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Philler
sage


Reged: 07/15/13

Loc: Kansas, USA
my negative experience in an Astronomy club
      #6081454 - 09/15/13 03:01 AM

First off, I am sure that most astronomy clubs are good, they create interest in the universe, help people pursue their interest in the hobby, learn the sky, create awareness of LP, educate the public..and so on.
Second, I have not been a member of a club in over ten years, (I was in this club from about 1988 to 1998) and I quit it because I became very turned off to some things in this club (I will not mention the club's name)
I do encourage you to at least look into one.
But here is the down side I experienced. This large club was very cliqueish. Some of the members treated me like, what was I doing here? As time went along you soon realized that you were either in one of two catagories: you were either IN the in crowd of their clique, or you were OUT. And no matter how much you volunteered your time with public star parties and such, wasn't going to change this. Of course they were glad for you to pay you membership fee each year, I think it was 30 dollars or so then, I sure it's at least 50 or 60 now. But was it worth it?
They didn't really have their own dark sky site. They did have an observatory, but it was part of a public park where nighttime softball games and soccer games were played fairly regularly. And as time went on, expanding suburbs caused more and more LP there.
When I asked other members about other dark sky places they could only recommend places on public property.
There was this other area about 40 miles east of there that the club held public star parties occasionally at that seemed better than the one where their observatory was located. And I had even brought my scope and helped at a public star party there once. I wasn't sure that I could just go there on my own with my scope and set up and do my own observing without permission. So I decided to call the club president. And get this: He flew into a rage and told me in so many words that it was not the purpose of the club for us to just pursue our own observing hobby, but that the club's purpose with to educate and enlighten the public. I hung up on him and was ready to never be a part of this club again. But I was planning on going to the Texas Star Party and it was easier to just keep my Astronomical League membership. I did go to the TSP and I got a chance to meet other people from other clubs. I told them some of the things about this "club" I was in and they were in SHOCK. They said, "you mean this club doesn't even have it's own dark sky site JUST for members and guests, why do you stay in it?" I don't remember telling them about my experience with this president of this so called club. Shortly after the TSP I did not renew
my membership and stayed away from it since. I looked at their web site a few months ago and they now do have a dark sky site on private property.
Again, I am not writing this to scare anyone away from joining an astronomy club. I am saying I wouldn't just go to a couple of meetings and join one because you may think that 's the thing to do. I would really check them out, keep going to meetings, star parties, and get to know the members and leadership and decide if it's really for you. And most of all, find out what they are all about. By that I mean find out what the club's purpose or mission statement is. If a big part of it is helping and enhancing the pursuit of your astronomy hobby, then that's great. But if the club's purpose is public education, enlightenment, awareness and your personal "scoping" enjoyment is secondary to this then this should send up a big red flag unless this is your big goal in your amateur astronomy hobby. There is nothing etched in stone--no cardinal rule that says you have to be in a club to enjoy this wonderful hobby. I am sure there are amateur astronomers who have either never been in a club, no desire to be in one, used to be in one, or like me, got really turned off and quit a club.

Edited by Philler (09/15/13 11:53 AM)


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edwincjones
Close Enough
*****

Reged: 04/10/04

Re: my negative experience in an Astronomy club new [Re: Philler]
      #6081579 - 09/15/13 06:32 AM

as you said in the beginning
"most astronony clubs are good"
but some are not,
some just do no click with all
I hope that you have tried others

edj



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Philler
sage


Reged: 07/15/13

Loc: Kansas, USA
Re: my negative experience in an Astronomy club new [Re: edwincjones]
      #6081874 - 09/15/13 11:13 AM

Unfortunately there is only one club in my area, the one I left. The other one is too far away to be a part of with meetings, get togethers and such.

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Brett Carlson
sage


Reged: 12/12/11

Loc: Rochester, NY
Re: my negative experience in an Astronomy club new [Re: Philler]
      #6082533 - 09/15/13 06:01 PM

I guess I'm lucky....my experiencewithrour local club is the exact opposite. Even though I was a bit shy at first...all the members in my group took me in and have all been extremely nice and helpful. We have a great semi dark sky site and phenomenal site managers that keep things running smooth.

I'm thinking that your experiences are not the norm in this hobby. I've never been around a better group ever.


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star drop
contra contrail
*****

Reged: 02/02/08

Loc: Snow Plop, WNY
Re: my negative experience in an Astronomy club new [Re: Brett Carlson]
      #6083597 - 09/16/13 10:22 AM

I belonged to a club for two years and left because of pretty much the same thing. The controlling boards priorities were and still are:
1) Christmas Party
2) Board member star parties in the city with adult beverages.
3) Public events with board members conspicuously absent.
4) Fend for yourself.


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Zamboni
scholastic sledgehammer
*****

Reged: 01/03/05

Loc: Colorado Springs
Re: my negative experience in an Astronomy club new [Re: star drop]
      #6083706 - 09/16/13 11:23 AM

I've left more than one club for similar reasons, and largely eschewed astronomy clubs for this very reason until I got into my current club, which is by far the most welcoming and well-rounded club I've ever been involved in.

Unfortunately, this cliqueish attitude is prevalent in SO MANY clubs I've encountered over the years that I'm not at all surprised that the hobby is in decline. I wish leaders in these clubs would wake up and realize the attitudes are actually discouraging people from getting involved in the hobby. They whinge about the hobby declining and "graying" but fail to realize that this insular attitude is doing more damage than the smartphones and video games and social networking and hippity hop music that they choose to blame.

As for video games being responsible for a decline in interest, you wouldn't believe how many parents I've talked to at outreach events who's kids got interested in space science by playing Kerbal Space Program. It's amazing.

Anyhoo, deviated from the topic a bit, but this is a subject that has been eating at me for some time.


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Joe F Gafford
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 12/15/06

Loc: Denver, Colorado, US
Re: my negative experience in an Astronomy club new [Re: Zamboni]
      #6083864 - 09/16/13 12:33 PM

I am a board member for the past 20 years at a large club. I seen the changes of leadership in that time. It took me two years to get elected to the board. There was a clique back then, but mild compared to what was said here. Over the years when there was fresh blood running for board, more and more of the older board withdrew their nominations to give a better chance for the new members to run.

We have a DSS which is up for renewal of lease in a few years. We have some members who join just for for the DSS, and others for public outreach. I am doing both. I am lucky here. This club wasn't this way in the 50's and 60's, it was very exclusive. Back then, you would have to attend the general meetings twice monthly and then be sponsored for membership by a senior member. In the 1950's and early 60's, you would also have to take a test! This was normal for any kind of club back then.

Joe


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Steven Aggas
scholastic sledgehammer


Reged: 04/15/08

Loc: Arizona
Re: my negative experience in an Astronomy club new [Re: Philler]
      #6084181 - 09/16/13 03:36 PM

Philler, I'd suggest starting a small group of your own. Not via Craigslist, but rather put your scope on the front sidewalk. You will find the people who walk up and have an interest like you. The conversations will start up, centered on astronomy....

Best,
Steven


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kfiscus
Carpal Tunnel
*****

Reged: 07/09/12

Loc: Albert Lea, MN, USA
Re: my negative experience in an Astronomy club new [Re: Zamboni]
      #6084481 - 09/16/13 06:29 PM

I would question the assertion that our hobby is in decline.

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Zamboni
scholastic sledgehammer
*****

Reged: 01/03/05

Loc: Colorado Springs
Re: my negative experience in an Astronomy club new [Re: kfiscus]
      #6084635 - 09/16/13 08:09 PM

The demographics in the hobby are skewing older and older every year. Membership decreases every year for astronomy clubs all around the country. Fewer and fewer high schools and colleges have astronomy clubs due to lack of interest. Attendance at national star parties is decreasing each year. If that isn't a decline, I don't know what is.

The Astronomical League magazine devoted two issues to the subject this year, and they're a quarterly!

Edited by Zamboni (09/16/13 08:15 PM)


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Stacy
Star Partyer
*****

Reged: 09/15/02

Loc: Seattle, WA
Re: my negative experience in an Astronomy club new [Re: Zamboni]
      #6084691 - 09/16/13 08:33 PM

As the black of night fades to shades of grey, there is less brilliance in the impossibly distant stars to capture the imagination and interest of a youth obsessed with tiny, brilliant screens that are never further than arms reach.

Stacy


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Zamboni
scholastic sledgehammer
*****

Reged: 01/03/05

Loc: Colorado Springs
Re: my negative experience in an Astronomy club new [Re: Stacy]
      #6084818 - 09/16/13 09:43 PM

I think that argument is problematic too. There have always been new forms of technology and media, and new media and technology have ALWAYS been blamed on declining interest in various hobbies, in spite of the fact that they can be used VERY effectively to get people interested in Astronomy and Space Science. That's IF and ONLY IF the people responsible for getting a new generation interested CHOOSES to use the new technology and media effectively. The problem is nobody is doing it, and the attitude of most amateur astronomers is so fundamentally hostile towards new forms of technology and media that they willfully overlook or straight-up bash them instead of using them effectively.

In the late seventies as the space program was winding down after the moon race, there was a decline in fresh interest in the hobby. I've seen articles from that time blaming television as a distraction, but then COSMOS and Star Trek: TNG came along and got a whole new generation interested in space (myself included). Clearly it was the way television was being used, rather than television itself, that was at the heart of the issue. Like I said before, I've even seen video games like Kerbal Space Program being effectively used to generate interest in space science, as well as smartphone apps, so to blame technology and media as a whole is just plain silly. I've seen arguments on these very forums blaming pop music and iPods on declining interest. That's like blaming Irving Berlin and the phonograph; pure unadulterated lunacy.

This cognitive dissonance runs really deep. A good example of this negativity towards media being used effectively is the obscene amount of hostility I've seen directed at the new COSMOS series on these forums. It's unbelievably sad because everybody is so concerned about how it's going to mess with their nostalgia trip about the original that they're failing to see how important it is. Here's some hard truths: Scientific literacy in the US is at an all-time low. If you were to just rebroadcast the original, NOBODY would watch it except people who have already seen it. It NEEDS updating if you're going to expose a new generation to it. Second, everybody is complaining about the network airing it and asking why it can't be shown on PBS. Well, if you put a modern COSMOS on PBS, the only people who would watch it would be people who would be interested in watching the original ANYWAY. If you want it exposed to as wide an audience as possible, you have to stay away from public television. Sad, yes, but true. It's foolish to argue otherwise. Third, and this is a big one: If successful, the new COSMOS could reinvigorate interest in Astronomy like nothing else in the last three decades. Amateur astronomers love to complain about how the hobby is declining, but the moment somebody says "let's do something about it on national TV" they reject it out of hand and revert to an insular, nostalgia-fest pity party.

