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

Outreach Eyepiece Access

  • Please log in to reply
18 replies to this topic

#1 stoest

stoest

    Messenger

  • -----
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 400
  • Joined: 04 Jan 2016

Posted 07 October 2023 - 10:55 PM

I'm considering doing some outreach with my dob and while I can view with the scope pointed at the zenith (I'm 5' 11") there are many children and adults that wouldn't be able to do that, the max eyepiece height is right at eye height for me so for a lot of targets the eyepiece with be too high unassisted for many of the participants. I have a Catsperch chair which works great for me during viewing sessions but I don't believe it's going to be a good fit for an outreach environment. I was thinking a stepstool with a railing on at least one side but some quick Googling hasn't shown me anything that's affordable (hopefully around $100 or less) and fits what I was considering. 

 

I think I only need two steps to get the height needed and I just wondered what other people have done to solve this issue. I'm really hoping something pretty stable exists since sometimes people don't pay attention to their children in these situations and I don't want someone to fall and potentially hurt themselves. It should also be able to hold up to 200 lbs. or so since there are shorter adults too.

 

If you've used or done something that's worked well I'd appreciate hearing about that.



#2 Jeff Struve

Jeff Struve

    Aurora

  • *****
  • Posts: 4,922
  • Joined: 05 Nov 2010
  • Loc: Iowa, USA

Posted 07 October 2023 - 11:02 PM

Cosco 3 Step Premium Folding Stool, White Gray https://www.walmart.com/ip/397155847

#3 wrvond

wrvond

    Fly Me to the Moon

  • *****
  • Posts: 6,021
  • Joined: 25 Sep 2014
  • Loc: Leon, West Virginia

Posted 08 October 2023 - 12:33 AM

IMG 2281

It's partially covered by a towel, but I think you can see enough of the platform in the lower right hand corner to see how it works. I'm well over 200 lbs and it has held me up without too much complaint. ;)



#4 ShaulaB

ShaulaB

    Aurora

  • *****
  • Posts: 4,631
  • Joined: 11 Oct 2012
  • Loc: Missouri

Posted 08 October 2023 - 01:31 AM

I do a lot of outreach, and a $40 Cosco, not Costco, brand 3step stool with rails works best for me. It helps that there are rails. I tell people to hold onto the rails, not the eyepiece, scope, mount, or tripod. I might have to say that 100 times during an outreach session, but it helps tremendously.

I have bought several of these ladders at Target.

Edited by ShaulaB, 08 October 2023 - 01:32 AM.

  • Miggystardust and Sebastian_Sajaroff like this

#5 DSOGabe

DSOGabe

    Surveyor 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 1,845
  • Joined: 02 Aug 2019
  • Loc: El Paso, TX

Posted 16 October 2023 - 01:51 PM

This is similar to what I use for outreach. Works great

 

https://www.homedepo...A-3-2/310833462



#6 maroubra_boy

maroubra_boy

    Soyuz

  • -----
  • Posts: 3,769
  • Joined: 08 Sep 2009
  • Loc: Sydney, Australia

Posted 16 October 2023 - 05:12 PM

For years now, with my 17.5" f/4.5 dob, I have been using a taller three-step platform step ladder (see first pic).  I am not the tallest fellow so the ladder is not just for outreach but for me too.

 

For all my other scopes, I have been using a shorter three-step platform step ladder (second pic) - not for me (I am not THAT short...) but for kids.

 

What both of these have in common is their deep steps which gives greater sure-footedness to people using it and the tall grab handle.  Both of these features are very important not just for comfort (you do a greater effort on a narrow step to stay on it and if you are using it, it creates fatigue very quickly & is less stable for the user) and you & outreach attendees have something stable to hold on to that is not the scope.  The tall handle is far more important than you may think for stability in the dark.

 

At outreach, I ALWAYS have the steps illuminated with a red light.  NO EXCUSES.  Having a visual reference in the dark while up a ladder is extremely important.

 

Ladders are always dangerous, and even more so in the dark.  Providing a pissy little step up is NOT a help but a liability for the person on it and the gear.  Do not make cost a prime priority in ladder selection.  SAFETY MUST COME FIRST, if not for outreach attendees but for you too.  Sure there are cheaper step ladders and ladders that are more compact, but in the dark you need to give yourself and your guests the best sense of safety possible.  If you up just on a simple step up ladder, you are at much greater risk of losing balance, at greater risk of making a grab for the scope if you do lose balance or worse still have nothing to grab if you do lose balance and fall in the dark.  Even worse if it is a guest.

