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Skylook123
Postmaster
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Reged: 04/30/05

Loc: Tucson, AZ
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
sage
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Reged: 09/03/08

Loc: Canada
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
Postmaster
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Reged: 04/30/05

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

+1

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scopefreak
scholastic sledgehammer
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Reged: 04/14/04

Loc: Mayslick KY
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
Carpal Tunnel
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Reged: 08/17/07

Loc: Hazy Hollow, Western WA
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
scholastic sledgehammer
*****

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
*****

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
scholastic sledgehammer
*****

Reged: 04/05/13

Loc: Desierto de Sonora
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
*****

Reged: 09/19/08

Loc: Utah
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
scholastic sledgehammer
****

Reged: 04/14/04

Loc: Mayslick KY
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
*****

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
*****

Reged: 02/25/06

Loc: Raleigh/Durham, NC
Re: my negative experience in an Astronomy club [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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