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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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#51 Jim4321

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Posted 14 August 2023 - 03:36 PM

I'll 'fess up... pre-Covid, I pretty much always took my Evolution 9.25 to outreach.  Once I got into using it, I also took my Mod3c night vision device as my eyepiece-of-choice, along with a few filters. I did take the precaution of looping the lanyard of the NVD around the finder several times, and I always kept an eye on it.

 

Jim H.


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#52 hyiger

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Posted 14 August 2023 - 05:19 PM

I did think it was pretty funny when at the last outreach a guy tried "looking" through my camera and asked why he couldn't see anything...


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#53 Skylook123

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Posted 16 August 2023 - 11:08 PM

I have to take a contrary view.  For me, having the great equipment is specifically for sharing with others.  The 6" frac and EQ6R mount  or 8" Ultima 2000 are my goto scopes for outreach.  The big frac is impressive looking and attracts a crowd every time.  No one has ever come close to pulling it over.  The shield keeps fingers off of the objective (that and it is seriously tall).  I have used my 31 Nagler and other higher end EPs for outreach and they get the same thrill out of it that I do.  And yes, it has had the odd fingerprint or eye makeup on it but with careful cleaning to harm, no foul.

 

As for little ones touching the scope, I frequently tell them to "focus it for your eyes".  I do not do this because I think it is out of focus (though if we think about it it probably is for them compared to my old eyes) but I also do it so they feel totally engaged with the scope.  Telling kids not to touch is like showing them a puppy and telling them not to pet it.  There is just something lost.

 

I want kids to be immersed in the experience.  They should not be afraid of the scope nor made to feel belittled by the experience.

 

I totally understand if someone disagrees.  For me this is why I have so many of these things in the first place.  I like to share them.  That is what the hobby is mostly about for me.  When I use my scopes alone (frequently) it is just another aspect of the same hobby.

 

This has been my approach.  As I noted earlier in this thread, and often throughout my 18 years on CN, I do a lot of outreach, sometimes with 300 - 1900 visitors per night and from 10 to 60 other volunteers with telescopes, sometimes solo with maybe 20 - 40 visitors.  Over the years I've used small equatorial mounts with a 90mm refractor or a 60mm Lunt solar scope, or for about half the time an Orion Atlas (EQ6R clone), or AVX, with a 10" SCT and live video cameras and monitors, even an 18mm Teeter truss dob.  Eyepieces tended to be 18mm Panoptic or 9mm Nagler.  Until I went over to total live video because of how much more bang I could get with school class crowds and mass crowds at state and national parks.  Bottom line, my visitors have a first class experience, I haven't lost or damaged anything.  Over 100 events a year, as many as 700 personal day solar/night deep sky visitors per night.  The one casualty was an older 9mm Nagler that I had been clumsy in storing when not used on my ladder with the 18"; a visitor bumped into the ladder and the eyepiece fell out of the pouch I had for it and fell on asphalt pavement.  But that was my bad.  I do keep aware of where the assembled multitude is migrating and practice strategic footprint of how I set things up; so far, they all get the best.  And I get an aerobic workout making sure the business end of the equipment is available, the support elements not so much.


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#54 Bob Campbell

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Posted 17 August 2023 - 09:25 AM

This has been my approach.  As I noted earlier in this thread, and often throughout my 18 years on CN, I do a lot of outreach, sometimes with 300 - 1900 visitors per night and from 10 to 60 other volunteers with telescopes, sometimes solo with maybe 20 - 40 visitors.  Over the years I've used small equatorial mounts with a 90mm refractor or a 60mm Lunt solar scope, or for about half the time an Orion Atlas (EQ6R clone), or AVX, with a 10" SCT and live video cameras and monitors, even an 18mm Teeter truss dob.  Eyepieces tended to be 18mm Panoptic or 9mm Nagler.  Until I went over to total live video because of how much more bang I could get with school class crowds and mass crowds at state and national parks.  Bottom line, my visitors have a first class experience, I haven't lost or damaged anything.  Over 100 events a year, as many as 700 personal day solar/night deep sky visitors per night.  The one casualty was an older 9mm Nagler that I had been clumsy in storing when not used on my ladder with the 18"; a visitor bumped into the ladder and the eyepiece fell out of the pouch I had for it and fell on asphalt pavement.  But that was my bad.  I do keep aware of where the assembled multitude is migrating and practice strategic footprint of how I set things up; so far, they all get the best.  And I get an aerobic workout making sure the business end of the equipment is available, the support elements not so much.

bow.gif It appears you oozed organization, and so the potentially troublesome actors know to stay away or stay under control. 

