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Where are the Millennials?

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#1 MarkGregory

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Posted 10 April 2020 - 04:40 AM

I love to do outreach. My hope is that at least some people who peak through the eyepiece will turn to recreational astronomy as a hobby. However, I really don’t know if this is happening. Especially with young people. I would love to know if there will be a succession to our generation (baby boomers) when we are gone. Vendors, are young people buying scopes? You are in the best position to know what’s going on. Clue us in. Thanks, Mark


Edited by MarkGregory, 10 April 2020 - 06:30 AM.


#2 MikiSJ

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Posted 10 April 2020 - 04:47 AM

Sadly, I think we are close to the end of a caring, thinking, risk-taking bunch of folk willing to take civilization past its current morass. 

 

I am one of the first baby-boomers (Oct 1946). I don't see many millennials as they tend to sequester themselves in their little online communities and hardly care about anything unless they are provoked into thinking about something other than themselves.


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#3 Aoi

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Posted 10 April 2020 - 04:56 AM

Hi, I'm 23, I don't think I'm a millennial even, I'm pretty sure I'm gen z. I'm just starting into this hobby and I don't really know how far I'll take it but I like looking at the stars and thinking about the possibilities. I don't really know if a lot of people my age are into astronomy really, but I do know that like, the scientific knowledge of my generation is probably the highest it's ever been. I think all the conspiracy nuts have driven us away from them and into appreciating our world, and global warming has kinda given us a timetable. Mr. Tyson had definitely been a good influence too.


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#4 Stu Todd

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Posted 10 April 2020 - 05:24 AM

Sadly, I think we are close to the end of a caring, thinking, risk-taking bunch of folk willing to take civilization past its current morass. 

 

I am one of the first baby-boomers (Oct 1946). I don't see many millennials as they tend to sequester themselves in their little online communities and hardly care about anything unless they are provoked into thinking about something other than themselves.

Wow, that is rich coming from the generation who have got us into this "current morass".

I hear many Boomers having a dig at younger folks, often tarring them all with the same old brush, when in fact a greater percentage of millenials are caring, hard working members of society, much as you claim to be yourself.

If you "haven't seen many millenials", then how can you go making ridiculous statements like that?

 

Stay safe.


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#5 JOEinCO

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Posted 10 April 2020 - 05:43 AM

Sadly, I think we are close to the end of a caring, thinking, risk-taking bunch of folk willing to take civilization past its current morass. 

 

I am one of the first baby-boomers (Oct 1946). I don't see many millennials as they tend to sequester themselves in their little online communities and hardly care about anything unless they are provoked into thinking about something other than themselves.

Well, you said it. Your words. It IS sad what you think....


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#6 edwincjones

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Posted 10 April 2020 - 06:08 AM

Sadly, I think we are close to the end of a caring, thinking, risk-taking bunch of folk willing to take civilization past its current morass. 

 

I am one of the first baby-boomers (Oct 1946). I don't see many millennials as they tend to sequester themselves in their little online communities and hardly care about anything unless they are provoked into thinking about something other than themselves.

Does not every generation think this of the coming generations?

 

We-the baby boomers-had  our day, did our thing-right or wrong-and

now it is time to pass the torch to the next group,

to do their thing-right or wrong.

 

When I look at my grandparents generation, and my parents generation

we do appear to be going downhill   (but who am I to judge)

 

so hope the next group can turn things around.

 

edj


Edited by edwincjones, 10 April 2020 - 06:14 AM.

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#7 MarkGregory

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Posted 10 April 2020 - 06:34 AM

Hi, I'm 23, I don't think I'm a millennial even, I'm pretty sure I'm gen z. I'm just starting into this hobby and I don't really know how far I'll take it but I like looking at the stars and thinking about the possibilities. I don't really know if a lot of people my age are into astronomy really, but I do know that like, the scientific knowledge of my generation is probably the highest it's ever been. I think all the conspiracy nuts have driven us away from them and into appreciating our world, and global warming has kinda given us a timetable. Mr. Tyson had definitely been a good influence too.

