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Why Aren't There More Young Astronomers?

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#1 Augustus

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Posted 18 November 2019 - 07:55 PM

As my fourth year into this hobby approaches, I want to take note of some things that have come to light and I think deserve to be addressed. I hope this doesn't rile too many people up - I'm really trying to just cast some light on what I've been seeing. It just saddens me to see the graying hairs of this hobby and I don't want to be all alone in a couple of decades. 

 

My first introduction to astronomy (at least at the amateur level) was at the Stamford Observatory, which at the time was run by a particular individual – we’ll call him Chuck. As I later found out, Chuck was an accomplished amateur who did a lot of great work for the AAVSO – mapping the sky and making thousands of observations of variable stars and novae. Some of his data is still used today. His observations with the Stamford 22” telescope supported the Apollo missions. He was by all accounts a great contributor to science at the semi-professional level. However, Chuck’s scientific prowess and observing skill was not what stood out to me in third grade when I went to visit the observatory for a cub scout trip. His attitude did. The man hated children, or pretty much anyone who wasn’t exactly like him – he’d yell at people for wearing light-up sneakers in the observatory or even for chewing bubblegum, and talked down to you if you asked a question he saw as even slightly stupid. He overall portrayed a pretty negative image of our hobby – and you had to pay to receive this treatment!

 

Chuck failed to keep the club’s members fresh, and when he moved and retired, the entire Fairfield County Astronomical Society (of which I am a member) basically shuttered, with only five members remaining. The observatory lies in ruins, abandoned, with only vague promises of a replacement, and the nature center is not exactly eager to involve us in the process anyways. Chuck simply did not care what happened after he was gone, and probably repelled many people who might’ve otherwise been interested in maintaining the observatory and fostering further interest.

 

While the vast majority of amateur astronomers aren’t at all like Chuck – they’re at least a little more civil and polite - I’ve seen far too many who share Chuck’s views. The problem I see with many of today’s astronomy clubs and organizations is that most of the time they fundamentally do not understand how to properly engage/recruit or even relate to new blood, or simply do not try or even care. This comes in several forms.

 

For one, many (usually older) astronomy hobbyists have ridiculous amounts of money to spend on equipment – some will not even blink at plunking down more money on a new eyepiece or accessory (or heck, even a book!) that costs more than an entire beginner’s telescope – heck, I’m guilty of this myself sometimes. Yet, despite all this spending and investment, the gear itself is seen as arcane. So much useful or easily-fixed equipment is trashed, passed down for almost nothing or simply abandoned because folks can’t be bothered or are too afraid to learn how to take off a corrector plate, clean a primary mirror, or collimate their SCT. And yet online resources make it so easy to learn! I spend more time tinkering with than building scopes nowadays simply because there are so many neglected instruments that just need a quick wash and some tweaking to perform like new again. People think you must spend at least a few hundred bucks to start out in the hobby when there are plenty of unwanted scopes available for next to nothing if you’re willing to do some basic work.

 

And of course, the sheer size of a telescope, the exact P-V or Strehl rating of your objective, or simply the number of inane computerized gadgets you’ve used to assimilate your instrument into the Borg are used as some sort of contest. Controversy rages over silliness like the minutiae of different types of glass in objective lenses, exact edge-of-field correction of different optical designs, or other absurd and futile debates rather than people just focusing on what plain works. Some claim that a “real astronomer” would never buy a $200 telescope to start out with. I’ve met people who still regard Dobsonians as idiotic and inferior instruments, or think that you can only observe with simple eyepiece designs because of low scatter or something like that. Gatekeeping, ruthless and stupid debate, and simple sizing up and egotism run rampant in the hobby. People laugh at me for having such an “ugly” scope at star parties or criticize me for not using a fancy laser to collimate. Everyone’s entitled to their opinion, but you’re not entitled to being a snob about it.

