Jump to content

  •  

CNers have asked about a donation box for Cloudy Nights over the years, so here you go. Donation is not required by any means, so please enjoy your stay.

Photo

Is outreach dangerous now

  • Please log in to reply
38 replies to this topic

#1 grif 678

grif 678

    Mercury-Atlas

  • *****
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 2,947
  • Joined: 22 Dec 2010
  • Loc: NC

Posted 13 January 2023 - 06:10 PM

I remember back in the 70's, there were quite a few side walk dobs, but not around where I live. I use to read about them in S&T magazines. Use to see lots of people lined up to look through a telescope for the first time. I guess back then, no one never thought of there being danger, but I would think that telescope owners would be weary of people that they do not know. I would.

 


  • Kim2010 likes this

#2 Augustus

Augustus

    Vendor

  • *****
  • Vendors
  • Posts: 11,689
  • Joined: 26 Dec 2015
  • Loc: Tucson, Arizona

Posted 13 January 2023 - 06:18 PM

What???

 

IMG_5613s.jpg


  • Joe Bergeron, Scott Beith, Phil Cowell and 4 others like this

#3 MikeTahtib

MikeTahtib

    Surveyor 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 1,611
  • Joined: 10 Oct 2016

Posted 13 January 2023 - 06:35 PM

When I set up at Acadia National Park, people sometimes come over to see what I'm doing.  It can be a bit unnerving to be all alone far from other people when a stranger approaches, but I have never had a bad experience.


  • Augustus, Astroman007, Stevegeo and 1 other like this

#4 TOMDEY

TOMDEY

    Hubble

  • *****
  • Posts: 12,692
  • Joined: 10 Feb 2014
  • Loc: Springwater, NY

Posted 13 January 2023 - 06:57 PM

I'm the kinda guy who actually approaches strangers --- with a, "Soooo... what are you doing there?" Actually learned a LOT that way. Do a lot of hiking on very remote, coarse trails that are rarely visited. You happen to pass someone there and naturally start up a conversation. I've also done that in foreign country jungles, seashores, etc. It's a lot of fun --- risky... sure, I guess. Worth it... yep!    Tom


  • dave253, Augustus, Astroman007 and 3 others like this

#5 baker_belays

baker_belays

    Lift Off

  • -----
  • Posts: 12
  • Joined: 05 May 2021
  • Loc: Indiana

Posted 13 January 2023 - 07:04 PM

With violent and property crime trending down every decade for the past 50 years, and down almost 75% since 1993, it's hard to imagine outreach as any more dangerous than usual. As always if you're next to an expensive piece of equipment on the street take reasonable steps to protect yourself and said equipment, but fearing outreach is the wrong move. A reasonable move is to carry pepper spray and use a smaller/less expensive outreach dob for instance.


  • Joe Bergeron, AstroFrankMontana, happylimpet and 7 others like this

#6 starguy4

starguy4

    Lift Off

  • *****
  • Posts: 23
  • Joined: 29 Jan 2014

Posted 13 January 2023 - 08:33 PM

I never feel unsafe at our club's public outreach sessions as there are a number of members in attendance. However, around kids, I usually bring an inexpensive 10 inch dob and descent but not expensive eyepieces. My Corondo 60 I do have to keep an eye out for, especially around children.



#7 PolyWogg

PolyWogg

    Viking 1

  • -----
  • Posts: 576
  • Joined: 26 Jul 2017
  • Loc: Ottawa, Canada

Posted 13 January 2023 - 08:48 PM

I think common sense applies...if you're in a group, less risk; if you're out in the woods by yourself, more risk. If you do night-time stuff, more risk; day-time stuff, less risk. If it's a designated astronomy event, less risk; if you're setting up on a downtown street in the middle of a festival, more risk.

 

We have a group locally who does "sidewalk" astronomy outside of a local mall with permission from the bookstore, with 5-6 people setting up scopes. No one has ever had significant problems...the biggest risk is people who want to tell you about their astrology beliefs or that the moon landing was faked or about what political party you are registered with or if you have found God yet. 

 

At a local dark site, we have some informal rules including that you never leave anyone observing alone unless they prefer to stay by themselves aka don't just up and leave without telling them you're heading out, so if they feel unsafe alone, they can pack up too. 

 

At monthly public star parties, we averaged 150-300 people, greatest "risk" was people tripping over things in the dark, and it almost never happened. Those glow-in-the-dark bracelets can be bought in red, and put around the feet of tripods to let people know where or where not to step, if you have a wide setup. 

