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What the general public perceives

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#1 oldtimer

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Posted 31 July 2019 - 12:39 PM

We talk a lot here about what scope is ideal for public outreach.  However the general public has a preconceived idea of what a telescope should look like. It's not a Schmidt cassegrain or a dob or even a newt on an EQ mount.., It's a long skinny tube  pointed skyward on a tall tripod.  Like may of us I have owned and still do own several telescopes but I attract the most attention with my 60mm F16.7 refractor which with its 9" extended dew shield is four feet long.. 


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#2 Barlowbill

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Posted 31 July 2019 - 12:57 PM

In the first place, IMHO, the general public doesn't know squat about telescopes.  That is why we are here to enlighten them.  Once folks look through one they don't care.  They are so blow away, all of their preconceived ideas no longer matter.

Friends and family who had never before looked through a telescope have viewed in my 3 1/2" and my 8" and are always equally amazed.  Makes it all so much fun.  I have never viewed through a refractor!  


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#3 Jon Isaacs

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Posted 31 July 2019 - 01:38 PM

One night I had my 12.5 Meade Research Grade setup in the front driveway.  

 

A car stopped in n the street and after a moment or two, I heardca loud voice say;

 

"Now that is a telescope."

 

5768152-Meade Winter in San Diego.jpg

 

They had no trouble recognizing it was a scope.

 

With my 13.1 inch F/5.5 Dob, the lines are among the longest.  I do think very much about what the public perceives.

 

But I'm not thinking about what they perceive looking at the telescope but rather looking through the telescope. A good 60 mm pointed at Jupiter will show something.. comparatively, a large scope will show a great deal and for the ingrained eye, it's easier.

 

Jon


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#4 havasman

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Posted 31 July 2019 - 01:45 PM

We had a guy that brought old small bore long focal length refractors to outreach events and it was kinda interesting to hear him exclaim how he never expected a mass market Dob to put up sharper, brighter stars than did his pride and joy. The ones he'd used years ago did not. I explained how better collimation and good coma correctors have given much higher performance capabilities to what he used to think were sloppy light buckets.

 

I never had any member of the public fail to appreciate the views through a Dob or refractor and I always had to tell them where to look no matter what scope was in use. They were also consistently surprised when I'd insist they take the opportunity to look through another members 178mm AP long focal length refractor, telling them it was one of the finest consumer scopes ever built and cost 15 or 20x what mine did.


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#5 Jeff Struve

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Posted 31 July 2019 - 01:55 PM

When we do public events we ensure that we have a variety of styles of scopes. Most every time it is easy to bring an SCT, a Refractor and a Newt whether it be a Dob or tripod mount. When possible we also try to have EQ and Alt/Az mounts (Fork/One Arm/Dob)  


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#6 StarryHill

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Posted 31 July 2019 - 02:09 PM

We talk a lot here about what scope is ideal for public outreach.  However the general public has a preconceived idea of what a telescope should look like. It's not a Schmidt cassegrain or a dob or even a newt on an EQ mount.., It's a long skinny tube  pointed skyward on a tall tripod.  Like may of us I have owned and still do own several telescopes but I attract the most attention with my 60mm F16.7 refractor which with its 9" extended dew shield is four feet long.. 

 

No doubt that if you ask people to visualize a telescope, most will think of a refractor. It is not unusual for people who come to our star parties to not even recognize a large dob as a telescope at first.

 

However, people also intuitively think that 'bigger is better'. So, when we have multiple scopes set up at a star party, people tend to gravitate to the larger telescopes... typically, the big dobs, but a long focal ratio refractor or large sct also command attention.

 

The one that seems to get the most attention at our parties, though, is the fast (small) refractor with an EAA camera attached -- people love the colorful, detailed views. 

 

In the end, though, I think they really do enjoy all the different telescopes. So much fun connecting with the universe!


Edited by StarryHill, 31 July 2019 - 02:30 PM.

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#7 lee14

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Posted 31 July 2019 - 02:15 PM

When I was assisting with public nights at the local observatory, where there was also a fair variety of instruments, most visitors were immediately drawn to the largest, the 16 inch SCT. Size matters. I used to bring my AP Starfire too, and for solar system objects, it was easily matching the views in the 16 inch, and even though it fulfilled the expectation of what a telescope 'should' look like, there was always a much longer line at the SCT. I found people were more interested in the prices of the various scopes than the proportions of the OTA's. And once they got a peek at Saturn or the moon, regardless of the scope, all other expectations were cast aside. 

 

Lee


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#8 sg6

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Posted 31 July 2019 - 03:04 PM

I think most people have an idea of the variety of scope designs around. Maybe not in detail, so they could initially gravitate to the design they recognise most - refractor.

 

But a couple of visits and they gain familiarity with the main options.

 

What you need to remember is they turned up at wherever the event is and so have an interest and as likely some knowledge. They are very likely not ignorant. Had to explain that to someone one night. Who afterwards realised that, Yes people had travelled a few miles in whatever weather to attend and take part. There were not randomly rounded up and forced in the place.


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#9 E-Ray

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Posted 31 July 2019 - 06:08 PM

Old Timer,

My experience is that people get a big WOW factor from SCT's and big dobs. I find that smaller refractors are easily disturbed by light winds so I rarely bring mine along. I do have a short tube Celestron 80GT refractor that I sometimes bring for the kids.

 

I get a comment several times a night saying this scope (my Celestron Eveolution 8" SCT) must be pretty expensive. They are surprised to learn that it's only $1600. And the 8SE nearby is only $1100.

 

Regards, Ed


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#10 Jeff Struve

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Posted 01 August 2019 - 09:16 AM

We do pretty well with small refactors... especially for AP when we show what they can do for framing objects like Andromeda. 



#11 tchandler

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Posted 04 August 2019 - 02:49 AM

Questions that have a number as an answer are easier to ask and easier to understand. I think this may be why questions like, “how much did it cost” or “how far can it see” get asked. From a beginner’s perspective, these are a perfectly reasonable starting point for further inquiry. And there may be further inquiry, depending on the response that is given. 

 

The notion of what the general public is, is itself preconceived and subject to misinterpretation. But there are definitely individuals who have yet to learn what a telescope might look like. And I get why it can be off putting to interact with some of these individuals, because it is a joy to be understood. 



#12 Zwick

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Posted 27 August 2019 - 08:36 AM

No doubt that if you ask people to visualize a telescope, most will think of a refractor. It is not unusual for people who come to our star parties to not even recognize a large dob as a telescope at first.

 

I was unloading my 12" collapsible Dob at an outreach event recently and an observer thought it was a mortar launcher or some kind of field artillery.lol.gif


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#13 Pauls72

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Posted 28 August 2019 - 11:59 AM

Most of the public will gravitate to the largest telescopes first.

There will always be one or two people who can't see anything.

A couple of people will complain there is no color.

People want to grab the eyepiece, scope or mount.

Most outings you have someone who thinks the views are fake.

A lot of people are shocked that you are doing this using your own equipment and not getting paid.

There are a lot of "Oh Wow!" moments and it makes the whole thing a joy.


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#14 Zwick

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Posted 28 August 2019 - 04:35 PM

Most outreach events I have participated in thus far have been sidewalk astronomy in municipal areas with high foot traffic and high light pollution. Lunar and planetary targets still give significant "wow factor" for the uninitiated. Saturn and Jupiter always impress and yes, even show some decent color. In good atmospheric conditions many are even able to see Jupiter's GRS. I am not inclined to target DSOs under these circumstances.


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