 

The single biggest problem with the state of the hobby as it is, however, is the defeatist attitude that many older folks have towards the future. Light pollution is often seen as a hopeless battle – despite the fact that awareness of the health and environmental problems it causes being at an all-time high as well as the waste totaling billions of dollars each year, many of the older astronomers I’ve talked to both in person and online seem to be unaware of the progress being made – or, if they are, it is simply irrelevant to them because they will not live to see its culmination. Some folks believe “electronically assisted astronomy” – looking at a live-stacked image on a monitor rather than through an eyepiece - is the only pathway to the future because “those gosh darned young folks only want to look at screens, might as well put it on a screen” or because of that defeatist attitude towards light pollution, and refuse any alternative ideas. Many claim “NASA is dead” or that “Musk is a con man/egotist/moron who will ruin astronomy with his Starlink project” when the situations are so much more complicated. And I’ve seen too many old folks on here especially just simply making the sad prediction that the astronomy hobby will die with them or soon after. 

 

As a result of the aforementioned defeatism and infighting/gatekeeping, many folks simply do not seek to introduce new people to our hobby. They keep to themselves, either not engaging with the general public at all or only doing it when they absolutely have to, and in a manner reminiscent of good ol’ Chuck. There are of course many who still try, but to really keep this hobby thriving we need more of that positive energy and work put in.

 

It’s easy to look all of this in the face and say that the future of amateur astronomy is bleak. I do not see it that way. There is unparalleled access to information thanks to the Internet, for one. But there's also a new kind of excitement about space that I think hasn't been as high since Apollo. Millions watch SpaceX launches and actively follow NASA and ESA programs. I've seen so many people take interest in astronomical events as of late - the transit of Mercury was on the news the other day! But it is all for naught if we do not tap into that interest. The key is to embrace new methods and ideas, and abandon the distorted glasses that so many seem to wear. Even some of the mediocre beginner telescope offerings have a lot to offer the beginner or the casual, for surprisingly little money. Generosity, truly expressing and sharing one’s passion and enjoyment, giving as much as you take, and the embrace of new resources, ideas, and methods to reach others who might be interested are the key to the future of our hobby. The future is bright, but only if we all take steps to make it so.


Edited by Augustus, 18 November 2019 - 08:34 PM.

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#2 Space Ant

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Posted 18 November 2019 - 08:16 PM

Well I feel that while this is a problem, it is not necessarily seen everywhere. My club was very eager to let me in, despite me being the youngest one there by probably 20 years. While I agree that the situation you're describing exists and is a huge problem, I don't think it's necessarily killing this hobby. There have always been people like this "Chuck" you describe, hating children and not doing much to help his club, and giving generally a bad image of this hobby. There will always be people like Chuck, so, I doubt this hobby is dying anytime soon. I have met many young astronomers, but all online, scattered all over the world. But they do exist, and I believe that eventually there will be more of our generation in this hobby. 


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#3 Gary Z

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Posted 18 November 2019 - 08:26 PM

Hello,

 

Quite a bit of thought you have in your question.

 

To anyone thinking that this hobby is dead:  I'd like to suggest that you get looking at FB and see the various groups that are available on it.    There There's something for every user from beginner to advanced.  I'm mentioning this as there are a lot of young folks getting into this hobby.  

 

As for all the crud on media regarding NASA, ELON Musk and the like:  I think this is an exiting time to witness growth in the space industry.  Granted we won't agree on all the things being put into space, but it is refreshing to see all that is being developed and tested and see all the technology today actually performing missions. 

 

Additionally, have you noticed the Youtube channels for Trevor Jone's Astrobackyard, Stacey D's AstroSpace, and Dylan O'Donnell's StarStuff Channels?  These are many more great channel's but the point is, these are younger folks who are knowledgeable and really great at both the presentation and astrophotography.  On FB, there are many other , asking questions, getting help, and sharing their views and images.  

 

FB is becoming the clearing house for much of the information that we had on CN.  We remind folks of the forums and how well it is organized and laid out. 

 

I think conversations like this one that you started is very important if we want to see this hobby grow. 

 

Thank you for expressing your concerns.

 

Gary


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#4 geovermont

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Posted 18 November 2019 - 08:33 PM

Augustus,

I won't try to address all your points, but this gray-haired amateur looks at young ones like you (and specifically you based on your accomplishments so far) and sees plenty of hope for amateur astronomy. Keep on learning and building (and restoring and repairing) and find some way to share that enthusiasm with other young folks. 