 

Bob



#55 Skylook123

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Posted 17 August 2023 - 12:59 PM

Thanks, Bob.  It came about from early, very fortunate experiences where I barely intercepted catastrophes.  When I observe alone or at an event for astronomers, I sprawl somewhat.  It would be most unfortunate if I did so in at a public event.  I don't pull out auxiliary equipment; I have some idea of what I want to show/teach for public adventures, so laptop/star charts/other support things do not require a table; the focus of current outings is the monitor, so I can physically protect the scope setup  and keep an eye on the global environment.  I have a back pocket folded list of where we'll be setting up, location coordinates, sun and moon behavior, planetary notes if needed like Galilean moon orientation, how Polaris will look in the Telrad when I set up so I'll be close for polar alignment, and then a collection of eye candy or pertinent objects for the event.  All on a folded set of pages.  I've been doing this for a while, so except for the date specific features I have a set of quarterly reference observing lists with a large number (20-100) sky treats that might be interesting with full location and property commentary, and a blank section at the top where I can just call in data from the 350+ locations I've done and cut and paste it in as they appear on the calendar.  Plus any interesting satellite or other volatile events.  It takes me about an hour to prepare for a three month agenda, but it's all on a page or three of folded notes.  All that is set up is the scope w/cameras (StarSense for fast align and MallinCam Xterminator), monitor (24" on a great, cheap tripod, direct feed from the camera which limits the need for a laptop), and power supply with inverter.  Plus a side roll-a-board that holds the AVX plus multiple spares of all the cables and a large supply of spare batteries.  No sprawl, and usually I pick an end of the setup area so I can restrict the incoming traffic such that I can see potential threats approaching.

 

I suppose I should add that I was an aircraft accident investigator as part of my job for years, and learned how to build fault trees and pre-estimate risks.  And I worked with a lot of flight and maintenance crews who taught me their operational tricks of setting up and forecasting bad things with the goal of never having to defend themselves in front of an accident investigation board.  I never want to have to testify to my chief financial officer spouse about why I need to repair or replace something due to an unfortunate occurrence I might have prevented.  My two most useful introductory comments have been "Look with your eyes, not with your hands"  back when I was doing visual observing, and "Fix the fuzzies".  I'm there for them to see wonderful views, and a scope is a monocle; everyone has their own prescription, so if it looks like a thumbprint, let me help you see it clearly.  With the monitor, I can take care of all that myself and know what they should be seeing.

 

Anyway, been lucky so far!  


Edited by Skylook123, 17 August 2023 - 01:01 PM.

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#56 dnrmilspec

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Posted 17 August 2023 - 03:05 PM

This has been my approach.  As I noted earlier in this thread, and often throughout my 18 years on CN, I do a lot of outreach, sometimes with 300 - 1900 visitors per night and from 10 to 60 other volunteers with telescopes, sometimes solo with maybe 20 - 40 visitors.  Over the years I've used small equatorial mounts with a 90mm refractor or a 60mm Lunt solar scope, or for about half the time an Orion Atlas (EQ6R clone), or AVX, with a 10" SCT and live video cameras and monitors, even an 18mm Teeter truss dob.  Eyepieces tended to be 18mm Panoptic or 9mm Nagler.  Until I went over to total live video because of how much more bang I could get with school class crowds and mass crowds at state and national parks.  Bottom line, my visitors have a first class experience, I haven't lost or damaged anything.  Over 100 events a year, as many as 700 personal day solar/night deep sky visitors per night.  The one casualty was an older 9mm Nagler that I had been clumsy in storing when not used on my ladder with the 18"; a visitor bumped into the ladder and the eyepiece fell out of the pouch I had for it and fell on asphalt pavement.  But that was my bad.  I do keep aware of where the assembled multitude is migrating and practice strategic footprint of how I set things up; so far, they all get the best.  And I get an aerobic workout making sure the business end of the equipment is available, the support elements not so much.