 

At one major star party a few years ago, one participant brought along a 28" f/5 dob.  TALL sucker.  The scope was set up in the "visual field" which was kept particularly dark and the owner of the scope refused to put any form or illumination on the very tall, narrow & tapering ladder.  With absolutely no visual cues for safety I refused to go up in the dark.  It would have been the largest aperture I would have looked into, but it was not safe.  My good friend did go up, even though I expressed my concerns.  Guess what?  He fell off the blasted thing while the scope was up close to zenith!  No visual references in the dark, high altitude on the narrow ladder from which he was leaning over to look into the scope and he lost balance.  People made fun of me for refusing to look through that scope, but the danger was way too great a risk and my friend paid the price.  

 

Even with my own 17.5" scope, I have had occasions when I have forgotten where I was and stepped off without thinking and got the shock of my life when the ground wasn't where it was supposed to be.  If you are using a step ladder with outreach, YOU MUST stay with the person up on the ladder, standing beside them for when they are about to step down.  NEVER leave someone alone on your ladder.

 

If the person is a kid, FIRST ask the parent if it is ok for you to grab/hold/lift the child before they step up.  You need to ask this not just to help them up the ladder & for safety reasons but you may also need to help the child to position their head over the eyepiece.

 

Alex.

Attached Thumbnails

  • step ladder ii.jpg
  • step ladder iv.jpeg

Edited by maroubra_boy, 16 October 2023 - 05:14 PM.

  • mdowns and Diana N like this

#7 Jon Isaacs

Jon Isaacs

    ISS

  • *****
  • Posts: 112,919
  • Joined: 16 Jun 2004
  • Loc: San Diego and Boulevard, CA

Posted 16 October 2023 - 06:29 PM

Regarding ladders:

 

They're no joking matter. What's important is having stable ladder with hand rails to hold onto and to leam against. 

 

The $100 No-No 

 

5910770-Obsession and Jon at Jewel Valley.jpg
 
The $700 Solution.
 
6060038-Obsession with Rolling Ladder CN.jpg
 
Too many $10,000 scopes and $100 ladders. My wife said, no way are you observing alone with that step ladder.
 
Jon

  • maroubra_boy, mdowns, Diana N and 1 other like this

#8 maroubra_boy

maroubra_boy

    Soyuz

  • -----
  • Posts: 3,769
  • Joined: 08 Sep 2009
  • Loc: Sydney, Australia

Posted 16 October 2023 - 06:55 PM

Exactly!

 

The ladder needs to keep you safe, not just perched up high.

 

Want even more stupid...

 

36" f/4.5 dob.  Yes, that is me up there frown.gif  Scariest & dumbest thing I have ever done while inspecting that scope.  You can't quite see just how white my knuckles were as I held on to that ladder.  Scope's owner had such a blasé attitude about ladders.  Yeah, I didn't go up that ladder again after that "controlled" climb.  While we chatted (once I was back on the ground) a gust of wind came up and caused the scope to swing around on its azimuth axis!  If anyone had been up on that ladder they would have won a one way ticket to tierra firma with a whole lot of kinetic energy behind them...

 

Dumb, dumb, dumb...

Attached Thumbnails

  • 36 inch copy (5).JPG

Edited by maroubra_boy, 16 October 2023 - 06:56 PM.

  • Jon Isaacs and Diana N like this

#9 maroubra_boy

maroubra_boy

    Soyuz

  • -----
  • Posts: 3,769
  • Joined: 08 Sep 2009
  • Loc: Sydney, Australia

Posted 20 October 2023 - 12:21 AM

Here's is something I just came across in my Facebook feed and a good example of VERY POOR LADDER CHOICE.

 

The person who took this pic is the parent of the kiddie and the owner of the scope the child is looking through.

 

If you notice the child is standing on the very top rung and is over stretching to reach the hand rail and in turn balancing precariously at the eyepiece.  In short, the hand rail is way too short to be safe.  If the scope was pointed higher up, there is no way that the child can reach the hand rail and the scope would be doubling up as a safety rail - BIG NO NO!!!!

 

Never underestimate safe use of ladders.  Never overestimate the ability of people, young AND old, to be able to keep their balance.  NEVER make cost the ultimate deciding factor in the step ladder that you opt to buy.  This does not mean that an inexpensive ladder cannot be safe - you must make the decision about a safe option, NOT the cheapest option.

