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General Astronomy >> General Observing and Astronomy

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brianb11213
Postmaster
*****

Reged: 02/25/09

Loc: 55.215N 6.554W
Re: Meade Considering Bankruptcy as an Option new [Re: Kfrank]
      #5962701 - 07/09/13 06:01 PM

Quote:

CB radio was never worth a darn but today it's degenerated into utter uselessness.



OK, but lots of us find life much enriched by things which other people consider to be utterly useless - amateur astronomy, for instance. Ham radio is another hobby which some people find fun but really has very little practical value indeed.

Fact of the matter is that CB radio still is a useful resource for some people in some parts of the world, especially remote areas where there is no cell phone coverage. The fact that it's anarchic is a feature which some people find charming ...


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allnight16
journeyman


Reged: 05/03/12

Loc: Serena, Illinois
Re: Meade Considering Bankruptcy as an Option new [Re: pdxmoon]
      #5962807 - 07/09/13 07:14 PM

I believe Mallincam and other short exposure cameras wired to small screens could possibly ignite people's interest in DSO's. The chance to view in color only after a ten to twenty second exposure might sway some to realize that there are options beyond black and white..... and sometimes green...

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AngryHandyman
sage


Reged: 06/28/13

Loc: Nanaimo, BC
Re: Meade Considering Bankruptcy as an Option new [Re: allnight16]
      #5963020 - 07/09/13 09:26 PM

Interests come and go, priorities change in personal lives, priorities change in business strategies, good business decisions are made and poor ones too, kids are a reflection of their environment and the community is a reflection of a collection of shared values, parents over parent and parents aren't involved enough. Choices are easy to make, except when they're not. I enjoy astronomy, I coach my daughters sports teams, I have a good job but little extra money for hobbies. I approach things differently than my parents do but we end up on same side of the fence - usually. I have opinions, and learn a lot from hearing yours. The point of all this is I think it's often overlooked that it's not possible to simplify most issues into a couple of bite size statements about what's the right way to be and what's not.

I hope Mead pulls through and is able to offer quality equipment and a price I feel is fair. They (who ever "they" end up being) have a lot of work ahead of them, and if they simplify their line and improve their quality (perceived or not) they might find an audience and carve out a profitable niche in a world where there's so much choice on how we spend our dollars.


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Greyhaven
Carpal Tunnel
*****

Reged: 05/11/04

Loc: Greater downtown Maine
Re: Meade Considering Bankruptcy as an Option new [Re: JayinUT]
      #5963044 - 07/09/13 09:43 PM

Jay
There is a group that is working on getting telescopes placed in public libraries at no cost to the library, my astronomy club is helping to place them, so far we've placed abtout 12 in various Maine and New Hampshire libraries.

My local library was one that received one. I dropped into my library two weeks ago and asked at the front desk how the telescope loaner program was going.The librarian she was not aware of any such program. I then asked the reference librarian
If she knew of the telescope loaner program she said she thought there was a telescope around but was not aware of any loan program ???? My next stop was to see the assistant director he told me that there was a telescope at the library.
After explaining my indirect connection an position as simply a member of a club that helped provide the scope.I anxiously asked how the program is was going. He said the program was going well considering the scope was free. He said the scope had been out twice and since he felt that a library's real focus was on getting kids to read he didn't see any reason to encourage a lot of effort going to getting into borrowing the scope. He brought up budget cuts, short staffing, and not really seeing a positive reason for the scopes being there after all the library is downtown what could be seen.
I took a deep breath and started countering his objections with
How much would it cost the library to inform the librarians of the scope program? What expense would it involve to place the scope in any of the lockable glass display cases or even a hand made poster? I then asked him if all the library's patrons were
from downtown? This is a small town only one library services the entire town. I asked if he had ever heard of the sidewalk astronomers of San Franciso setting their scopes up on busy street corners in a "real" downtown and asking passersby to take a look at the Moon.Now as far as his the goal of a library being to get kids to read my counter point was get a kid interrested in astronomy and then try to keep him from reading all of your astronomy books, and searching the web from any of the dozens of computers spread around this library and the benefits of increasing a child's desire to learn math real math
Algebra.calculus and trigonometry the math that will open doors.
About this time he gave up and said if I thought thought he was wrong I should take it up with the director, who was not in that day. I emailed the director that day and detailed that day's events. The next day he replied that all personnel were now aware of the telescope and its availability to the public.
He followed that with we will consider implementing some of your other suggestions.
My main reason for boring all of my friends here is to say you can't just blame the kids today for not entering our hobby the adults that we should have the confidence in to make learning resources available to our children are failing them.
I left my local public library discouraged and saddened by the let's blame everything but ourselves for our narrow view and limited imagination for not taking advantage of all we have to offer. We have to accept responsibility to speak up when it is not just write off today's children when it more likely adults failing them. Rave over, I thank you for putting up with me.
Be Well
Grey


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pdxmoon
scholastic sledgehammer
*****

Reged: 06/27/13

Loc: Oregon
Re: Meade Considering Bankruptcy as an Option new [Re: Greyhaven]
      #5963063 - 07/09/13 10:00 PM

I also think the scope manufacturers have to take responsibilty for being a large part of the problem.

