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General Astronomy >> Outreach

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Mr Onions
Two Time International Photographical Competition Winner
*****

Reged: 04/14/07

Loc: Newcastle upon Tyne.
Re: What scope do you prefer for outreach? new [Re: J. Barnes]
      #5133690 - 03/21/12 01:39 PM

I take an 80mm f/6 refractor and explain it's only small and don't expect too much but they always enjoy looking through it.

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andromeda59
sage


Reged: 04/06/10

Re: What scope do you prefer for outreach? new [Re: Mr Onions]
      #5134632 - 03/21/12 10:46 PM

I take my 100ed. Easy enough to transport, powerful enough to impress just about everyone.

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woodworkt
sage
*****

Reged: 06/07/06

Loc: Northern Virginia
Re: What scope do you prefer for outreach? new [Re: andromeda59]
      #5152508 - 04/01/12 11:16 PM

I agree with the sentiment of using whatever you like to use best for outreach. I figure it's the best way to ensure your enthusiasm for observing carries over to the public. If you enjoy what you're doing, they'll notice. I also figure everyone has their own favorites, and that it's a good way to ensure variety at a big event, so people can try lots of different gear, from basic smaller dobs, to large APOs and SCTs, to huge dobs.

Of course, even with that philosophy, my wife's and my strategy for outreach events tends to be "load as much gear as we can cram in the car and take it," so that we each have something to share views through. For our club's big Astronomy day event (which can draw 200 people even in the rain, and four times that in clear weather), we'll be bringing both our bigger 6" refractor and our grab and go 92mm. If we can get proficient enough before then, we'll also drag along a small solar scope for the solar observing session (which can swap out with the grab and go, so overall we just need two mounts).

Here's hoping for clear skies...
--Ken T.


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James Ling
sage
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Reged: 09/18/10

Loc: Singapore
Re: What scope do you prefer for outreach? new [Re: woodworkt]
      #5155733 - 04/04/12 07:16 AM Attachment (73 downloads)

After participating in numerous side walk and star gazing events, I still prefer to bring my favorite 8" ISTAR achro, as it really show the public that there are really things they can see up there in the sky.......
And those planets and moon are up there, all the while except no one has ever shown to them......
And once they have seen through the scope, they started to ask questions......and even wanted to know when we will be here again......

Following photo shows the 8" ISTAR I used for last weekend side walk event at our local public library open area...

REgards

James Ling


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George N
Carpal Tunnel
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Reged: 05/19/06

Loc: Binghamton & Indian Lake NY
Re: What scope do you prefer for outreach? new [Re: James Ling]
      #5157537 - 04/05/12 12:12 PM

I mostly do “you come to us” outreach at a public observatory. However, I have done a number of “field” events, with mixed results from various scopes. I think conditions at different types of outreach venues may favor one scope design over another. I think one would find different scopes best for “urban sidewalk” vs “rural public star party”.

On several occasions I’ve set up for a “star viewing night” for the campers at a New York State park (reasonably dark skies). I brought my ES 127ED on a Celestron CG-5 mount, and three other fellows had basic 6-inch and 10-inch Dobs. The public seemed more drawn to the larger Dobs, but there was also a lot of interest in the GoTo capabilities of my mount (mostly by kids who were playing with their smart phones – I assume that their parents had dragged them to the event). At the end of the night the other guys dumped their scopes in their vehicles in a few minutes leaving me behind in the dark playing with wires, batteries, cases, counter-weights, folding tripod, etc. From this experience I have concluded that a decent 10-inch Dob with PushTo digital readouts would be best for this sort of thing.

I’ve used my 20-inch Dob (no drive; but with digital readouts) for outreach with mixed results. At one event featuring large crowds of “general public” people seemed to love the big scope but after going up and down that ladder about 100 times that night to re-aim the scope I felt like I had run a marathon. At several public events held at Cherry Springs State Park in PA, I’ve had much better results thanks to only having to deal with small groups of 3 to 6 people for most of the night. I then had time to instruct them on how to track with the Dob.

Interestingly, at large star parties attended heavily by “knowledgeable amateurs” (and some “newbies”), I find that most people line up to look thru the 20-inch Dob and the little 5-inch APO sits unattended. Occasionally a “refractor nut” shows up and wants to look thru the APO. I have to almost drag people over to look thru the refractor.


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ion
professor emeritus


Reged: 04/26/08

Loc: Bortle Scale 2
Re: What scope do you prefer for outreach? new [Re: George N]
      #5159120 - 04/06/12 12:25 PM

Quote:

I have to almost drag people over to look thru the refractor.