 

Alex.

Attached Thumbnails

  • BAD astro ladder.jpg

  • Jim4321 likes this

#10 Jim4321

Jim4321

    Aurora

  • -----
  • Posts: 4,863
  • Joined: 19 Sep 2014
  • Loc: Asheville

Posted 21 October 2023 - 09:35 AM

The ladder tales are a big part of why I only take an SCT with a diagonal to outreach.  Even then, I favor my modified musicians' seat (dubbed the "James Observing Seat") for visitors (and self) since the seat's spine gives the user something to grab rather than the eyepiece. 

 

And the diagonal can be turned sideways to give little kids a turn without the parent needing to hold them, tho' you do need to pay extra attention to telling them politely not to grab the eyepiece.  

 

Jim H.



#11 aeajr

aeajr

    James Webb Space Telescope

  • *****
  • Vendors
  • Posts: 17,978
  • Joined: 26 Jun 2015
  • Loc: Long Island, New York, USA

Posted 21 October 2023 - 10:02 AM

I do a fair amount of outreach.

 

I use a kitchen step stool which has large steps and provides a hand hold.  This works great for kids.  Most adults don't need it, especially when using a Dob as you are not normally looking at the zenith.  More likely you will be looking between 25 and 60 degrees altitude. 

 

 this two step should work fine for most situations.  I recommend white so that people can see it more easily.

https://www.amazon.c...67fc737124&th=1

 

Mine is a 3 step, similar to this.

https://www.amazon.c...T1zcF9hdGY&th=1


  • stoest likes this

#12 RTLR 12

RTLR 12

    Fly Me to the Moon

  • *****
  • Posts: 6,627
  • Joined: 04 Dec 2008
  • Loc: Somewhere Northwest of Surprise Arizona

Posted 21 October 2023 - 10:45 AM

Exactly!

The ladder needs to keep you safe, not just perched up high.

Want even more stupid...

36" f/4.5 dob. Yes, that is me up there frown.gif Scariest & dumbest thing I have ever done while inspecting that scope. You can't quite see just how white my knuckles were as I held on to that ladder. Scope's owner had such a blasé attitude about ladders. Yeah, I didn't go up that ladder again after that "controlled" climb. While we chatted (once I was back on the ground) a gust of wind came up and caused the scope to swing around on its azimuth axis! If anyone had been up on that ladder they would have won a one way ticket to tierra firma with a whole lot of kinetic energy behind them...

Dumb, dumb, dumb...

I’ve jumped out of airplanes and helicopters, but you won’t find me on a ladder that tall to get a glimpse through a Dob.

Stan

Edited by RTLR 12, 21 October 2023 - 10:46 AM.

  • maroubra_boy and Sebastian_Sajaroff like this

#13 Sebastian_Sajaroff

Sebastian_Sajaroff

    Surveyor 1

  • -----
  • Posts: 1,749
  • Joined: 27 Jan 2023
  • Loc: Montreal, Quebec, Canada

Posted 25 October 2023 - 06:02 AM

I did several outreach activities, I learned that a significant % of the public gets anxious.

 

They worry a lot about their getting hurt (themselves or their kids) and/or breaking something expensive. 

The observational activity must feel safe to your public.

All forms of ladders have a red Stop! sticker to the eyes of young kids parents, handicapped people and elders.

Bring instruments that are easy for everyone to use.   

 

99% doesn't get excited about dim grey smudges or dots. Forget about showing them galaxies or asteroids on visual. Even M31 (mag 3) doesn't trigger interest. Usual response is "Meh... what's next ?"

Show them the Sun, Moon, bright planets, colourful double stars, bright open clusters, carbon stars, even solitary colourful stars (like Betelgeuse or Rigel) raise interest.

If you insist on sharing your passion for galaxies and nebulae then bring an EAA or an NVD.

 

People don't necessarily feel attracted to big telescopes, many see them as intimidating ("looks fragile", "must be expensive", "how do I observe through THAT?", "no way I'm climbing the 5' ladder !")

I've been doing outreach for 40 years, never met someone who asked me to observe Umbriel, the Crepe ring, a 0.9" double or NGC 7331. So, a 4" scope is perfectly fine for outreach. 

 

Solar is a case on its own : IMHO, the safest way is H-Alpha, there's no risk the filter will detach and fall down to the ground. 


