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"I can't see anything. It's all black."

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#1 stargazer193857

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Posted 19 August 2019 - 01:36 AM

I hate hearing that right after I put in work to find and center something.

The two possibilities are they touched the scope, or they did not put their pupil in the right location. It is important to tell them to center their eye on the eyepiece and about 1/2" away.

After checking both points, I sometimes hear, "Oh, that little thing."
That is when I ask them to describe what they are seeing. If they can't describe it, I describe what it looks like and ask if that is what they see.

If all else fails, show it to someone else. Maybe they will then explain it for you.
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#2 Kyphoron

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Posted 19 August 2019 - 02:28 AM

The one thing I hate about Outreaches are those people who belong to the club and know nothing about objects they are observing. Outreach is not just simply pointing at an object and saying "take a look" Its about saying this is M13. its known as a globular cluster. What your looking at is hundreds of thousands of stars all clustered together. Its about 22,000 light years away. This means that if you were on a spaceship that could travel at light speed it will take you 22,000 years to reach it. You can even tell them they are time travelers and say you are seeing this object as it appeared 22,000 years ago. What you don't want to say is This is M13, want to see? What you will get in response is either cool or its just a fuzzy patch. 

 

Even planets like Jupiter, Mars, Saturn although the public loves these objects know something about them. Tell them about the moons they are seeing. Why Mars has a white cap and dark areas.

 

Its our job to educate the public. If they have no idea what they are looking at then its not impressive. If you make it boring the public will be bored. That's why before every outreach I make sure I know what I am gong to view and know its information. So if you simply point your scope and say have a look, don't expect a rave response.


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#3 Araguaia

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Posted 19 August 2019 - 06:23 AM

My rules for outreach:

 

- Use low power eyepieces with a big exit pupil, especially for fainter stuff.  High power is OK for planets, because they glow bright enough that finding the right eye position is easy.

 

- Say something amazing about the object, and relate it to other objects already seen.  Have a narrative.  Don't just randomly show unrelated objects.

 

- Don't be shy about moving the line along for people who show little interest, or about holding up the line for people who show lots.  You are not going to change everyone's life, but you might give a nice boost to the lives of one or two.

 

- Forget small and faint.  Go big and bright.  The only exception is for those one or two who show interest, and the ability to see.  Show them the faint fascinating stuff, then show it to someone who will say "oh, that little thing", then use that as an excuse to move the scope back to Saturn for the rest of the mildly interested.

 

- Always give Saturn another go at the end of the session.  Everyone enjoys it, and most people see it better the second time around. 


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#4 db2005

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Posted 19 August 2019 - 07:45 AM

Looking through a telescope can take some practice, and I think more experienced observers tend to forget that fact. Think about how much it takes to successfully seeing anything through a telescope for the first time:

  1. Approach the telescope (in the dark), avoiding to bump into the telescope and/or its tripod
  2. Locate the diagonal (on more than one occasion I have seen people reaching for the finder scope because it is pointed in the general direction of the sky)
  3. Understand that you have to look down (into the diagonal) to look at the target at a 90 degree angle. And, mind you, Newtonian's aren't any better - you have to look sideways to see anything, and besides, "it doesn't look like a telescope" to begin with.
  4. Squeeze the eye to the eyepiece if they have a tight eye relief, or hover above the eyepiece if they have long eye relief. Either way, it's a learning process.
  5. Looking with just one eye (and remember to close the correct eye)
  6. Staying close enough to the eyepiece to see the image and yet don't touch it to avoid inducing vibrations or altering the telescope's position.
  7. Avoiding breathing on the eyepiece lens which may cause it to immediately fog over.
  8. Understanding that astronomical objects look much smaller and less colorful in telescopes than in photos. The moon is easy. Saturn and Jupiter probably also recognizable to more knowledgeable observers. Clusters maybe too, although all but the brightest clusters are fairly dim in a telescope.
  9. Unless it's a tracking mount, understand that objects drift by at a much faster pace than you would normally expect, and adjust the telescope's position accordingly.

I could go on, but you get the picture...

 

The simplest cure I have found is this: If at all possible, let people look at stationary objects through the telescope in daylight. Let them adjust the telescope's focus position and let them experiment looking at easy targets like distant tree-tops and power-lines. Looking through a telescope is very different from looking through binoculars that most people are familiar with, and seeing common objects in daylight can be very educational for helping people to understand the image scale and how to look through the eyepieces.


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#5 Jon Isaacs

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Posted 19 August 2019 - 08:25 AM

Lots of good ideas here. My own approach:

 

- I pick large bright objects, no difficult stuff for the line at the scope. I believe in using a good sized scope, easy and bright, no eeking out faint fuzziest. 

 

-Decent eye relief, wide field

 

- I direct them to the eyepiece and point in the direction to look. 

 

- I talk to them about what they're seeing, encourage them to focus if it seems appropriate. I reposition the scope and focus the scope for each person.  My observing eye is focused at infinity so it's a good place to start.

 

Jon


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#6 stargazer193857

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Posted 19 August 2019 - 10:11 AM

I was trying to show my roommate Saturn.

#7 Pharquart

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Posted 19 August 2019 - 12:13 PM

 

Looking with just one eye (and remember to close the correct eye).

I had a small child come up.  He put the eyepiece pointing right smack dab at the bridge of his nose.  Great if you're a cyclops, not so good for a normal biocular human.

 

I really love the moment that goes: "I can't see anything.  It's all bla.....OOOOH!"

 

Brian


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#8 Gustoresto

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Posted 19 August 2019 - 01:27 PM

Clusters clusters clusters!   Open AND globular.   M22 M4,M13 M5 + M6&7.    M11 is superb in my F5 newt w 13mm EP.   M24 in the finder scope or a UWA lo X.  The double cluster, and the bunch of them in the S sky from Cygnus to Sag.      These are NOT "maybe"  objects for newbies.


