreach and I think we're all very happy and very proud of how many people in the community we share the night sky & Sun with. However we kind of abandon our club members. Sure we tell them when our members only dark weekends\dark sites are, and sure we have meetings and speakers and whatnot, but I'm trying to come up with some ways to engage our members the same way we engage the public. I was thinking of trying to do an eyepiece shootout or something like that, but I've often joked that one shouldn't look into a more expensive eyepiece unless they are willing to buy one. I thought about a show off your DIY skills\scope modifications. I don't know...I don't have a lot of ideas beyond drive an hour out of town during a dark weekend and look at the sky.

Am I over thinking this. Maybe people don't want to be engaged. Maybe they pay their yearly dues simply so they can have access to the dark site and a few meetings here and there.

Any suggestions?

Jim

#2 csrlice12

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Posted 30 May 2013 - 03:30 PM

Actually, outside of using the dark site, I don't attend the meetings much. I'm not antisocial however, and would have no problem having someone else there viewing, comparing eyepieces, fish stories, etc.....(especially if that other person has a 25" Starmaster or similar).....

#3 The Ardent

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Posted 30 May 2013 - 04:33 PM

I tried that for a couple of years. Its was always the same few that showed up. :(

Am I over thinking this. Maybe people don't want to be engaged. Maybe they pay their yearly dues simply so they can have access to the dark site and a few meetings here and there.
Any suggestions?
Jim



#4 Zoomit

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Posted 30 May 2013 - 05:27 PM

One key motivation for those already in the hobby to attend star parties is to learn about other equipment. I once attended a club party in which each telescope was fixed on the same target at near the same magnification. It had to be closely organized, of course. We rotated through the telescopes, kind of like musical chairs, and were able to compare them more directly. I learned a lot and it led me to replace my telescope with a different kind. It requires a relatively high level of trust I might add.

#5 Gardner

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Posted 30 May 2013 - 10:27 PM

Inreach is a great idea and is actually one of our club presidents stated goals this year, to provide more for our members. We're planning a members only skywatch or two and a cookout for socializing.

I really like the many scopes on one target and close magnifications idea. Something to toss around at the next meeting. Saturn would be a good choice right now.

#6 jerwin

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Posted 01 June 2013 - 12:28 AM

Maybe I could convince the club to give out tickets at each inreach event, the kind you just sign with a name and phone number. Each event you attend gets you 1 ticket for an annual drawing for an EP or something like that.

It would probably still be the same 5 or 10 people that each have 10 tickets, but maybe that would entice someone.

The equipment comparison does sound good Brandon. We have a annual dinner that looks to be attended by mostly the officers and a few of the regulars. We probably had 70 people for our collimation course, but that really was just a normal meeting.

Maybe a collimation event under dark skies would draw a crowd?

Just thinking out loud I guess...

Jim

#7 Joe F Gafford

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Posted 01 June 2013 - 01:12 AM

My club has quarterly drawings for membership participation to our outreach programs. One of the subjects in tonight's board meeting was the welcome packet we give our new membership. Our rep for that this year is a retired elementary school teacher and she gave a brief synopsis of what was inside the packet. It contained a small planisphere, basic astronomy 101 info, newsletter, a copy of the extra Astronomy or Sky and tel mags that the local vendor has, club officer contact sheet, dark site rules, etc. Of course any new member who is already is an accomplished amateur won't get this packet of basic "101" stuff, but will get the contact sheet and other info stuff of our club activities. A call is being put out for the internal observatory outreach volunteers as some of those people who are already volunteers are leaving.

Joe

#8 omahaastro

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Posted 01 June 2013 - 07:58 AM

As I mentioned in another post, among other events... we have a 'Second Tuesdays' event at a suburban park... so, it's every second Tuesday, every month, at the same location. Being a week day, it doesn't always get a lot of members of the public, so it makes a good day for members to come out, an opportunity to bring equipment to get help with, etc... even a chance to get comfortable in an 'outreach' type setting, without being thrown in the 'deep end' of a larger outreach event.