The attraction to size could be leveraged by constructing props that make the scope look bigger like a dew shield that doubles the length or a cone that appears to triple the aperture! People also like things that glow such as tape, paint and LEDs. Less deceptive means might involve a planetary or deepsky camera and laptop attached to the mount, netbook velcroed to the scope, or a projector for large scale images.



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James Sims
newbie


Reged: 04/26/11

Loc: OK
Re: What scope do you prefer for outreach? new [Re: ion]
      #5167393 - 04/11/12 06:41 PM

Really enjoyed this thread. Great ideas for outreach scopes and the reasons for using them. I would like to take this a little further and ask if anyone has any pics, links or plans for some fun and maybe a bit outrageous outreach scopes. ie: frankendobs, cannons, steam punk, crazy paint jobs, etc...

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Joe Cepleur
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 03/18/10

Loc: Dark North Woods
Re: What scope do you prefer for outreach? new [Re: James Sims]
      #5215289 - 05/10/12 11:26 AM

Among the members of my club, we have everything from an Astro-Physics refractor, classic Newts with finely figured mirrors, and a 12" LX200, to modest little classics and Chinese Dobs. People know intuitively that some of these are expensive, or at least require time and expertise, such as when they hear a member has restored an antique. I like having some inexpensive scopes at every star party, so newcomers can see what they could easily afford as a ready-to-use starter scope.

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killdabuddha
Pooh-Bah
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Reged: 08/26/11

Re: What scope do you prefer for outreach? new [Re: Jay_Bird]
      #5241037 - 05/26/12 05:35 PM

Quote:

Not specific scopes, more thoughts on "approaches"






We only have 1 real scope (12.5" bino) but we did build it with outreach in mind. We just picked up a little Bushnell Jason for $8 at a swap meet too. And we have our 12x50 and 20x60 binos. Had our first outreach last week when seein was gonna be excellent, which it was. We set up the Jason for folks to play/explore a little with and just let the 2 pair of binoculars circulate. When someone found a target they wanted to see better, they grabbed a partner. I aimed the bino-scope with the laser and WFEPs, got the target, and the partners then looked together, simultaneously, at their target thru the bino-scope, then took turns enjoyin the same target in bino-vision. This seemed to motivate the others to look more enthusiastically for a target for the big bino. We only had about 20 people but it was a great 1st outreach for us.


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DaemonGPF
Redonkulous
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Reged: 03/22/08

Loc: Aurora Colorado
Re: What scope do you prefer for outreach? new [Re: killdabuddha]
      #5241935 - 05/27/12 10:29 AM

Honestly my perspective on what I think is the ideal scope for outreach has changed in the last couple of years. I used to take various OTAs on my motorized, go-to GEMs. This has always been fine for older crowds. However, the last few major outreach events I've attended with large groups of younger children - I seem to always get one kid who doesn't listen to the rules, sneeks right around and grabs the mount/optics and tries to realign them similar to someone grabbing a bull by the horns and trying to torque it to the ground. When you have dozens of kids and people standing around, it's quite a pain to sit there and redo your polar alignment, and then your go-to alignment, wasting 5-10 minutes. Hard to focus when you're trying to talk to people as well.

So now unless I take a super heavy rig that I can elevate out of reach of most kids, rope off, and hook up my cameras where I can show them a "live digital view" through a laptop tactically placed several feet away, then I don't do it anymore. I bring a manual Dob. Why? Even though I have to give it a nudge from time to time between kids, I can counteract the actions of "that one kid who didn't listen" in a matter of seconds and be right back on target.

Again it's really about the circumstances of the event and the target audience for me which dictates the gear I use.


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cheapersleeper
Post Laureate
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Reged: 01/22/10

Loc: Sachse TX
Re: What scope do you prefer for outreach? new [Re: DaemonGPF]
      #5242696 - 05/27/12 07:00 PM

I was at a public event last night and as I have been doing of late, I took my 12" homebuilt Dob. It is half tube/half birch mirror box and I built it heavy and large on purpose. As has been the case each time I take it out in public, people start asking about it before I can even get the tube section mated to the mirror box and then EVERYONE wants to look through it. I am overshadowed in the wow factor by the club owned 6" refractor that one of the other members has been bringing to the events, but other than that, I am usually the biggest scope on the field.

The response from the public toward my modest scope is very gratifying.

Edited by cheapersleeper (05/27/12 07:02 PM)


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bassplayer142
professor emeritus


Reged: 10/03/11

Loc: Michigan
Re: What scope do you prefer for outreach? new [Re: cheapersleeper]
      #5247215 - 05/30/12 12:22 PM

It is kind of sad that people don't understand the refractors as well as seeing a huge dob. But thats just human nature. I have not had a chance to bring my 16" out yet unfortunately, but I did bring my 8" out and people enjoyed it.