George Springston


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#5 vtornado

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Posted 18 November 2019 - 08:39 PM

I think a lot of us "older" people grew up in the space-race.    I watched the moon landing, every day was detailedl launch coverage.

Science programs emphasised  astronomy and space. 

On the final years of the space shuttle, you couldn't even see a launch on TV.

 

There are a lot of kids I know who's live revolves around their phone.

The idea of doing anything real is foreign to them.  This is not just about

astronomy.  I know many kids who would rather play baseball on their tablet then play real baseball in the park.

I was coach of my son's little league, and we lost kids every year to electronic candy.


Edited by vtornado, 18 November 2019 - 08:39 PM.

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#6 Space Ant

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Posted 18 November 2019 - 08:43 PM

I think a lot of us "older" people grew up in the space-race.    I watched the moon landing, every day was detailedl launch coverage.

Science programs emphasised  astronomy and space. 

On the final years of the space shuttle, you couldn't even see a launch on TV.

 

There are a lot of kids I know who's live revolves around their phone.

The idea of doing anything real is foreign to them.  This is not just about

astronomy.  I know many kids who would rather play baseball on their tablet then play real baseball in the park.

I was coach of my son's little league, and we lost kids every year to electronic candy.

There are some like this, I agree. But as a member of this generation I can say that not all of us are like this. In fact, a great many of us aren't. Sure, I enjoy playing video games and using my phone, but I greatly enjoy both visual astronomy and astrophotography as well, and I know many others who greatly enjoy their own hobbies, outside, as well. It's the same thing as when the TV first became popular, or when the first video game consoles were released. There were always kids who preferred to stay watching TV or playing those early games, but there were always kids who preferred to do other things. 


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#7 Creedence

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Posted 18 November 2019 - 08:55 PM

Not to make myself sound too old (I’m still in my 30s), the view from my perch when I was exactly your age in the early ‘90s was identical. So take heart knowing that nothing has really changed with respect to young blood in at least 20+ years.

The gadgets have changed and the digital imagers that were starting to come online back then have absolutely revolutionized this hobby beyond measure- I mean it is truly astonishing how hard a left turn this hobby has taken because of that one evolution in technology; but the inter-generational dynamics are largely unchanged.

I suspect it’s difficult to want to invite people less relatable into our groups. That’s just a fundamental quark about humans that people need to deliberately fight to get over. Remove the hobby from the equation and I still struggle to imagine a group of 60-70-somethings wishing the teens and 20 year olds would show up to hang out.

Edited by Creedence, 18 November 2019 - 08:56 PM.

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#8 TOMDEY

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Posted 18 November 2019 - 09:01 PM

Hi, Augustus! Well... you make a lot of good, valid points, and it's constructively theraputic to vent, from time to time.

 

Your description of "Chuck" is both comical and disheartening. I guess he was both accomplished,  yet a jerk in some other ways... Something that most of us humans suffer. Oldsters who have seen their skies go from almost spectacular to hopeless certainly makes them jaded; not a good thing, but quite understandable. Nother thing that happens to us all --- by time we get old, accumulating aches and pains and mortality can ruin once agreeable and optimistic personalities. e.g. wife and friends dying off, life's savings evaporated, pet dog died... stuff like that. Seen that in many of my friends and it can badly affect them. That's no excuse, but something to take into consideration. When someone if curt or cranky... I always remind myself that there may be something terrible going on in their life that I don't know about... or, they could just be a jerk.

 

So, I think an apparent lack of quantity young astronomers isn't driven away (only) by rich, jaded, cranky geezers. It may just be that hobbies kinda rise and fall in pouularity --- usually over decades... which intervals seem pretty short to those of us who have lived and experienced five or more to see the trends. Indeed, the "Space Race" created an entire generation of space, science, technology and astronomy enthusiasts --- who are now mostly retired, disabled, or dead! It might take another giant initiative to see that kinda excitement again. But the country and polticians seem to have very little genuine interest in that sorta thing anymore. But there I go, being negative! --- Yikes!    Tom

 

PS: Here's something I just bought and will be working on this winter! >>>

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#9 Augustus

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Posted 18 November 2019 - 09:11 PM

 It might take another giant initiative to see that kinda excitement again. But the country and polticians seem to have very little genuine interest in that sorta thing anymore. B

I suspect that the new Artemis program at NASA combined with a lot of the public interest in SpaceX and Blue Origin have rekindled it at least somewhat.