Let's take refractors: 60, 70, 80, 90 mm Synta jobs. Almost everyone agrees that the optics on these can be very good. But how many of them are packaged with wobbly mounts and crummy eyepieces, almost assuring a kid frustration instead of pleasure.

Now, my Sears scope from the 60s wasn't perfect, but it was built well, the mount was strong, and it worked. Someone in another thread suggested the old makers built the entry scopes well because they wanted you to come back for more.


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aezoss
super member


Reged: 03/27/11

Loc: The Great White North
Re: Meade Considering Bankruptcy as an Option new [Re: Greyhaven]
      #5963309 - 07/10/13 12:10 AM

Important point Grey, libraries are excellent vehicles for literacy beyond books. We also blame kids for issues that look more like faulty parenting to me. It's hard to condemn city kids for not being enthusiastic about astronomy when we (and our parents) took the night sky away from them & put iPads into their hands.

I'm optimistic. The kids around here spend more time outside than in and have a well developed awareness of the natural world around, and above, them.

Lee


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evilmedic13
member


Reged: 06/23/12

Loc: Chicago,Il
Re: Meade Considering Bankruptcy as an Option new [Re: aezoss]
      #5963738 - 07/10/13 09:58 AM

It's pretty hard for city kids to get into it for a few reasons. Light pollution being the worst of all. If you only see the moon and 10 stars at any one time, how interested would you be? I live in Chicago, Lp is so bad here, I can read a book in my yard at midnight, without any extra aids. It's that bad here.
Don't even get me started on all the stuff these kids cannot do nowadays, because of everyone else's "rights"!


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JayinUT
I'm not Sleepy
*****

Reged: 09/19/08

Loc: Utah
Re: Meade Considering Bankruptcy as an Option new [Re: Greyhaven]
      #5963909 - 07/10/13 11:26 AM

Grey,

I commend your club with placing scopes in the libraries. That is a wonderful service. I will also state that for over 5 years I ran an astro club for students grade 6-12 and using 8 inch a a couple of 10 inch dobs we taught the kids how to use a Telrad or Rigel, with a finder and the eyepiece to locate objects that they could see from the LP skies they were located in. The kids learned how to use the scopes under what is called scaffolding. There we offered support to help them as they learned, not doing it for them but working with them and as they mastered the process, we withdrew. It was an excellent success that a friend has continued it as I had to back off actively to pursue other educational goals. I actually have six former students who stay in contact with me via email or Facebook and back in those days, the kids could and did sign up for a telescope program via the local planetarium and would receive a free 6 inch Orion XT 6 when done with their weekly training. The key is they knew how to use it. Some still do, others do not like many adults in the hobby. The point is though the seed is planted, they had fun looking at things they had chosen to look at and if there are not involved right now, perhaps in time, with more time and money they will.

Now last summer at my library a friend and I once a month ran an outreach program where we did the usual look at the object. But I also used my 10 inch dob to teach how to find objects, and then to let others use for 30 minutes or longer if no one was signed up or waiting. The result was two couples that I know of bought scopes and use them from there homes where I live (I have decent skies at home, still LP but not bad).

I think the point is that in order to grow the hobby it will take a paradigm shift by those who do outreach. I think there is a place to show stuff, but we have to have programs in place for young people and adults to use the equipment and be supported until they are comfortable using the equipment. Again I applaud's Grey's club in placing scopes with the library and to expand on that, I think if someone volunteered once a month at first quarter moon to show how to use the equipment to a small group who signed up, that would even go farther to promote the use of the telescope. It takes time, yep, but I think young people and parents can be drawn in. This is only one way of many that can be used to get others interested in the hobby. Today's youth, and I speak with experience as an educator, don't want to be talked to. They want to be doing whatever it is they are doing, be it on a laptop, tablet, a phone etc. They need to know how to use the tool they are using, and then their off. By showing them how to use a telescope instead of simply showing them objects in the eyepiece, we engage them in the hobby actively, not passively. Outreach that is successful in my opinion, does that. It reaches out and actively engages the participants in the learning process. If you look at the outreach kits from the Astronomical Society of the Pacific, you can see this. Here is a link to one, 3D Constellations which not only teaches what several constellations are, but expands that learning so that students/participants realize that the stars are in 3D and though they make a shape in terms of a constellation, they are really at various distances. What a great engaging and fun activity (kids and teens love it, adults enjoy it and all learn). Why? There is some teaching, some scaffolding that has to be done, but they get to DO something and walk away with it. Thus is it active learning and not passive, I don't show the model I made and talk about it.

