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The Twentieth Century called - they want their Outreach Coordinator back

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#1 DeWayne

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Posted 11 November 2022 - 06:53 PM

I'm trying very hard to get my head around the phenomena of people who will step up to a telescope eyepiece that has a wonderful view of Saturn, or a lunar eclipse,  or whatever,  and not even look through the telescope.   Instead, they put their smartphone up to the eyepiece,  let the phone have a look, snap a picture, and then move on, having never laid their own human eye on the object itself.  And many of those who do look with their eyes, still want to get a picture too.  Almost everyone under thirty seems to do this. 

 

This behavior is mystifying to me, but if it gets people out under the Night Sky, it must be good (?)  I could really use some help/perspective understanding how to make the most of this new (to me) behavior.   

 

Does taking a photo somehow cement the experience in one's mind?   To me, if I'm photographing something,  then I'm not actually  doing that thing- I'm making pictures instead of doing the thing.  Will a person remember the majestic appearance of Saturn at Opposition or the haunting blood red of an eclipsed moon better, for having photographed it?

 

What, if anything,  should I be saying or doing while this is happening?   Do I need learn and provide tips for better cell phone pics,  the way I might tell them to use averted vision to see a faint detail with their eye? Is there something unique about "seeing" this way that I should be telling them? My only advice so far is just to be sure to turn their flash off....

 

We had over two dozen high school students out at 6 a.m. Tuesday morning to see the lunar eclipse through an 8 inch Cave Astrola.   That's amazing to me - I'd never get up that early in high school! I'm sure the extra credit they received helped, but still - a lot of kids at a telescope!  But I felt rather old and awkward watching them jostle to get a picture on their phones, as if they thought the experience did not happen unless they got a picture of it.  They probably didn't need to hear an old guy droning on, but it seemed like I should have been able to provide some kind of value, beyond just keeping the scope pointed correctly. 

 

Before the Twentieth Century comes to take me back, can anyone offer a toe hold on how Outreach actually works in 2022?  Evidently it involves taking lots of pictures with your phone?   I guess I'm searching for ideas about what people really want and expect when they come to an Outreach event these days.  In my own experience,  people wanted to see something special, provided with a little context from someone who knew a little more about it. That's not what I was picking up on this week, though.

 

Thoughts?

 

 

 


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#2 Bill Jensen

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Posted 11 November 2022 - 07:01 PM

First, congrats on getting up and sharing the lunar eclipse with that group. that is a very nice way for some young folks to get a view through a classic scope! 

 

Second, some people (like my grandkids) enjoy the view through the eyepiece. they are young enough not to have phones. 

 

Third, other folks want to share what they experienced, and by taking an image (whether it is of their dinner, their night out at a dance club, a concert, or... yes, a night at a telescope). the image is the thing they want. It may be the window that gets them eventually through the door to look more seriously. Or not, probably for most of them. But a few might want more than just a quick view via the smartphone. 

 

So again, thanks for sharing our hobby with them, even though it is a bit different view. EAA light, so to speak. 


Edited by Bill Jensen, 11 November 2022 - 07:02 PM.

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#3 Keith Rivich

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Posted 11 November 2022 - 07:16 PM

When I do outreach I don't allow afocal until later in the evening when the crowds have waned. But I like doing this. The people have fun and really work hard to get that "perfect" picture to share and take home with them. 


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#4 PolyWogg

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Posted 11 November 2022 - 07:35 PM

So, I'm older than dirt, but my reaction is three-fold.

 

First and foremost, there is no one "single / right" way to do astronomy.

 

- You want to give heavy binos to a small kid who gets frustrated trying to use them? Knock yourself out.

- You want to buy a cheap **** scope? Knock yourself out.

- You want to drop $10K on a hobby you haven't even tried yet? Knock yourself out.

- You want to get an automated e-scope? Knock yourself out.

- You want to only star hop and think gotos are the devil's spawn? Knock yourself out.

- You want to use a goto and just use it? Knock yourself out.

- You want to believe that anyone using a cell phone doesn't understand the hobby? Knock yourself out.

 

Everyone's mileage varies, and it is house rules.