I am pretty sure you and I have worked TAAA events together.

 

Rick


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#57 Raul Leon

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Posted 17 August 2023 - 06:12 PM

Hi, a few years back I helped a friend who was doing outreach at a park and I saw a child lick an eyepiece while at the scope, why I don't know,  but I do know it wasn't my eyepiece!


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#58 maroubra_boy

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Posted 17 August 2023 - 07:32 PM

Hi, a few years back I helped a friend who was doing outreach at a park and I saw a child lick an eyepiece while at the scope, why I don't know, but I do know it wasn't my eyepiece!


:lol: :lol: :lol:

Why do people feel the compulsion to touch stuff that really they shouldn't touch?? They know better, but they still will touch the objective lens or corrector, or a painting or sculpture. I've seen plenty of people touch the eye lens of an eyepiece and they know NOT to do it, but there is this unstoppable urge to do it, & they quickly disappear into the ether when they realise what they have just done...

Sorry, but I won't subject my expensive gear to mascara, saliva, fingerprints or tomato sauce. Would do you well to control the chances of spreading pinkeye too with regular cleaning. Doesn't mean a crap image is on display. It means thinking a little more broadly in terms of pragmatism, which includes hygiene & cleaning.
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#59 wrvond

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Posted 17 August 2023 - 07:53 PM

I have to wonder why the people that show up to these events and destroy equipment that someone else worked hard for don't have their own equipment that they can abuse at home to their heart's content...


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#60 Bob Campbell

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Posted 17 August 2023 - 08:47 PM

Thanks, Bob.  It came about from early, very fortunate experiences where I barely intercepted catastrophes.  When I observe alone or at an event for astronomers, I sprawl somewhat.  It would be most unfortunate if I did so in at a public event.  I don't pull out auxiliary equipment; I have some idea of what I want to show/teach for public adventures, so laptop/star charts/other support things do not require a table; the focus of current outings is the monitor, so I can physically protect the scope setup  and keep an eye on the global environment.  I have a back pocket folded list of where we'll be setting up, location coordinates, sun and moon behavior, planetary notes if needed like Galilean moon orientation, how Polaris will look in the Telrad when I set up so I'll be close for polar alignment, and then a collection of eye candy or pertinent objects for the event.  All on a folded set of pages.  I've been doing this for a while, so except for the date specific features I have a set of quarterly reference observing lists with a large number (20-100) sky treats that might be interesting with full location and property commentary, and a blank section at the top where I can just call in data from the 350+ locations I've done and cut and paste it in as they appear on the calendar.  Plus any interesting satellite or other volatile events.  It takes me about an hour to prepare for a three month agenda, but it's all on a page or three of folded notes.  All that is set up is the scope w/cameras (StarSense for fast align and MallinCam Xterminator), monitor (24" on a great, cheap tripod, direct feed from the camera which limits the need for a laptop), and power supply with inverter.  Plus a side roll-a-board that holds the AVX plus multiple spares of all the cables and a large supply of spare batteries.  No sprawl, and usually I pick an end of the setup area so I can restrict the incoming traffic such that I can see potential threats approaching.

 

I suppose I should add that I was an aircraft accident investigator as part of my job for years, and learned how to build fault trees and pre-estimate risks.  And I worked with a lot of flight and maintenance crews who taught me their operational tricks of setting up and forecasting bad things with the goal of never having to defend themselves in front of an accident investigation board.  I never want to have to testify to my chief financial officer spouse about why I need to repair or replace something due to an unfortunate occurrence I might have prevented.  My two most useful introductory comments have been "Look with your eyes, not with your hands"  back when I was doing visual observing, and "Fix the fuzzies".  I'm there for them to see wonderful views, and a scope is a monocle; everyone has their own prescription, so if it looks like a thumbprint, let me help you see it clearly.  With the monitor, I can take care of all that myself and know what they should be seeing.