 

Within the formal clubs, the sad commentary is we have to worry about risk the opposite direction which is are our volunteers who may be working with kids in schools or at the observation site screened for security first? Do they know that if they have a scope that is 4' high and a kid that is 3' high, they don't just reach over and pick up the kid and hold them up without asking permission first. Some things you think would be obvious to avoid are not obvious to some extreme introverts, and the hobby does tend to attract a lot of introverts. Not all of them have great social skills. :) They can be awkward. And if they're awkward with kids, sometimes the parents get annoyed. And tbh, we have had to tell a couple of volunteers to also knock off the politics or religion talk when people come to look at the stars. "It's a tripod, not a soapbox!". :)

 

Paul


  • edwincjones, Vesper818, dave253 and 3 others like this

#8 MikeTahtib

MikeTahtib

    Surveyor 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 1,611
  • Joined: 10 Oct 2016

Posted 13 January 2023 - 10:39 PM


are our volunteers who may be working with kids in schools or at the observation site screened for security first? Do they know that if they have a scope that is 4' high and a kid that is 3' high, they don't just reach over and pick up the kid and hold them up without asking permission first. Some things you think would be obvious to avoid are not obvious to some extreme introverts, and the hobby does tend to attract a lot of introverts. Not all of them have great social skills. smile.gif They can be awkward. ". smile.gif

 

Paul

I can relate.  I remember at a huge outreach event, we were all waiting for darkness, when some people started showing the moon to the guests.  I overheard one guy talking to a young boy about how if he looked through the telescope, he would be magically transported to the moon.  After the kid looked, the guy asked how the trip was.  "Yes, you were gone, you weren't here for a minute, you were up there!"  The kid was baffled, he didn't know what to say.  He was pretty sure he hadn't left the Earth, but when told by an authority figure that he had, he seemed unsure what to think.  Especially because the guy wouldn't let it go and leave room to think it was a joke or pretend, he kept doubling down on the whole story.  I understand the guy meant well, he was just trying to make the event fun, but it was all so inappropriate.  I was utterly appalled.  I felt like he should have been kicked out of the event.  I don't know he he was the rest of the night.  I know if I had been the parent of the kid, I would have been furious, and skeptical of the idea of continuing with the event.


  • RalphMeisterTigerMan likes this

#9 Phil Cowell

Phil Cowell

    Fly Me to the Moon

  • *****
  • Posts: 7,480
  • Joined: 24 May 2007
  • Loc: Southern Tier NY

Posted 13 January 2023 - 10:41 PM

You tend to get a few cops stop by and have a look. Fear statistically will hurt you well before reality does.

If you’re afraid in a town center, call the local cops and let them know you’re setting up. 

Irrational fear is a buzz kill.


  • Bowlerhat likes this

#10 grif 678

grif 678

    Mercury-Atlas

  • *****
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 2,947
  • Joined: 22 Dec 2010
  • Loc: NC

Posted 14 January 2023 - 03:56 PM

With violent and property crime trending down every decade for the past 50 years, and down almost 75% since 1993, it's hard to imagine outreach as any more dangerous than usual. As always if you're next to an expensive piece of equipment on the street take reasonable steps to protect yourself and said equipment, but fearing outreach is the wrong move. A reasonable move is to carry pepper spray and use a smaller/less expensive outreach dob for instance.

You have got to be kidding. In every town within 50 miles of me, people are getting shot almost every night, sometimes in several towns the same night. There has never been this many shootings before. Durham NC, and Rocky Mount NC are a regular on the news with people getting shot, many of them children outside playing. I guess it depends on where you live, but I would never go out viewing at night in Durham. We have a joke going around in NC, that there are no Duke fans in Durham, because no one can live long enough to become one.


  • Achernar likes this

#11 Mitrovarr

Mitrovarr

    Aurora

  • *****
  • Posts: 4,639
  • Joined: 12 Sep 2004
  • Loc: Boise, Idaho

Posted 14 January 2023 - 04:17 PM

You have got to be kidding. In every town within 50 miles of me, people are getting shot almost every night, sometimes in several towns the same night. There has never been this many shootings before. Durham NC, and Rocky Mount NC are a regular on the news with people getting shot, many of them children outside playing. I guess it depends on where you live, but I would never go out viewing at night in Durham. We have a joke going around in NC, that there are no Duke fans in Durham, because no one can live long enough to become one.

The statistics are pretty clear. The last couple of years has been bad due to the pandemic but it's trending back to normal. It just seems scarier because one has exposure to news that covers a larger area - single murders in neighboring cities wouldn't have made your local paper in the past. Also the population as a whole is a lot higher so there are more total crimes without them being more per capita.


  • Augustus, mikemarotta and Brianm14 like this

#12 Augustus

Augustus

    Vendor

  • *****
  • Vendors
  • Posts: 11,689
  • Joined: 26 Dec 2015
  • Loc: Tucson, Arizona

Posted 14 January 2023 - 04:54 PM

You have got to be kidding. In every town within 50 miles of me, people are getting shot almost every night, sometimes in several towns the same night. There has never been this many shootings before. Durham NC, and Rocky Mount NC are a regular on the news with people getting shot, many of them children outside playing. I guess it depends on where you live, but I would never go out viewing at night in Durham. We have a joke going around in NC, that there are no Duke fans in Durham, because no one can live long enough to become one.

