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What Is The Strangest Thing Someone Did/Tried To Do To Your Telescope At An Public Astronomy Outreach Event?

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#1 RalphMeisterTigerMan

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Posted 18 March 2023 - 10:27 AM

I'm sure that mant of us have attended Club Sponsored Public Outreach Events. For me, they were held on International Astronomy Day, usually in March or in April during a time closest to first Quarter Moon. 

 

With the Vancouver Chapter of the R.A.S.C. (Royal Astronomical Society of Canada) the event was advertised on many local radio stations. To make it sound even more appealing, other than being able to actually look thru telescopes, the H.R. MacMillan Planetarium offered free planetarium shows. The telescopes that one could look thru was, of course, the 0.5 Metre classical cassegrain housed in the dome of the Gordon Southam Observatory. There is also a very large concrete pad, which is part of the G.S.O. where 20 - 40 of us volunteers would set up our own telescopes where we offered properly filtered views of the Sun. In the evening, we would show anything of interest in the night sky; ie, the Moon and any of the brighter Planets that happened to be up.

 

At one particular Astronomy Day, one woman insisted on being able to "touch" the corrector plate of my Meade 10" 2120 LX5 SCT. I told her that is was an optical surface and that one should never, ever touch optical surfaces.

 

At another Astronomy Day, one of my old observing buddies, Jerry Knight, was showing off a filtered view of the Sun. One particular gentleman didn't like that and demanded that Jerry remove the filter so that he could have a "real" view of the Sun. The person in question actually argued with Jerry for about 20 minutes, or so, to remove the filter. WOW! Needless to say, the filter remained on the front of the scope.

 

At yet another function, one of the guys had a really nice 12.5" doby with a first-rate mirror. Anyways, one set of parents allowed their little boy to run amock and run full speed into his doby and knocked it down. Instead of appologizing, the parents just laughed thinking that it was somehow, "cute". Unbelievable!

 

Anyways, if you have any "Public Outreach" nightmares I would appreciate if you would share them here on the thread. I look forward to reading them.

 

Clear skies and keep looking up!

RalphMeisterTigerMan

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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#2 Couder

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Posted 18 March 2023 - 10:50 AM

Our club set up our scopes at the Science Center monthly. One time we got all set up, then the Science Center personnel set off a bunch of fireworks, with no notice. Pieces fell on our stuff, in our tubes. THEN the science Center brought out their scope. 


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#3 Forward Scatter

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Posted 18 March 2023 - 11:04 AM

Back in the Bay Area's waning days of the Hipster era, one hip and very drunk idiot felt entitled to get a selfie of himself simulating a rather rude act with my scope, all while his friends joyfully captured with their phones to probably post on Tumblr. When removing him off my scope, he loudly protested that I may damage his very expensive iPhone in the process. 

 

That was the final outreach event I ever participated there. 


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#4 nighty

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Posted 18 March 2023 - 11:07 AM

At a family day event for The Delaware Aerospace education foundation( DASEF), I was using a SCT to show sunspots. While showing the sun to a family of five, Mom licked her finger and tried to wipe off the eyepiece lens. Said it had spots on it.


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#5 hyiger

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Posted 18 March 2023 - 11:20 AM

For me it was when I was showing the crowd ISS going overhead and a flat earther argued with me that satellites don't orbit, they just "ping pong" in the sky. When I said: "OK, let's wait for the 'pong'" he got angry and stormed off. In another instance I had a live stack of the North America nebula on my iPad and a guy accused me of "lying" in that I downloaded the image from the internet in order to "show off". 

 

Fortunately my outreach area is inside a state park and the crowds are controlled by rangers. So nothing dangerous has happened. 


Edited by hyiger, 18 March 2023 - 11:27 AM.

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#6 jimr2

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Posted 18 March 2023 - 11:28 AM

Hmmmm, so satellites go "ping-pong"....hmmm, going to have to think about that one for a bit....hmmmm.....

 

Anyhow, nothing bad like any of the above has ever happened to me at any ast. club event I've attended anywhere, so guess I should consider myself lucky. Worst thing has been sprinkler systems coming on when not supposed to at city parks, etc.


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#7 wrvond

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Posted 18 March 2023 - 11:42 AM

Nothing bad, but more than one person has had to take a look at the objective end to verify there wasn't a photo of Saturn stuck on there. :D


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#8 Forward Scatter

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Posted 18 March 2023 - 12:02 PM

And then there was the time one person helpfully beamed her phone's flashlight down the newt tube so we can have light to see things better. 


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#9 wolf man

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Posted 18 March 2023 - 12:54 PM

   At one observatory public night a very elderly gentleman stepped up to the eyepiece of the 6" f 15 refractor, sighted along the tube and grabbed the scope and began panning around the sky as if he was firing on enemy aircraft. His family intervened and apologized. I told them no sweat, I'm getting foggy upstairs myself. We were pretty busy and I never got the chance to find out if he'd been in combat and to thank him for his service.

   Out at our dark sky location a young man went on and on about conspiracy theories and insisted that we would see a UFO that very night. Just before he left we noticed a bright light moving slowly across the western sky. All scopes were soon on it. It was a large translucent bag with a candle at the bottom supplying heated air. We all had a good laugh. Maybe we'd been pranked, but for a couple minutes we had indeed looked at an unidentified flying object, until we identified it.

   One less pleasant encounter took place one holiday weekend when a group arrived at the dark sky sight really wasted. Most of them were just a little silly but a couple were getting loud and pushy while a sketchy looking guy crouched down a little too close to my eyepiece case looking over the contents with a little too much interest. I physically interposed myself between him and his quarry, wondering if it was going to come to blows when one of the ladies in their party said it was time to go. Saved by the belle!