 

Anyway, been lucky so far!  

Wonderful! Thanks for sharing. 

Bob



#61 dnrmilspec

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Posted 17 August 2023 - 10:45 PM

Rant on.

 

Come on people.  Nobody is "showing up to destroy equipment".  People are there because they, like every one of us, are interested in astronomy.  Or at least curious about it. We all have to learn how to use equipment but candor requires that I have seen many the "experienced" amateur at many the event, huff onto a lens and clean it with a dirty pocket handkerchief.  I watched a guy clean the mirror in his Obsession  with a feather duster.

 

I have a strong recommendation based on about 50 years of doing events of one kind or another.   If you are there for "you" and not "them" go home.  Star parties are not opportunities to stroke my ego or yours.  If you only have equipment you do not want others to touch, stay home.  And if the equipment you want to bring is substandard, stay home.  You are not doing anyone any favors by being cross with the children or short with the adults. 

 

Consider the word "outreach".  We are inviting people to come into our world.  We offer to entertain and enlighten them.  They are taking their valuable time and investing it on our assertion that we will make the experience valuable for them.

 

Not everyone is cut out to be a teacher.  There is an old saying, "Those that can, do.  Those that can't, teach"  And those who can't teach, teach gym."  Or something like that.  Anyway, we need the folks who are inclined to teach, encourage, and nurture another person's spark of interest in astronomy. 

 

Imagine this scenario.  I take a 160 EDF Astrophysics refractor on a 1600 mount to a club star party.  Do you want to look through it?  The seeing is superb.  Textbook.  Ok.  I have it on Jupiter at 250X with a comfortable and top drawer Nagler eyepiece.  OK.  You can look.  But don't touch the focuser!  Don't breathe on the EP!  Watch your eyebrows!  Here.  Let me get an old 5mm Plossl and you can look through that.  How would you feel?  I know I would feel disappointed, embarrassed and maybe even a little angry.  Why did you bring that gem if you didn't want someone to look through it.  And making people look through a scope without allowing them to focus it?  That is nothing but mean. 

 

Outreach is not for everyone.  This thread points out some very good reasons why. 

 

Rant off.


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#62 Bob Campbell

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Posted 18 August 2023 - 02:48 AM

Rant on.

 

Come on people.  Nobody is "showing up to destroy equipment".  People are there because they, like every one of us, are interested in astronomy.  Or at least curious about it. We all have to learn how to use equipment but candor requires that I have seen many the "experienced" amateur at many the event, huff onto a lens and clean it with a dirty pocket handkerchief.  I watched a guy clean the mirror in his Obsession  with a feather duster.

 

I have a strong recommendation based on about 50 years of doing events of one kind or another.   If you are there for "you" and not "them" go home.  Star parties are not opportunities to stroke my ego or yours.  If you only have equipment you do not want others to touch, stay home.  And if the equipment you want to bring is substandard, stay home.  You are not doing anyone any favors by being cross with the children or short with the adults.  There is a word for people like that and it begins with the same 2 letters as astronomer. 

 

Consider the word "outreach".  We are inviting people to come into our world.  We offer to entertain and enlighten them.  They are taking their valuable time and investing it on our assertion that we will make the experience valuable for them.

 

Not everyone is cut out to be a teacher.  There is an old saying, "Those that can, do.  Those that can't, teach"  And those who can't teach, teach gym."  Or something like that.  Anyway, we need the folks who are inclined to teach, encourage, and nurture another person's spark of interest in astronomy. 

