To start I'm 33 years old, I believe I fall under the "young" category here and that is certainly the case when I'm at my local astronomy club. I believe my wife and I are the only members under 50 besides one of the college's professors who's probably around that age.
I had a conversation with my wife the other day that I think might help shine some light. We just bought our first house several months ago. She is an engineer for a major US defense contractor and I make only slightly less than she does. When the "middle class" was more of a thing, we would have been upper middle class. When my parents bought their first home (nearly 40 years ago) my father worked on a factory floor at Kodak and my mother behind the customer service desk at Walmart. The middle class very much existed then and they were certainly not "upper" middle class. That first house was notably bigger than our current house, and was in a much more "expensive" city. The point being, I think there is a significant lack of understanding in both the older generations and the more affluent segments of society just how much younger (and truly working class) people are being squeezed financially today. From experience, inevitably, at least someone will find themselves offended by that comment. The best I can do is honestly say it isn't personal or meant to be judgmental.
We live in a fairly poor area. Amateur astronomy is not a cheap hobby by most people's standards. I mean no disrespect, but anyone who's claimed otherwise on here is a little out-of-touch. Our household income is 3-4x the average in our county, and still it was difficult enough to convince my wife to let me buy my telescope (which is just a 6" dob) and binoculars, and not because she's "cheap." It sounds like many of the members here might be shocked if they knew the number of people my age or younger in this area that could afford a telescope that is high enough quality to be truly usable (I don't know the actual number, of course). The number would be higher for who could afford a decent pair of binoculars, but you'd wind up at another equally low number considering many people are simply uninterested in binocular astronomy. The point is that we have no young people in our club because I'm not entirely sure there are any other young people in the area with both an interest and the financial ability to participate in the hobby.
If you were in a more affluent area, like a major city, you would certainly have a larger group of young people that could afford to participate, but how many of them would you ultimately lose to the heavily light-polluted skies in those areas.
The last time I was out observing with my wife, I made a comment to the affect of "we really are lucky to be out here, most people either can't see much of anything where they live or don't have the money to spend on a telescope."
Sorry for the long post, and for just my second post on here nonetheless, but I'm not sure "why aren't young people attracted to the hobby?" is really the right question, but rather it's "what is different now compared to when we (i.e., older members) entered the hobby that is prohibiting young people from doing the same?" Amateur astronomy will suffer from the same hardships as nearly all other expensive hobbies for the foreseeable future --- it's simply too niche and too expensive to hope to attract great numbers of people. I know this forum is entirely non-political, and I have no intention of starting a debate on economic policy or anything like that. The question I posed may demand at least some considerations of policy though, so maybe that's something for everyone to consider to themselves...
Edited by JoeFaz, 19 September 2023 - 01:31 PM.