I love amateur astronomy more than anything, but the hobby and the community need to evolve or die. The insular clique mentality of FAR TOO MANY astronomy clubs, combined with an outright hostility towards new media that could be used to promote the hobby is turning potentially interested people away. I've seen it myself time and time again when talking to people at outreach events. When I was doing outreach in the Phoenix area, I talked to a lot of people who had telescopes (good ones, not Christmas trash) at home and never learned how to properly use them. I would recommend that they join an astronomy club, and they would proceed to tell me that they had tried and that the members had looked down on them for reasons as silly as starting out with a go-to telescope. They felt unwelcome, and were quickly turned off from the hobby permanently.

THIS NEEDS TO STOP. The interest in astronomy is THERE. The tools to keep people interested ARE RIGHT THERE. Unfortunately, it's the culture of the amateur astronomy community itself that's turning interested people away.

I didn't really want to go off on a rant, but this is something that has been making me increasingly angry for years. Blaming every little advance in technology for a loss of interest is like somebody in the early sixties blaming an increase in crime rates on the way Elvis shook his hips. At best it reeks of moral panic, and It's shifting the blame to a potentially valuable tool that astronomers are CHOOSING NOT TO USE to generate interest.

Stepping off my soapbox now.


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Stacy
Star Partyer
*****

Reged: 09/15/02

Loc: Seattle, WA
Re: my negative experience in an Astronomy club new [Re: Zamboni]
      #6084927 - 09/16/13 10:37 PM

I grew up in the 60's and stumbled through the 70's. I excelled at science but was never exposed to astronomy as a study or a hobby or anything else. I had an interest in the unknown of space, but that did not equate in a desire to observe the night sky. I looked at the moon one night when there were men on it. I had no thought to try to actually see them. .

My interest in astronomy started in my 40's when my wife bought me an 8" Orion Dob for my birthday.

After I got my telescope I went to a Seattle Astronomical Society meeting. Pretty much felt invisible. Never went back.

I don't think a lot has changed in the last 50 years as far as cultivating new astronomers.

JMHO.

Stacy


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Zamboni
scholastic sledgehammer
*****

Reged: 01/03/05

Loc: Colorado Springs
Re: my negative experience in an Astronomy club new [Re: Stacy]
      #6084983 - 09/16/13 11:09 PM

Some clubs go out of their way to make new members feel welcome and involved. My current club is that way. Unfortunately, it's prety much the only club I've tried that has been that way (out of five).

This really needs to change quickly. The "get off my lawn" mentality is going to kill the hobby.

Edited by Zamboni (09/16/13 11:13 PM)


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Joe F Gafford
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 12/15/06

Loc: Denver, Colorado, US
Re: my negative experience in an Astronomy club new [Re: Stacy]
      #6084995 - 09/16/13 11:13 PM

My club has started to advertise on social media with good results. Try getting space in the local paper anymore. If our Chamberlin Observatory events gets in the paper, it is on the south side edition of the paper and not on the several other sections of the metro area.
Our club has about 400 members and growing. Some people join only for a year, but we get the few that latches on and stay. One of these came in because he saw Cosmos. Larry was a teacher and he quickly moved up and became club president in two stretches over ten years. A young lady showed up at our monthly Open House and asked simple questions at first and she got into it very quickly. Me, Larry and some others helped this young lady along because she really soaking these things up. She was elected to the board, then vice president, then president when Larry got ill. She was elected president on the following term. She left afterwards to SoCal to marry her boyfriend and she got on at Griffith as volunteer operator on the 12" Zeiss right after the big renovation. Then she got on at Mt. Wilson as part time maintenence on the bubbly Hooker 100" and then at JPL as a tour guide. My sister and I had her last year while we toured JPL. My sister asked her on how she got into astronomy and she turned in my direction and did a double point at me and said "He and some others at the DAS got me insterested". I melted at that. What comes around....
She is still working at these 3 places.

Joe


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Zamboni
scholastic sledgehammer
*****

Reged: 01/03/05

Loc: Colorado Springs
Re: my negative experience in an Astronomy club new [Re: Joe F Gafford]
      #6085032 - 09/16/13 11:29 PM

That's a darn good example of what needs to happen. We're lucky here in the springs in that our club has a good relationship with the local media and helps publicize a lot of our events. We're trying to increase our social media presence a bit, and I think there's room for improvement in that arena. We're also setting up Google+ hangouts to do video broadcast of our meetings so things like our lectures and seminars can be viewed by people all over the country. I think that will be a really big boon in the future.

We're trying to organize a series of outreach events based around the Cosmos broadcasts starting in February. We're going to have viewing parties at a local microbrewery followed by observing sessions in the parking lot. I think it's important to have some outreach that isn't exclusively kid and family oriented so we can re-hook adults who might have had an interest as kids and gotten pulled away from it for one reason or another.

I'm a tobacco company astronomer. Do everything I can to get as many people hopelessly addicted as possible by whatever means necessary. I'm a diabolical pusher.


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kfiscus
Carpal Tunnel
*****

Reged: 07/09/12

Loc: Albert Lea, MN, USA
Re: my negative experience in an Astronomy club new [Re: Zamboni]
      #6085081 - 09/16/13 11:54 PM

If I'm hearing y'all correctly, 'as astronomy clubs go- so goes amateur astronomy'. I respectfully disagree. If every astronomy club, good and bad, vanished, I think amateur astronomy would continue with barely a pause. We have the web now...(And I'm practically a Luddite!)

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Philler
sage


Reged: 07/15/13

Loc: Kansas, USA
Re: my negative experience in an Astronomy club new [Re: kfiscus]
      #6085259 - 09/17/13 03:32 AM

Thanks for your replies.
As I said, I won't tell the name of my former club, but instead I will tell you that it's in the Kansas City area where I live. From that you could easily find out on the web the name of it along with other info on their site. At the time I was still a member, from about 1988 to 1998, it had I think about 250 to 300 members. I think now it has over 350. I don't think I ever saw even half of this 250 to 300. I think they liked to hand out memberships to celebrities. They would get like a local TV weather forecaster to speak at a monthly meeting and give him a free membership. All past club presidents were lifetime members for free. I heard they even wheeled poor old Clyde Tombaugh into a meeting shortly before he passed away and gave him a membership. I don't imagine he was too impressed with them. Maybe that club president I mentioned should have scolded him about spending too much time looking for Pluto. And explained that the purpose of this club was to make sure all the Boy Scouts get to look through his scope and see the Coat Hanger, the flag on the Moon, and the Double Cluster, and not spend his time searching for another planet X. They even got David Levy to come so they could show off their club observatory and probably gave him a free membership too. They practically kissed the ground he walked on! Needless to say, I don't think Levy was impressed with their observatory or them. I'm sure they didn't dare tell him his real duty was helping at public star parties and not chasing down comets. My theory is that most of these paper members on their rolls just paid their dues or got it for free, but never got involved. But it's good advertising for the club to say, "we've got 300 plus members."
I was doing variable star observing at one time mostly cataclismics, but I lost interest. And I was not the only renegade in this club. We had one supernova hunter. We also had a very dedicated occultation and star graze guy who would try to organized and recruit for these trips to observe these grazes.

Anyway, I think I might google up this club's site and if it looks like they have changed and are putting the amateur astronomy hobbiest and his endevours and passion FIRST and FOREMOST--just as this forum here does--then I may go to one of their monthly meetings, check them out, and MAYBE see about giving them a second chance.

Edited by Philler (09/17/13 04:51 AM)


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core
Pooh-Bah
*****

Reged: 02/23/08

Loc: Mostly in Norman, OK
Re: my negative experience in an Astronomy club new [Re: Philler]
      #6085271 - 09/17/13 04:10 AM

My sympathies, but you're talking about events 15 years ago, with no updates in the intervening years? In the absence of information or contact, it can sometimes be all too easy for us to think out other people's actions. With any human interaction, there'll always be clubs (and shops, etc) that just we just find ourselves not fitting in, being uncomfortable, or agreeable with our own outlook - the universe is a big place and it's out there - move on and enjoy it!

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Philler
sage


Reged: 07/15/13

Loc: Kansas, USA
Re: my negative experience in an Astronomy club new [Re: Steven Aggas]
      #6085280 - 09/17/13 04:39 AM

Quote:

Philler, I'd suggest starting a small group of your own. Not via Craigslist, but rather put your scope on the front sidewalk. You will find the people who walk up and have an interest like you. The conversations will start up, centered on astronomy....

Best,
Steven




Thanks Steven, but I can enjoy this hobby just as much with or without a club. As far as a club--I can take it or leave it. I wouldn't need to be in a fishing club to enjoy fishing. As far as out on my driveway or sidewalk--poor place. Besides the John Dobson approach is just not in my personality.


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Stacy
Star Partyer
*****

Reged: 09/15/02

Loc: Seattle, WA
Re: my negative experience in an Astronomy club new [Re: Stacy]
      #6087051 - 09/17/13 11:16 PM

Quote:

As the black of night fades to shades of grey, there is less brilliance in the impossibly distant stars to capture the imagination and interest of a youth obsessed with tiny, brilliant screens that are never further than arms reach.

Stacy




Some of you are so wrapped up in your own philosophy you missed my point entirely.

How can you be interested in astronomy if you have never seen stars? At my star party on Table Mountain this year we were visited by about 30 students from Tokyo. Many who had never seen stars. One by one I showed them Saturn and then M13. Their coments revealed, although incomprehensible to me through language were unmistakeably "turned on". Gasps and excited verbages revealed awakened minds. What about the millions of other young, brilliant minds in Tokyo who were not on Table Mountain that night? Who will awaken them in their light polluted environment.

