I look pretty hard and go to many more star parties than most folks...but nowhere do I find these abysmally ignorant amateur astronomers that are troubling you. Oh, some folks are influenced by certain personal metaphysical beliefs, shall we say, but even they usually know the basic facts about globulars, galaxies, and nebulae.
The man or woman behind the eyepiece, BTW, is still much more important than the aperture or pedigree of the telescope. And the most wonderful thing about amateur astronomy? There are no rules as to how it must be practiced. If Boudreaux likes the images in his 5-inch APO, and isn't interested in an 18-inch Dob like you have, well, that's no skin off your nose, now is it?
Finally, no matter what you do, what your interest is, be it bird-watching or baseball, there's always the temptation to want to feel superior to others in your pursuit. Especially the newbies. Especially those using that fancy gear ("Hell, in my day a telescope was a shaving mirror and a magnifying glass out of a box of Crackerjacks. And we were lucky to have it!"). Fight that temptation and you will have a much better time in our pursuit.
this isn't about superiority or dictating to others, rod, but about exactly the point you make: the man or woman behind the eyepiece is much more important than the aperture or the pedigree of the telescope.
both you and jon avoid the point when you claim a smaller aperture is fine with you because it is, what, more convenient to set up, easier on your back? the problem with that explanation is that it's even more convenient and easier on your back to just leave the telescope in its case or in the garage. it also doesn't explain why you're content to compromise with an objectively inferior image -- fainter, less magnified, less resolved -- as your reward for (as jon says) "battling the wind and cold, driving hours and suffering sleep deprivation and insect bites." all that puts you, the observer, in the focus, rather than the equipment.
where does that observer motivation to persist with modest equipment come from? maybe it's something innate, inexplicable, and learning has nothing to do with it. an idiopathic mystery of human nature. i really doubt that. why bother doing the herschel marathon, for example? perhaps you can start by explaining that.
if the man or woman behind the eyepiece brings nothing but expectations of amusement to the eyepiece, it's my claim that boredom is the inevitable, terminal result. what are the cures for boredom? very often, in our culture, it's buying something. so the focus turns to the equipment -- is it good, should it be better, what kind should i own, what is the best? -- which is consumerism sporting the necktie of astronomy.
i can't speak to the high quality of public astronomy events you attend, rod, but i doubt that you have actually queried a large number of attendees on, for example, the attributes of a globular cluster or nature of a galaxy. but their ignorance wouldn't be my point: my point would be that very few of the people who came and looked through your telescope would bother to ask.
Edited by drollere, 24 September 2014 - 11:09 AM.