#9 amicus sidera

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Posted 01 June 2013 - 09:52 AM

I don't believe at you are overthinking this at all, Jim. Any club should be run primarily for the benefit of those who belong to it, not the public at large. Certainly, it is enjoyable and occasionally fruitful to perform outreach, but not at the expense of those activities aimed at the dues-paying membership.

Showing others the wonders of the universe can be satisfying to a degree, but guiding a group of folks with common interests towards higher goals, such as increased observing or ATM skills, will provide much greater rewards.

Besides, I suspect that the vast majority of those folks who we so kindly allow to look through our telescopes, while initially impressed, are impacted ultimately very little by the view; most would likely think nothing of skipping down to Home Depot the next day and buying dusk-to-dawn yard lights.

Fred

#10 omahaastro

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Posted 01 June 2013 - 10:17 AM

Of course, if you're a 501©(3)... making sure you do all this within the interpretation of an educational organization. Some lose sight of what a non-profit educational organization is all about (we have a small faction within our own club, who'd be content to have nothing to do with the public). That said, there's no reason why folks can't have fun in a club, focused solely on their own needs. :)

#11 csrlice12

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Posted 01 June 2013 - 01:44 PM

Of course, if you're a 501©(3)... making sure you do all this within the interpretation of an educational organization. Some lose sight of what a non-profit educational organization is all about (we have a small faction within our own club, who'd be content to have nothing to do with the public). That said, there's no reason why folks can't have fun in a club, focused solely on their own needs. :)


We're a Public Organization....we just don't like people..... :lol:

#12 amicus sidera

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Posted 01 June 2013 - 10:13 PM

As Charles Schultz had Linus say: "I love humanity; it's people I can't stand!"

:grin:

#13 Matthew Ota

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Posted 02 June 2013 - 04:15 PM

It is important for clubs to have non-outreach star parties. Most do.

#14 tezster

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Posted 04 June 2013 - 10:33 AM

I agree 100% - I think clubs should have events dedicated to members, especially new ones, maybe even offer some type of a mentoring/buddy program. Once a relative novice has seen all the bigger/brighter, easy-to-locate objects, I think it would be immensely useful to help them expand their list of objects to observe, and offer guidance if they wish to attain observing certificates.

Of course, this highly dependent on individual members. Some are content observing independently and learning on their own, and simply join a club for access to facilities/equipment/observing sites, etc...

#15 jerwin

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Posted 05 June 2013 - 08:43 AM

Terence, I really like that mentor/buddy idea.

I started out with a goto scope and overwhelmed by the 40,000 objects that are listed, Big difference between the number of objects available and the handful they might be able to see from their backyard.

And someone with a manual scope might have the same struggles, knowing what can be seen and what can't, or maybe they don't even have a star atlas, where knowledgeable buddy could freestyle a few treasures.

And I'm sure anyone thinking about AP would LOVE to have an AP buddy to save them some pains as to what works well and what causes headaches.

#16 csrlice12

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Posted 05 June 2013 - 09:21 AM

Of course, this highly dependent on individual members. "Some are content observing independently and learning on their own, and simply join a club for access to facilities/equipment/observing sites, etc..."

That kind of describes me to date. And it will probably be this way thru the summer. But with Fall coming up, and a little time behind the eyepiece, I think I'll start going to the public nights the DAS has. This really is both to share what I have learned and to learn even more from those more advanced. I know that at these, I'll find someone to help me do more advanced things with my scope (I've already added a new focuser by myself) like removing and replacing the primary and secondary (in essence, collimating from scratch). I say this, and to some it probably seems weird, as I didn't put my scope together initially, I bought it at the scope shop and THEY put it together, initially collimated it, etc....SO, I missed (Can't really say "miss" is the right word)the experience of how it was done. I also have a polar scope that need mounted/aligned on my CG4 and don't have any clue how this is done. This is why I have come around to agreeing that inreach is a good thing. And the DAS advertises to "Bring your scope and ask questions" on their open house/public viewing nights. Besides, it'll give me something to do those other 364 cloudy nights a year..........

#17 jerwin

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Posted 05 June 2013 - 01:05 PM

True, but I think it could potentially put a handful of members willing to volunteer their time with someone fresh members out of the gate. It probably won't do a lot with existing members that want the alone time, but maybe it would spark a pay it forward mentality with the noobs.