 

Secondly, there is a popular concern in photography that people using DSLRs and trying to capture a moment are not "in the moment". That the act of using a camera automatically distances you from it. There's a popular story of a photographer who likes to stop in the middle of a shoot and just LOOK. That everyone else has got it "wrong". It's a legitimate point of view, sure. But a cellphone is NOT a DSLR. It's an extension of their life. They take photos of their food. It's part of how they choose to interact with the world. Documenting their world. It's not "in between" them and the world, it's PART of their world. Not unlike immersing in a culture vs. observing a culture. The cameraphone is part of it. They want the photo to help share their experience with others, not unlike people telling stories as bards of old. The cameraphone enables them to relate that experience to others, a storytelling technique. Your mileage may vary, but that's not their life. It's a step too far to say if it wasn't captured by the lens it didn't happen, but it IS a valid step to say if they CAN'T share it by their phone, they feel it is less. They WANT to share their lives in ways we didn't. With the people they're with, and the people who couldn't make it.

 

Third, this is a bit related to the last one, but so many of the people in astro world see all the amazing photos that people can take, process within an inch of their life, and release. Hours of work to get that great photo. The viewers here are NOT looking for that. They're not looking for APOD quality, they're looking for souvenir quality. So 2 years from now they can say, "Hey remember that time we got up early? I took this photo of the eclipse. I remember..." this or that, and the photo helps them access that memory. It isn't a substitute for it.

 

As for your point about outreach and what people enjoy, they're already showing you what they enjoy and how THEY want to enjoy it, which is different than what you expected. That's a good thing. It means, in the vernacular, that you are meeting them "where they are", not where you expected them to be. Personally, yes, I think showing them how to take a good photo would be worthwhile. But also encourage them to look first perhaps. To not jump to the photo. To have BOTH experiences. See if they can see something with their eye that the camera can't capture. Show them where YOU'RE at if you will.

 

I hate to say it but as a community, sometimes we do a lot of stupid things to tell people "here is the best / only way" to enjoy astronomy, totallying ignoring what they're showing us. Okay, end of mini rant. hehehe

 

Paul


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#5 DeWayne

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Posted 11 November 2022 - 07:47 PM

Thanks,  Bill.  I can understand that the photo is a concrete documentation of the experience,  that can then be shared with others.  It's a memento.  That's a spirit of something I can relate to.  So... to be most effective,  it should be the best photo they can get. So... I need to bone up on cell phone Astronomy.  People do get a kick out of it....

 

Keith - I actually did try to make them hold off on photos till everyone had a chance to "eyeball" it (the Moon), but the whole idea of NOT using the phone seemed like it "did not compute" to some of them, so compliance was less than 100%.  But knowing you follow this practice will give me some confidence to enforce it better next time. 

 

I like using the term "afocal", also.  Saying "we are going to give everyone a chance to try afocal astrophotography in a minute" sounds way better than "you kids gotta put those phones away till later!"  And it helps me, too, to remember that what they are doing is, in fact, a legitimate form of astronomy/astrophotography - we even have a name for it! Very helpful. 

 

Thank you both.


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#6 Apollo XX

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Posted 11 November 2022 - 07:56 PM

As another guy who does plenty of outreach I also take notice of the 'fleeting looks' type who just put their eye to the eyepiece for about a second and then try to move on. To them I'll typically say "take your time, the looks are free tonight."

As for the cell phone pic-takers, I couldn't care less unless they're holding up the line. During the recent eclipse, one woman got a stunning capture through my eyepiece. I had her send it to me. She saved me the trouble of trying it for myself.

Yes, there is definitely a lot of pic taking these days, but people still react with amazement at the sight of Luna or a planet in the eyepiece. It's all good.

Mike M.
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#7 DeWayne

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Posted 11 November 2022 - 08:10 PM

Thanks, Paul.  I guess I was not considering the extent to which the phones are kind of an extension of their experience,  as you said.  Kind of a tool for how they interact with and "see" the world.   From that perspective,  it would be more remarkable if they did NOT whip out the phone whenever they see something "cool", and perhaps it's a mark of successful Outreach that the event is cool enough to merit the photo in the first place.  

 

I can relate to that - I certainly enjoy a good photo shoot.  Maybe that's one of the differences I need to "grok." For me, "taking pictures" is a "thing" because I still think of it as a big deal - you've got the camera, you've got the film, which is expensive so you use it carefully, like ammunition.   

 

But that's not how it is with the phones.  The "ammo" is unlimited,  so you shoot anything and everything.   In fact, the act of shooting itself becomes a way to interact with the world.  I love "seeing" the world on the ground glass of a camera, but it is so immersive that you can't live that way all the time. But with cell phone cameras, I guess you kinda can!  