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#10 treadmarks

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Posted 18 November 2019 - 09:39 PM

Huh, before I saw who posted the topic I thought this was going to be another thread of people shaking their fists at youngins using their phones.

 

Regarding true amateur astronomy hobbyists, the types who buy C14s and maintain observatories, this thread did make me think about my approach. I believe almost everyone has at least a passing interest in space. It's actually very very popular among children and always has been. I have no trouble getting the kids I know excited to look through my telescope. But they don't look for very long.

 

So passing interest and momentary excitement probably won't be enough to maintain the Celestrons and Meades of the world. It is true that astronomy is not being glamorized the way it was in the age of Sputnik and Apollo. Moreover, I think most people are skeptical of the idea that they could make a worthy scientific contribution in 2019 as an amateur astronomer. And there hasn't been a major comet like Hale-Bopp in a long time.

 

If we're talking about some major uptick in interest, I tend to think that's up to NASA and cosmic processes. Maybe SETI will find something and the telescope market will go bonkers grin.gif


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#11 RyanSem

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Posted 18 November 2019 - 09:44 PM

In the grand scheme of things, I'm probably one of the younger members of this forum at 25 years old. This might not be a very popular opinion, but I don't agree that there is a "need" for younger astronomy enthusiasts. That's not to say we shouldn't be actively getting young people interested in the hobby, I just don't see this great void of young people in astronomy that so many people seem to talk about. It's always been a small, niche hobby. And in recent years I've seen such a strong interest in astrophotography online that I'm sure there are more people of the younger generations taking part in it than we're led on to believe here. Forums are pretty antiquated, and young people (for the most part) aren't very inclined to hang out all night with people much older than them. But the lack of youth on this forum and at regional star parties probably doesn't reflect a dying interest in the hobby. 

 

I also believe very strongly that astronomy is a hobby that someone needs to find on their own, or else the interest just won't be there for the long run. While us amateur astronomers can appeal to younger generations with star parties and other forms of outreach, astronomy just isn't "sexy". We advertise sitting in the dark for hours on end just to catch a faint glimpse of the core of some galaxy. Usually we do this alone, and oftentimes we have to drive great distances out of our way while also waiting for the perfect night to do so. We live for the couple of nights each year that the moon isn't full, the skies are clear, the weather is comfortable, and we don't have work the next day. Because of this, I believe astronomy is a pretty introverted hobby. We're perfectly content with keeping to ourselves or to the small group of like-minded astronomers we've met along the way. We're the only ones crazy enough to want to go through all that ridiculousness, so it takes a very special person to stay in this hobby for the long-haul. 

 

I will add on that the whole gatekeeping and egotism example you listed above is foreign to me. I have yet to meet a single astronomer who feels that way... I'm sorry that you've had the misfortune to find a couple people who act like that. Frankly, that sort of behavior is embarrassing, and I feel badly that their self-esteem is so low that they need to flex their astronomy equipment at the only other people in the world who they probably share a mutual interest with. Personally, all of my experiences with individuals in this hobby have been nothing short of spectacular. If there is one definition I'd give the friends I've met through this hobby it would be, "genuinely kind". 


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#12 Space Ant

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Posted 18 November 2019 - 09:52 PM

In the grand scheme of things, I'm probably one of the younger members of this forum at 25 years old. This might not be a very popular opinion, but I don't agree that there is a "need" for younger astronomy enthusiasts. That's not to say we shouldn't be actively getting young people interested in the hobby, I just don't see this great void of young people in astronomy that so many people seem to talk about. It's always been a small, niche hobby. And in recent years I've seen such a strong interest in astrophotography online that I'm sure there are more people of the younger generations taking part in it than we're led on to believe here. Forums are pretty antiquated, and young people (for the most part) aren't very inclined to hang out all night with people much older than them. But the lack of youth on this forum and at regional star parties probably doesn't reflect a dying interest in the hobby. 