 

Imagine this scenario.  I take a 160 EDF Astrophysics refractor on a 1600 mount to a club star party.  Do you want to look through it?  The seeing is superb.  Textbook.  Ok.  I have it on Jupiter at 250X with a comfortable and top drawer Nagler eyepiece.  OK.  You can look.  But don't touch the focuser!  Don't breathe on the EP!  Watch your eyebrows!  Here.  Let me get an old 5mm Plossl and you can look through that.  How would you feel?  I know I would feel disappointed, embarrassed and maybe even a little angry.  Why did you bring that gem if you didn't want someone to look through it.  And making people look through a scope without allowing them to focus it?  That is nothing but mean. 

 

Outreach is not for everyone.  This thread points out some very good reasons why. 

 

Rant off.

good points. And your points tell me I probably should not be part of any general public outreach. I do interact with my neighbors during EAA sessions ( a form of outreach), mainly because I project to a large TV and the DSOs are pretty evident and does not require handling of the equipment.

 

And its not that fact that my kit is such high end. In fact, its just the opposite: It is a very cheap EAA setup, but I can't afford to replace it if it gets jacked.

 

What I got out of reading some of the posts is that there are certain instances of a lack of common courtesy of some members of the public (both kids and adults) that goes way beyond the wayward fingerprint or rough tweaking of the focuser.

 

Those were the tales that made me cringe, and the real meat of this thread.

 

Is it a sign of the times that  a subset of visitors can behave this way? I honestly do not know, but I hope not.

 

Bob


Edited by Bob Campbell, 18 August 2023 - 02:51 AM.

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#63 PLOberlander

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Posted 21 August 2023 - 05:41 PM

We get many requests to see the flag on the moon. One of the members took apart an old eyepiece and inserted a translucent American flag. When you look at the moon the flag covers over half of the moon's surface. Some people get the joke and others ask why they cannot see the flag without the telescope.

 

At the Lassen National Park Dark Sky Festival I had a woman taking her first look through a telescope. She was very excited in viewing the sky and made several loud enthusiastic comments. We enforce strict light management and it was very dark around the observing site. After her turn was finished she thanked me and yelled "fist bump". I replied that I could not see her fist to bump it. Many people that knew her started laughing loudly at my response and then she said "of course you cannot see my fist, I'm black and it is night outside". The crowd laughed even louder. I replied that not seeing her fist was my fault because I am just an old white guy and this is my first time bumping fists. The crowd gave us a round of applause as I used my red light to find her arm and we bumped fists.

 

 

 


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#64 carbon12

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Posted 21 August 2023 - 06:55 PM

A few years ago I was at a star party on a Swiss alpine pass. It’s common for campervans to spend the night there while passing through. A middle aged Swiss couple from one of vans came over to me and the guy tentatively started asking some questions which I tried to answer in a not-too technical way. We got chatting but all the while his wife was quiet, as if thinking something over. By now they they knew I was British and then she asked if she could ask me something. I said sure, anything. She asked  whether I thought crop circles were made by extraterrestrials. Well, I didn’t see that coming! So thinking quickly and not wanting to offend her, I tried to find a way to get her to think about it from another perspective. I said that the British have a great sense of humour and love a good joke and they know crop circles are a very good practical joke because we know the names of the people who made the first ones and many others, the techniques they use and that it’s odd that they only appear in crops that are easy for humans to make patterns in as presumably  technologically advanced extraterrestrials could manage it in maize, sugar cane , potato, or strawberry fields too. 
The woman politely thanked me and seemed thoughtful but I didn’t have the impression I had completely convinced her. 


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#65 Skylook123

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Posted 22 August 2023 - 02:25 AM

I am pretty sure you and I have worked TAAA events together.

 

Rick

Probably!  I started doing outreach with TAAA in late 1997.  Went overseas for a couple of years but started up full time again in 2003.  For about 18 years I was doing about  8-10 events a month when monsoon was not causing grief, plus the 8 nights of Grand Canyon Star Party for what was just my 21st consecutive year.  Health has been spotty the last two years or so, and my dance card has been fairly empty but after the monsoon and the apparent El Nino as a follow up, I want to get back and in-person.  The last few years I've stayed on the west side of town since I live out past Silverbell and near Twin Peaks.


