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#1 oldtimer

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Posted 16 August 2013 - 03:15 PM

I just returned from a large star party in an adjoining state and am less one eyepiece. I left my 2" 40mm TMB Paragon on my observing table while I attened to natures call. When I returned it was gone. This was in the middle of the night. I like to delude myslf into thinking we AA's are a special breed above things like petty theft but I guess you can always find a 'bad apple' in any barrell.

#2 kfiscus

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Posted 16 August 2013 - 07:41 PM

I'm sorry to hear that. Is there ANY chance it got stowed in a different place or rolled off your table to hide in the grass?

#3 Joe F Gafford

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Posted 16 August 2013 - 09:57 PM

We had the same thing with a well-known manufacturer at Okie-Tex last year who had his scopes out for demo at night. He was attending a customer and an expensive top-of-the-line eyepiece walked off while he had his back turned.
There were observations of a small vehicle arriving the day before with no astro equipment and no tent, sleeping bag, etc. The driver cruised around and found a shady place near the vendor's area and was working with an iPad. The driver then parked his vehicle outside of the gate towards evening and left shortly after the theft. This was realized too late. We need to be more vigilant on visitors to these things.

Joe

#4 Stacy

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Posted 16 August 2013 - 11:27 PM

That stinks. Makes you think twice about leaving three grand worth of eyepieces in a small suitcase on your observing table. I am going to be more careful. Many SP's have an open door policy to allow some outreach during the event, but that may need to become a thing of the past. I am guessing but probably an outsider. I have yet to meet a fellow astronomer I wouldn't trust, but the thought has crossed my mind.

Sorry about your eyepiece loss, but worse the loss of your happy trustful feeling at your star party. :(

#5 George N

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Posted 17 August 2013 - 11:35 AM

A rare occurrence, but it does happen.

Beyond "outreach" the press reports of star parties are drawing in a number of curious people with no real background in astronomy. Also, to a kid, a fancy eyepiece looks like a real "treasure" to hide under the bed.

While I leave my scopes and other heavy stuff set up while away, I always put my eyepieces, cameras, and PC in my locked truck cab. I secure any small but high-value item. Nevertheless, I've never directly experienced any theft at a major star party and I've been going to them for nearly 20 years. None of my friends have had anything stolen either.... lost in the grass *yes*, stolen, nope.

#6 mogur

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Posted 17 August 2013 - 02:07 PM

I'm very sorry to hear of your loss. Was it at the star party in the northern part of my state? In any case I believe the public has no business being at a star party after dark. I'll no longer attend that particular party because I got tired of the constant glare of headlights in your eyes every 5 min. when one is trying to observe. Add to this a deteriorating facility and observing field, and constantly rising prices. It's just not worth it to me. I pay good money to attend and be able to observe at a dark sky site and I really don't like the idea of the public being able to come in at any time for free! Especially when their interest in astronomy is, at best, marginal and their first question is usually something on the order of: "How much is that worth?"

#7 audioaficionado

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Posted 17 August 2013 - 02:23 PM

Local star parties are where the public gets to have a look and maybe get involved. The regional parties that require a fairly hefty admission fee shouldn't let anyone in unless they pay the same fee the rest of us had to pony up. That's not to say there still couldn't be a wolf in sheep's skin lurking amongst us looking for an opportunity, but that should eliminate most of the riff-raff that tries to slip/slither in. I agree, if the first question is "How much is that worth?" from anyone other than a child, I start to become suspicious. Takes a lot of the fun away from public outreaches.

#8 amicus sidera

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Posted 18 August 2013 - 09:34 AM

As goes society, so goes amateur astronomy... unfortunately, as the twin curses of moral relativism and collectivism have descended upon Western culture, more and more individuals have less and less respect for the property of others, and little compunction about appropriating it for their own use. Theft of any sort at a star party was pretty much unheard-of until the mid-1980's, but once amateur astronomy started appealing to the masses (primarily the result of the media hype regarding comet Halley and the concurrent vision of dollar signs that danced before the eyes of the manufacturers) the potential for such such criminal behavior became a concern.

I much preferred the insular and somewhat arcane amateur astronomy of old; like it or not, it tended to keep out the riff-raff... that horse isn't going back to the barn anytime soon, but it's within one's power to avoid astronomical gatherings that are open to the general public, which is the course of action I've taken since the early 1990's. Elitist, you say? No, simply common sense... just as I would not leave jewelry lying around a bus station and not expect it to grow legs, neither would I trust valuable, easily portable equipment to the tender mercies of current-day public star party attendees, among whom a not statistically-insignificant number may well be of lax morals.

My condolences to the OP on the loss of your eyepiece.

Fred

#9 WadeH237

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Posted 18 August 2013 - 05:24 PM

I feel for the original poster, but you guys are making it sounds like this is a rampant problem.

I've attended about 35 major star parties, and I've not seen a single incident involving an attendee (I've heard of a few losses from vendors). Certainly, it's not something that I've had to worry about.

As for public nights, I can say that some of my best memories are visiting with folks that come out to the public night. This was especially true of Shingletown Star Party when the group out of San Francisco organized it. The first year we went, we drove into Redding for lunch one day and had a nice chat with our waitress about it. On public night, she brought out her family to view with us. And she came out on each of the remaining years as well, until the event moved to Golden State.

-Wade

#10 Ed Wiley

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Posted 24 August 2013 - 02:47 PM

I do not think its a rampant problem nor do I think we are sinking into the abyss of moral relativism (whatever that is). That said, since thieves have no morals it always a good idea to keep an eye on stuff. I would love to catch that Okie-Tex thief and your thief as well.

Machinists frequently mark their precision tools, perhaps we should do this also. Engrave a number on the barrel. If it is stolen put the type of eyepiece and its number on any forum likely to find a buyer. At least it will be harder to sell. In fact, I am going mark mine this afternoon.