The technology spin concerns a new phenomenon called the "Downward Child Syndrome" where in many countries like South Korea children are so addicted to their smart phones and texting and so-forth, they never look up. Add in the LP and it just compounds the problem. How could any of these people obtain an interest in stargazing? They don't even notice them.


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bluedandelion
Carpal Tunnel
*****

Reged: 08/17/07

Loc: Hazy Hollow, Western WA
Re: my negative experience in an Astronomy club new [Re: Stacy]
      #6087138 - 09/17/13 11:58 PM

Stacy,

I remember the kids at Table Mountain.

I teach Astronomy 101 to the the phone obsessed generation. Last year I set up a scope on top of one of our college buildings in a red zone for LP. With about 25 or so students all we had time to look at was Saturn, Jupiter and a few of the brightest stars. One student said, "I'll never forget this." Another said the stars reminded him of diamonds. This leads me to believe that the younger generation has not been exposed to the night sky and that's why they are not interested.

I long for a power outage on a clear summer night so that more eyes will be opened to the wonders of the night sky.

Ajay

Edited by bluedandelion (09/17/13 11:59 PM)


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Stacy
Star Partyer
*****

Reged: 09/15/02

Loc: Seattle, WA
Re: my negative experience in an Astronomy club new [Re: bluedandelion]
      #6087973 - 09/18/13 12:50 PM

Quote:

I long for a power outage on a clear summer night so that more eyes will be opened to the wonders of the night sky.

Ajay






That would be awesome Ajay!


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Alex McConahay
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 08/11/08

Loc: Moreno Valley, CA
Re: my negative experience in an Astronomy club new [Re: Stacy]
      #6088020 - 09/18/13 01:15 PM

During the Northridge earthquake,Los Angeles emergency services were getting phone calls from concerned citizens about the lights in the sky....Turns out it was the Milky Way.

Alex


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bluedandelion
Carpal Tunnel
*****

Reged: 08/17/07

Loc: Hazy Hollow, Western WA
Re: my negative experience in an Astronomy club new [Re: Alex McConahay]
      #6088814 - 09/18/13 08:34 PM

To the OP and to get back on topic:

I think you may have found your club, i.e., CN. I've met many CN'ers at spontaneously arranged star parties who don't belong to any other clubs. If you want a recommendation for a traditional one, why not post a request here? I am sure you'll get a lot responses. If you are in the Seattle/Puget Sound area, send me a PM and I'll send you some recommendations.

Ajay

Edited by bluedandelion (09/18/13 09:42 PM)


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Ian Robinson
Post Laureate


Reged: 01/29/09

Loc: 33S , 151E
Re: my negative experience in an Astronomy club new [Re: Philler]
      #6089259 - 09/19/13 12:23 AM

I started the local club when I was about 13 - 14 yrs old (my dad paid the print advertising, and I was helped in establishing it by a very nice lady who I met when she was doing an astronomy and telescope outreach (Mrs Towers had been doing this for several years and we became very good friends). Mrs Towers encouraged me greatly and inspired me to bight the bullet. 40 years later the club is still going though I've not been a member since the 1980s).

The club was very good and a great way of getting to know other astronomy enthusiasts in my local area and we rotated monthly to meet at each other's homes (tea and bikkies were a high light of the meeting and getting together after dark in our respective backyards to look through each other's telescopes and binoculars was a real treat, everyone had bigger scopes than me at that stage, one member had a 4" Unitron refractor on a home made GEM , some even had home made scopes that looked gigantic to me at the time - 12" newts).

Eventually the club grew too large to be meet informally at other's homes and we became affiliated with the local technical college where we permanently met and housed our growing library, we even had a book loan arrangement and some telescopes donated that were made available on loan to members.

Pretty soon the club was big enough that some of the adult members decided it needed a constition and a formal structure.

At this point political stuff started happening and cliques started forming, I stayed with the club for over 10 years but as life will have it, life got busier and busier for me and I grew away from being interested in being an astronomy club member, the cliquiness was offputting (seeing nOObs not being integrated and included they way they ought to be , I've seen the same kind of thing in other special interest activities and groups too ie square dance, ball room, fishing , it's the nature of the beast when you get a large group of people together, some with always think they are the elites and some will be snobs when it comes to "no-nothing-nOObs" , a club to lets this happen wont last long as more members become disenfranchised and upset and leave and some will even loose interest entirely in the hobby ).

My suggestion is if you are not happy with the local club, you have 3 options,
1) stop supporting it and go it alone, you don't need to be a club member to have a network of astronomy friends,
2) stop supporting it and start your own club (it's not that hard to do if 13 - 14 yr old boy can do it)
3) find another club nearby, but keep in mind you might encounter the same people there.

Best way to be accepted in a larger astronomy club is to become actively involved in some of their sections and observing programs and to offer to give presentations to the club and to contribute to the clubs news letter or magazine.


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David Knisely
Postmaster
*****

Reged: 04/19/04

Loc: southeastern Nebraska
Re: my negative experience in an Astronomy club new [Re: Philler]
      #6089275 - 09/19/13 12:41 AM

We see these posts every now and then. Even when clarified as saying, "most astronomy clubs are good", the posts do tend to cast an overall negative light on Astronomy clubs in general, and that is both inaccurate and unfortunate. True, there can be some "jerks" in clubs (with more of them in the larger clubs), and they can sometimes ruin the club experience for people occasionally. Misunderstandings can also happen in clubs, which can sour personal relationships and create a feeling of social ostracization. However, most of the clubs I have met or been associated with have treated members and guests quite well, so reports like this one tend to leave me shaking my head a little sometimes.

Philler (OP) mentions the following incident:

Quote:

There was this other area about 40 miles east of there that the club held public star parties occasionally at that seemed better than the one where their observatory was located. And I had even brought my scope and helped at a public star party there once. I wasn't sure that I could just go there on my own with my scope and set up and do my own observing without permission. So I decided to call the club president. And get this: He flew into a rage and told me in so many words that it was not the purpose of the club for us to just pursue our own observing hobby, but that the club's purpose with to educate and enlighten the public. I hung up on him and was ready to never be a part of this club again.




It kind of seems like maybe something relevant to the above account might be missing here. People generally don't fly off the handle when asked a simple question (particularly, club presidents, who generally have to be civil at the very least due to their position). Perhaps the site had already been scheduled for a group and would be unavailable for individual use that night. Maybe it was in the way the question was asked, or maybe the guy just had a bad day and was reacting in that manner. I found out the hard way that people (and the way they interact) are often a real problem for club presidents when I had one incident blow up in my face as president of our club a number of years ago. It was something of a misunderstanding of how an individual interacted with others verbally, and it got a little heated at a club meeting (which I never should have allowed to happen). The individual involved and I are now on friendly terms, but at the time, the incident threatened to tear the club apart (and a few people did leave). The incident caused me to decline nomination for another term a few months later, and I am not sure I ever want to face that again. Club presidents are not perfect, but somehow they have to muddle through the issues in a way that ruffles the least feathers. This can be hard to do, but I know very few club presidents who would yell at someone for just asking a simple question. I kind of have to wonder if there may be just a little more to it than that.


Quote:

As I said, I won't tell the name of my former club, but instead I will tell you that it's in the Kansas City area where I live. From that you could easily find out on the web the name of it along with other info on their site. At the time I was still a member, from about 1988 to 1998, it had I think about 250 to 300 members. I think now it has over 350. I don't think I ever saw even half of this 250 to 300.




There is only one club in the Kansas City area of that size, so yea, it wasn't hard to figure out what group is being talked about (and again, from what little I do know of them, I am a little puzzled by this posting). As for attendance, the number of club members who attend meetings regularly is usually nowhere near the full membership roster. Indeed, with our club (about 60 members), we are lucky to have 15 to 20 people at some of our regular meetings, although a few times, we have gotten to around 3/4 of our membership for special programs or some of our social events. Scheduling conflicts between people who are members (who also have "lives" outside of amateur astronomy) and our meeting nights probably account for most of our "losses" when it comes to attendance. I think that overall, probably between 1/5th to 1/3rd of actual dues-paying club members nationally regularly attend meetings in most clubs, so not seeing more than a fraction of them at meetings in a club of nearly 300 people is not all that surprising.


Quote:

I think they liked to hand out memberships to celebrities. They would get like a local TV weather forecaster to speak at a monthly meeting and give him a free membership. All past club presidents were lifetime members for free.




Nothing necessarily wrong with that (if the club can afford it monetarily that is). We don't give out our memberships generally, but a few of our long-term members who have contributed years of effort to the club and to the observatory have been formally recognized for their achievement via a formal full club vote to award them "lifetime" memberships. We have awarded some kids a year's free membership on occasion when they win one of our Astronomy Day door prizes or when they have done something academically worthy of recognition. We also have a lower cost student membership in the club to help encourage youth involvement in astronomy.


Quote:

I heard they even wheeled poor old Clyde Tombaugh into a meeting shortly before he passed away and gave him a membership. I don't imagine he was too impressed with them.




From what I understand, Tombaugh was a guest speaker at a Kansas City club meeting in June of 1988. If he was awarded a membership, that was a nice symbolic gesture of recognitions and thanks at least (and again, there is nothing all that wrong with that).

Quote:

Maybe that club president I mentioned should have scolded him about spending too much time looking for Pluto. And explained that the purpose of this club was to make sure all the Boy Scouts get to look through his scope and see the Coat Hanger, the flag on the Moon, and the Double Cluster, and not spend his time searching for another planet X. They even got David Levy to come so they could show off their club observatory and probably gave him a free membership too. They practically kissed the ground he walked on! Needless to say, I don't think Levy was impressed with their observatory or them. I'm sure they didn't dare tell him his real duty was helping at public star parties and not chasing down comets. My theory is that most of these paper members on their rolls just paid their dues or got it for free, but never got involved. But it's good advertising for the club to say, "we've got 300 plus members."