 

I also believe very strongly that astronomy is a hobby that someone needs to find on their own, or else the interest just won't be there for the long run. While us amateur astronomers can appeal to younger generations with star parties and other forms of outreach, astronomy just isn't "sexy". We advertise sitting in the dark for hours on end just to catch a faint glimpse of the core of some galaxy. Usually we do this alone, and oftentimes we have to drive great distances out of our way while also waiting for the perfect night to do so. We live for the couple of nights each year that the moon isn't full, the skies are clear, the weather is comfortable, and we don't have work the next day. Because of this, I believe astronomy is a pretty introverted hobby. We're perfectly content with keeping to ourselves or to the small group of like-minded astronomers we've met along the way. We're the only ones crazy enough to want to go through all that ridiculousness, so it takes a very special person to stay in this hobby for the long-haul. 

 

I will add on that the whole gatekeeping and egotism example you listed above is foreign to me. I have yet to meet a single astronomer who feels that way... I'm sorry that you've had the misfortune to find a couple people who act like that. Frankly, that sort of behavior is embarrassing, and I feel badly that their self-esteem is so low that they need to flex their astronomy equipment at the only other people in the world who they probably share a mutual interest with. Personally, all of my experiences with individuals in this hobby have been nothing short of spectacular. If there is one definition I'd give the friends I've met through this hobby it would be, "genuinely kind". 

As someone even younger (15), I agree. I got into this hobby on my own, and online have met many others my age who do this on their own as well. I do greatly enjoy star parties, and outreach events. Even though all of my club is 20+ years older than me, they are all still very kind people, and I have always enjoyed group nights with them. I don't really see a dying interest in this hobby, It's just that it may not necessarily be easy to find the younger astronomers at outreach events and star parties. 


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#13 Yogurthawk

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Posted 18 November 2019 - 11:39 PM

I'm 19 and a current undergrad. I'm sorry to hear about your specific situation, but to me it is simply a matter of MANY young people do not have the time, energy, and especially money to enter the hobby. I have found many older astronomers who were all very happy to introduce me into the hobby, and supported me very much in doing so. 

 

One of my engineering professors was the one who finally pushed me into the hobby by offering to gift me an old CCD of his if I would buy a telescope and start imaging when I wasn't at school. That was a year ago and now him and I joke that he is like my "drug dealer" who got me hooked on astronomy, lol. I've also had much success in going to local astronomy club meetings, and the folks over at Starizona are probably the best when it comes to giving great advice to complete novices like myself at one point. 

 

When I tell some of my friends about what the hobby entails, they give me praise for the very cool experiences and images I can show them, but gawk at the price tag and shake their heads at the time commitment. I have also met two people my age that after seeing what I'm capable of have started on their own astronomy journeys too though!

 

 


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#14 edwincjones

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Posted 19 November 2019 - 05:30 AM

I think a lot of us "older" people grew up in the space-race.    I watched the moon landing, every day was detailedl launch coverage.

Science programs emphasised  astronomy and space. ,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

 

Maybe we have it backwards.  

Before the 60s and the space race, interest in astronomy may have been  much less.

It greatly expanded in our generation, and now is falling back to "normal"

 

question.gif

 

Just my early morning seat of the pants reasoning

but times and interest change.

 

edj


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#15 Illinois

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Posted 19 November 2019 - 06:53 AM

I was not think of astronomy because I grew up in Chicago. I went to Poland in 1975 and I visited my great aunt on farm. I see shadow on ground and I looked up.....WOW! Millions stars and bright milky way then I am hook on astronomy! Need reduce light pollution that kids can see stars and hook on astronomy! We need good light that go down and no glare!


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#16 Francopoli

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Posted 19 November 2019 - 07:54 AM

The space nerds are out there, they just don't go to clubs.  Same as all the other hobby clubs and organizations.  We have had up to 25,000 attend our outreach events in a single year.  We have hosted talks that sold out a lecture hall.  They just don't join the clubs.  Why not? Young people are busy with school, jobs, bills, keeping the lights on.  By the time we get into our late 40's things settle down and those who still have the fire in them to do astronomy seek out others.  Our job is in part to be the people they find, welcome them, and stoke that fire so they stick around.