What, you say, its no longer mint! Hey if some person wants to buy an eyepiece and a unique identifying number bothers him/her, then they can pass on the sale. But I bet if I put a sign out saying "All my equipment is marked with unique identifiers" I suspect the thief will pass me by for an easier mark.

Sorry for your loss.

Ed

#11 kfiscus

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Posted 24 August 2013 - 08:39 PM

I'd consider putting out such a sign and not actually marking them...

Considering the venue of the thefts, such signs would have to be dimly lit for the edification of the potential thieves and to avoid harming the dark adaption of stargazers in the area.

#12 edwincjones

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Posted 25 August 2013 - 06:47 AM

I hope that you are right that the visitor/driver outside the gate stole it


edj

#13 Ed Wiley

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Posted 25 August 2013 - 12:03 PM

I suspect that potential thieves will be "casing the joint" before dark, so a simple sign that did not need special lighting might work. But, of course, I really don't know this given that the Okie-Tex thief was not apprehended. But if marking became a general phenomenon such that a thief would expect eyepieces to be marked and expected that such crimes were reported to to police and to forums it might turn these creeps to other targets and keep them off our fields. If its some creepy amateur astronomer wanting to obtain a quality eyepiece for their private collection, then I doubt marking would work. If its s creepy amateur who wants to turn it around for some quick profit, then it might work.

I have my doubts that these are professional thieves given that only single eyepieces seem to the stolen at any particular party. Not much potential profit. That brings up the creepy amateur hypothesis....

Ed

#14 Joe F Gafford

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Posted 25 August 2013 - 11:18 PM

I talked with the rep the next day and he said that they had some of their demos in the past stolen and most of them were recovered. Some of the thieves were caught due to a special way they handle their demos. A demo has certain missing things and they will not replace these. This is how they stung most of the thefts. You cannot sell these things as 'new' without them.

Joe

#15 stevew

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Posted 02 October 2013 - 09:45 PM

20 years ago I was at a large Star party for several nights.
When it was over I packed up my 16 into my van, and stepped into the nearest porta potty for some relief before the long drive home.
I had foolishly left the tailgate of my van open.
After I emerged from the bathroom, I closed the tailgate, and said my farewells and headed home.
After I returned home I was unpacking my 16 and noticed that my 80mm finder scope had gone missing.
The thief had loosened all 6 alignment screws on the finder bracket and slid the finder out. [while it was in the back of my van]
I'm sure it was the sleazeball "friend" that also embezzled from our astronomy club, but I had no solid proof. Yet he was the only one within the vicinity of my van.
He had called me a few weeks later to go out observing, and I told him that I'd rather not go with him.
I haven't seen him since.
Be careful who you associate with...
This guy was slick, and a very good talker.
Ever since then when I go to any star party I no longer leave anything out that can be walked off with.

Steve

#16 omahaastro

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Posted 09 October 2013 - 02:51 PM

I often leave my trailer (full of goodies) open when going off to partake in event meals, etc... probably lucky I haven't lost anything.

#17 cpsTN

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Posted 09 October 2013 - 09:08 PM

...nor do I think we are sinking into the abyss of moral relativism (whatever that is)


Moral Relativism is just what is says. It is the idea of no concrete right and wrong. In this view, everyone can have their own idea of what is right and wrong. If you have three of something, I can steal one because, in their view, you don't NEED three, so stealing in this case is not wrong. This is becoming the new reason for doing wrong things - just another way to make wrong seem right!

#18 UND_astrophysics

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Posted 10 October 2013 - 04:29 AM

exactly why I do not attend "star parties" or anything else involving scopes. Nothing more annoying than people blabbing or bothering me while enjoying the solitude of observing through a nice telescope. Add to that the kids messing with equipment, bums walking off with expensive eyepieces, and others asking for the fiftieth time our LAT LONG coordinates. Sounds like they are more trouble than they are worth.

#19 edwincjones

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Posted 10 October 2013 - 06:26 AM

SAD?

just the way it is
most people are good
a few are not

edj

#20 Howie Glatter

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Posted 10 October 2013 - 06:48 AM

"Moral Relativism is just what is says."

The people in some countries think that wars of agression based on lies, in which the perpertrators are unpunished is moral, so it may depend on how you define your morals.

#21 Bill Weir

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Posted 10 October 2013 - 09:49 PM

exactly why I do not attend "star parties" or anything else involving scopes. Nothing more annoying than people blabbing or bothering me while enjoying the solitude of observing through a nice telescope. Add to that the kids messing with equipment, bums walking off with expensive eyepieces, and others asking for the fiftieth time our LAT LONG coordinates. Sounds like they are more trouble than they are worth.


Just curious, are your statements based on your personal experience or based on hearsay? If it's based on your reality then I suggest you attend higher quality star parties. Find those based in remote locations that require effort to get to. This is often a fine filter to cut out the majority of the riff raff. On the other hand as is known, some filters leak. Such is life. If you enjoy observing alone then do so and enjoy it. Star parties aren't for everyone.

99% of the time I observe alone so I attend star parties so that I can meet up with others who like to observe because for the most part I don't find that with my club. On the whole I expect my "hard core" observing to be somewhat disrupted by the star party atmosphere but I think it's a fair trade off. After all party is in the name. It is unfortunate about the OP's story but I won't let it sully my general opinion about star parties.

Bill

#22 Stacy

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Posted 11 October 2013 - 12:36 PM

I went to a star party a few years ago. Now that's the only time/place I observe. Far too much LP around my place after being spoiled by dark skies in remote locations. I avoid the crowded ones now, opting instead for our smaller gatherings. Some of our group, observe in silence and we rarely see them. Others are more social. Different strokes...






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