Ok, this response has a somewhat sour feel to it (and is very probably fairly speculative at the very least). I live around 180 miles from Kansas City, so I don't attend their regular meetings. However, from what I know of at least some of the members of that club who I have met at conventions and regional star parties over the years, the above statement is a little distorted in outlook to say the least. Those I met were friendly and pleasant to interact with. Indeed, as far as numbers are concerned, at the regional and national Astronomical League conventions held in Kansas City, I noted probably probably between 60 and 80 of the members of that club there, which is in-line with the earlier estimates about member attendance to club meetings or events. There has been little (if any) evidence provided here to show that they are "padding" their membership rosters with freebee memberships (the club must *pay* the Astronomical League for each member's League membership BTW). Again, all this kind of makes me think that at least something of this account may not have been brought forth fully. If someone has a problem with a club, fine, then they should definitely not be a part of it, which may be the best solution for all in the end. Clear skies to you.


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edwincjones
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Re: my negative experience in an Astronomy club new [Re: kfiscus]
      #6089358 - 09/19/13 04:14 AM

Quote:

I would question the assertion that our hobby is in decline.




we all belong to a very active astronomy club-Cloudy Nights,
a change from getting out under the stars to getting in front of the computer,
a change in technology, but an astronomy club never the less

edj


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stevecoe
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Re: my negative experience in an Astronomy club new [Re: edwincjones]
      #6089369 - 09/19/13 04:45 AM

I am very lucky to be a long time member of the best astronomy club in this arm of the galaxy. The Saguaro Astronomy Club of Phoenix, Arizona. We start the meeting at 7:30, there is a small amount of business and then the astronomy starts at 8:00 PM--guaranteed.

I was the "Novice Group" leader for two decades and we did have some beginners that got educated about the sky and telescopes in that time.

We also have created as much as we could to help people trying to find their way around the sky. You just need to concentrate on what's important--enjoying the sky.

Don't get too hung up on the negative input and get out and have fun.

Clear skies to us all;
Steve Coe


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MikeBOKC
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Re: my negative experience in an Astronomy club new [Re: stevecoe]
      #6089558 - 09/19/13 09:00 AM

You get out of an astronomy club what you put into it. Involvement is a key for me, whether serving in some leadership capacity or in just being there for meetings, gatherings and outreach events. Like any gathering of humans beyond one in number, there are going to be some folks you like a lot, many who are fine but not people you feel a need to get close to and a few who have some personality quirks you would just as soon avoid. On balance, having worked in a number of volunteer-driven organizations through the years, from Scouting to non-profits and community organizations, I have found astronomy club members to be, on balance, some of the nicest folks around.

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Jon Isaacs
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Re: my negative experience in an Astronomy club new [Re: Zamboni]
      #6089613 - 09/19/13 09:50 AM

Quote:

The demographics in the hobby are skewing older and older every year. Membership decreases every year for astronomy clubs all around the country. Fewer and fewer high schools and colleges have astronomy clubs due to lack of interest. Attendance at national star parties is decreasing each year. If that isn't a decline, I don't know what is.

The Astronomical League magazine devoted two issues to the subject this year, and they're a quarterly!




I am sure that magazine sales, club memberships are on the decline but I have to believe those are not representative of a decline in the hobby itself but rather a shift away from the old traditional ways. The internet has changed the way the younger generations and many of the older generation communicate, how they meet, where they meet. Club attendance is in decline because clubs themselves are in decline, not the hobbies themselves.

Star Party attendance is also a problematic measure, an informal poll here on Cloudy Nights (a rather large club itself), indicated that most amateur astronomers observe by themselves or in very small groups. In the 20 plus years I have been observing representing thousands of nights out under the stars, I have attended only one actual star party that could have actually been tabulated.

From what I see, the hobby is going strong, all is well. Clubs and magazines, that's a different story.

Jon


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Lane
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Re: my negative experience in an Astronomy club new [Re: Jon Isaacs]
      #6090094 - 09/19/13 02:38 PM

I would disagree that this hobby is in decline, it seems to be just the opposite. More and more schools are adding astronomy classes and holding star parties. My friends kids are all doing this right now and they love it.

Our club holds a lot of star parties and attendance just keeps going up all the time. We are also getting more request now from schools to come hold star parties for their students.


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George N
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Re: my negative experience in an Astronomy club new [Re: Lane]
      #6091492 - 09/20/13 10:42 AM

At last year's (Oct 2012) Kopernik Observatory AstroFest we did a discussion session on "health of astronomy clubs" with representatives from something like 8 to 10 clubs from the NY/NJ/PA area. As I remember it all reported being from a vibrant club that is growing or at least maintaining membership. On the other hand they all noted the 'graying' effect, but are still attracting some younger members. We plan on holding a similar 'discussion hour' again this year (see Star Parties forum for info).

Every club has it's unique personality and interests and there is a ebb and flow over time. I've been a member of a club that went from around a 100 members all they way down to maybe 5. In recent years it has rebounded to about 20 active members.

What I'd suggest is: if you believe your club should be doing something that it is not, volunteer to kick off that effort, but don't try to stop stuff you don't like..... just don't take part in that.

Last year I ran into the 2nd "club" at Cherry Springs Dark Sky Park that had a very simple agenda: they organized observing sessions as a group (about 20 people). Otherwise, no meetings, no "rules", etc. The folks from both groups seemed very happy with their arrangement.


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George N
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Re: my negative experience in an Astronomy club new [Re: Jon Isaacs]
      #6091526 - 09/20/13 11:07 AM

Quote:

Quote:

The demographics in the hobby are skewing older and older every year. Membership decreases every year for astronomy clubs all around the country. Fewer and fewer high schools and colleges have astronomy clubs due to lack of interest. Attendance at national star parties is decreasing each year. If that isn't a decline, I don't know what is.

The Astronomical League magazine devoted two issues to the subject this year, and they're a quarterly!




I am sure that magazine sales, club memberships are on the decline but I have to believe those are not representative of a decline in the hobby itself but rather a shift away from the old traditional ways. The internet has changed the way the younger generations and many of the older generation communicate, how they meet, where they meet. Club attendance is in decline because clubs themselves are in decline, not the hobbies themselves.

Star Party attendance is also a problematic measure, an informal poll here on Cloudy Nights (a rather large club itself), indicated that most amateur astronomers observe by themselves or in very small groups. In the 20 plus years I have been observing representing thousands of nights out under the stars, I have attended only one actual star party that could have actually been tabulated.

From what I see, the hobby is going strong, all is well. Clubs and magazines, that's a different story.

Jon




Magazines: One good friend is an editor on one of the 'big two' and has told me that their subscriptions and sales are actually increasing! My bet is that is true of the other one too.

Star Parties: I'm not sure about the smaller ones, but the big 2 or 3 that I attend are still full up. NEAF seems down in attendance these last 2 years, but there were still healthy numbers and I saw lots of boxes with expensive stuff going out into the parking lot.

It's only natural that there will be changes. I think that part of the 'graying' thing is related to how the hobby has changed, with the decline of amateur telescope making, but the rise of electronic imaging (and related). It seems that astro groups split into visual and imager who have little in common! Let's face it: imaging can cost big bucks and is likely to attract middle-age males with a scientific/engineering/medical background who no longer are interested in extreme skiing, etc. They are looking for a more sedate hobby that relates to their tech skills, and astro imaging fits right in.... but probably not for someone just starting a family and career. I think of 'the graying effect' as more 'the CCD effect' naturally bringing in new people at an older age that was true in the 'film age'.


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Skylook123
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Re: my negative experience in an Astronomy club new [Re: George N]
      #6091627 - 09/20/13 12:10 PM

Just some empirical experience to throw into the mix. I am a member of two clubs: the Tucson Amateur Astronomy Association with approximately 375 members, and the Sonora Astronomical Society, centered down in Green Valley, AZ, much smaller but just as friendly. Both have components of the major aspects of amateur astronomy. Two to three times a year, TAAA teaches a three weekend course in basic astronomy, about 25 class hours, ending in a pot luck dinner and night under the sky for the entire club where a lot of different equipment is used, and help offered for the less experienced folks. We usually get 20 to 30 students at each of the class series.

We have many public outreach events, 50% or more of which I participate in, around 6 to ten a month. Our big hitters are Grand Canyon Star Party once each year, and Night Under The Stars at Catalina State Park, three times each year. At GCSP, we're approaching a quarter century of which I've been present for 11 years in a row and the coordinator for the last five years. GCSP has grown from about 70 astronomers and 700 visitors each of the eight nights, to over 110 volunteers and 1450 visitors each night. Our Catalina State Park efforts have grown from four or five astronomers and maybe 10 visitors to now hosting around 300 with twelve or more astronomer volunteers. At special events on the UofArizona Mall we have as many as fifty astronomers and many hundreds of visitors. I don't see a fall off in public interest, rather, a steadily increasing growth to the point that a couple of us have been asked over the last three years to put on an adult education introduction to astronomy by the University of Arizona's branch of the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute. Our 20 available slots usually fill within two hours of registration opening on line, the fastest full subscription of hundreds of course offerings each semester. And these are day time classes so they fill with senior citizens mostly.

When I lived in Chandler, AZ, I took part in a few Saguaro Astronomy Club and East Valley Astronomy Club events, and did 10 years in a row at the All Arizona Star Parties and Messier Marathons, and they were and are awesome groups to hang out with; Steve Dodder at Saguaro coordinates the North Rim segment of GCSP. Unfortunately, right now work and health issues prevent my travelling up to the recently moved site of the All Arizona events (old site was a forty five minute drive from home--THAT I could make!).

All of my almost 20 years experiences with astronomy clubs, here in Arizona including coordinating GCSP support from those in Kingman, Flagstaff, Prescott, Verde Valley, Sedona, and others, have been extremely positive. Maybe I've just been lucky!


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Zamboni
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Re: my negative experience in an Astronomy club new [Re: Skylook123]
      #6092327 - 09/20/13 07:03 PM

Amusing side note: I used to be in a band with Steve Dodder's daughter.

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Ed Wiley
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Reged: 05/18/05

Loc: Kansas, USA
Re: my negative experience in an Astronomy club new [Re: Philler]
      #6094868 - 09/22/13 11:20 AM

Hummmmm -- I belong to a club in the Kansas City area. It has lots of members. I have no idea about the politics, living outside KC I don't attend meetings. But I do use the fantastic dark sky site, which is about 60 miles south of KC. During my time at the dark sky site and at our star parties I have never had a negative experience. All of the observers are friendly, open folks.