 

This is very helpful to hear, thanks.  I know I'm limited by my own biases and perspectives  - that's why I've asked for some different ones, because my own are not that helpful right now.  

 

I also hear you saying to watch what people are doing because they will show you what they want from the Outreach.  That makes sense,  and I actually bit my tongue a lot with the kids, because I was just trying to watch and understand what they were doing.  But I really never did understand it, which is why I posted. It's coming into focus now, though! 


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#8 PolyWogg

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Posted 11 November 2022 - 09:42 PM

But that's not how it is with the phones.  The "ammo" is unlimited,  so you shoot anything and everything.   In fact, the act of shooting itself becomes a way to interact with the world.  I love "seeing" the world on the ground glass of a camera, but it is so immersive that you can't live that way all the time. But with cell phone cameras, I guess you kinda can!  

FWIW, I saw an "expert" talking about how us old folks could better understand the use of phones, particularly in the pop psych world where people complain, "Everyone has their phone, put it down and talk to people". Except they ARE talking to people, just not how us Luddites did it. So the suggestion from the expert was to think about phones more as cyborg implants or wearable tech...from that perspective, it's not "optional" any more, it's just part of them. Might be overstating things, but I confess I'm not far off that at times. I like snorkeling and I absolutely want to use my phone. I like waterfalls, and I want to capture it. My interest tends to stop at the souvenir or advanced souvenir quality though. :) I almost never drag my DSLR anywhere.


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#9 E-Ray

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Posted 12 November 2022 - 01:32 AM

I do a lot of outreach especially right now that Jupiter and Saturn are visible. I experience the same phenomena. I just tell them that I'm an expert at taking images with a phone and really stink at the planets. That usually works. I do take a decent photo of the Moon and offer to AirDrop or text it to them.

Regards, Ed


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#10 frapzen

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Posted 12 November 2022 - 06:55 AM

The problem is not that they are taking pictures with the phone, it's the fact that the subjective experience (whatever that experience is) is substituted by the experience of taking a photo with the phone. This greatly limits the experiential potential of anything, since there is now a well defined "beginning" and "end" for any experience you may encounter - once the picture is taken, the experience is concluded and you are ready to move on to the next one. The phone dictates the tempo of how you experience life.

 

This is not something that unique to the the phone generation. Before phones had cameras on them, a very common (and accurate) stereotype of a certain kind of tourist was the one were said tourist rushes through all the historical centers of a city (or whatever they are visiting), frantically snapping pictures without actually observing anything. Phones and social media sharing just amplified that kind of behavior.

 

I don't know if any of you have been to a museum or art gallery lately. The vast majority of people will allocate to each exhibit only the amount of time necessary to take a photo with their phone and then move on to the next one. Moreover, if it's a really popular (and physically large) exhibit, everybody is standing way further out in order to frame the exhibit in their phones so that if you actually step up closer to fully observe the darn thing, you are the bad guy who is ruining their shots.


Edited by frapzen, 12 November 2022 - 06:59 AM.


#11 Phil Cowell

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Posted 13 November 2022 - 03:28 PM

Folks have changed priorities, the Internet communication revolution is still on going and we are all a part of it or we wouldn't be here on CN. Sharing is just one capability facilitated by a smartphone. Taking a picture is a way to share what folks did. How many people is a picture of the moon or Saturn shared with and what discussions has it started? It’s not the big negative some paint it as.

If you try to force folks to do something in a given way you’ve already lost them. But then many of us have high end scopes that have never had an eyepiece in them as we image, do EAA or NV. To some folks thats sacrilegious but they will survive. The world constantly changes this time its in an area close to many and it goes against conditioning. By all means do what works for you but don’t expect the rest of the world to follow suit. You’ll only give yourself stress and still not change anything.


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#12 preprius

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Posted 13 November 2022 - 04:14 PM

I learned something here that can apply to next years Front state park events. Fpoa .

 

maybe 2 suggestions could be used.

1) Have a sign with a link to cloudy nights galleries. Ok they might have to sign in. Choose a thred that sumarizes steps for great pictures. Then on the sign show a pic from that thread.  A second sign maybe a model of scope that they look through.  

This gives them info after the event. If and when they review the pics, they will see the link.