I referenced Millennials in my post, but I am also referring to people your age. It is good to hear you have an interest. I hope you share your love of the night skies with other people your age. Mark 


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#8 Waddensky

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Posted 10 April 2020 - 06:35 AM

If I take a look at the demographic statistics of my astronomy app, age ranges 35-44 and 25-34 are the top age ranges of active users. This is of course biased by "people using smartphones" in general, but they are there anyway. I see young people and young families on star parties or other outreach events all the time, and they seem genuinely interested. Maybe young(er) people (I'm on the border of GenX/Millenial myself) have other ways of experiencing astronomy, not so much by taking a scope outside but by using digital tools or online resources to study the night sky. It's different, but it's the same hobby.


Edited by Waddensky, 10 April 2020 - 06:36 AM.

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#9 Topographic

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Posted 10 April 2020 - 06:39 AM

Does not every generation think this of the coming generations?

 

We-the baby boomers-had  our day, did our thing-right or wrong-and

now it is time to pass the torch to the next group,

to do their thing-right or wrong.

 

When I look at my grandparents generation, and my parents generation

we do appear to be going downhill   (but who am I to judge)

 

so hope the next group can turn things around.

 

edj

Going down hill from generations that gave us two world wars, colonial wars, genocide, ingrained sexism, racism, homophobia and a total lack of respect for the environment? My experience of young people is generally positive, less cynicism and a desire to turn things around whilst the baby boomer generation desperately clings to power.


Edited by Topographic, 10 April 2020 - 07:51 AM.

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#10 rustynpp

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Posted 10 April 2020 - 06:45 AM

I'm a millennial. Most of my friends are passively interested in astronomy - eg they will happily go out with me if I invite them observing, but none have picked up the hobby for themselves. I think the following are probably some contributing factors for why this is the case:

  1. The world is increasingly urban, and the urban population skews young. It's really, really hard to get into and maintain an active interest in astronomy when you need to travel far outside your home to even see any stars (and most of us don't own cars).
  2. It can be an expensive hobby, and so the already high barrier to entry becomes even higher. This is compounded by the fact that many millennials are burdened by student loan debt and unaffordable (urban) housing prices. Investing in something like a telescope seems like a true luxury in this context.
  3. For some young people, much of their social life is lived digitally through social media, online gaming, digital communities, etc. These are things that are more accessible to young people, since we've been experiencing this technology from a very young age, and such a high percentage of our peers communicate in these digital spaces.

I think the good news is that in the last few years we've seen a real fire started among young people with regard to being stewards of the environment, and with the dark sky movement gaining popularity and visibility, I'm hopeful that appreciation of night skies will be included under the umbrella of "the environment." Most people I know really, really enjoy getting to use my telescope with me, so the interest is there. I bet as our generation gets older - and becomes less urban and more wealthy - they'll start picking up the hobby as well.


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#11 Knasal

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Posted 10 April 2020 - 07:02 AM

I'm a millennial. Most of my friends are passively interested in astronomy - eg they will happily go out with me if I invite them observing, but none have picked up the hobby for themselves. I think the following are probably some contributing factors for why this is the case:

  1. The world is increasingly urban, and the urban population skews young. It's really, really hard to get into and maintain an active interest in astronomy when you need to travel far outside your home to even see any stars (and most of us don't own cars).
  2. It can be an expensive hobby, and so the already high barrier to entry becomes even higher. This is compounded by the fact that many millennials are burdened by student loan debt and unaffordable (urban) housing prices. Investing in something like a telescope seems like a true luxury in this context.
  3. For some young people, much of their social life is lived digitally through social media, online gaming, digital communities, etc. These are things that are more accessible to young people, since we've been experiencing this technology from a very young age, and such a high percentage of our peers communicate in these digital spaces.