Ed


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Philler
sage


Reged: 07/15/13

Loc: Kansas, USA
Re: my negative experience in an Astronomy club new [Re: Ed Wiley]
      #6099748 - 09/25/13 03:48 AM

Like I already said in a previous reply on this thread, I'll just go with a clean slate and maybe give this club another try. Fair enough?

Edited by Philler (09/25/13 04:04 AM)


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Zamboni
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Re: my negative experience in an Astronomy club new [Re: Philler]
      #6100113 - 09/25/13 10:50 AM

I do know that just 5 years can change the attitude of an Astronomy club. I've actually heard some horror stories about what mine was like in the 90s.

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Philler
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Reged: 07/15/13

Loc: Kansas, USA
Re: my negative experience in an Astronomy club new [Re: Ed Wiley]
      #6102922 - 09/26/13 07:23 PM

Quote:

Hummmmm -- I belong to a club in the Kansas City area. It has lots of members. I have no idea about the politics, living outside KC I don't attend meetings. But I do use the fantastic dark sky site, which is about 60 miles south of KC. During my time at the dark sky site and at our star parties I have never had a negative experience. All of the observers are friendly, open folks.

Ed




Thanks Ed,
I did check out their web site and read about their dark sky site 60 miles south of KC. I didn't know until recently that they had acquired a really good dark sky site for members and guests.
I think I will go ahead and join (or re-join) this club.

Clear skies Ed. Hope we can run into each other under the stars sometime.


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Chris Greene
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Reged: 12/04/05

Loc: Dark Sky, Idaho
Re: my negative experience in an Astronomy club new [Re: Philler]
      #6103438 - 09/27/13 02:06 AM

I was a member of a local club on and off a few times but when I was in a lull on astronomy and my membership lapsed, no one ever contacted me about renewing.

Then, at an event a couple years ago, I ran into the club president and asked about rejoining. He took my info and that was the last time I heard from him.

I'm fortunate to live under pretty dark rural skies so a dark site is not needed for me and the club meets once a month at the college if I want to go.

But I like what Edwin said above about CN being a great online club and I love participating here with people from all over with all levels of interest.


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Skylook123
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Loc: Tucson, AZ
Re: my negative experience in an Astronomy club new [Re: Chris Greene]
      #6103458 - 09/27/13 02:43 AM

Chris, sometimes voting with your feet is the only way to get the point across.

At my club's Board of Directors' meetings, our first agenda item is Member Feedback followed by membership status - totals, comings, goings, contacts with soon to expire memberships. We meet the week after the regular club meeting and we try to engage members before and after the meeting and catch whatever the undercurrent or commentary is made. But that's just us. If you make an honest effort to be a player, and don't get the interest returned, I see no problem with moving on. Life's too short to push big rocks up tall hills.


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Chris Greene
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Re: my negative experience in an Astronomy club new [Re: Skylook123]
      #6103504 - 09/27/13 04:10 AM

Well, at least my Rotary club likes me.

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csa/montana
Den Mama
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Reged: 05/14/05

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Re: my negative experience in an Astronomy club new [Re: Chris Greene]
      #6103961 - 09/27/13 11:17 AM

Quote:

I'm fortunate to live under pretty dark rural skies so a dark site is not needed for me and the club meets once a month at the college if I want to go.

But I like what Edwin said above about CN being a great online club and I love participating here with people from all over with all levels of interest.




Same here. Actually my observatory has darker skies than the club's meeting place at another member's observatory. I quit the club, as it was about a 60 mile roundtrip, and I don't drive during the dark hours, as the highway I travel, is a high hazzard area for hitting deer.

I find CN to more than fulfill any club needs, and actually is the ultimate astro club!


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DavidNealMinnick
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Re: my negative experience in an Astronomy club new [Re: Philler]
      #6104278 - 09/27/13 01:45 PM

"I don't care to belong to a club that accepts people like me as members." - Groucho Marx

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scopefreak
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Re: my negative experience in an Astronomy club new [Re: DavidNealMinnick]
      #6104547 - 09/27/13 04:39 PM

I wish I could find a club out here in eastern KY. I really miss being a member of an active club like the BBAA back in Va Beach VA and the NAS in Norfolk VA.

I am in the process of starting a club. I have a contact at the local college and he is the astronomy professor. We are hoping to get some radio air time to talk about the up coming comet. Maybe that will get a few folks interested in coming out to the free observing sessions we have been doing in the college parking lot.

One can only hope.......


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Undermidnight
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Re: my negative experience in an Astronomy club new [Re: scopefreak]
      #6104563 - 09/27/13 04:49 PM

I have been a member in our local astronomical society now for about 14 years. I was welcomed early on which was nice. I became an officer back in 2006 and have had every office except secretary since then. When I was president, I always tried to seek out new members and help them feel welcome. I am happy to say that I am not the only one who does this and we have a lot of active new members in the club.

One of our new members have recently started a Facebook page for us that is helping our reach.

We have had our share of incidents in the past, but thankfully, the club is healthy and continues on.

Jason


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maknewtnut
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Re: my negative experience in an Astronomy club new [Re: Philler]
      #6107270 - 09/29/13 11:26 AM

The OP's post and subsequent discussion on the matter has struck a chord with me. I've been in 2 clubs (due to a move, then return to the original area) since 1996. My first involvement did expose me to like minded folks that I learned much from, as well as enjoying the fellowship. The flip side is that it only took a year or two to recognize my preferences in the hobby. That led to the realization that satisfying those interests was not going to be accomplished solely via club functions.

Not wanting to step on toes, I started a Yahoo group (with inspiration provided by Atilla Danko having done something similar) with the hopes it might be an avenue to find others in the area to share common interests and experiences with. It didn't work for well for me, but never forget that there are always more astronomers in any area than a local club's membership might lead one to believe.

Neither of the clubs I was a member of owned a dark sky site or much in mutually owned equipment. IMO, that's no way to gauge a club. The second one I joined after moving to Idaho (IFAS) proved to me it's really about people. We actually got out and observed together at multiple dark sky sites, as well as hosting public outreach events. IMO, the former makes the latter 'worth it'.

After returning to first club I had joined, I've come to the same realization I had years ago. The first time around I was a little disappointed that the few times we held private observing sessions, a vast majority would begin to leave around 10pm. This time around, there are no dark sky events at all! An agenda of lectures and in-town public events is fine and dandy, and I enjoy them. Still, I find myself feeling noticeably let down by the overall experience.

No matter what the method(s) employed, seek out others. When you find them, it's worth it.


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amicus sidera
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Re: my negative experience in an Astronomy club new [Re: maknewtnut]
      #6109805 - 09/30/13 06:50 PM

Astronomy clubs have their place, but I doubt that even a simple majority of amateurs belong to them at any given time. Human nature being what it is, one can tire of even those with similar interests after a while, especially when one considers the reasons most people join clubs in general: it is usually to benefit themselves in some way, not to be of service to others.

For those of us who are helpful and giving by nature, membership in any such organization can result in a not-inconsiderable drain of time and expertise, especially considering the social skills of many amateurs, which are often sadly lacking; once it becomes known that a member has a skill that is in demand, or a willingness to be of assistance in other ways, the demands placed upon them by the rest of the membership often become unreasonable. It's been my experience that there are usually one or two "spark plugs" in any given club, along with a small number of individuals who do the vast majority of the work; the remaining membership usually consists of users, losers and space cadets whose main priority is themselves.

After far too much time essentially wasted in and on clubs, I am convinced that amateur astronomy is an avocation best enjoyed in a solitary manner, or with very carefully selected friends.

Fred


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Philler
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Reged: 07/15/13

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Re: my negative experience in an Astronomy club new [Re: amicus sidera]
      #6110296 - 09/30/13 11:18 PM

Quote:

Astronomy clubs have their place, but I doubt that even a simple majority of amateurs belong to them at any given time. Human nature being what it is, one can tire of even those with similar interests after a while, especially when one considers the reasons most people join clubs in general: it is usually to benefit themselves in some way, not to be of service to others.

For those of us who are helpful and giving by nature, membership in any such organization can result in a not-inconsiderable drain of time and expertise, especially considering the social skills of many amateurs, which are often sadly lacking; once it becomes known that a member has a skill that is in demand, or a willingness to be of assistance in other ways, the demands placed upon them by the rest of the membership often become unreasonable. It's been my experience that there are usually one or two "spark plugs" in any given club, along with a small number of individuals who do the vast majority of the work; the remaining membership usually consists of users, losers and space cadets whose main priority is themselves.

After far too much time essentially wasted in and on clubs, I am convinced that amateur astronomy is an avocation best enjoyed in a solitary manner, or with very carefully selected friends.

Fred




I think you hit it right in your last sentence, Fred. Many people, like me, got into this hobby because we had a passion to explore the night sky. As we began to get a pretty good knowledge of the night sky and the equipment we maybe moved into binoculars and then later a telescope. But we also needed a good dark sky place and one that we felt safe and comfortable using--one that anyone, male or female, could feel safe using. And in my opinion, this is one of the most important things that a club should offer to members: a reasonably good, safe dark site on private property.
I, like a lot of others, got into this hobby for the "scoping" aspect of it--the fun of exploring the skies, the challenge of finding DSOs, planets, etc. It is kind of like hunting and fishing, they can both be exciting adventures, whether alone or in the company of friends. I'll admit it, I got into this hobby and stay in this hobby for selfish reasons, not to teach the world or for altruistic reasons. Now don't get me wrong, I enjoy sharing my knowledge or assisting others who ask my help as in learning the sky. Indeed, this hobby is best alone or with like minded friends.
Clear skies.

Edited by Philler (10/01/13 02:54 AM)


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David Knisely
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Re: my negative experience in an Astronomy club new [Re: amicus sidera]
      #6110513 - 10/01/13 02:19 AM Attachment (15 downloads)

Quote:

Astronomy clubs have their place, but I doubt that even a simple majority of amateurs belong to them at any given time. Human nature being what it is, one can tire of even those with similar interests after a while, especially when one considers the reasons most people join clubs in general: it is usually to benefit themselves in some way, not to be of service to others.

For those of us who are helpful and giving by nature, membership in any such organization can result in a not-inconsiderable drain of time and expertise, especially considering the social skills of many amateurs, which are often sadly lacking; once it becomes known that a member has a skill that is in demand, or a willingness to be of assistance in other ways, the demands placed upon them by the rest of the membership often become unreasonable. It's been my experience that there are usually one or two "spark plugs" in any given club, along with a small number of individuals who do the vast majority of the work; the remaining membership usually consists of users, losers and space cadets whose main priority is themselves.