This is MY opinion and I don't want to step on toes here, but I will being a big guy so I'll just say it. There is a time and a place for passive outreach where people come by, look in the eyepiece, and ask questions about what they are seeing. We then get to be the "expert" and share our knowledge. I think many like that. In the end though, its great if I know it, but until I teach others how to do it, I haven't hooked them. Next the people then move to the next scope and repeat the process. At the end of the night the people think it is a wonderful thing the items they have saw and they move on. Imagine instead an active engagement where they are taught the basics of how to use a scope, and how to find objects in the sky using GoTo or Push driven scopes. Either will work. Then help them find some objects by modeling how to do it and then having them repeat it. Last, have them do it, gain confidence and then good luck getting the scope back for a while. Why? Because they were actively engaged in using the equipment. Now that is an experience they will remember because they did it. They were active in doing it, engaged. Just my opinion but until we begin to reach out like that, and not over complicate the hobby, but make it a simple exchange of one person, with their equipment interacting with the sky, until we get people DOING that, interacting with the sky how they want to interact with it, the hobby will continue not to grow, especially with young people. Again, just my opinion and I state it is only one of many ways to grow the hobby, and some need and must make use of technology to grow it in other ways but that is another post.


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Kfrank
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 12/20/08

Loc: Northern Colorado
Re: Meade Considering Bankruptcy as an Option new [Re: brianb11213]
      #5963953 - 07/10/13 12:02 PM

Quote:

Quote:

CB radio was never worth a darn but today it's degenerated into utter uselessness.



OK, but lots of us find life much enriched by things which other people consider to be utterly useless - amateur astronomy, for instance. Ham radio is another hobby which some people find fun but really has very little practical value indeed.

Fact of the matter is that CB radio still is a useful resource for some people in some parts of the world, especially remote areas where there is no cell phone coverage. The fact that it's anarchic is a feature which some people find charming ...




Granted that Ham radio is somewhat less relevant now, but it still proves its worth in major disasters such as Hurricane Sandy, where large scale power outages take out many modern communication systems.

As for CB, note that the Citizens Radio Service is strictly a US phenomenon. It was created by the FCC which has no authority outside of the US. Adjacent countries like Canada and Mexico may have joined the bandwagon, but they certainly didn't have to. As to the rest of the world,, the hardware might indeed prove useful for communication and would be regulated by the country in question.

The Citizens Radio Service was, and still is, strictly a US entity and I stand by my prior assertions of its uselessness. If you like hearing profanity, obscenity, and people verbally abusing one another, check out CB channel 19. The other channels aren't much better.

The FCC tried mightily to control CB usage in the '60s and '70s and, having failed, essentially abandoned it. If it's so useful and relevant in the US, why are there no places selling the equipment, outside of truck stop shops? Back in the early ’70s, you could buy the hardware almost anywhere.


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Greyhaven
Carpal Tunnel
*****

Reged: 05/11/04

Loc: Greater downtown Maine
Re: Meade Considering Bankruptcy as an Option new [Re: JayinUT]
      #5964106 - 07/10/13 01:51 PM

Jay
Each scope that is placed in a library has a club member assigned to the library, they volunteer their time to train library staff members on the use and how to instruct patrons on the safety measures and provide written instructions to anyone checking the scope out.There is a program coordinator to track overall progress in the program.It is a work in progress and there will be great successes and some that won't take advantage of all that could be done.
By the way my first visit to check on the library's loaner scope was 06/17/13 and the following day I received and Email from the director the staff had all been notified of the library's having the scope and its' availability to the public. I stopped in there today and checked all the bulletin boards and display cases and there is no notifications of there being a scope available for loan. I went to the shelves where the astronomy books are found and there was not even a hand written notice there.I then asked at the main desk This time the librarian did say that she had gotten an E mail from the director and she thought there was one for "rent". The scope was under the care of the assistant director and stored in his office in the children's department. This is the same person that said "Telescopes did not fit in with the goals of the library and that goal was to get kids to read."
Our club's director has been kept up to date on my dealings so far and I hope to make a note of today's events at Thursday's club meeting. I'll wait until after that conversation before deciding on what further action I might take.
This program was designed to get a scope into people's hands with minimal training so they could discover for themselves the night sky. Our club does regular out reach programs weather permitting. Then library program is designed for curious newbies but we are willing to help if needed.
Be Well
Grey


