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General Astronomy >> Outreach

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edwincjones
Close Enough
*****

Reged: 04/10/04

Outreach protocol
      #5342988 - 07/30/12 09:02 AM

I recently went to Garden of the Gods park in Colorado Springs, CO;
and saw a person with an Ha Scope and sign

"free, safe views of the sun"

where people were lined up to view
so far-so good,

then I saw the bucket for people to drop cash



seems wrong

edj


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oldtimer
Pooh-Bah
*****

Reged: 11/13/08

Loc: Lake County Illinois
Re: Outreach protocol new [Re: edwincjones]
      #5342997 - 07/30/12 09:11 AM

Yes I agree. It has always been my thought that sharing the night sky with the public should be free. However there are those that seek to make a buck on everything. I would make an exception under certain ciccumstamces where a club had to take on expenses to do outreach. Even then it would be in the form of a donation bucket.

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Jason B
Proud father of 5!!
*****

Reged: 06/21/04

Loc: Mid-Michigan
Re: Outreach protocol new [Re: oldtimer]
      #5343355 - 07/30/12 12:39 PM

At Fox Park Observatory here in Michigan, our observatory is located in the rear of a county park. We have a donation box by the door. On the park's dept newsletter, ads, etc, it states that the program is $2 per person or $5 per family. In reality, when I introduce the group in attendance to our facility and our volunteer staff, I mention the donation box and how it helps pay for electricity, maint, etc but don't really pay attention to who pays, etc. A lot of times later on, new visitors will ask where they pay and I repeat the donation explanation. By the end of each month, the box usually covers what is needed to keep the place open and it works out well as nobody feels pressured and/or obligated. It has worked out good that way for many years.

Edited by Jason B (07/30/12 12:40 PM)


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Jon Isaacs
Postmaster
*****

Reged: 06/16/04

Loc: San Diego and Boulevard, CA
Re: Outreach protocol new [Re: Jason B]
      #5343368 - 07/30/12 12:49 PM

Another way to look at it:

If that person were a juggler or a musician, a box for donations would be expected.

One possibility is that maybe the box is there because people have indicated in the past that they want to donate, they are so thrilled with the experience that they want to provide some appreciation. In our society, this would typically be money.

I would guess the proceeds are unlikely to cover the cost of gas, nobody is getting rich with an H-Alpha scope.

Jon


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Pharquart
sage
*****

Reged: 11/11/09

Loc: Southwest Minneapolis Metro
Re: Outreach protocol new [Re: Jon Isaacs]
      #5343866 - 07/30/12 05:42 PM

I debated this very topic in my head (and on these forums) for a while. I do outreach in my suburban downtown, showing people the moon and Saturn, at least so far this summer. People absolutely love it, and many are first time viewers through a telescope. For the first several times I did this, I had a surprising number of people ask, completely unsolicited, if I accepted tips. Others suggested I charge a dollar.

I think the juggler/musician/street performer analogy is close, but buskers like those are usually performing specifically to earn money. I do outreach because I love doing it, and I love the exclamations of joy when people see something they've never seen before.

I will not charge anybody a cent to look through my telescopes during my outreach. However, I have found that some people like to show their appreciation, particularly ones that ask questions and talk to me for 10-15 minutes about astronomy. (Jon hit this point well above.) So I now put out a tip jar. It has a clear label that says "Tips - completely optional" with the last two words as bold and clear as I can make them. It's attached fairly unobtrusively to the rocker box on one of the telescopes.

Some people drop in a dollar, many don't. On a typical outreach night, I might have 80-100 people look through my telescopes. I usually bring home $30 or so. I have used that money to buy eyepiece cleaning tools (lots more lash oil when others look vs. me), replace a diagonal that broke when an over-eager kid grabbed too hard, and buy a new wide-field eyepiece with better eye relief that's easier for novice viewers to use.