After far too much time essentially wasted in and on clubs, I am convinced that amateur astronomy is an avocation best enjoyed in a solitary manner, or with very carefully selected friends.

Fred




I can't agree at all with these statements (especially the blatant misuse of the stereotypical terms "losers", "users", and "space cadets whose main priority is themselves", when referring to club members). Most people who join a good astronomy club are *none* of these things. One thing I had badly wanted when I first got into amateur astronomy as a youngster was a group of people I could share the experience with. It took several years (and a driver's license), but I eventually found that group (Prairie Astronomy Club) about 40 miles away, and have been a member ever since (about 41 years). The group was just a bunch of regular people who enjoyed going out at night and viewing things. Even when I am at the Nebraska Star Party interacting with people from all over the U.S., I still reserve at least one night with a group of PAC members to view with them, as due to my work schedule, I don't get to attend many of the regular monthly club star parties much anymore (see the picture below). Also, that astronomy club from its earliest days in the mid 1960's was involved in community outreach way before it became more popular among many mainstream astronomy clubs, so I got in on that aspect of the hobby early-on. Sharing the sky with those in the general public became immensely rewarding and not at all "draining". To this day, I still really enjoy those times when I can take my scope out to a public event and show others the wonders that float far above their heads. Eventually, I got tapped into doing this on a more regular and formal basis with a local public observatory, but I still go out on my own sometimes with a few non-club people to show them the sky. I don't object even when a few non-amateurs come by and want to have a look (it got me an article about one of those times published in Sky and Telescope too). I also enjoy the company of at least one other club member when observing, as it helps keep me focused on the sky and observing, rather than the dark loneliness of a rural location at night. Some people just aren't "club" people, and for them, observing alone is OK. However, one of the best things that ever happened to me in this wonderful hobby was when I finally joined the Prairie Astronomy Club. It made all the difference in the world. Clear skies to you.


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amicus sidera
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Re: my negative experience in an Astronomy club new [Re: David Knisely]
      #6111046 - 10/01/13 11:42 AM

Quote:


I can't agree at all with these statements (especially the blatant misuse of the stereotypical terms "losers", "users", and "space cadets whose main priority is themselves", when referring to club members). Most people who join a good astronomy club are *none* of these things.




I don't believe that I misused those terms, for stereotypical though they may be (I did not think that an exhaustive list of all the species and subspecies would be necessary ), the descriptions given nonethelessless accurately reflect my lifetime experience with many of the denizens of astronomy clubs in the Northeast; perhaps similar organizations in Nebraska and environs are composed of finer stock. Such would not surprise me in the least, as I've always found Midwesterners much to my liking as individuals.


Quote:

One thing I had badly wanted when I first got into amateur astronomy as a youngster was a group of people I could share the experience with.




And therein, I believe, lies the crux of the matter. From the time I began observing at a tender age, I found that stargazing en solitaire suited me perfectly well; at most, the presence of a family member or close friend or two sufficed for companionship. Indeed, I found the presence of a multitude disconcerting, and seemingly at odds with the business at hand. "Different strokes for different folks", as the saying goes...

Now this is not to say that I've never enjoyed being a member of an astronomy club; I actually enjoyed participating in them at various times over the decades. However, what has caused me to swear off such organizations has been my low tolerance level for individuals who, while often quite intelligent, are socially inept to the point of not bathing regularly, and who are sometimes almost offensively obsessive. These became legion in many of the groups I frequented years ago, and often took leadership positions in the organization, with fairly predictable results: membership rolls diminishing, projects uncompleted, general rancor and drama, etc. After several abortive attempts to reconcile myself to this situation (which seemed to present itself in every club I investigated), I retired from the battlefield, so to speak.

Fred


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csa/montana
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Re: my negative experience in an Astronomy club new [Re: amicus sidera]
      #6111085 - 10/01/13 12:05 PM

Quote:

the remaining membership usually consists of users, losers and space cadets whose main priority is themselves.





I don't consider anyone wishing to share that great hobby to be in this catagory!
Not everyone that joins clubs are comfortable being in the leadership or assistance roles; rather simply wanting to share this wonderful hobby with like-minded individuals. This certainly does not make them "users, losers & space cadets".

A club has many different roles to play; each individual should take the role that they feel most comfortable with; even if that makes this appear as "main priority is themselves" to a few; I see absolutely nothing wrong with that. After all, this hobby should be focused on fun, not being forced into roles that would be uncomfortable.


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amicus sidera
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Re: my negative experience in an Astronomy club new [Re: csa/montana]
      #6111146 - 10/01/13 12:36 PM

Quote:

Quote:

the remaining membership usually consists of users, losers and space cadets whose main priority is themselves.





I don't consider anyone wishing to share that great hobby to be in this category!




Well, they do exist, as I've certainly encountered more than my fair share of them.

Quote:

Not everyone that joins clubs are comfortable being in the leadership or assistance roles; rather simply wanting to share this wonderful hobby with like-minded individuals. This certainly does not make them "users, losers & space cadets".




I'm not talking about normal, well-adjusted individuals here; I thought that would be obvious from the context.

Quote:

A club has many different roles to play; each individual should take the role that they feel most comfortable with; even if that makes this appear as "main priority is themselves" to a few; I see absolutely nothing wrong with that. After all, this hobby should be focused on fun, not being forced into roles that would be uncomfortable.




If the role an individual "fits into" is that of a selfish status-seeker or one who uses other people for his or her convenience, or a humorless martinet whose main objective is influence and control, then I would posit that there is indeed something wrong with it. As for forcing anyone into a role, well, that simply isn't going to happen in a purely voluntary setting like an astronomy club, is it? No, people choose the roles that they are most indeed most comfortable with, but the point I'm trying to get across is that such roles as they choose are, by their very nature, often detrimental to organized activity.

Fred


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csa/montana
Den Mama
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Re: my negative experience in an Astronomy club new [Re: amicus sidera]
      #6111158 - 10/01/13 12:47 PM

Quote:

Well, they do exist, as I've certainly encountered more than my fair share of them.




Perhaps you can share what makes someone in this hobby as a user, loser, or space cadet? Everyone has their own way to enjoy the hobby; if it doesn't fit into what someone else feels is not the right way; who are we to say that they are users, losers?

Anyone new in this hobby started out as "users", as we rely on others to assist us, until we can fly on our own. That's what makes CN so special, as we don't stereotype others that don't fit into our mold.


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amicus sidera
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Re: my negative experience in an Astronomy club new [Re: csa/montana]
      #6111265 - 10/01/13 01:52 PM

Quote:

Quote:

Well, they do exist, as I've certainly encountered more than my fair share of them.




Perhaps you can share what makes someone in this hobby as a user, loser, or space cadet?




I'd be glad to, Carol.

---------------------------

User: one who takes advantage of the good nature and generosity of another, with little or no intent to reciprocate.

Characteristics: always requesting help, but never offering help when it is within their capacity to do so.

Example: "I broke my finder/drive motor/mirror cell/etc., an you look at it it for me?" "Sure, it just needs XYZ, I'll take care of it for you.". Next month: "Can you help out this weekend? We're cleaning up around the observatory." "Sorry, I'm too busy this weekend." Month after that: "I need an eyepiece, anyone have one they could sell me cheap?" "Sure thing, buddy!" Month after that: "the club's having a public observing session on X, can you bring your scope (ed.:with cheap eyepiece!) that night?" "Nah, I'm not interested"... ad infinitum, ad nauseum...

-----------------------

Loser: one who joins an astronomy club in a quest for, err, "romance". Can also describe those who mix their "habits", such as drug use or alcoholism, with club activities, as well as chronic complainers who have a talent for bringing down the mood of everyone around them.

Characteristics: puts the moves on anything in a skirt. Usually disappears after the available pool of tender companionship rejects him (it's almost always a "him"). May become offended when others refuse to partake of whatever intoxicants he is proffering. Will regale anyone within earshot of all the (perfectly good) telescopes he claims to have endless problems with, or the minute flecks of dust in his (also perfectly good) eyepieces.

Example: A "Will you go out with me?" propositioned to every single female club member, even those who are married or of advanced years. "The trouble with you people is, you don't know how to have a good time!" This last is often spoken after spilling half a beer down someone's OTA. "Did you see the (tiny, practically invisible) sleek on the dewshield of my new Questar/A-P/Takahashi? It's outrageous that they let it leave the factory in that condition!"

--------------------------

Space cadet: an individual who has a very unhealthy obsession with science-fiction and space-related matters, and tends to live, for the most part, in a fantasy world of starships and light sabers; These are not normal science-fiction fans (which many fine amateurs are, of course), by any means.

Characteristics: Often possesses remarkable social ineptitude, making communication when discussing anything other than areas of their specific interest somewhat problematic. Attending to personal hygiene sometimes rates rather low on this individual's scale of importance. May attend star parties wearing a complete Federation uniform (command gold, of course).

Example: "NASA needs to build an elevator to the Moon." Etcetera, etcetera...

--------------------------



Quote:

Everyone has their own way to enjoy the hobby; if it doesn't fit into what someone else feels is not the right way; who are we to say that they are users, losers?




People can do what they want; however, certain things are anathema to some of us; I've listed some of my personal dislikes above. We all make personal judgments about people, that's just part of being human.

Quote:

Anyone new in this hobby started out as "users", as we rely on others to assist us, until we can fly on our own. That's what makes CN so special, as we don't stereotype others that don't fit into our mold.




No, not everyone starts out as a user; see my definition of "user" above. For example, the books and telescopes I relied upon as a beginner were paid for with a paper route. Users are those getting a free ride off the backs of others.

I will agree that CN is special, but part of that specialness is that it pretty much disappears from my life when I turn off the computer; in the non-virtual world, users and their ilk don't tend to be so accommodating,

Fred


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csa/montana
Den Mama
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Re: my negative experience in an Astronomy club new [Re: amicus sidera]
      #6111308 - 10/01/13 02:06 PM

All I can say is, with individuals you just described; I'm certainly glad I live where I do; even though I'm sure individuals such as this is a very small percentage of any club's memberships.