  • Freezout likes this

#14 Jim4321

Jim4321

    Aurora

  • -----
  • Posts: 4,863
  • Joined: 19 Sep 2014
  • Loc: Asheville

Posted 25 October 2023 - 07:52 AM

I'll disagree at least somewhat with the above.  Even in a glass eyepiece, the Orion nebula is impressive, with or without any 'birthplace of stars' explanation.  In a H-a filtered night vision device, it's a real knockout, on a par for the public with Saturn.  Of course, it's not available year-round. 

 

Jim H.


  • Jeff Struve and Sebastian_Sajaroff like this

#15 Jeff Struve

Jeff Struve

    Aurora

  • *****
  • Posts: 4,922
  • Joined: 05 Nov 2010
  • Loc: Iowa, USA

Posted 25 October 2023 - 07:58 AM

I'll disagree at least somewhat with the above.  Even in a glass eyepiece, the Orion nebula is impressive, with or without any 'birthplace of stars' explanation.  In a H-a filtered night vision device, it's a real knockout, on a par for the public with Saturn.  Of course, it's not available year-round. 

 

Jim H.

 Yep... I haven't done outreach for 40 years,but on 20yrs... but yep, Saturn, Jupiter, the Moon, Alberto and a few clusters like the Double, Owl and Hercules clusters are great... but so are the Ring and Dumbell Nebulae... Whirlpool and Bodes... 

 

As for comets... anything in the news is key...

 

Additionally... even the faint fuzzies make for a great learning experience... they need to learn what to expect...

 

We always have lines wanting to look thru the 14" SCT as well as the 20" and 30" Newts...


Edited by Jeff Struve, 25 October 2023 - 08:01 AM.

  • Jim4321 likes this

#16 Jim4321

Jim4321

    Aurora

  • -----
  • Posts: 4,863
  • Joined: 19 Sep 2014
  • Loc: Asheville

Posted 25 October 2023 - 08:16 AM

A good line of chatter explaining _why_ that object in the eyepiece is impressive or important helps.  Knowing the distance in light years is meaningful to only a fraction of the public, but when you've got them listening, explaining that a light year is 186,000 miles per second times sixty times sixty times twenty-four times three hundred and sixty-five will usually get a reaction. 

 

(on edit, Then shut up! Let them give their undivided attention to the view you're offering them.)

 

Jim H.  


Edited by Jim4321, 25 October 2023 - 08:36 AM.


#17 Neanderthal

Neanderthal

    Vanguard

  • *****
  • Posts: 2,124
  • Joined: 03 Dec 2021
  • Loc: SW Missouri

Posted 25 October 2023 - 09:21 AM

A good line of chatter explaining _why_ that object in the eyepiece is impressive or important helps.  Knowing the distance in light years is meaningful to only a fraction of the public, but when you've got them listening, explaining that a light year is 186,000 miles per second times sixty times sixty times twenty-four times three hundred and sixty-five will usually get a reaction. 

 

(on edit, Then shut up! Let them give their undivided attention to the view you're offering them.)

 

Jim H.  

Knowing what potential objects I will be highlighting, I prepare a "cheat sheet". Getting asked "how far away" will indeed come up. Here's a sample I used for this last event:

 

CN Star Party cheat sheet sample.jpg



#18 Jim4321

Jim4321

    Aurora

  • -----
  • Posts: 4,863
  • Joined: 19 Sep 2014
  • Loc: Asheville

Posted 25 October 2023 - 10:23 AM

Neanderthal,  I basically do the same thing via my tablet & Sky Safari.  Since I use it to slew my SCT to the target, that target is what is selected already.  All the data I need to answer visitors' questions about it is right there a finger-push away, in red light, easily accessed. 

 

Jim H.


  • Neanderthal likes this

#19 havasman

havasman

    James Webb Space Telescope

  • *****
  • Posts: 15,766
  • Joined: 04 Aug 2013
  • Loc: Dallas, Texas

Posted 25 October 2023 - 04:58 PM

Pick better targets!

 

We are supposed to be in control when we put on outreach events. If you can't make your scope available to everyone and are uncomfortable telling folks they cannot be accommodated then pick objects to show that place your eyepiece lower when the object is in view. BOOM! Self-induced problem avoided.

 

We sure try real hard to make easy things difficult.


Edited by havasman, 25 October 2023 - 04:59 PM.

  • Freezout 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