I think the good news is that in the last few years we've seen a real fire started among young people with regard to being stewards of the environment, and with the dark sky movement gaining popularity and visibility, I'm hopeful that appreciation of night skies will be included under the umbrella of "the environment." Most people I know really, really enjoy getting to use my telescope with me, so the interest is there. I bet as our generation gets older - and becomes less urban and more wealthy - they'll start picking up the hobby as well.

Well spoken.

 

Kevin


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#12 kathyastro

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Posted 10 April 2020 - 07:25 AM

At last year's star party, the millenials were up and (noisily) active at 3:00 and 4:00 am when we boomers were crawling into our sleeping bags, defeated by the dew.  They are around, and as keen on astronomy as any boomer ever was.  You just have to have a welcoming environment.  (And some noise restrictions! :D )


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#13 Knasal

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Posted 10 April 2020 - 07:30 AM

Sadly, I think we are close to the end of a caring, thinking, risk-taking bunch of folk willing to take civilization past its current morass. 

 

I am one of the first baby-boomers (Oct 1946). I don't see many millennials as they tend to sequester themselves in their little online communities and hardly care about anything unless they are provoked into thinking about something other than themselves.

Really?

 

So, there’s no more people becoming doctors in the world? No more people becoming astronauts? No more people becoming special forces operators? No more people entering positions of leadership? 

 

In other words, the majority of the people in the millennial generation are just going to stay home and stare at their phones?

 

Look who’s taking on the Coronavirus head on around the world, putting their lives at risk in every patient encounter.

 

With social media, there are many benefits - I can’t take credit for these but here are a few:

 

*Having a platform to showcase technological savvy and creativity.
*Increased self-confidence by empowering introverts to express their ideas.
*The ability to create lifelong friends.
*Strengthening social awareness and empathy.

 

The world the millennial were handed in this country: environment on the brink of disaster, a country constantly at war, a Great Recession at the time they were mostly in college and trying to enter the world as adults (caused by “the adults”), growing up in schools having to constantly practice active shooter drills. 

 

More millenials are staying in their jobs longer than those of my Gen X Generation.

 

We who’ve lived longer can certainly point at their faults. But there are many positives. I hardly think the Boomer generation did it all right and has the lock on all the risk taking, caring and thinking people in the world.

 

My opinion-

Kevin


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#14 MarkGregory

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Posted 10 April 2020 - 07:34 AM

I'm a millennial. Most of my friends are passively interested in astronomy - eg they will happily go out with me if I invite them observing, but none have picked up the hobby for themselves. I think the following are probably some contributing factors for why this is the case:

  1. The world is increasingly urban, and the urban population skews young. It's really, really hard to get into and maintain an active interest in astronomy when you need to travel far outside your home to even see any stars (and most of us don't own cars).
  2. It can be an expensive hobby, and so the already high barrier to entry becomes even higher. This is compounded by the fact that many millennials are burdened by student loan debt and unaffordable (urban) housing prices. Investing in something like a telescope seems like a true luxury in this context.
  3. For some young people, much of their social life is lived digitally through social media, online gaming, digital communities, etc. These are things that are more accessible to young people, since we've been experiencing this technology from a very young age, and such a high percentage of our peers communicate in these digital spaces.

I think the good news is that in the last few years we've seen a real fire started among young people with regard to being stewards of the environment, and with the dark sky movement gaining popularity and visibility, I'm hopeful that appreciation of night skies will be included under the umbrella of "the environment." Most people I know really, really enjoy getting to use my telescope with me, so the interest is there. I bet as our generation gets older - and becomes less urban and more wealthy - they'll start picking up the hobby as well.

Thank you for your well thought out and clearly written response to my thread. It is encouraging to hear that you are involved in recreational astronomy and that you share your enthusiasm for our hobby with your friends. You really raised interesting and valid points as to why telescopes and such are out of the reach of many young people. I never thought about the Urban living aspect of the problem, but it is so true. City lights do hinder the ability to enjoy the night sky and leaving the city for the suburbs is a hassle. We definately do live in a world where we spend more time on our phones and electronic devices than ever before. I have mixed emotions about that. I must admit, I certainly love my iPad and iPhone and could not live without them. I guess we all have to find that fine balance in life between our indoor activities and outside activities. At this moment I am just happy to hear you are with us in the game. Mark


Edited by MarkGregory, 10 April 2020 - 07:38 AM.