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amicus sidera
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Re: my negative experience in an Astronomy club new [Re: csa/montana]
      #6111328 - 10/01/13 02:14 PM

Carol, I long to live out where you live, in the West; I've traveled all over this country, and I can say with assurance that I'm a fish out of water here in New Jersey; I have much more in common, in every respect, with folks from the West and Midwest than the area here, which I grew up in... it has become unrecognizable to me.

Fred


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DeanS
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Re: my negative experience in an Astronomy club new [Re: scopefreak]
      #6111486 - 10/01/13 04:03 PM

Quote:

I wish I could find a club out here in eastern KY. I really miss being a member of an active club like the BBAA back in Va Beach VA and the NAS in Norfolk VA.

I am in the process of starting a club. I have a contact at the local college and he is the astronomy professor. We are hoping to get some radio air time to talk about the up coming comet. Maybe that will get a few folks interested in coming out to the free observing sessions we have been doing in the college parking lot.

One can only hope.......




Wish you where closer to Lexington, our club needs some new blood to get things going.

Dean


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mountain monk
Carpal Tunnel
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Loc: Grand Teton National Park
Re: my negative experience in an Astronomy club new [Re: DeanS]
      #6116429 - 10/04/13 12:35 AM

Hummm... I have a doctorate in dealing with losers, users, and space cadets, but I did not find that such terms applied to members of my local astronomy club. They are intelligent, helpful, and civil. The reason I attend only once or so a year is that I found their interests too technical for me, and, like Carol, the drive home was simply too dangerous. CN is my astronomy club. I doubt that any local club can match the expertise here.

Dark skies.

Jack


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Skylook123
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Re: my negative experience in an Astronomy club new [Re: mountain monk]
      #6117062 - 10/04/13 11:34 AM

In 20 years in this avocation, I have been highly active in three clubs directly as a member and a half dozen other clubs through common association and operations in four states. And by active I mean participating in and often organizing at least five, often more, specific public events a month over that time ranging from two astronomers to over 110 and from 50 to over 1400 public visitors each night, and participating in astronomer only events with over 150 attendees each night in county, state, and national parks, public and private schools from elementary through colleges, and supporting some private fund raising events. And team teaching basic astronomy both at the club and university adult education venues.

The only losers, users, and space cadets I've run into have been away from the astronomy environment. The clubs I've worked within, and alongside, have been a joy to be privileged to be associated with.


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operascope
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Re: my negative experience in an Astronomy club new [Re: Skylook123]
      #6117759 - 10/04/13 06:10 PM

I'd like to pipe in and say that I've encountered very few "losers, users and space cadets" in the astronomy community. There might be one or 2 I've encountered, but they're such as small percentage,and I find they are easily avoided for the most part. Mostly, I've found a rich variety of people who are united by a passion for astronomy, and love to share this passion with others. Honestly, if I wanted to completely avoid losers, users and space cadets, I'd never be able to leave the house.

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Skylook123
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Re: my negative experience in an Astronomy club new [Re: operascope]
      #6118420 - 10/05/13 02:30 AM

+1

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scopefreak
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Re: my negative experience in an Astronomy club new [Re: operascope]
      #6124229 - 10/08/13 07:27 AM

+2

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Philler
sage


Reged: 07/15/13

Loc: Kansas, USA
Re: my negative experience in an Astronomy club new [Re: Ed Wiley]
      #6126169 - 10/09/13 12:07 AM

Quote:

Hummmmm -- I belong to a club in the Kansas City area. It has lots of members. I have no idea about the politics, living outside KC I don't attend meetings. But I do use the fantastic dark sky site, which is about 60 miles south of KC. During my time at the dark sky site and at our star parties I have never had a negative experience. All of the observers are friendly, open folks.

Ed




Hi Ed, just wanted to say that I joined the club and used the dark sky site last night. You are right, it is fantastic.(A little tricky to find). The folks are friendly and open. Glad I joined.


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bluedandelion
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Re: my negative experience in an Astronomy club new [Re: Philler]
      #6130207 - 10/11/13 12:01 AM

Quote:


Hi Ed, just wanted to say that I joined the club and used the dark sky site last night. You are right, it is fantastic.(A little tricky to find). The folks are friendly and open. Glad I joined.




I love happy endings. Here's to the beginning of a life long membership ...


Ajay


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Philler
sage


Reged: 07/15/13

Loc: Kansas, USA
Re: my negative experience in an Astronomy club new [Re: bluedandelion]
      #6132462 - 10/12/13 04:21 AM

Quote:

Quote:


Hi Ed, just wanted to say that I joined the club and used the dark sky site last night. You are right, it is fantastic.(A little tricky to find). The folks are friendly and open. Glad I joined.




I love happy endings. Here's to the beginning of a life long membership ...


Ajay



Thanks, I'm glad it turned out like this.
As for a lifetime, I've been in this hobby since I was about 40 and I'm in my mid 60s now, so I want to make the most of it. Don't have quite the energy I had years ago to set up and observe like when I was younger. Energy drinks seem to pick me up if I start dragging.


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Ed Wiley
scholastic sledgehammer


Reged: 05/18/05

Loc: Kansas, USA
Re: my negative experience in an Astronomy club new [Re: Philler]
      #6136672 - 10/14/13 11:08 AM

See you on the field!
Ed


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Zamboni
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Reged: 01/03/05

Loc: Colorado Springs
Re: my negative experience in an Astronomy club new [Re: amicus sidera]
      #6141270 - 10/16/13 04:48 PM

I may have had some negative experiences in astronomy clubs, but I've never encountered anybody who falls into any of these categories except for one "Space Cadet" at a star party last year, and he wasn't even a member of the club.

Stereotyping members of astronomy clubs as a whole based on this doesn't seem to be particularly fair, especially considering I think these types are probably vastly in the minority.


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starrancher
Carpal Tunnel
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Reged: 06/09/09

Loc: Northern Arizona
Re: my negative experience in an Astronomy club new [Re: operascope]
      #6142239 - 10/17/13 02:54 AM

Quote:

Honestly, if I wanted to completely avoid losers, users and space cadets, I'd never be able to leave the house.




Huh !
Before I left Californica , I found myself not wanting to leave the house for just this reason .
The move to Northern Arizona made all the difference in the world .
Now I can go back outside again .
Wheeeeeeee!
Goodbye to the land of Fruits & Nuts !


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dpippel
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Reged: 04/05/13

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Re: my negative experience in an Astronomy club new [Re: mountain monk]
      #6143432 - 10/17/13 06:02 PM

I've just returned to the hobby after a 25 year hiatus. When I was active back in the 1980s I belonged to two different astronomy clubs at two different times. I ended up leaving both due to the same problems - petty bickering, egos running amok, people with control issues, and club politics. Both situations were like belonging to an HOA board, with telescopes. While I'm sure there are plenty of great clubs out there, as a result of my past experiences I have no desire to go down that road again. I, and I'm sure many other amateurs, simply prefer to eschew club involvement altogether. Cloudy Nights is as close as I care to get. There's nothing wrong with belonging to a club, and there's nothing wrong with choosing not to.

I'll close by saying that I don't think using club membership as the main indicator of our hobby's "health" is really valid. IMO there are far more amateur astronomers with telescopes in this world than amateur astronomers with telescopes who belong to a club.


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Matthew Ota
Hmmm


Reged: 04/30/05

Loc: Los Angeles, California
Re: my negative experience in an Astronomy club new [Re: dpippel]
      #6161020 - 10/27/13 04:06 PM

I was a trustee with the Orange County Astronomers a few years ago and now I am in the South Bay Astronomical Society. Fortunately in Southern California there are a lot of astronomy clubs to choose from. It is a hotbed of amateur astronomy.

When I was a trustee withthe OCA I did what I could to get the club to promote itself more with bumper stickers. It has also made affiliations with the local telscope store and that helps to promote it with new members. In recent meetings, the president makes an effort to individually welcome new members in the General Meetings.


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JayinUT
I'm not Sleepy
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Re: my negative experience in an Astronomy club new [Re: Matthew Ota]
      #6165738 - 10/30/13 05:21 AM

I preference these comments with just this: as with all comments in this thread or board, these are just my opinions. They are free, of no cost so in truth, probably are of value only to me. Others may agree, disagree or whatever.

I have been a member and not been a member of a local club. I've decided not to renew. The club is wonderful with an emphasis on outreach, to where outreach is their number one draw. They are close but those who are new who are assertive over time, attend the outreach events and the meal time at a local restaurant afterwards; attend club meetings and a couple of major outreach events will fit right in over time. I believe that if you attend you will observe long term friendships that can be perceived as "cliquey" yet in truth are from long term friendships and doing outreach together.
Why won't I renew? Why? I do outreach about 4 to 6 times a year, usually near my home and at the school I teach but I am at a phase where I do as much dark site observing as I can. I have several great friends who usually join me observing, one might say we are cliquish but we are not. We invite anyone who wants to observe at a dark site to come with us and announce to the public when and where we are going. I'm selfish with my time, I don't have a ton of free time so when it comes to observing, find me at a dark site observing 90% of the time. Guess what, its fine, it is what I do to enjoy the hobby. Others do outreach. Some have done what I have done and driving out to the West Desert or in summer to the mountains is not their version of fun. Doing outreach is and that is great for them.

So since my vision is so much different than the club's purpose, at this point in my life I don't see a need for being a member and probably not for some time if ever. I won't say never. For now we are at different purposes. I want to get people out to a decent to excellent dark site so they can see the difference in observing from suburbia or an urban area. I have spent about 5 of those "dark sky trips" this year teaching someone how to observe and use a telescope, often my own, in order to observe with the hope they may take a long term interest in the hobby. For me that is outreach, actually teaching people how to use a telescope to find some of the easier objects in the night sky. People, especially younger people want to do more than they just want to come take a look. That is why I feel there is little growth in clubs from the younger generation. We want to show, we want to tell. Young people don't care about that. They want to do, they want to learn on their own. Great that I know it. They want to learn how and then be let loose. For me the very nature of outreach has to change in order to get young people interested in the hobby. Then again what do I know, I'm just an educator professionally. Show someone the sky and you have them for a moment. Teach them the sky and to use a tool to observe it and you just may open up a new hobby to them.