And if it keeps someone new engaged, hopefully they're more likely to stick with the hobby.

I think had I not found cloudynights and my astronomy club starting out I'd have WAAAAAAAAAY more money in my bank account right now, but I would have a few less friends, and way less respect for what we all try to do when the clouds allow us.

#18 csrlice12

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Posted 05 June 2013 - 01:49 PM

Without cloudy nights, I might have ended up with a WalMart scope........and THAT'S scarey......

#19 GeneT

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Posted 06 June 2013 - 07:16 PM

My astronomy club does a great deal of public outreach and I think we're all very happy and very proud of how many people in the community we share the night sky & Sun with. However we kind of abandon our club members. Sure we tell them when our members only dark weekends\dark sites are, and sure we have meetings and speakers and whatnot, but I'm trying to come up with some ways to engage our members the same way we engage the public. I was thinking of trying to do an eyepiece shootout or something like that, but I've often joked that one shouldn't look into a more expensive eyepiece unless they are willing to buy one. I thought about a show off your DIY skills\scope modifications. I don't know...I don't have a lot of ideas beyond drive an hour out of town during a dark weekend and look at the sky.

Am I over thinking this. Maybe people don't want to be engaged. Maybe they pay their yearly dues simply so they can have access to the dark site and a few meetings here and there. Any suggestions? Jim


Amen. :bow: Amen. :bow: Amen. :bow:
My opinion is that my local astronomy club is way too heavily focussed on outreach. Too much emphasis on getting the next award from NSN and so on. I believe that a good astronomy club needs to be in good balance: some outreach, and a lot of inreach. I give a lot of my personal time to ministry--at no salary. What I need in my hobby down time is to gather with some club members and friends and view with them. Six people lined up behind my telescope is not my idea of a relaxing evening viewing. I am not a selfish person. However, for the most part, outreach events do not meet my needs.

#20 csrlice12

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Posted 07 June 2013 - 09:14 AM

I will admit my most viewing fun has been when it's only been me and one or two others at the dark site...a bit safer too.....good way to try out different eyepieces, filters, etc....

#21 tedbnh

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Posted 10 June 2013 - 09:38 AM

Our club has been a member of the Astronomical League for years but we never "signed up" the members themselves, or put much emphasis on it. This year we began to offer free AL membership to any member who wanted to work on any of the AL observing club award pins. Out of about 140 paid members we got roughly 15 who asked us to do this for them. I am sure it will pay off for everyone, and we avoided the cost of signing up all 140 members for little benefit. This is part of our new club "inreach" focus, which is going over well with members.

#22 omahaastro

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Posted 12 June 2013 - 11:54 PM

It's a paltry $5/yr to sign up members... which includes the quarterly Reflector newsletter. We include it as part of our annual membership (which is itself, only $25/yr, whether you're an individual or a family).

#23 FarrOut

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Posted 14 June 2013 - 07:11 AM

This has been a great discussion on astronomy clubs.
Our club is currently going through a period of evaluation.

The club is sponsored by our local science museum. They provide a great venue for meetings. There is a very high quality planetarium at the museum.

There are typically two or three first time attendees at each monthly meeting, but most do not return. Not sure why, perhaps astronomy isn't what they thought it was.

About half of the regular attendees never go out to observe. That has to be factored into the equation when developing a model for moving forward.

#24 csrlice12

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Posted 14 June 2013 - 07:45 AM

Here the Astronomy Magazine comes with your membership. While I have not been an active member (outside of using the dark site and keeping our local scope shop's doors open), I'm going to start going to some of the society's public nights/open houses. It'll be nice to have something to do on these summer nights when I can't get out of the city....

#25 Gardner

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Posted 23 June 2013 - 07:41 PM

Our club NHAS had an inreach skywatch last night. The weather wasn't the best, but we had a few bright stars and the rising moon, and of course Saturn. I think we had about 8-10 members, a couple of them new members, I helped one gent collimate his CPC 800 which was way off. He was pleased with finally getting clean sharp images! A successful event!






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