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Doc Willie
Carpal Tunnel
*****

Reged: 03/31/10

Loc: Mid-Hudson Valley, NY, USA
Re: Meade Considering Bankruptcy as an Option new [Re: Kfrank]
      #5964133 - 07/10/13 02:12 PM

Quote:

CB radio was never worth a darn but today it's
degenerated into utter uselessness.




Not quite. Local chapters of the American Red Cross still rely on amateur radio whenever the $#!+ hits the fan and all local communications are out.


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Kraus
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 03/10/12

Loc: Georgia.
Re: Meade Considering Bankruptcy as an Option new [Re: Greyhaven]
      #5964137 - 07/10/13 02:17 PM


More kids have no interest in natural science because more
parents have no interest in natural science. And it's getting worse.

Today's schools are modelled after the Greeks. Parents were idiots. They didn't want their kids to be idiots so they sent their kids to the experts like, Archimedes, Plato, Socrates, etc.

How about that. We're still doing the same two thousand years later.

Hmmmm.....


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Kfrank
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 12/20/08

Loc: Northern Colorado
Re: Meade Considering Bankruptcy as an Option new [Re: Doc Willie]
      #5964201 - 07/10/13 02:55 PM

Quote:

Quote:

CB radio was never worth a darn but today it's
degenerated into utter uselessness.




Not quite. Local chapters of the American Red Cross still rely on amateur radio whenever the $#!+ hits the fan and all local communications are out.




Please don't confuse CB with Amateur Radio. They are vastly different and alike only in that they both use radio waves.

Amateur Radio is indeed used by outfits like the Red Cross in emergencies. CB is NOT Amatrue Radio.


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derangedhermit
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 10/07/09

Loc: USA
Re: Meade Considering Bankruptcy as an Option new [Re: JayinUT]
      #5964213 - 07/10/13 02:59 PM

Quote:

I am just now getting back on a schedule so if this is posted somewhere else please lock.



The big older thread is in Cats and Casses. I'm surprised a mod hasn't noticed the title and honored your request.

But since this thread has wandered a bit, maybe just change the title to "Anything you want to complain about, put here" so it will match the contents: CB radio (complaints both against and for), the teachings of Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle, modern day school systems, libraries not checking out telescopes...we're covering a lot of ground here.


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Kraus
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 03/10/12

Loc: Georgia.
Re: Meade Considering Bankruptcy as an Option new [Re: Kfrank]
      #5964588 - 07/10/13 07:14 PM

Kfrank,

KC4ZGP here. You got me wanting to get up on 14.070MHz, PSK-31 come Fall. Never was a microphone-type ham.

How about you?

KKKKN.


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Astrojensen
Post Laureate
*****

Reged: 10/05/08

Loc: Bornholm, Denmark
Re: Meade Considering Bankruptcy as an Option new [Re: Kraus]
      #5965200 - 07/11/13 05:18 AM

Well, here's my opinion on a few things:

Astronomy has always been a fringe hobby. It's not large by any stretch of the imagination. Almost all other hobbies have many more participants. Why is that? Well, it does take a certain level of intelligence and curiosity, it seems, a certain degree of nerdiness, if you will, to get interested. Flair for working with mechanical equipment doesn't hurt.

But younger people still get interested in it. It seems to be in the genes of some people, since interest just pops out of nowhere in them, from the merest hint of inspiration. Sometimes, they can't even explain why they're interested (like me), it just fascinates them to no end.

Amateur astronomers want to do the same thing as the professionals do, so today, we take pictures and we look at deep-sky objects, mostly, since that is what the professionals do (oversimplification, I know). Fortunately, the professionals have also taken up planetary exploration again, or else I fear that this would have been an extreme fringe activity, done mostly by very old observers. Almost all the people who join the main Danish astro forum wants a telescope that they can use to take pictures. The rate is greater than 90%. Almost all want GOTO. Many fear that they will be completely lost without it and that learning the stars is impossible. Many don't start with visual for that reason alone.