Now the outreach went into there world.

 

 

2) If they do take a picture it won't be as good as the link in the sign.  They will learn more about more aspects than just looking thru someone elses scope.

 

I also noticed people taking pictures of people in line and siloutes of telescopes.

 

 

3) after I typed #1 i thought about changing the pic to a terrible cell phone pic.  So when they do look they might say wow.

 

 

Me.

Mark Eason



#13 Phil Cowell

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Posted 13 November 2022 - 11:34 PM

Having read the original post you would notice that the point was they had minimal interest in looking through the eyepiece, the cell phone image was the goal.

Many types of outreach are now available based on targeting the target your audience at a given location or frustrate yourself and the audience due to style mismatch.

 

I learned something here that can apply to next years Front state park events. Fpoa .

 

maybe 2 suggestions could be used.

1) Have a sign with a link to cloudy nights galleries. Ok they might have to sign in. Choose a thred that sumarizes steps for great pictures. Then on the sign show a pic from that thread.  A second sign maybe a model of scope that they look through.  

This gives them info after the event. If and when they review the pics, they will see the link.

Now the outreach went into there world.

 

 

2) If they do take a picture it won't be as good as the link in the sign.  They will learn more about more aspects than just looking thru someone elses scope.

 

I also noticed people taking pictures of people in line and siloutes of telescopes.

 

 

3) after I typed #1 i thought about changing the pic to a terrible cell phone pic.  So when they do look they might say wow.

 

 

Me.

Mark Eason



#14 Don25

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Posted 14 November 2022 - 08:20 AM

This is just our silly Culture, where people feel the need to receive validation, for every trivial thing they are involved with. Pavlovian training, has reduced the Youth to Automaton's, who have Collective group think.

 

Take the time to put your eye to the eyepiece, and see it in real time......not thru an Electronic device.


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#15 Phil Cowell

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Posted 14 November 2022 - 01:44 PM

Its funny, in the inner city you find most in line do view through the eyepiece. Suburban not so much.

 

A member here is a leading member of an astronomy and learning center. They held a warm weather star party and also streamed the event at the same time. Donations were if I remember correctly 5X higher from the watchers of the streaming event.

 

Heck as an EAA, NV and imager thinking about it, I polar align with a camera now as do probably a large number of others. Thats not to say other imager/EAA/NV users don't look through an eyepiece, but just thinking its another change. 

 

 

 

This is just our silly Culture, where people feel the need to receive validation, for every trivial thing they are involved with. Pavlovian training, has reduced the Youth to Automaton's, who have Collective group think.

 

Take the time to put your eye to the eyepiece, and see it in real time......not thru an Electronic device.



#16 PolyWogg

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Posted 14 November 2022 - 10:28 PM

This is just our silly Culture, where people feel the need to receive validation, for every trivial thing they are involved with. Pavlovian training, has reduced the Youth to Automaton's, who have Collective group think.

 

Take the time to put your eye to the eyepiece, and see it in real time......not thru an Electronic device.

Wow, if someone was asked to summarize the worst approach / attitude for outreach, congrats, you'd nail it!


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#17 Don25

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Posted 15 November 2022 - 09:07 AM

No, i don't have the worst approach/attitude, for outreach.......

 

   I generally like showing the public the beauty of the Sky, and have had some very nice responses. I've also had a good number of arrogant, rude, entitled idiots, who think they're entitled to treating your/mine scope, like a styrofoam cup.

 

A friend of mine has a 20" Zambutto, and is having a 25" made, as we speak. He's had kids hanging off his scope, while the parents stand by, saying nothing. The parents did nothing, until He stated loudly "Hey kids, that telescope is worth more than your parents Mini-van". Than the parents did react.  Most people are fine; others are a completley different matter. He has become very anti-outreach, due to a number of incidences, like this.

 

My comment was simply a response, to the youth who are glued to their cell phones, and are missing out, on a lot of life.


Edited by Don25, 15 November 2022 - 09:09 AM.

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#18 PolyWogg

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Posted 15 November 2022 - 09:20 AM

 

My comment was simply a response, to the youth who are glued to their cell phones, and are missing out, on a lot of life.

People hanging off scopes has nothing to do with anything being discussed, but your last sentence tells me everything anyone would ever need to know about your view of anyone younger than you. If that's all you see, that's all you will ever see.