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#66 daveb2022

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Posted 22 August 2023 - 02:38 PM

I’ve had a few incidents over the years. I often participate with the national park service up in Yosemite to put on events for the park visitors. The rangers put the event on from up top Glacier Point. Over the years I’ve kind of learned what to expect from the public when they get involved. Yosemite is a bit unique being most people are from all over the world. One lady kept talking in a language that I didn’t even know much less understand. She just kept rambling with a look on her face like I was taking it all in, but it just wasn’t happening. I just looked at her and kind of shook my head like “yeah.”

 

 

I always get the same old moon questions; can you see the flag and what not. I think I always get someone who knows a lot more about astronomy than me ask something I don't have a clue about. I try to avoid that as much as possible. Usually my response is, "I don't know, I just look at stuff" which kind of gets me off the hook. I had a buddy help me out a few times who once fell into the little kid trap.

My buddy tried to answer a question the kid asked and that question was way over my buddies head. Then the kid started in… this kid knew ten times what either of us knew, combined. I just sat over and laughed. Oops.

 

 

One thing I quickly found was someone is going to put their fingers on the EP. There is a natural tendency to grab the EP. I usually explain how to look through the EP as they walk up. I have a lot of people with balance issues and I understand that. But it still happens, which usually results in pushing the scope off target. Kids are often unaware about grabbing the scope but really that is why we are there and I just expect it and deal with it.

 

 

 

But then there are those special incidents. I had an EP come back with something that etched the glass. It didn’t look like the standard finger smudge I usually get and was told it looked like eye-lash stuff or possibly mosquito repellent. And why do people with infants what to let their baby look through the EP? One guy hit us all with a camera flash taking a picture of his wife holding the baby to my SCTs EP. Several yelled “No Cameras.” I never saw it coming because I was keyed on the babies hands flailing all over the place by my EP.  I have a case of public eyepieces just for those events these days.

 

 

 

Another time I had an assistant with me, and suddenly we heard a crashing noise. He said what was that? I said sounds like my mouse trap just went off. I always run a thin cable through my equipment cases so they are all tied together and anchored. Sure enough, someone tried to make off with one of my cases…until he reached the end of the rope.

 

 

 

Another time it was prior to dusk and as we were getting ready for the slide show, I had a kid walk up to me with a “Chucky-Look” and kicked rocks all over my 4” refractor sitting there in the case. Another lessen to be learned; keep cases closed until needed. Every time I look at the chip on my NP-101 it reminds me of that very special night.

 

 

 

I also learned what my night vision device does to people after they have dark adapted. I guess I should have seen it coming. but knocking out one eye by being blasted by a green tube causes people to lose balance once they get away from it. I thought it would be the hit of the event. Had a few folks almost hit the ground instead. I never used it again during a large public gathering.

 

 

 

Then I’ve also had a few personal experiences up on Glacier Point. After the public leaves there are times where I’m all alone up out there on the granite. I had a small mountain lion run past me one night. I also had a deer jump down in front of me that sent me toward what I was looking at, which after the lion scare, probably spurred my imagination a bit. Animals happen up there, even bears. One guy had his car ransacked by a bear one night. Bears up there know how Coleman is spelled. In fact, at one event just prior to dusk, we had a deer try to jump through the slide show projection screen as the speaker was doing his thing. That was weird. The public gasped.

 

glacier.JPG


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#67 Bob Campbell

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Posted 22 August 2023 - 11:15 PM

I’ve had a few incidents over the years. I often participate with the national park service up in Yosemite to put on events for the park visitors. The rangers put the event on from up top Glacier Point. Over the years I’ve kind of learned what to expect from the public when they get involved. Yosemite is a bit unique being most people are from all over the world. One lady kept talking in a language that I didn’t even know much less understand. She just kept rambling with a look on her face like I was taking it all in, but it just wasn’t happening. I just looked at her and kind of shook my head like “yeah.”

 

 

I always get the same old moon questions; can you see the flag and what not. I think I always get someone who knows a lot more about astronomy than me ask something I don't have a clue about. I try to avoid that as much as possible. Usually my response is, "I don't know, I just look at stuff" which kind of gets me off the hook. I had a buddy help me out a few times who once fell into the little kid trap.