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Fraxture
super member


Reged: 07/09/09

Loc: Central Ohio
Re: What scope do you prefer for outreach? new [Re: Joe Bergeron]
      #5250239 - 06/01/12 10:37 AM

I use my 6" goto Mak.
And I mount my 30x100 Go Binos on a tripod.


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DaemonGPF
Redonkulous
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Reged: 03/22/08

Loc: Aurora Colorado
Re: What scope do you prefer for outreach? new [Re: Fraxture]
      #5250334 - 06/01/12 11:51 AM

During the Eclipse at Chaco Canyon, my daughter brought out her 6", 1200mm Dob and solar filter. I only had my DSLR and laptop. She by far had the biggest scope out at our group location and had an insane line of people wanting to view through it. Everyone else had 40mm-80mm scopes/cameras at best. The 8 yr old stole the show with her inexpensive and basic dob.

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RobbW
sage


Reged: 02/09/10

Loc: Elgin, IL
Re: What scope do you prefer for outreach? new [Re: DaemonGPF]
      #5250846 - 06/01/12 05:41 PM

The only one I have: a Celestron C8 SCT. I also usually mount my 10x50 binos on a tripod for folks to look through.

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FordGalaxy
member


Reged: 07/06/11

Loc: Virginia, USA
Re: What scope do you prefer for outreach? new [Re: RobbW]
      #5251268 - 06/01/12 11:05 PM

The local astronomy club brought a variety of 6-8" dobsonians to a recent outreach that I attended with my 4 year old son. Use of RDFs,laser pointers and LER low magnification eyepieces made for any enjoyable experience for my son and me. For kids, fast acquisition, bright views and long eye relief seem to be essential.

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gcs111
member
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Reged: 05/01/07

Re: What scope do you prefer for outreach? new [Re: FordGalaxy]
      #5251290 - 06/01/12 11:27 PM

I use an older blue tube 10" Coulter. At f-4.5 it's great for the local elementary school kids...they can just walk up to it to view, unlike my 12" f-5 dob which needs a ladder. The mirror is a very good performer and when seeing is good I can use higher pwr eyepieces, last night at a outreach event I had a 4mm Radian in it giving crisp views of Saturn. Also if a student moves it and the object gets lost, as another guy said, it's easy to bring it back into view.

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buddyjesus
Carpal Tunnel
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Reged: 07/07/10

Loc: Davison, Michigan
Re: What scope do you prefer for outreach? new [Re: gcs111]
      #5253023 - 06/03/12 08:49 AM

I use a 4" refractor, but I don't think it matters. I think I get more "saucer eyes" with my mouth when I give them a perspective of size in the universe.

Such as telling them the Sun is a ball of gas that contains 98% of the matter in our solar system, that there is a continuous nuclear reaction in the sun producing all the light they see during the day and that the pinpoint stars in the night sky are suns that are very far away.

The great thing about teaching people science is the amazing feeling of expanding their world paradigm. There is much more to be done as I recently read an article that 1/5th of the adult population believes the Sun goes around the Earth. See, I just blew your paradigm about the state of science literacy in this country. haha


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tezster
scholastic sledgehammer
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Reged: 07/14/09

Loc: Missisauga, Canada
Re: What scope do you prefer for outreach? new [Re: buddyjesus]
      #5254456 - 06/04/12 10:03 AM

Any scope will do for outreach - an inexpensive dob, small refractor, or even a pair of tripod-mounted binoculars, offer good examples to attendees that you don't need to spend a lot of money to get a good scope. Bigger and/or more unique scopes will draw more interest and can generate further discussion about various equipment used in the hobby and other astronomy-related topics.

I brought my 10" strut-dob to an outreach event for the first time last week, and it easily got the most attention of all the scopes there. One thing I found is because it's a open tube design, it made for a great teaching tool in terms of illustrating the basic principles of how a newtonian scope works.

Most importantly, one's enthusiasm, knowledge, and willingness to share their love of the hobby with the public trumps all other factors in terms of holding a successful outreach event.


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bassplayer142
professor emeritus


Reged: 10/03/11

Loc: Michigan
Re: What scope do you prefer for outreach? new [Re: tezster]
      #5254470 - 06/04/12 10:16 AM

It seems that with a variety of Scopes, the viewed objects should be split up. The refractors can handle wide views of cluster and a few galaxy/nebula. While large reflectors can give great views or globulars and other dim objects.

This way every scope is impressive in its own right. And the concept of a large dob being the best is forgotten.


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