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#9 dustyc

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Posted 21 August 2019 - 02:11 PM

Them: " I can't see anything, it's all black".

 

Me: "How long have you been staring at that cell phone?"

 

 

 



#10 Shane1200

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Posted 21 August 2019 - 10:41 PM

I feel your pain.  I have someone who said  that at least once at each Outreach event. I can have 20 people in row look thru the telescope at for example , Jupiter and be amazed at seeing the moons, and maybe seeing one crossing Jupiter. Then the next person up looks thru the eyepiece and said "I can't see a thing". They always then look at you, like you have done something wrong.  What I always do and say  is this " Let me make sure it's still in view, because it could have  been bumped off the object".  Of course , when I look thru the eyepiece , 90% of the time it is right in the center.    I then  have the person try it again and this I watch them closely and explain how to look thru the eyepiece. I think I only had a couple who could not see anything after that.

   I did a Outreach event on the first quarter moon at an assisted living facility last month.  We had overcast skies and finally after a hour we had a little clear patch around the moon.  The first couple of seniors had trouble seeing thru the eyepiece, because of eyesight problems and just bending over.  I attached my Nikon dslr  with my zoom eyepiece to my telescope and displayed the moon using the live view mode.  They all were able to see the moon clearly after that. 

  I normally wouldn't do that during Outreach events but they were a good group who waited over a hour  to  look at the moon and Jupiter. 


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#11 Stevegeo

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Posted 22 August 2019 - 04:21 AM

I have done several outreach, and everything mentioned has happened, including a few mishaps.

 

So now I bring my pad on a stand close to the scope, plug it into a cheap webcam set up on usually a bright object.

The moon,  planets.., and go from there . If someone really shows an interest, then using my other scope  will let that person look at a higher power.  

Sometimes I have one person in a hundred who is really wowed and I will give the demo over a family member,  for that individual (or maybe group), give them a grand tour of the current night sky .   Using GOTO , by then the interest is peaked and questions start flowing.  I will sometimes bring a few flyers,copies of websites to check out, what to expect, references for advice if they want to go further...

Kids usually  are very attentive even those with short knat like attention spans...lol..... 

 

Another thing , I sometimes will bring a small solar light with a red led cover and place it stuck in the ground at the base of my equipment.  A screw in the ground dog cable with a spring attached going to the base of my scope tripod anchoring it firmly down... Many a time a leaner will knock the scope looking into the eyepiece, enough to tip over. 

This prevents that... And it works ...

 

Clear skies!



#12 Bowlerhat

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Posted 23 August 2019 - 05:12 PM

People who come to outreach usually have no idea what they gonna look at, how big the planet would be and what features they can see. And they got frustrated a lot quickly. When in line, there's always peer pressure.

 

When they said "that thing" I'm not even sure what they are really looking at. Could as well be a reflection or stray light on the eyepiece.

 

I don't usually correct them and tell them to look again into the eyepiece carefully, bring the eye closer. And not to touch the scope. I know I'm sure that the object is there. Lots of time they correct themselves and be able to see it. The key here is not straight correcting it because then they'll think your setup is wrong. By letting themselves trying it again they know their eye's comfortable position. After repeated attempts, then I'll step in and usually found out that indeed, it has gone astray off the view. It's also a double check whether the setup is indeed right anyway, and I can just say "It's okay, but you missed it. That's why".



#13 Ptarmigan

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Posted 23 August 2019 - 06:41 PM

My rules for outreach:

 

- Use low power eyepieces with a big exit pupil, especially for fainter stuff.  High power is OK for planets, because they glow bright enough that finding the right eye position is easy.

 

- Say something amazing about the object, and relate it to other objects already seen.  Have a narrative.  Don't just randomly show unrelated objects.

 

- Don't be shy about moving the line along for people who show little interest, or about holding up the line for people who show lots.  You are not going to change everyone's life, but you might give a nice boost to the lives of one or two.

 

- Forget small and faint.  Go big and bright.  The only exception is for those one or two who show interest, and the ability to see.  Show them the faint fascinating stuff, then show it to someone who will say "oh, that little thing", then use that as an excuse to move the scope back to Saturn for the rest of the mildly interested.

 

- Always give Saturn another go at the end of the session.  Everyone enjoys it, and most people see it better the second time around. 

My narrative for objects is I incorporate history and popular culture. I tie it to the object. For example, you are seeing light leaving the object when such and such happened.

 

As for objects, bright and colorful is key. Saturn is one.

 

It is tempting to show something small and faint as some are very far and showing something that could be billions of light years. wink.gif



#14 Forward Scatter

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Posted 23 August 2019 - 08:16 PM

I've used EAA for many years at outreach events. Whereas most young people below about 7-8 years old usually have trouble at the eyepiece knowing what to look for, and many people with mobility issues may have trouble climbing the step ladder at a scope, showing the image on a larger monitor often allows for a more inclusive event. At our club's most recent public event, I had a crowd of 2-3 dozen of all ages clustered in front of the screen oohing and ahhing at no-longer faint fuzzies. Several families had brought elders in wheelchairs who would normally have limited participation at the event.

 

And as the eyepiece no longer is a fomite, I don't need to disinfect it as often (pinkeye....yecccchhh).


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#15 cmooney91

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Posted 26 August 2019 - 08:18 AM

Using EAA with a low power pico projector is also great.

 

gallery_280529_10874_75803.jpg

 

I project onto a ream of news print and bring crayons for the young kids to trace out what they see and bring it home.  If we are looking at the moon, they can walk on the projected surface of the moon. 


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