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#15 MarkGregory

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Posted 10 April 2020 - 07:51 AM

Does not every generation think this of the coming generations?

 

We-the baby boomers-had  our day, did our thing-right or wrong-and

now it is time to pass the torch to the next group,

to do their thing-right or wrong.

 

When I look at my grandparents generation, and my parents generation

we do appear to be going downhill   (but who am I to judge)

 

so hope the next group can turn things around.

 

edj

Good attitude. We need to give the next generation a chance. We, baby boomers, did some things right and some things wrong. I am sure this has been the same for every generation. It’s just the way it is. 


Edited by MarkGregory, 10 April 2020 - 07:51 AM.

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#16 W. T. Riker

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Posted 10 April 2020 - 08:02 AM

Millennial here too. I have a few millennial friends active in the hobby, and several others that will casually observe with me when invited. However, I've met a lot people in my generation that pursue the hobby through an academic lens.

 

 

I'm a millennial...

Well said rustynpp, pretty much nailed it. Our generation faces a lot of challenges when it comes to pursuing the traditional hobby.  

 

 

One thing I want address is the cynicism in previous posts. I have been the recipient of that contemptuous attitude toward my generation at many star parties and within astronomy clubs. I don't belong to the club in my area because of the prejudice I received while trying to join. I've kept my membership in a club that's over 1,000-miles from my current location because that attitude is not excessive within the organization. 

 


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#17 MarkGregory

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Posted 10 April 2020 - 08:24 AM

Millennial here too. I have a few millennial friends active in the hobby, and several others that will casually observe with me when invited. However, I've met a lot people in my generation that pursue the hobby through an academic lens.

 

 

Well said rustynpp, pretty much nailed it. Our generation faces a lot of challenges when it comes to pursuing the traditional hobby.  

 

 

One thing I want address is the cynicism in previous posts. I have been the recipient of that contemptuous attitude toward my generation at many star parties and within astronomy clubs. I don't belong to the club in my area because of the prejudice I received while trying to join. I've kept my membership in a club that's over 1,000-miles from my current location because that attitude is not excessive within the organization. 

Wow, quite an eye opener. Not happy to hear you (as in all of you) are receiving bad vibes at star parties. This is just not right. 


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#18 Stu Todd

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Posted 10 April 2020 - 08:35 AM

Wow, quite an eye opener. Not happy to hear you (as in all of you) are receiving bad vibes at star parties. This is just not right. 

No indeed. 

The world does not need attitudes like that of MikiSJ, the immediate response to your topic, but here we are again...


Edited by Stu Todd, 10 April 2020 - 08:39 AM.

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#19 MarkGregory

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Posted 10 April 2020 - 08:39 AM

No indeed. 

The world does not need attitudes like that of MikiSJ, the immediate response to your topic.

Although this seems to be the mainstream thinking of the older generation, on the whole, I've not had a problem with anyone, of any age in an astronomy society.

My experience as well. When I started out, one of the reasons I stuck with the hobby is because older, seasoned, hobbyist showed me the ropes. Never had any issues at star parties. 


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#20 knUk23

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Posted 10 April 2020 - 08:41 AM

I'll chime in as another millennial. The only star party I've been to was last summer, I would guess there were around 100 people there, with the vast majority having been either families with young kids, or groups of younger teenagers. One of the four folks who brought a scope other than the observatory hosting the event was a girl who I'd guess was 17 or so. The rest of the folks running the event were probably all early retirement age, but like has been mentioned, it's probably a lot easier to spend hundreds or thousands of bucks on a hobby and stay up late every third night at that point in life than when you're just starting a family, working long hours to keep food on the table and pay off your $60k in student loans. So I think there's definitely interest in the younger generations. They just might not, as a group, have that same financial ability as others. Yet.