Then don't, but I would recommend don't assume your situation applies everywhere and discourage others just because of it....


  • Jon Isaacs likes this

#13 baker_belays

baker_belays

    Lift Off

  • -----
  • Posts: 12
  • Joined: 05 May 2021
  • Loc: Indiana

Posted 14 January 2023 - 05:29 PM

There has never been this many shootings before. Durham NC, and Rocky Mount NC are a regular on the news with people getting shot, many of them children outside playing.

I think we can all agree that television news thrives on fear to get people's attention; the fact is that the entire US crime index, and even Durham's, has trended down for decades. Even accounting for the covid spikes the rates are by and large much lower than they were even in the year 2000.

 

Of course some places are more dangerous than others, but the prompt as stated in the thread is "Is outreach dangerous *now*". In comparison to any other time in the last 50 years, outreach is on average safer than ever.


  • Joe Bergeron, Jon Isaacs, CharLakeAstro and 3 others like this

#14 CharLakeAstro

CharLakeAstro

    Surveyor 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 1,615
  • Joined: 12 Jan 2015
  • Loc: At the Lake

Posted 14 January 2023 - 11:24 PM

Everything being relative, I agree, outreach is not dangerous. This is especially true when with a group. I used to do a lot of outreach with our club, but now I do mostly private sessions for groups such as scouts, cadets, friends etc. Not due to danger, but because I relocated to darker skies.


  • Augustus likes this

#15 Astroman007

Astroman007

    Hubble

  • *****
  • Posts: 13,958
  • Joined: 27 Oct 2017
  • Loc: Northern Ontario, Canada

Posted 16 January 2023 - 06:36 PM

When I set up at Acadia National Park, people sometimes come over to see what I'm doing.  It can be a bit unnerving to be all alone far from other people when a stranger approaches, but I have never had a bad experience.

Do they leave having learned something?


  • TayM57 and Augustus like this

#16 MikeTahtib

MikeTahtib

    Surveyor 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 1,611
  • Joined: 10 Oct 2016

Posted 16 January 2023 - 06:56 PM

Do they leave having learned something?

Yes - "Don't talk to strangers!"  Ha ha, I hope so.  I'll show them the showiest things I can find in the sky at the time. and  afew different types of objects.  The Ring nebula, the Veil nebula, teh Hercules cluster, and of course Saturn or Jupiter.  I'll explain how a star ejects a lot of its material at hte end of tis life to form a planetary, or completely explode to form the Veil nebula.  I don't know how much they retain, but I'm sure they go away thinking it was very cool.


  • Jon Isaacs, Augustus, Astroman007 and 1 other like this

#17 Brianm14

Brianm14

    Viking 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 523
  • Joined: 21 Jun 2021
  • Loc: NC

Posted 16 January 2023 - 11:58 PM

Headlines can easily distort our perceptions.  The statistics are clear, however.  In most reasonably public places, one is appreciably safer today than at any other time in the past 30 or more years.  

 

By being out there, making even the most casual outreach efforts, we are helping promote civil and happy interactions between humans, we are establishing this behavior as normal.

The basic rules for staying safe are really quite simple: don’t go to stupid places, don’t hang out with stupid people, and don’t say stupid things.  Add to this, of course, trust your instincts.  If something starts to feel wrong, it just might be wrong; pack up and call it a day or night, or at least get among some people.


  • Vesper818 and Augustus like this

#18 Brianm14

Brianm14

    Viking 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 523
  • Joined: 21 Jun 2021
  • Loc: NC

Posted 17 January 2023 - 12:00 AM

Yes - "Don't talk to strangers!"  Ha ha, I hope so.  I'll show them the showiest things I can find in the sky at the time. and  afew different types of objects.  The Ring nebula, the Veil nebula, teh Hercules cluster, and of course Saturn or Jupiter.  I'll explain how a star ejects a lot of its material at hte end of tis life to form a planetary, or completely explode to form the Veil nebula.  I don't know how much they retain, but I'm sure they go away thinking it was very cool.

They also go away thinking that they just met a really nice person.


  • Scott Beith, AstroFrankMontana, Augustus and 1 other like this

#19 RalphMeisterTigerMan

RalphMeisterTigerMan

    Vanguard

  • *****
  • Posts: 2,325
  • Joined: 01 Nov 2016

Posted 18 January 2023 - 12:20 AM

I suppose it would depend on which country you are going to in order to observe. However, for the most part most places in North America should be fairly safe. My experiences when I have done community outreach Astronomy have been very positive. Many times I have invited passersby (people walking by where I happen to have my telescope setup) to have a look. I am amazed how many people have never looked thru or had the chance to look thru a telescope. Most of the time they are absolutely amazed. I have even had people rendered speechless and overwhelmed! 