My buddy tried to answer a question the kid asked and that question was way over my buddies head. Then the kid started in… this kid knew ten times what either of us knew, combined. I just sat over and laughed. Oops.

 

 

One thing I quickly found was someone is going to put their fingers on the EP. There is a natural tendency to grab the EP. I usually explain how to look through the EP as they walk up. I have a lot of people with balance issues and I understand that. But it still happens, which usually results in pushing the scope off target. Kids are often unaware about grabbing the scope but really that is why we are there and I just expect it and deal with it.

 

 

 

But then there are those special incidents. I had an EP come back with something that etched the glass. It didn’t look like the standard finger smudge I usually get and was told it looked like eye-lash stuff or possibly mosquito repellent. And why do people with infants what to let their baby look through the EP? One guy hit us all with a camera flash taking a picture of his wife holding the baby to my SCTs EP. Several yelled “No Cameras.” I never saw it coming because I was keyed on the babies hands flailing all over the place by my EP.  I have a case of public eyepieces just for those events these days.

 

 

 

Another time I had an assistant with me, and suddenly we heard a crashing noise. He said what was that? I said sounds like my mouse trap just went off. I always run a thin cable through my equipment cases so they are all tied together and anchored. Sure enough, someone tried to make off with one of my cases…until he reached the end of the rope.

 

 

 

Another time it was prior to dusk and as we were getting ready for the slide show, I had a kid walk up to me with a “Chucky-Look” and kicked rocks all over my 4” refractor sitting there in the case. Another lessen to be learned; keep cases closed until needed. Every time I look at the chip on my NP-101 it reminds me of that very special night.

 

 

 

I also learned what my night vision device does to people after they have dark adapted. I guess I should have seen it coming. but knocking out one eye by being blasted by a green tube causes people to lose balance once they get away from it. I thought it would be the hit of the event. Had a few folks almost hit the ground instead. I never used it again during a large public gathering.

 

 

 

Then I’ve also had a few personal experiences up on Glacier Point. After the public leaves there are times where I’m all alone up out there on the granite. I had a small mountain lion run past me one night. I also had a deer jump down in front of me that sent me toward what I was looking at, which after the lion scare, probably spurred my imagination a bit. Animals happen up there, even bears. One guy had his car ransacked by a bear one night. Bears up there know how Coleman is spelled. In fact, at one event just prior to dusk, we had a deer try to jump through the slide show projection screen as the speaker was doing his thing. That was weird. The public gasped.

 

attachicon.gif glacier.JPG

one word: 'WOW!" Especially 'Chucky'.

 

how you do it is beyond me,.

 

Bob


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#68 hyiger

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Posted 25 August 2023 - 12:21 PM

I have my rigs off to the side surrounded by cones and police style tape with a table setup nearby with 2 iPads showing the current live stack. Generally that's enough to keep people from touching the equipment. 


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#69 Mister T.

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Posted 27 October 2023 - 09:59 AM

I've done the Public Outreach thing a few times, and on very rare occasions I still do it...

but with a lot of reservations.

 

I was once trained as a school teacher, but I never used the license; I discovered during

student teaching that I don't have the temperament for it, and schools tend to frown on

a teacher that is tempted to punch out high school kids, no matter how much they deserve

it, or if they initiated an altercation to begin with and it becomes a matter of self defense!

 

The same thing seems to apply to me and Public Outreach events...

 

 

I hate to be a snob, but MANY questions are not only DUMB, but completely maddening

in their lack of reason, logic, and common sense. I'm sorry, but I find it difficult to suffer

fools gladly... especially when they insist on arguing that you're wrong and they're right

(See Flat Earthers and Conspiracy Theory folks).

 

 

Another problem is the locations of some of the events.

 

There is one particular site my club does every year, next to a swampy area. Going to

that one for the first time was the LAST Public Outreach I've done. The mosquitos were

unbelievable; two or three of them could pick you up and carry you away. They sneered

at insect repellent and Thermacells; the little buggers seemed to enjoy them. After the

trip out there it took nearly a year for all of the bite scars to disappear.