 

I think every generation to some degree views those coming after it through its own "kids these days" lens, and to view itself and generations past in a more selective and rosy light. Its just human nature. Same way younger generations for the most part think they can do better than the generations before them. Both are probably right and wrong to certain degrees.


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#21 MarkGregory

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Posted 10 April 2020 - 08:47 AM

I'll chime in as another millennial. The only star party I've been to was last summer, I would guess there were around 100 people there, with the vast majority having been either families with young kids, or groups of younger teenagers. One of the four folks who brought a scope other than the observatory hosting the event was a girl who I'd guess was 17 or so. The rest of the folks running the event were probably all early retirement age, but like has been mentioned, it's probably a lot easier to spend hundreds or thousands of bucks on a hobby and stay up late every third night at that point in life than when you're just starting a family, working long hours to keep food on the table and pay off your $60k in student loans. So I think there's definitely interest in the younger generations. They just might not, as a group, have that same financial ability as others. Yet.

 

I think every generation to some degree views those coming after it through its own "kids these days" lens, and to view itself and generations past in a more selective and rosy light. Its just human nature. Same way younger generations for the most part think they can do better than the generations before them. Both are probably right and wrong to certain degrees.

Nice to see another millennial responding to my post. Hang in there, it took me a while to afford a nice scope.....and other things as you can imagine. In your post you actually raised another very interesting subject. Girls and women who enjoy our hobby. I don’t recall ever seeing a girl or women with a scope at the star parties I attended. Seems like there should be many more participating in the hobby. Mark


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#22 dusty99

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Posted 10 April 2020 - 08:48 AM

Judging by the astronomy events I’ve been to the last several years at national parks and the popularity of the astronomy classes at our local state university, I’d say millennials and gen Zers seem more interested in astronomy than I remember my peers ever being.


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#23 Jeff Lee

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Posted 10 April 2020 - 08:48 AM

From what I've seen, most younger folks are busy working, making friends, and "doing" things (hiking is really big here in Oregon). I hate to say this but MikeSJ is either a troll or ignorant of how good the current group of "youngsters" are. Who the heck do you think are in the military? Who are in the front lines of this virus things (think health care providers and stocking clerks in stores). I'm 70 and somewhat ashamed at the world my generation is leaving behind. Plus we've been able to even bring back the threat of nuclear war, now how would you rate a generation who had the ability to remove that threat and didn't?


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#24 RyanSem

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Posted 10 April 2020 - 08:57 AM

I'm 26, we are more numerous than it looks. Forums are a fairly antiquated part of the internet, so it's no surprise few young people use them. There is a fairly huge following of astronomy on sites such as reddit and YouTube (and I'm sure Instagram as well, though I don't use that platform) so the interest is there. I think the others hit the nail on the head though. There is excitement about astronomy and space, but it's hard to dive into it when most kids live in high Bortle zones.

I'll also add this. I dislike star parties. I hate to say it, but I do. I'm a busy guy with a full work schedule, so if I'm looking through my scope I want to get things done. Most star parties I've been to end up with people milling around the scopes and talking, rather than doing some hard observing. Either their AP setup is clicking away or they are treating it as a social event, but in any case I find it distracting. I much prefer to split off into a small group and head out into the middle of nowhere or just observe solo. Funny enough, I've ran into other astronomers doing the same thing, and they have mostly been young guys like myself.
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#25 bunyon

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Posted 10 April 2020 - 09:15 AM

I generally hate generational labels. I've known great people of every age. Certainly, as a group, the Boomers have stayed prominent far longer than most and, perhaps, too long. That's largely due to my generation's lack of engagement (I'm 49). 

 

But, really, there are jerks and angels in every group. There are amateur astronomers in every group. For the most part, what I see is younger people doing it differently than the older folks. And it makes the older folks mad. So it goes. 


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