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#10 jgraham

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Posted 18 March 2023 - 04:32 PM

Nearly all of my encounters are pretty good. When I set up for visual I use a short step ladder in front of the scope to provide an offset space and something to hold onto instead of the scope. When I set up for EAA my expensive gear is behind a small table and a wagon that I use to move my kit. Once, while set up for EAA I had a family that insisted that their son wanted to look through my scope. I explained that it was upside-down and fitted with camera, there was nothing to look through. They wouldn't take no for an answer and their son started to physically climb on top of my scope to look through the finder. This was the one and only time I got _firm_ with a guest.

I really enjoy doing outreach with kids and young families and fortunately most of the time they are very friendly and appreciative, but you gotta be ready for that one in a million.
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#11 starfinder123123

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Posted 31 March 2023 - 12:37 AM

Nothing bad, but more than one person has had to take a look at the objective end to verify there wasn't a photo of Saturn stuck on there. laugh.gif

Happens every time!


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#12 No N in collimation

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Posted 01 April 2023 - 11:06 AM

.. more than one person has had to take a look at the objective end to verify there wasn't a photo of Saturn stuck on there. laugh.gif

 

I get that a lot with the moon ("Is that real?"), as if it wouldn't be more trouble to come up with a fake. 


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#13 Bob W4

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Posted 02 April 2023 - 11:46 AM

Years ago when I lived in one of the Minneapolis burbs, I would set up a scope in the front lawn for some unobstructed solar system viewing.  Naturally, people walking past would often stop and ask if they could have a look.  No problem.  I always enjoy watching people's reaction to seeing the moon or planets for the first time through a real telescope. The two most common goofy comments were, "my so and so has a really good telescope that is 650 power!!" However, the most annoying, but quite common response after looking through the eyepiece is, "I bet you can do some really good window peeking with that thing", accompanied with a devious laugh.  Funny thing is, it is always men that make the window peeking comment.  Never a woman.


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#14 hyiger

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Posted 02 April 2023 - 12:13 PM

I will arrive about an hour or two before sunset to setup and chat with club members before the public shows up. I have my scopes setup with the mount pointing north waiting for it to get dark enough to polar align. Invariably I have some one come up to me when it's still very bright outside asking: Person: "What are you looking at? Can I have a look?" Me: "It's not dark enough yet, you won't see anything..." Person: "Why?" 


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#15 BRCoz

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Posted 02 April 2023 - 05:15 PM

I had a line of people looking in my scope.  I looked up and saw this idiot with one of my eyepieces as he was putting his finger on both sides of that eyepiece.  When he saw me going toward him he ducked and ran off.  This was at a campground star party and I never found him.  Later I found he got all of them.  This was in my early star party days.  I only had some Meade 4000 series plossl eyepieces.


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#16 wrvond

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Posted 02 April 2023 - 07:26 PM

I had a line of people looking in my scope.  I looked up and saw this idiot with one of my eyepieces as he was putting his finger on both sides of that eyepiece.  When he saw me going toward him he ducked and ran off.  This was at a campground star party and I never found him.  Later I found he got all of them.  This was in my early star party days.  I only had some Meade 4000 series plossl eyepieces.

I don't understand. Are you saying he stole all your eyepieces? Or are you saying he put fingerprints on both lenses of all your eyepieces?


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#17 dnrmilspec

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Posted 02 April 2023 - 07:43 PM

I really enjoy outreach.  The people are almost always really excited and fun to show around.

 

One night a dad and his daughter came up to my scope (a four inch ED at that party) and wanted to look.  The dad looked and then the little girl did.  She identified my target as " The Pleiades"   Impressed I asked her how old she was and she said, "10".  She went on to say, "I have a telescope that my dad bought for me on my birthday."  "I asked her what it was.  She said, "It is a five inch telescope."  I asked, "Celestron?"  She said, "No.  Takahashi."  I stopped asking dumb questions for the rest of the night.


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#18 No N in collimation

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Posted 02 April 2023 - 11:03 PM

I stopped asking dumb questions for the rest of the night.

 

If I could give your story 2 likes, I would.


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#19 BRCoz

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Posted 03 April 2023 - 03:56 PM

I don't understand. Are you saying he stole all your eyepieces? Or are you saying he put fingerprints on both lenses of all your eyepieces?

He put finger prints on all of the eyepieces except the one in the scope.


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#20 wrvond

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Posted 03 April 2023 - 03:57 PM

He put finger prints on all of the eyepieces except the one in the scope.

That IS crazy! shocked.gif


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#21 jimr2

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Posted 04 April 2023 - 12:50 PM

Guess he was "marking" everything around him...males of most species do that, y'know...! Either that, or just being devious.... Very strange....


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#22 fate187

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Posted 05 April 2023 - 12:01 AM

These threads are not good for anti-social tendencies grin.gif .


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#23 Freezout

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Posted 06 April 2023 - 09:46 AM

That IS crazy! shocked.gif

This is called ocularodigitosignopathy. This is a serious disease so it's not funny!


Edited by Freezout, 06 April 2023 - 09:46 AM.

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#24 darthteddy93

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Posted 04 May 2023 - 10:24 PM

My story is not as crazy as some of the others here but in the precovid days when dobs weren't terribly overpriced, someone tried to buy my dob off me during an event. He even had the cash on him to do it. 


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#25 jgraham

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Posted 09 May 2023 - 03:34 PM

I helped with an outreach event this past weekend where one of our guests asked me if I believed whether the Earth was round or flat, and he seemed serious about it. My personal beliefs aside, I stated the fact that if the Earth were flat cats would have pushed everything over the edge a long time ago. He seemed satisfied by that answer, or at least it discombobulated him enough that he didn't pursue it further.

 

:)


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