 

 

The threat of equipment theft or damage, maliciously deliberate or otherwise, at events

is another factor.

 

For Outreach, I don't take out my Naglers or Panoptics; I have a small stash of Surplus

Shed stuff that is exclusively dedicated to Outreach. In addition, the Outreach scope is

an ancient and nondescript 6" refractor with very low value, mounted on a home made

water pipe mount; NO WAY do decent telescopes get hauled out for seven year olds to

maul.

 

The Televue and Explore Scientific stuff stays at home... and the Questar? FORGET IT!

No Way, Jose...

 

 

Sorry to be a party pooper re. Public Outreach events... but that's how I see it. In general,

except for very rare exceptions, like teaching high school, this isn't an activity for me.


Edited by Mister T., 28 October 2023 - 03:13 AM.

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#70 Agerskov

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Posted 29 October 2023 - 12:42 PM

That is a real tough one to suck up.

 

But you got me thinking.  Yeah, hind sight is confounded thing, but if you, me or anyone else comes across this, one way to deal with this in a kind way is to bring up a bright star in the scope, a red one if possible, and say that is their mum.  The red star being for love as a love heart is depicted as red.  Maybe have a quiet word with the parent that is present about this.

I would recommend not to use Betelgeuse to this.

If it should become a supernova in his lifetime what would that boy think ...


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#71 jokrausdu

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Posted 30 October 2023 - 10:40 AM

I do a little bit of outreach, but not every month.

 

I have a G11 mount that tracks with clutches that allow me to swing it anywhere in the sky at a moments notice. If someone grabs the scope, it just gets moved, no big deal. I ask the kids who grab the scope and move it -- "Is the scope pointed in a different direction now?" Then, I simply repoint the scope back where it should be.

 

While I would prefer to use my 6 inch dob for public outreach, it would be a pain to have to repoint it every 5 minutes or so. It is nice to not have to babysit the scope. I do tend to use some of my cheap eyepieces for most public events.

 

I like doing boy scout and girl scout events - they ask the best questions. I often get those "how far away is it" questions. I've got some memorized, but I often have to look it up while they are looking at M42 or the ring nebula or whatnot. They are impressed whether it is 1,344 light years away or 2.2 million light years away. 


Edited by jokrausdu, 30 October 2023 - 10:49 AM.

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#72 UnityLover

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Posted 30 October 2023 - 03:43 PM

This is quite an interesting thread...hoping to see it go on!


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#73 seasparky89

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Posted 09 November 2023 - 10:24 AM

I guess I have been lucky during the decades of public star parties at which I have supported.  Our club does provide good advice for the public, and IMHO, it does a good job.  One rather funny interaction occurred just after I had set up my 14” dob.  A dad and hid small kids came over and asked me where they should sit for the fireworks show.  The dad thought that my scope was one of the “rocket cannons.”  Oh, the fireworks show was at a site miles away.

 

Stan


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#74 Jim4321

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Posted 09 November 2023 - 12:03 PM

In my early days of doing outreach, somebody left a deposit of mascara (I presume) on one of my eyepieces.  

 

Jim H.


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#75 5u4

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Posted 09 November 2023 - 06:53 PM

Was out observing with two of my buddies when this lady walked by and asked what we were doing. I said we're observing the night sky, here take a look. I showed her Saturn through my Brandon 94. She said "That's not real, you have a slide in there" referring to a photographic slide. There was dead silence. Then she went on to say "Besides, you can't see that from the earth". Again, dead silence and finally my buddy say's "Okay". She then went on to explain that her son used to be interested Astronomy.

 

Another time this lady came to the scope and before looking in the eyepiece, she placed her finger on the center of the eyepiece lens. That was the last time I used an expensive eyepiece for public outreach. 

 

One time at WSP this guy walked past and caught his leg on one of my tripod legs and tipped the scope over. It didn't hurt anything, just had to set everything back up. 


Edited by 5u4, 09 November 2023 - 07:00 PM.

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