Brian


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edwincjones
Close Enough
*****

Reged: 04/10/04

Re: Outreach protocol new [Re: Pharquart]
      #5344098 - 07/30/12 07:53 PM

interesting, and diverse, responses so far

edj


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Coolkid70
super member


Reged: 04/19/11

Re: Outreach protocol new [Re: edwincjones]
      #5344141 - 07/30/12 08:26 PM

My university has a public outreach program about once a month. They actually incur a significant expense; they must pay for electricity, graduate student assistance, buses (to carry people from the parking lot to the remote location), etc... A few years ago, all of this was taken up by the Astronomy department. With the budget cutting these days, they have been asking for a $5 donation for each group. I personally don't see a problem with it, and I have been happy to give them $5 to continue their program.

Just some thoughts.


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David PavlichAdministrator
Transmographied
*****

Reged: 05/18/05

Loc: Mandeville, LA USA
Re: Outreach protocol new [Re: Coolkid70]
      #5345941 - 07/31/12 08:00 PM

An observatory setting is different from a typical outreach in that there is a building that requires maintenance, not to mention property taxes, etc, etc.

I've never considered asking for donations when I'm out doing outreach stuff. I've can't remember anyone from our club suggesting that we ask for donations. I do it because it's one of the great joys of this hobby.

David


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amicus sidera
Post Laureate
*****

Reged: 10/14/11

Loc: East of the Sun, West of the M...
Re: Outreach protocol new [Re: edwincjones]
      #5345965 - 07/31/12 08:22 PM

As long as the man with the solar telescope isn't strong-arming people into dropping money in his bucket (note that his sign indicates "free" views), I fail to see the issue here. Apparently he feels that his time and effort are worth something - good for him.

If an altruistic amateur decides to set his H-Alpha telescope up next to his, and strenuously declines any donations that come his way - good for him, too.

I tip everyone who performs a service for me... everyone... unless their boss or the law forbids it, but maybe that's just a Jersey thing. All I know is that every amateur observatory around here that I know of has a donation box out on public nights. If it's ok to donate to them, but not to a lone guy providing a similar service, well... give me a nine-letter word for pretense of virtue or morality.

This matter has come up before, and not too long ago, on this very forum - anyone seeking a spirited discussion on this subject might go here to review those comments, of which I still steadfastly stand by mine.


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edwincjones
Close Enough
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Reged: 04/10/04

Re: Outreach protocol new [Re: amicus sidera]
      #5346494 - 08/01/12 06:47 AM

maybe it is like passing the plate at church



edj


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haywool
member
*****

Reged: 05/07/12

Loc: Illinois, U.S.A.
Re: Outreach protocol new [Re: edwincjones]
      #5346508 - 08/01/12 07:04 AM

You mean that I'm not gonna "git rich quick" being a "professional amateur" stargazer ??? Rats ! :-)

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edwincjones
Close Enough
*****

Reged: 04/10/04

Re: Outreach protocol new [Re: haywool]
      #5346520 - 08/01/12 07:30 AM

my personal observations have been that
when a hobby becomes a business,
the fun is gone

edj


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troutinco
member


Reged: 06/11/12

Loc: Littleton, CO
Re: Outreach protocol new [Re: edwincjones]
      #5346741 - 08/01/12 10:40 AM

Something not mentioned: perhaps he was a victim of the Waldo canyon fire in the springs and is trying to make extra to help rebuild or just take care of his family. Could be a big assumption on my part but just to throw it out there...

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StarStuff1
Post Laureate
*****

Reged: 04/01/07

Loc: South of the Mason-Dixon Line
Re: Outreach protocol new [Re: troutinco]
      #5348171 - 08/02/12 04:52 AM

I have never asked for or have been offered "tips" for personal outreach. Since I belong to two astro clubs there are plenty of group outreach opportunities. The larger of the two clubs holds it's annual picnic in a pavilion at a state park a few miles out in the country. It is a beautiful location. On a hillside with electricity and good horizons. Normally the pavilion is rented out for weddings, family reunions, etc. But the park lets us use the nice facility for free as we always do a public star gaze, weather permitting, of course. This allows the campers at the park to have an astronomy experience. It is a win-win situation.

At one of the observatories of this larger club we do have a "tip box" with a sign that says all moneys donated will go to upkeep and upgrades to the scopes and facilities. As we do not pressure guests we only get a few donations. I don't have a problem with this situation or with the guy doing public solar outreach. With the cost of equipment and gas these days not to mention your time...