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#19 CltFlyboy

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Posted 15 November 2022 - 12:02 PM

Please keep this civil folks, and focus on the original point of the post.

 

I for one understand how the world is changing, and if younger people need to use their phones in order to connect to what we do as astronomers, then more power to them. At least they ARE participating instead of sitting at home. And who knows, that one experience might push them into getting their own telescope!


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#20 John Fitzgerald

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Posted 15 November 2022 - 12:32 PM

Any quick snap through the eyepiece with a hand held phone will likely show nothing, or at least be blurry.


Edited by John Fitzgerald, 15 November 2022 - 12:32 PM.


#21 Phil Cowell

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Posted 15 November 2022 - 12:57 PM

The cameras in most new smartphones are quite sophisticated compared to those of old. The Moon, Jupiter and Saturn do surprisingly well. Deep Sky obviously not so much.

 

https://www.pinteres...60953510700128/

 

Add a cell phone adapter and most folks can get a keeper image.

 

https://www.skyatnig...ers-telescopes/

 

Folks sharing their experience with others in their social group can help get others out or at least connecting to your next outreach stream. 

 

Any quick snap through the eyepiece with a hand held phone will likely show nothing, or at least be blurry.


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#22 DeWayne

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Posted 15 November 2022 - 08:25 PM

I used to have the cell phone adapter in the link above.  It worked pretty well, but my smartphone camera was not that good.  It did help me realize that I'm just not that into astrophotography.   But for outreach,  it's not so much about what I'm into,  but rather what the visitors are into - that's one lesson from this thread.  I already knew that , I just didn't know how to relate when "what they are into" seemed so foreign and off-putting to me.  This has been helpful to hear the different opinions.  ALL the different opinions. Some of you "said the quiet part out loud"  - I think all the thoughts here have crossed my own mind at one point or another!  

 

For our next outreach event, we're thinking of having at least one telescope,  maybe on a clock drive, with a cell phone adapter attached.  People who want more than a quick snap can try that scope to get the best image they can.  The other scopes will be for looking through (of course,  if there is no line, there is no hurry, either.)  

 

I appreciate all the responses.   Maybe I'll get myself into the 21st century after all....

 I'll have to.   My son was taking his girlfriend to dinner at a new restaurant the other night. My wife told him "Take a picture of your food."  I can see where this is all going....


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#23 DSOGabe

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Posted 16 November 2022 - 02:59 PM

I had just read an article on the current obsession of taking a picture of everything. 

Before, it required film, which cost money to buy and then have it developed. Now it's all digital so cost is not a factor- only made worse by the fact that everyone with a smartphone has a camera in their hands.

Sadly, most of those pics are taken and then only looked at once or twice before they get buried under the dozens of pics that will be taken on the following days.


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#24 Phil Cowell

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Posted 16 November 2022 - 05:24 PM

But many get shared with friends, this is a primary function of the always ready camera and social media. If you do a search on smartphone astrophotography there is a lot of material out there. If it was just a fad why do so many companies manufacture smartphone adapters for scopes?

How many 35mm films never got developed? They never got the look at once or twice hurdle. 

I had just read an article on the current obsession of taking a picture of everything. 

Before, it required film, which cost money to buy and then have it developed. Now it's all digital so cost is not a factor- only made worse by the fact that everyone with a smartphone has a camera in their hands.

Sadly, most of those pics are taken and then only looked at once or twice before they get buried under the dozens of pics that will be taken on the following days.


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#25 Chris K

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Posted 16 November 2022 - 10:00 PM

First, good for you for doing outreach. If it jumpstarts even one kid into the hobby it's great.

 

Assuming this is your equipment, you should make the rules. No phones to the eyepiece, please. Explain why.

 

When we do outreach I have a simple rule at my scope: You have to find it yourself.

I want them to say they "did" astronomy. I'll never forget when I heard a kid say "oh is that just Saturn too?" because they looked at it in 4 or 5 other scopes already.

 

Small scope on a sturdy mount with a mid-power plossl and a red dot finder.

For each person, I point the scope away and defocus it. Then I tell them which is Jupiter (or Saturn). Next I give them the tiller handle and tell them to look in the RDF and find the red dot.

 

Once they do, I tell them what the red dot does and ask them to put it on Jupiter. And then of course I have them focus.

 

For some it's a feeling of accomplishment or amazement or excitement. And some are ho-hum. That's ok too.


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