So don't be too hard on a club. Just know what the club's guiding purpose is and decide if it fits with where you are at. If not, stay involved in the hobby but do it on your terms with what interests you. Selfish? Maybe, maybe not, but who cares? Really? Who cares? How I enjoy the hobby and how someone else enjoys the hobby means there is more than enough room for all types under the amateur astronomy tent.

I do invite anyone to go observe at a local good to excellent dark site and see the difference. Don't stay in the safety of the light polluted skies, but as Rush says in SubDivisons, venture out into the "far unlit unknown." You just may get bit by the dark site observing bug and spend a lot time visually observing. Warning, Thermacell will not help in keeping the observing bug from biting you if you go to a dark site. You may just get addicted.

Edited by JayinUT (10/30/13 05:28 AM)


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scopefreak
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Reged: 04/14/04

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Re: my negative experience in an Astronomy club new [Re: JayinUT]
      #6166003 - 10/30/13 09:32 AM

I agree with this post 100%!! I too feel the same way and in a lot of ways did/do the same things when I was involved in the several clubs I was involved in. Now I have no options for joining a local club as there are none anywhere near where I live.

I have my observatory and have had a few people out to observe with me that are rank beginners and it was a fun time. I enjoy teaching and talking to folks about this magnificent hobby and I thirst for that again in the form of a club environment. Alas, it's not to be. I have even gone so far as to try and garner interest in forming a club but I keep running into brick walls, ie. can't get any people to show up for public viewing nights at the local community college, putting flyers at the library and getting no replies, etc....

I will keep pressing on and maybe someday before I die I will again be involved with some sort of organization.

One can only hope.......


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stevecoe
"Astronomical Tourist"
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Reged: 04/24/04

Loc: Arizona, USA
Re: my negative experience in an Astronomy club new [Re: scopefreak]
      #6168938 - 10/31/13 05:23 PM

Hi Jay;

I am glad to see that you go the 14 inch up and working...and that you are using it under clear skies.

In my club we have a public viewing session once in the Spring and once in the Fall. They are fun and lots of great folks attend, both with scopes and novices who just want a look. That is about all I want to do when it comes to outreach. New Moon is my time to view the sky.

There are club members who have contacts with teachers and they get some members to go to a school and set up. That is fun and I have done it a few times.

The good news is that there is room for all types of observers.

Clear skies;
Steve Coe


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Zebra24601
Postmaster
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Reged: 10/09/05

Loc: San Gabriel Valley, CA 91770
Re: my negative experience in an Astronomy club new [Re: Joe F Gafford]
      #6435312 - 03/28/14 10:59 PM

Quote:

A young lady showed up at our monthly Open House and asked simple questions at first and she got into it very quickly. Me, Larry and some others helped this young lady along because she really soaking these things up. She was elected to the board, then vice president, then president when Larry got ill. She was elected president on the following term. She left afterwards to SoCal to marry her boyfriend and she got on at Griffith as volunteer operator on the 12" Zeiss right after the big renovation. Then she got on at Mt. Wilson as part time maintenence on the bubbly Hooker 100" and then at JPL as a tour guide. My sister and I had her last year while we toured JPL. My sister asked her on how she got into astronomy and she turned in my direction and did a double point at me and said "He and some others at the DAS got me insterested". I melted at that. What comes around....
She is still working at these 3 places.

Joe




Great story, because I'm pretty sure I know who you're talking about. It's a small hobby, even in L.A. Next time I see her, I'll have to mention this.


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gunfighter48
sage
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Reged: 03/18/13

Loc: Mill Creek, Washington
Re: my negative experience in an Astronomy club new [Re: Zebra24601]
      #6440018 - 03/31/14 07:28 PM

In the over 40 years that I've been in and out of amateur astronomy, I've only belonged to one club. This wasn't for any other reason than that was the one time I lived where there was a club. I now live within 20 miles of a club but their meetings are on the days I work. So I won't be able to get to any meetings.

So I have been a solo observer most of the last 4 decades. But I do enjoy it when I get the rare opportunity to share the night sky with other amateurs!!


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Juan A
member


Reged: 04/14/14

Loc: Miami, Florida U.S.A.
Re: my negative experience in an Astronomy club new [Re: gunfighter48]
      #6610768 - 07/01/14 09:16 AM

What an interesting thread. It offers an opportunity for meditation and inspiration on great amateur astronomer's lives like that of John Dobson https://sites.google.com/site/astrophotographyamateurs/john-dobson---wall-str... .

Why not take your scope to the middle of you lighted neighborhood shopping center the next Saturday evening clear Crescent Moon night? Your local radio station or /and TV station may wish to announce it,

It's about SHARING your interest and your enthusiast for your hobby and SELF-EMPOWERMENT.

Clear nights,


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oldstargazer
Carpal Tunnel
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Reged: 08/03/11

Loc: Western Oklahoma
Re: my negative experience in an Astronomy club new [Re: Juan A]
      #6611764 - 07/01/14 06:19 PM

Reading through all this gave me an idea. Most TV stations these days have a place for people to post pictures of things they have seen. I have sent in some of the moon and stuff like that when they talk about how big it will look and such.

I suggest that we all send them some of those great shots we get of distant galaxies and nebulas. And might mention that those same shots can be done with by todays standards a small investment. I think that I have less than 2000 including mount and camera in mine. What I get might not be magazine quality but I don't care, it makes me happy and I like to share what I get and people are always like can I have that picture. I print out the best ones on 8x10 and don't charge for them.

So anyway post some of those great pics onto the TV stations and see what happens.


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iam1ru12
sage
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Reged: 02/25/06

Loc: Raleigh/Durham, NC
Re: my negative experience in an Astronomy club new [Re: oldstargazer]
      #6623932 - 07/08/14 06:11 PM

I'm an officer of a local club with about 200 members. I can definitely say that in our out club like most another club be it an astronomy club, amateur radio, or even book club there is that 20% to 30% that are the most active and others that are just not as active. There is no requirement to be active or not. If you want to pay dues and not participate that's fine and you are not any less a member.

As for welcoming new members, I think every club can always do better. We try to reach out to unfamiliar faces before and after meetings to try to make them feel welcome and see if we can help answer any questions or direct them to a member that can. Another area where I feel clubs can help new comers is with a loaner telescope program. It's a great way to bring in folks that have the interest but are not ready to commit the funds to purchasing equipment. I am trying get some equipment for the loaner progam for those members that want to try astrophotography.

It is my personal opinion that clubs should focus on both furthering the observing/imaging/knowledge goals of their members but also on outreach. The balance of these should be directed by the membership. Therefore for those that do not like how things are run, step up and take charge. Far to often no one puts their name in the ring and the previous officers are left to continue in the leadship role and thus eventually stagnating in the ideas department.

If what I see locally is representative of the country as a whole, interest I astronomy is growing. However the methods of engaging newer, younger members must change. The younger generations are much more technology savvy and communicate in different ways. We as astronomy clubs must adapt. We need to embrace social media and all the benefits that technology has to offer such as steaming of meetings via YouTube, etc.

Also most of us are not professional public relations managers and I see most clubs lack the expertise in promoting themselves and events. Consider partnering with local museums and planetariums in getting the word out.

-Mike


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Undermidnight
BEOTS "Tweener Cup" winner
*****

Reged: 05/25/04

Loc: Untermitternacht
Re: my negative experience in an Astronomy club new [Re: iam1ru12]
      #6625042 - 07/09/14 11:30 AM

Quote:

I'm an officer of a local club with about 200 members. I can definitely say that in our out club like most another club be it an astronomy club, amateur radio, or even book club there is that 20% to 30% that are the most active and others that are just not as active. There is no requirement to be active or not. If you want to pay dues and not participate that's fine and you are not any less a member.

As for welcoming new members, I think every club can always do better. We try to reach out to unfamiliar faces before and after meetings to try to make them feel welcome and see if we can help answer any questions or direct them to a member that can. Another area where I feel clubs can help new comers is with a loaner telescope program. It's a great way to bring in folks that have the interest but are not ready to commit the funds to purchasing equipment. I am trying get some equipment for the loaner progam for those members that want to try astrophotography.

It is my personal opinion that clubs should focus on both furthering the observing/imaging/knowledge goals of their members but also on outreach. The balance of these should be directed by the membership. Therefore for those that do not like how things are run, step up and take charge. Far to often no one puts their name in the ring and the previous officers are left to continue in the leadship role and thus eventually stagnating in the ideas department.

If what I see locally is representative of the country as a whole, interest I astronomy is growing. However the methods of engaging newer, younger members must change. The younger generations are much more technology savvy and communicate in different ways. We as astronomy clubs must adapt. We need to embrace social media and all the benefits that technology has to offer such as steaming of meetings via YouTube, etc.

Also most of us are not professional public relations managers and I see most clubs lack the expertise in promoting themselves and events. Consider partnering with local museums and planetariums in getting the word out.

-Mike




Our club has done just that: created a public Facebook page. It has taken off pretty well! We are seeing more young people showing up and joining the club.

Jason


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Raginar
Postmaster
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Reged: 10/19/10

Loc: Rapid CIty, SD
Re: my negative experience in an Astronomy club new [Re: Undermidnight]
      #6632160 - 07/13/14 08:47 PM

The club in my area does none of the online stuff. I saw them at a recent event at a local college and it made me chuckle because I'm on their mailing list and had no idea they'd be there. There is no communication as far as I can tell other than between the 'bros' who have known each other for years. I imagine there is a way to be invited into the 'bro club', but I don't have the energy to invest in it.

It sounds like lots of you have great clubs around the country. Others of us don't.


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Undermidnight
BEOTS "Tweener Cup" winner
*****

Reged: 05/25/04

Loc: Untermitternacht
Re: my negative experience in an Astronomy club new [Re: Undermidnight]
      #6633501 - 07/14/14 04:33 PM

Quote:

Our club has done just that: created a public Facebook page. It has taken off pretty well! We are seeing more young people showing up and joining the club.

Jason




We had three more people join the club during at our meeting this past Saturday and all of them were in the early 20s. One of them brought their telescope and we had some of the current club members help them out with it.

Jason

Edited by Undermidnight (07/14/14 04:34 PM)


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