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edwincjones
Close Enough
*****

Reged: 04/10/04

Re: Outreach protocol new [Re: StarStuff1]
      #5348948 - 08/02/12 03:59 PM

back to basics-what is the purpose for outreach

-altruistic
to show/teach the beauty of the heavens

-more selfish
to promote the hobby for the future

so---does charging/collecting help with these goals?
that is the question
if it helps, then good
if not, then not good



seems like opinions mixed

edj


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amicus sidera
Post Laureate
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Reged: 10/14/11

Loc: East of the Sun, West of the M...
Re: Outreach protocol new [Re: edwincjones]
      #5349259 - 08/02/12 07:45 PM

Quote:


so---does charging/collecting help with these goals?
that is the question





I would posit that this question is in and of itself an informal fallacy: lumping the charging of a fee together with collecting (more properly, accepting) freely-given donations... one is a fee for services rendered, and is an implicit consideration, while the other is charitably given, under no contractual obligation, for the same or similar services. These are unequal propositions, and must be considered separately.

That said, consider that altruism, while appearing to be selfless, may actually be self-serving to a greater or lesser degree... for example, the real or imagined elevation in the eyes of others, along with the positive feelings one derives from such activity, results in a considerable reward for one's ego.

As far as promoting the hobby is concerned, even in the face of deplorable light pollution and expensive instruments, the hobby appears quite capable of taking care of itself, with little or no outreach required.


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bassplayer142
professor emeritus


Reged: 10/03/11

Loc: Michigan
Re: Outreach protocol new [Re: amicus sidera]
      #5349411 - 08/02/12 10:03 PM

I don't have a need to ever charge money for outreach personally. I believe it would be acceptable to charge if it was part of a program that was planned and advertised at a cost. If you are at a free outreach and someone is trying to charge people that seems out of place.

But it is nice to live in a country where I or anyone else can do what I please .


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Pharquart
sage
*****

Reged: 11/11/09

Loc: Southwest Minneapolis Metro
Re: Outreach protocol new [Re: bassplayer142]
      #5349522 - 08/02/12 11:25 PM

Quote:

If you are at a free outreach and someone is trying to charge people that seems out of place.




Amicus pointed it out well, something that has been bothering me as I've read the responses, all very well reasoned, by the way. Many posters are using the word charging, when accepting is more appropriate. Back to the original post: the outreach astronomer in question had a sign indicating the views were free.

I do not and will not charge for general unsolicited outreach. After considerable deliberation, however, I have decided it is acceptable to accept free-will offerings of appreciation.

I also respect the opinions of those who disagree with me.

Brian


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Jon Isaacs
Postmaster
*****

Reged: 06/16/04

Loc: San Diego and Boulevard, CA
Re: Outreach protocol new [Re: Pharquart]
      #5349541 - 08/02/12 11:39 PM

Quote:

Amicus pointed it out well, something that has been bothering me as I've read the responses, all very well reasoned, by the way. Many posters are using the word charging, when accepting is more appropriate. Back to the original post: the outreach astronomer in question had a sign indicating the views were free.

I do not and will not charge for general unsolicited outreach. After considerable deliberation, however, I have decided it is acceptable to accept free-will offerings of appreciation.

I also respect the opinions of those who disagree with me.

Brian






Jon


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Bill Weir
Carpal Tunnel
*****

Reged: 06/01/04

Loc: Metchosin (Victoria), Canada
Re: Outreach protocol new [Re: Jon Isaacs]
      #5349645 - 08/03/12 01:56 AM

When I drove from Victoria Canada to Red Bluff California for the Transit of Venus I let dozens of people look through my scopes. Many wanted to know what I wanted from them for the views I offered. I was surprised that the concept of money ever entered into the situation. All I wanted from them was signatures, where they were from and any comments written on a "visitor's log" that I created.

It has never occured to me to treat public outreach as busking but I guess it could be considered that. Doesn't take much talent though just deep enough pockets to buy the gear. Then again with present times we don't know what a person's situation might be now. The scope could have been aquired under different cicumstances. It could be like if you have a cow, do you sell the cow or the milk?

Bill


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