 

There is so much going on in space and space industry right now that most people don't see what is coming.  Artemis is only the big flashy moon program.  starlink, for all we talk about it here, is going to get people excited about space. The Jupiter and Icy moons and Europa missions are going to get people excited.  The new Titan drone. Multiple asteroid missions. India, Japan, China with active space programs doing more than just launching satellites.

 

And now colleges are building and launching cube sats doing everything from tracking wildfires, mapping ocean pollution, imaging galaxies, etc. OPT is even partnering with a startup that is going to launch a space bases telescope for public use.

 

The next ten years are going to be phenomenal.  I see our mission, those of us in the hobby and those of us running clubs and societies, to be there to give the newbies an entry point and help guide them into a hobby that is only getting better every year.


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#17 Astroman007  Happy Birthday!

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Posted 19 November 2019 - 08:57 AM

Don't get me started. There's a reason my friends are nearly all pensioners, or close to it. People of "my own age group" by and large are just retarded (some literally I suspect) and not worthy of my time.

 

Perhaps too much de-education is to blame, coupled with an instilled magnified view of self and its importance and the idea that truth is relative to what one wants to be. I don't really know, and I don't want to know.


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#18 Augustus

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Posted 19 November 2019 - 09:08 AM

The space nerds are out there, they just don't go to clubs. Same as all the other hobby clubs and organizations. We have had up to 25,000 attend our outreach events in a single year. We have hosted talks that sold out a lecture hall. They just don't join the clubs. Why not? Young people are busy with school, jobs, bills, keeping the lights on. By the time we get into our late 40's things settle down and those who still have the fire in them to do astronomy seek out others. Our job is in part to be the people they find, welcome them, and stoke that fire so they stick around.

There is so much going on in space and space industry right now that most people don't see what is coming. Artemis is only the big flashy moon program. starlink, for all we talk about it here, is going to get people excited about space. The Jupiter and Icy moons and Europa missions are going to get people excited. The new Titan drone. Multiple asteroid missions. India, Japan, China with active space programs doing more than just launching satellites.

And now colleges are building and launching cube sats doing everything from tracking wildfires, mapping ocean pollution, imaging galaxies, etc. OPT is even partnering with a startup that is going to launch a space bases telescope for public use.

The next ten years are going to be phenomenal. I see our mission, those of us in the hobby and those of us running clubs and societies, to be there to give the newbies an entry point and help guide them into a hobby that is only getting better every year.


Well said.

I cited Artemis specifically because a lot of folks aren’t very aware of much else in spaceflight and it is of course flashy.

#19 bunyon

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Posted 19 November 2019 - 09:31 AM

People are people. Bad ones in every generation. Amateur astronomy will be fine, though the dedicated folks who build equipment and travel out to dark places often will always be small. We're all busy and there are many fantastic hobbies to gobble people up.

 

Any attempt at generalizing generations ("They just want to look at their screens!" "They hate kids") will fail. 

 

I can compare today's kids to my generation (I'm 48 and entered the hobby at 8, first scope at 13. So I've seen things). Today, yes, many people under 25 are on their phone or tablet a LOT. But, you know what? They aren't watching TV like my generation did. They don't cruise around town all night like those a little older than me did. People, given a chance, waste enormous amounts of time on minutiae and are still productive, interesting people. One person's "wasted time" is another's cherished diversion. My advice to any young person when they encounter a grump like we see here on CN occasionally (and even in this thread) who belittles them without really knowing them is to nod politely and ignore pretty much everything that person says about the world.

 

As for NASA and Apollo, I'm sure it was exciting. But amateur astronomy, fundamentally, isn't about manned space travel. I know a number of youngsters who are absorbed in the unmanned exploration of planets and the incredible new information rolling in daily from Hubble and other observatories. It's the wonder of the universe that is attractive. This is why so many of us worry about light pollution. I'm not defeatist, but it's realistic to worry that so many humans today can't see the night sky well enough to become hooked by it. I took a group of 18 college aged kids to Chile a few years ago and only two had seen the Milky Way before. At all. They were blown away by our galaxy as seen from the Atacama and at least three went on to take astronomy classes. Will any become amateurs? Probably not because the odds are never good on that front. But they all have a greater interest and finally understood why I spend so much time on the hobby. It's hard to do that without access to the sky.