It seems that science is taking a big hit in the US, but that is not the case in the rest of the world, where science is seen as cool and great. I see more telescopes being sold in Europe than ever before. Many of the members on Astro-Forum.dk are under 30. Our hobby blossoms over here. Just not visual observing. Amateur astronomy has mostly changed to astrophotography here. That doesn't mean that visual observing doesn't occur, but it isn't the main activity of amateur astronomy any more.


Clear skies!
Thomas, Denmark


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csrlice12
Postmaster
*****

Reged: 05/22/12

Loc: Denver, CO
Re: Meade Considering Bankruptcy as an Option new [Re: Astrojensen]
      #5965294 - 07/11/13 08:27 AM

The US just doesn't trust a hobby where you have to sneak about all night......if'n you want to take your telescope up to the top of the mountain, we'll install lighting there for your safety.......

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mich_al
Carpal Tunnel
*****

Reged: 05/10/09

Loc: Rural central lower Michigan ...
Re: Meade Considering Bankruptcy as an Option new [Re: csrlice12]
      #5965309 - 07/11/13 08:38 AM

I never understand the NEED to bring others into my hobbies. It's just something I like and if I was the only one on the planet then that's ok. If others enjoy it then that's ok too. I just don't get trying to bring others into the fold. I didn't need to be brought in I found my own way in.

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austingonzo
super member


Reged: 07/29/12

Loc: Austin, TX
Re: Meade Considering Bankruptcy as an Option new [Re: mich_al]
      #5965520 - 07/11/13 11:14 AM

So, I spent some time in the shower this morning thinking about how I'd rebuild a scope company from scratch if I had the $40 million plus to play with. I've spent 15 years in the consumer computer hardware business, and so my perspective is likely very different from a lot of users.

Since most of the manufacturing is offshore already, it seems like that hurdle is overcome (for better or worse). I'd certainly look at leveraging the optics OEMs for what they're good at.

One of the failures in my opinion with the LS series was that the electronics, and specifically the video, had no upgrade path. The board the scope shipped with was the board you were stuck with. Likewise with the SD card reader the scope shipped with.

I don't understand why telescopes haven't truly become convergence devices. Android phones integrate wireless, GPS, Bluetooth, NFC, HDMI, mini USB and SD capabilities, along with the obvious cellular data and voice. With Tegra 3 and 4 chips, you're getting some pretty robust video GPU capabilities as well.

I see some users accessorizing their scopes with these heavy and expensive aftermarket items to give their scope some of the capabilities built into a decent modern smartphone. What gives there?

An Arduino or Android-based scope could be upgradeable with SD or flash ROM and get away from the silly legacy serial bus. Tegra 3 can output video over HDMI. Miracast and WiDi are being integrated into feature phones so you could even do remote imaging from your desktop and avoid the bugs and mosquitos if you wanted.

With the computing power in ARM chips, why aren't we doing software adaptive optics? Yes, aperture rules; but why can't we leverage software to overcome collimation issues? With cloud or distributed computing the norm these days, why aren't we interesting users in mesh or distributed group astronomy? The resolving power of your scope, combined with that of your neighbors, could create some interesting opportunities for social networking, advancements in astronomy through leveraging the imaging that amateurs do, asteroid detection, satellite tracking, etc. Spare cycles could even be dedicated to SETI-like activities.

With WiFi/EyeFi type capabilities, why couldn't astrophotograpy capabilities be built into the scopes so that images uploaded directly to the cloud (Dropbox, etc.) or to your home server via DLNA/UPNP capabilities? CCDs are computing devices subject to Moore's law - capabilities should be increasing and cost decreasing - similar to the path taken by RAM and GPUs. Why aren't they built into scopes?

There are all these users using scopes with tablet and smartphone apps. Why couldn't those be built into the scopes themselves?

Clearly there will be a market for big analog scopes. But why is there no innovation in the consumer space for 8" sweet spot of aperture that both urban and dark skies users need?

Why the hell are folks still loading AA batteries into scope bases or lugging around power tanks? Why aren't modular Lithium Ion batteries built in?

Just a few shower thoughts... Thanks for the indulgence.


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Kraus
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 03/10/12

Loc: Georgia.
Re: Meade Considering Bankruptcy as an Option new [Re: austingonzo]
      #5965669 - 07/11/13 01:08 PM


If I had forty million bucks I would.

1. Get a decent size lot in Arizona.

2. Build an observatory building of sorts.

3. Get at minimum a 60 inch SCT fork mounted and equatorially aligned.

4. Look every night.

I'd have beer set aside for those moon-lit nights.


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