 

I guess the "most dangerous time" was when the Vancouver Chapter of the R.A.S.C. was hosting a Astronomy Day open house at the MacMillan Planetarium Space Centre and the Gordon Southam Observatory (of which I was a member and attended many Astronomy Day events with my telescope) and there were several dozen of us to allow members of the public view thru our telescopes.

 

Later on in the evening a group of "representatives" of the local Flat Earth society showed up hoping to "convert" any and all that they could. Needless to say they failed miserably in there mission to recruit more members.There was a long and complicated diatribe where they argued their belief that our planet was indeed flat. Seeing that they were not getting anywhere they finally left in a "huff" and called us unreasonable. 

 

Clear skies and keep looking up!

RalphMeisterTigerMan


  • Scott Beith, Jon Isaacs, bumm and 3 others like this

#20 wargrafix

wargrafix

    Fly Me to the Moon

  • *****
  • Posts: 6,672
  • Joined: 10 Apr 2013
  • Loc: Trinidad

Posted 18 January 2023 - 05:24 PM

With violent and property crime trending down every decade for the past 50 years, and down almost 75% since 1993, it's hard to imagine outreach as any more dangerous than usual. As always if you're next to an expensive piece of equipment on the street take reasonable steps to protect yourself and said equipment, but fearing outreach is the wrong move. A reasonable move is to carry pepper spray and use a smaller/less expensive outreach dob for instance.


Even if the number of incidents might be going down (highly unlikely) the incidents themselves are significantly more violent
  • bumm likes this

#21 DSOGabe

DSOGabe

    Surveyor 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 1,697
  • Joined: 02 Aug 2019
  • Loc: El Paso, TX

Posted 18 January 2023 - 06:44 PM

Outreach and going out somewhere alone then getting a stranger to approach are fairly different things.

Most of us, when we go out alone (and not in the front or backyard) will head out to a dark lonely area. There, it is unlikely to have any one approach us.

Outreach specifically is going to be in a place where people will be around with the intent of have people get close- libraries, schools, sidewalks, etc.

Never had any issues in either situation. Only difference is that, in outreach events, I only have 1 or 2 eyepieces out at a time and keep the eyepiece case closed and latched to discourage anyone who might get an idea of taking one.


  • Augustus, Astroman007 and UnityLover like this

#22 Augustus

Augustus

    Vendor

  • *****
  • Vendors
  • Posts: 11,689
  • Joined: 26 Dec 2015
  • Loc: Tucson, Arizona

Posted 18 January 2023 - 07:11 PM

Even if the number of incidents might be going down (highly unlikely) the incidents themselves are significantly more violent

That's a nice argument, now why don't you back it up with a source?



#23 baker_belays

baker_belays

    Lift Off

  • -----
  • Posts: 12
  • Joined: 05 May 2021
  • Loc: Indiana

Posted 18 January 2023 - 07:22 PM

Even if the number of incidents might be going down (highly unlikely) the incidents themselves are significantly more violent

I have yet to see any evidence of this being true, if it is I'll act accordingly, but until then there's no reason to spread fear for something that isn't there. Don't bother to quote a few sotries or send a list of the scariest crimes you've seen lately, cause I'll send you the laundry list from 40 years ago and neither of us will have proved anything. The data just isn't there for this fear to exist, or at the very least in no-way supports crime getting worse.


  • okiestarman56 and Augustus like this

#24 Phil Cowell

Phil Cowell

    Fly Me to the Moon

  • *****
  • Posts: 7,480
  • Joined: 24 May 2007
  • Loc: Southern Tier NY

Posted 18 January 2023 - 07:31 PM

Like in life, look more like a mugger than a victim and just do your thing.

If you’re constantly looking around folks will pick up on your fear and no one will relax and have fun.

 

Some folks stop enjoying life so they can safely arrive at death (A 100% statistical outcome of being born). 


  • RTLR 12, CharLakeAstro, MikeTahtib and 3 others like this

#25 Astroman007

Astroman007

    Hubble

  • *****
  • Posts: 13,958
  • Joined: 27 Oct 2017
  • Loc: Northern Ontario, Canada

Posted 20 January 2023 - 02:07 PM

Like in life, look more like a mugger than a victim and just do your thing.

If you’re constantly looking around folks will pick up on your fear and no one will relax and have fun.

 

Some folks stop enjoying life so they can safely arrive at death (A 100% statistical outcome of being born). 

This 100%.


  • Phil Cowell likes this


CNers have asked about a donation box for Cloudy Nights over the years, so here you go. Donation is not required by any means, so please enjoy your stay.


Recent Topics






Cloudy Nights LLC
Cloudy Nights Sponsor: Astronomics