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I'm thinking about getting my 10' Telescope out here in switzerland, I'm not sure if I'm edjucated enough

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#1 Jeroe

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Posted 26 October 2023 - 06:34 AM

I'm doing astrophotography for about 4 years now, I'm just now getting into the more serious gear now though.

I know my way around the nightsky, enough to explain what people are seeing. But I don't have any edjucation in that field and I'd say my 

knowledge is still very basic. If someone were to ask what a nebula is, I can only repeat what i know but I don't really have a deeper knowledge about it.

 

I really want to allow my community to see the nightsky by getting my Telescope out and showing them the moon, saturn and jupiter and maybe even some nebulaes. 

But I'm not sure if I'm really qualified to do that. I'm sure there will be questions about things and numbers that I don't have in my head. 

The main reason of why I'm doing astrophotography is to show people how much beauty is out there and that it is much more approachable than a lot of people think.

 

Would I be running into a wall head first if i were to do this or are the people not asking such questions anyways?

 


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#2 Neanderthal

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Posted 26 October 2023 - 07:30 AM

Go for it! You won't be asked many technical questions, if any at all, especially just showing the most basic targets like the planets. I've only been involved in a few outreach events and it's been a great experience. I'm pretty new to this as well, but compared to the typical person that walks up to the scope, no problem. I had many, many folks ask me this past weekend about the 4 little stars around Jupiter - they had no clue Jupiter had more than 1 moon, or color bands. I did create a "cheat sheet" for potential targets for that night. By far, the most asked question I get, is "how far away from earth"? So my "cheat sheet" includes that info. smile.gif  People will be thrilled to just see something in your scope that they can't see with their naked eye. waytogo.gif

 

 

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#3 happylimpet

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Posted 26 October 2023 - 07:31 AM

Theres no shame in not knowing, and you can find out the answers to things together using the internet.

 

Getting people looking through scopes is always a good thing.


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#4 Jethro7

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Posted 26 October 2023 - 07:44 AM

I'm doing astrophotography for about 4 years now, I'm just now getting into the more serious gear now though.

I know my way around the nightsky, enough to explain what people are seeing. But I don't have any edjucation in that field and I'd say my 

knowledge is still very basic. If someone were to ask what a nebula is, I can only repeat what i know but I don't really have a deeper knowledge about it.

 

I really want to allow my community to see the nightsky by getting my Telescope out and showing them the moon, saturn and jupiter and maybe even some nebulaes. 

But I'm not sure if I'm really qualified to do that. I'm sure there will be questions about things and numbers that I don't have in my head. 

The main reason of why I'm doing astrophotography is to show people how much beauty is out there and that it is much more approachable than a lot of people think.

 

Would I be running into a wall head first if i were to do this or are the people not asking such questions anyways?

Hello jeroe,

What you are doing is commendable. First off, have a little confidence in your self. I will bet that you already know more than you think you do. You can help your self by having a game plan for the objects that you want to show case and doing a bit of homework your self on these celestial objects. The questions asked are more than likely going to be basic. You can get ahead of your guest by explaining the name of the nebulae, How they form, how big these  Nebulae are, what they are made of and how far away they are.  You can be general about some answers. If you are asked a question that you don't know the answer to, respond back. "Hey that's a good question, let's look that up" Don't be afraid to look up the answers. The most important thing is to have fun. 

 

HAPPY SKIES TO YOU AND KEEP LOOKING UP Jethro


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#5 astrohamp

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Posted 26 October 2023 - 07:59 AM

How well you say, I am not sure how to answer that question, may be your best response.

 

I have at times gotten the adept phone holder to search for an answer on the spot, reading from a 'wiki' entry or other source. 

 

How can we know or even understand all the answers so get out there even if you have to admit that your knowledge base is limited.

For me I need to better prepare for outreach by doing more fact finding on my selected target list.  This way I might not flumox myself and forget something easy like which is emission or reflection in a nebula I have manage to present on the EAA monitor.


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#6 therealdmt

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Posted 26 October 2023 - 08:18 AM

I haven’t gotten many technical questions. The average person on the street tends to have very little concept of what they’re seeing. 
 

Besides that, show them things you know, and that you know look impressive. If you’re doing it from a Bortle 9 city sidewalk, that’s pretty much the Moon, Jupiter and Saturn, though some other things can be good too. But nevertheless, the list of highlight from-the-city objects isn’t exhaustively long. Accordingly, pick a few that are available in the current season (at around the time you’d be out there) and start studying up on them a little bit.

 

Example, Saturn: It’s over a billion kilometers away! ("Wow") It’s composed primarily of hydrogen gas along with some helium, while the rings are composed primarily of ice. ("Okay") It has over 100 known moons, though most are just small asteroid-like rocks. ("Well, that’s certainly a lot of…") The one easily seen moon is Titan, which is larger than the planet Mercury and is the only moon with an atmosphere. ("Mercury?") [Okay, you’re already past done — probably lost more than half of the audience already sleepy.gif] A day on Saturn is only about 10 hours long ("Okay, okay"). It’s density is less than that of water. ("Huh?"). The rings of Saturn were first seen in 1609 by Galileo Galilei, although he didn’t perceive them as rings and instead described them as looking like "ears" ("Boo.") The rapid rotation rate of the planet cause it to take the shape of a distinct oblate spheroid ("Mom, let’s get outta here. I’m hungry." "Yeah, this stinks!")

 

You: "Hey, where’s everybody going?! I didn’t show you Jupiter yet! Come back!!" lol.gif 
 

The point: You don’t have to be Encyclopedia Brown out there, though you don’t want to look completely clueless. A few fun facts is generally plenty, and often not even needed at all. Typical: "See that star up there?" Yeah. "It’s actually a planet. Have a look at it through the eyepiece here." Really? "Yeah, have a look. Don’t touch, just look." I don’t see anything. (you re-check) "It’s there, look again." (person looks again; jaw slowly drops) Ohhh. "That’s Saturn. The planet Saturn" OMG. Is it real?, it can’t be real! (looks again) Honey, come here, you have to see this. Wow! Thank you, thank you.

 

That’s pretty much it. Most people hurry off to go look up Saturn and try to figure out what it is they just saw. A few don’t care much — it’s just too abstract. A few want to talk about their cool hobby. Some want to share with you how they love space or science fiction, or want to get a little philosophical about other life out there or about the future. How much does the telescope cost? Can you see the flag on the Moon? Stuff like that


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#7 Migwan

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Posted 26 October 2023 - 08:51 AM

The fact that you are out with a telescope and not a scientist, might inspire other who are also not scientists, to notice the night skies more.   Some might even get some optics.   Mission accomplished. waytogo.gif waytogo.gif


Edited by Migwan, 26 October 2023 - 08:51 AM.

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#8 Jeroe

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Posted 26 October 2023 - 08:59 AM

Thank you so much guys, that really gives me confidence to actually go out and do it. We sometimes have afterwork markets on a parking lot, that'd be cool to just put up my telescope there. 

Really stoked to try it now :D


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#9 therealdmt

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Posted 26 October 2023 - 09:36 AM

Thank you so much guys, that really gives me confidence to actually go out and do it. We sometimes have afterwork markets on a parking lot, that'd be cool to just put up my telescope there. 

Really stoked to try it now laugh.gif

Best of luck with it, and make sure to report back here smile.gif

 

Might try a "dry run" first — just bring the scope from home over to that place and set up when people wouldn’t particularly be around.  That’ll show you what equipment needs to be brought, what goes where, how much time it takes, what was unnecessary, best viewing spot, etc. Another type of "dry run", well, more of a test run, is to try sharing the view with some non-astronomers in a familiar environment first, like from your yard or driveway or apartment parking lot. Invite a passerby to have a look, for example


Edited by therealdmt, 26 October 2023 - 09:41 AM.


#10 Don25

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Posted 26 October 2023 - 09:36 AM

You could also download the App, SKy Safari, and use the App to lookup distance, and other data.


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#11 SporadicGazer

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Posted 26 October 2023 - 02:30 PM

I'm just learning too.  (And I've only done solar outreach, so same, but different problem.)

 

First make yourself a crib sheet for what you expect to show.  That'll give you confidence on the basics and provide more info than 99% of your visitors are interested in.

 

Second, don't be afraid to say, "I don't know."  Sometimes you can share info on something related you do know and satisfy the visitor and other times you'll just have to let them do their own research!  (If you are out with a group, e.g. your local club, "I don't know, go ask him/her." as you point to a more experienced observer works really well! For me, them...?  smile.gif )

 

But, please, don't make stuff up!  (If you do, someone will take it as truth and we don't need more misinformation about science out there.)

 

Have fun!


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#12 maroubra_boy

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Posted 26 October 2023 - 09:08 PM

Jeroen,

Like you, I also share that fundamental motivation to share my passion for astro with people.

I'll explain my approach to outreach & sidewalk astronomy by sharing my single greatest inspiration - my wife.

She is a teacher by nature not just profession. But astronomy, the Universe intimidates her, the sheer scale, the size of the numbers, its tremendous wonders. At first when I tried to share astro with her she resisted. