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General Astronomy >> Outreach

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RTLR 12
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Reged: 12/04/08

Loc: The Great Pacific NorthWest
Re: What scope do you prefer for outreach? new [Re: Joe Bergeron]
      #5112998 - 03/09/12 08:36 AM

I only do 1 or 2 nights a month, but I set up 5 scopes. It gives folks a good variety of views and equipment involved in astronomy. A C8 on a CGEM for deep space, an Sv115T20 on a C-5 for planetary, an Onyx 80 on a CG-5 for wide field, An Sv 70 on an SE mount for general observing, and a hit with the small kids is a Sf 130 vixen refractor on a Porta II. Tripod set low and the kids can point it what they want to. It's a great 'Hands On' set up for the kids. I prefer what the people like...and the people like them all.

Stan


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Jason B
Proud father of 5!!
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Reged: 06/21/04

Loc: Mid-Michigan
Re: What scope do you prefer for outreach? new [Re: RTLR 12]
      #5113080 - 03/09/12 09:27 AM

At Fox, we have an XT4.5 that is a big hit with the kids to just push around and find thing themselves. It's funny when they find something new, even as simple as the moon or planets. They get very excited to find it themselves!

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ColoHank
Carpal Tunnel
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Reged: 06/07/07

Loc: western Colorado
Re: What scope do you prefer for outreach? new [Re: Joe Bergeron]
      #5113137 - 03/09/12 10:08 AM

I use my Questar for outreach, but sometimes I set up the replica Galileo scope I made in 2009 so folks can better appreciate the remarkable discoveries he made in spite of some pretty serious optical limitations.

Other club members have bigger guns, so attendees always enjoy a variety of views and experiences.


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Astrosetz
professor emeritus


Reged: 10/05/03

Loc: Wisconsin
Re: What scope do you prefer for outreach? new [Re: ColoHank]
      #5115806 - 03/10/12 08:34 PM

I really like my Celestron Classic 8 for general public outreach. It tracks, so I can use medium-heigh power on the planets and not be constantly attending to the scope. It's also manual so I can point it to any outreach-suitable object in seconds, even in broad daylight.

For more intimate sessions with a small group, or when I'm teaching a class, I prefer my stock 8" Hardin Dobsonian. Newbies can push it around and point it to the Moon or a bright planet after a few minutes of demonstration.

Both scopes cost around $400, which I also like for public events.


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Jon Isaacs
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Reged: 06/16/04

Loc: San Diego and Boulevard, CA
Re: What scope do you prefer for outreach? new [Re: Astrosetz]
      #5115941 - 03/10/12 10:16 PM Attachment (60 downloads)

The most important thing is using a scope I enjoy myself. Thursday night I set up my 12.5 inch F/4.06 Discovery/JStar truss Dob and my NP-101. I used my good eyepieces... 50-60 people, 2 telescopes, me and my buddy...

Dinner at the Hyatt Hotel, a talk by astronaut Scott Altman and then we were the show.

We all do these things our own way... I like manual tracking scopes because people quickly recognize the rotation of the earth. If there is time, I can teach them how to find their way around sky and I let them operate the scope, I want them to believe that this is something they can do, something easy... With a complicated scope, it can seem like it takes a wizard to conjure miracles from the magic box.

Jon Isaacs

Edited by Jon Isaacs (03/10/12 10:18 PM)


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grom
member


Reged: 02/23/09

Loc: Spain
Re: What scope do you prefer for outreach? new [Re: Jon Isaacs]
      #5119966 - 03/13/12 11:03 AM

ETX 90.

I mostly do sessions with school kids. I would find it reaaaally dificult without tracking.
Sessions are focused on moon, planets and sometimes a double star or bright DSO, so the limited aperture of the ETX is not an issue and I can set it up in a couple minutes.

Kids are impatient. 8)


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Astrosetz
professor emeritus


Reged: 10/05/03

Loc: Wisconsin
Re: What scope do you prefer for outreach? new [Re: grom]
      #5120455 - 03/13/12 03:37 PM

I have an ETX90 RA that I call my "instant outreach" scope. The whole thing lives in a backpack and can be deployed at a moment's notice.

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Patrick
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Reged: 05/16/03

Loc: Franklin, Ohio
Re: What scope do you prefer for outreach? new [Re: Astrosetz]
      #5120914 - 03/13/12 08:45 PM

I love my CPC1100 for outreach. It's the perfect outreach scope for me. It's the largest size I'm willing to carry, it's easy to setup and easy to use, and it gives great views! If someone bumps the scope, or grabs the eyepiece, it doesn't budge.

I can be setup and aligned before dark on any planet, bright star or the moon. That's especially helpful right now with Venus so high and pretty in the west. Then I can goto anywhere I want without bending over the scope while someone is talking to me. I hate turning my back on inquisitive minds. The scope does the work and gets out of the way of the human interaction.

Patrick


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RoadsterGirlie
Nothing lasts forever


Reged: 07/16/10

Loc: Orange County, CA
Re: What scope do you prefer for outreach? new [Re: Patrick]
      #5121262 - 03/14/12 12:56 AM

I love my CPC0800 as well. Same thing Patrick said - nothing is going to move it - not even a little kid yanking on the eyepiece. It tracks very accurately so I don't have to continually keep checking to make sure the object is centered.

I tried outreach before with a 5" reflector on a manual alt/az tripod, and it was kind of a trainwreck.

I prefer full go-to for these types of events.


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Jon Isaacs
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Reged: 06/16/04

Loc: San Diego and Boulevard, CA
Re: What scope do you prefer for outreach? new [Re: RoadsterGirlie]
      #5121334 - 03/14/12 05:34 AM

Quote:

I love my CPC0800 as well. Same thing Patrick said - nothing is going to move it - not even a little kid yanking on the eyepiece. It tracks very accurately so I don't have to continually keep checking to make sure the object is centered.

I tried outreach before with a 5" reflector on a manual alt/az tripod, and it was kind of a trainwreck.

I prefer full go-to for these types of events.




As I said, I think it mostly depends on what scopes you are most enjoy as well as what aspects of the hobby you are hoping to share. With a simple alt-az mount, there is the possibility of teaching someone how to use it. It takes a little time, it's not always possible but it's a big thrill for someone when they find their first object and they walk way knowing they too can do it. That is empowerment.

We all do it differently.

Jon


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Patrick
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Reged: 05/16/03

Loc: Franklin, Ohio
Re: What scope do you prefer for outreach? new [Re: Jon Isaacs]
      #5123002 - 03/15/12 12:28 AM

Quote:

As I said, I think it mostly depends on what scopes you are most enjoy as well as what aspects of the hobby you are hoping to share. With a simple alt-az mount, there is the possibility of teaching someone how to use it. It takes a little time, it's not always possible but it's a big thrill for someone when they find their first object and they walk way knowing they too can do it. That is empowerment.

We all do it differently.




Even though I personally prefer using a goto setup for outreach, I'm always glad to see one of our crew with a basic Dob so folks can see how easy and affordable a telescope can be.

Patrick


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CollinofAlabama
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Reged: 11/24/03

Loc: Lubbock, Texas, USA
Re: What scope do you prefer for outreach? new [Re: Jon Isaacs]
      #5123038 - 03/15/12 12:53 AM

Wow, Jon, I like your position on this, but I guess I feel more like Tina and Patrick, kind of. What I want the public to see is the astronomical beauty in all its glory, with the person unencumbered by the basic physical reality of a rotating earth (magnified 50+/- times) and then having to make the person further aware of tracking via a mirror reversed or completely inverted point of view. These are not insurmountable things, something I managed on my own in the mid-seventies in 4th grade, so hardly rocket science, but ....

Given my recent experiences, especially, I love the idea of a 10" dob. Still, I'm thinking I might sell my beloved AT80ED to buy a Celestron NexStar 4se, not because it's better, cause it's not, but just for the tracking. Since I have a 102mm ED, I should be good, but it'd be nice to have a tracking, easy to configure setup. I have an EQ-3 with clock, but at many outreach locations, Polaris is not visible. StarAlign's 3 star business and alt-az tracking sure would be welcome. The 10" dob would be for more 'familiar' crowds, but a 4se may be just the ticket for the unwashed masses.

It's nice to teach people about the rotating earth, its axis, and the fact that the ENTIRE sky, sun included, is rotating around the Norh Star. Still, the non-binocular tracking takes some getting used to. Especially without knobs, which is mostly what I have now (6" dob or 102ED on AZ-4).


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mwedel
Works with Sauropods
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Reged: 12/16/07

Loc: Claremont, CA
Re: What scope do you prefer for outreach? new [Re: GilATM]
      #5123094 - 03/15/12 02:14 AM

For sidewalk astronomy, I pretty much always take a 90mm Mak on a light alt-az mount. That's mostly for convenience, because I walk to my sidewalk astro venues (a few blocks away from my house), but people who ask are always glad to hear that a decent scope need not break the bank.

For club outreach events where I'm driving anyway, usually something bigger, but still on an alt-az mount. People who sit long enough to need to track get the hang of it pretty quickly, and I think they get a feeling of accomplishment from it. The scope is often my 80mm f/11 refractor. It's easy to haul around, does well on bright targets, looks like a layman's stereotypical idea of a telescope, and--again--is something most folks can afford.

None of this should be taken as criticism of people who prefer to use larger or more expensive scopes, btw. My feeling is, as long as you're doing outreach, period, you're doing great, and may a thousand gardens grow.


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Jon Isaacs
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Reged: 06/16/04

Loc: San Diego and Boulevard, CA
Re: What scope do you prefer for outreach? new [Re: CollinofAlabama]
      #5126593 - 03/17/12 06:50 AM

Quote:

Wow, Jon, I like your position on this, but I guess I feel more like Tina and Patrick, kind of. What I want the public to see is the astronomical beauty in all its glory, with the person unencumbered by the basic physical reality of a rotating earth (magnified 50+/- times) and then having to make the person further aware of tracking via a mirror reversed or completely inverted point of view. These are not insurmountable things, something I managed on my own in the mid-seventies in 4th grade, so hardly rocket science, but ....

Given my recent experiences, especially, I love the idea of a 10" dob. Still, I'm thinking I might sell my beloved AT80ED to buy a Celestron NexStar 4se, not because it's better, cause it's not, but just for the tracking. Since I have a 102mm ED, I should be good, but it'd be nice to have a tracking, easy to configure setup. I have an EQ-3 with clock, but at many outreach locations, Polaris is not visible. StarAlign's 3 star business and alt-az tracking sure would be welcome. The 10" dob would be for more 'familiar' crowds, but a 4se may be just the ticket for the unwashed masses.

It's nice to teach people about the rotating earth, its axis, and the fact that the ENTIRE sky, sun included, is rotating around the Norh Star. Still, the non-binocular tracking takes some getting used to. Especially without knobs, which is mostly what I have now (6" dob or 102ED on AZ-4).




My thinking:

I do want people to see astronomical glory in all it's beauty, I believe that it is far more glorious in a 12.5 inch Dobsonian fitted with a Paracorr and some Nagler eyepieces than a 4 inch Mak that tracks. Honestly, I cannot think of a object that would look better in the Mak, the Dobsonian is capable of a wider field of view... To someone who has never looked through a telescope, the bright image is important. Jupiter at 125x in that scope is bright, the banding obvious, even to an untrained eye, the color is evident. If there is a shadow transit, it is black, black, high contrast and cannot be missed. A shadow is small enough that the contrast is significantly affected by aperture.

This is how it works for me:

If there is a line of people waiting to look, the time it takes to drift across the field is a natural timer so everyone gets a chance to look but no one hogs the eyepiece. Between observers, I reposition the target and refocus.

If there is time for someone to really look, a bit of instruction and generally tracking is not a problem. With a Dob, they can look around the sky and even find some simple objects themselves. If the skies are dark and the crowd is small, people enjoy cruising the night sky with a 1.6 degree TFoV and a 6.6 mm exit pupil at 48x is pretty awesome and one can find a lot of stuff. As I said, I want someone walking away thinking, "Hey, I can do this" rather than, "Wow I don't know how he did it but that was pretty neat."

As I said, we all do it differently, we have our own concepts we want to convey. When I observe, I enjoy the thrill of discovery, not finding something from a list but discovering something I did not know was there. I want to help others experience that thrill... If there is time, my hope is that I am not there just showing them a few showcase objects but rather, I am also helping them get a bigger sense of what looking through a telescope is about and they leave having learned something about using the equipment... If there is time....

Jon


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cheapersleeper
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Reged: 01/22/10

Loc: Sachse TX
Re: What scope do you prefer for outreach? new [Re: Jon Isaacs]
      #5127548 - 03/17/12 07:24 PM

At a very sparsely attended public event a young couple had struck up a nice conversation with me and had hung around while we observed a number of targets. We had discussed my ATM Dob and eyepiece and the Telrad along the way. They were so nice and so engaged and polite and bright that fairly soon I handed them a higher power eyepiece and let them go back to Jupiter and the moon by themselves. The ease of using an equatorially mounted scope for public events is not lost on me, but being able to turn someone loose for their own observing after just a cursory explanation is worth the lack of tracking.

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mwedel
Works with Sauropods
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Reged: 12/16/07

Loc: Claremont, CA
Re: What scope do you prefer for outreach? new [Re: cheapersleeper]
      #5128823 - 03/18/12 03:41 PM

Quote:

I don't use 100* eyepieces, I look through my plossl...twice.




Sorry, I know it's off topic and I don't want to derail the thread, but this made me laugh very hard. Well done, sir!


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Skylook123
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Reged: 04/30/05

Loc: Tucson, AZ
Re: What scope do you prefer for outreach? new [Re: mwedel]
      #5128844 - 03/18/12 03:59 PM

If the occasion arises and I'm using the 18" f/5 Teeter for outreach, AND the target allows most folks to stand flat footed and not on the ladder, I'll tell the visitor to "lift the nose gently" on eastern, rising, objects, "lower the nose gently" on western, setting objects. With a 120X eyepiece, walking through from The Eyes and lifting up through Markarian's chain and revealing 30 or more galaxies in a couple of eyepiece fields causes really stunned reactions.

If the ladder is involved, there is a bit too much to expect someone new to the adventure to keep in order. I limit myself to a 120X Panoptic or 250X Nagler for the field of view to allow more than one visitor, or more time for one visitor. If it is a small group and we hop around a bit, or if it is a huge crowd streaming through, works either way.

Generally, though, the SCT on the Atlas is the way to go.


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desertstars

*****

Reged: 11/05/03

Loc: Tucson, AZ
Re: What scope do you prefer for outreach? new [Re: Skylook123]
      #5129241 - 03/18/12 08:00 PM

I was about to point out that I get good mileage from a step ladder, and then I remember how tall your ladder likely would be.

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David Knisely
Postmaster
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Reged: 04/19/04

Loc: southeastern Nebraska
Re: What scope do you prefer for outreach? new [Re: grom]
      #5129782 - 03/19/12 02:56 AM Attachment (48 downloads)

I generally like my 9.25 inch SCT running in the altazimuth configuration with full Go-to. The eyepiece is always at a convenient height for children and the scope is tough enough to survive when a kid errantly goes and grabs onto the star diagonal. It works well on a variety of targets and the tracking really helps when showing groups smaller targets like globular clusters or the planets. However, I usually do outreach with a friend of mine (Lamb0) who has "the Mortar"; a home-brew 8 inch f/5 Dobsonian that is low enough to the ground and well enough built that kids can grab it and move it to wherever they want without hurting it. The parents kind of look horrified when John has a kid step up to the scope and start working with it, but John just smiles and knows that the scope won't suffer. Its wide field and ease of use makes it a favorite for outreach events. Below is a picture of John with his proud "Mortar". Clear skies to you.

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J. Barnes
super member


Reged: 04/11/09

Loc: Kalispell, Montana
Re: What scope do you prefer for outreach? new [Re: David Knisely]
      #5133482 - 03/21/12 11:27 AM

I like to set up my C8 with a SDC-435/9" LCD and aim it at a bright star forming nebula. Then have my C11 aimed at something like Ring nebula. I form a line from one to the next, and due a birth and death of a star contrast. People seem to like being able to see colors in both examples. They are especially amazed at the images a $100 security camera produces. I have to bump the scope to show them it's real. While folks are waiting, I have Bins on a table so they can scan the sky.

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