 

In any case, if you want NASA to go to the moon and Mars, pay for it. Go look up what taxes were in the 50s and 60s. Maybe there is a reason we haven't made much further headway since then. Folks like to talk about the excitement of Apollo but for sure very few want to pay for it for the next generation, as the elders of today's pensioners did for them. 


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#20 Cotts

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Posted 19 November 2019 - 09:46 AM

When i first went to an RASC Toronto Centre meeting I was appalled that everyone there was at least two decades older than me.  Grey hair everywhere... What geriatric groan-fest was I signing up for?????

 

That was in 1969. I was 18...

 

Plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose...

 

Dave


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#21 edwincjones

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Posted 19 November 2019 - 10:00 AM

I can remember back then with school, marriage, kids, getting and keeping a job

 

took a lot of time, energy and money;

not to mention the CN unmentionable issues facing the world today.

 

Give them time, some will come around to hobbies-- including astronomy;

but our astro boom times are probably over frown.gif

 

edj


Edited by csa/montana, 19 November 2019 - 11:21 AM.

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#22 Diana N

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Posted 19 November 2019 - 10:39 AM

As for NASA and Apollo, I'm sure it was exciting. But amateur astronomy, fundamentally, isn't about manned space travel. I know a number of youngsters who are absorbed in the unmanned exploration of planets and the incredible new information rolling in daily from Hubble and other observatories. It's the wonder of the universe that is attractive. This is why so many of us worry about light pollution. I'm not defeatist, but it's realistic to worry that so many humans today can't see the night sky well enough to become hooked by it. I took a group of 18 college aged kids to Chile a few years ago and only two had seen the Milky Way before. At all. They were blown away by our galaxy as seen from the Atacama and at least three went on to take astronomy classes. Will any become amateurs? Probably not because the odds are never good on that front. But they all have a greater interest and finally understood why I spend so much time on the hobby. It's hard to do that without access to the sky. 

^^^THIS!  I'm sure many young people are excited by space exploration.  But I can't fault them for looking down at their phones instead of up at the sky.  What have we left them to see?

 

And it's not just amateur astronomy that is suffering from declining membership. Pretty much all outdoor nature activities such as hiking, camping and backpacking, hunting and fishing, are going the same way.  Funny, when people grow up completely surrounded by concrete with a bright white sky overhead, they generally don't have much affinity for nature activities.  In fact, close contact with nature often frightens them.

 

If we want more young people involved in nature-oriented leisure activities, we've got to give kids more exposure to real nature at a young age.  For amateur astronomy, that means controlling light pollution so they can actually see a starry night sky when they look up.


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#23 vtornado

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Posted 19 November 2019 - 11:20 AM

Great posts, I loved reading them.

 

In general there is a fracturing of community over the last decades.

Don't believe me read "Bowling Alone" by Robert Putman.

An Academic book where the author looked into declining participation in the community.

Excellent read.


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#24 Jond105

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Posted 19 November 2019 - 11:37 AM

I’m 34, so not young anymore. When I was your age, I certainly had no thoughts of ever getting into astronomy, thinking about it, or ever had even seen a person using a real telescope. My dad was into it, but my dad was dad so he wasn’t cool to me at the time. I also had other things I worried about, probably like a lot of younger people do still. My kids certainly don’t care for it. But who knows. Maybe when they’re 34 as well they’ll feel differently about it. 


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#25 Space Ant

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Posted 19 November 2019 - 11:43 AM

I'll be a holdout to the last. Someone needs to around to explain things in fifty years when the new creatures of the Earth, just evolved from man to apes, grunt in wonder and superstitious fear at that streak of light across the sky, those weird pinpoints of light that adorn the cold nighttime sky, wonder why their eyes hurt and smoke when they stare directly at the Sun through those strange tubes they found in the mountaintop ruins of the last and most recent great civilization...not to mention to tell them that Tide Pods are not for eating.

Heck, I'll be a god!

Not everyone in our generation is like this. There have always been idiots like what you think we all are, it’s just that the internet exposes us to many more of them.
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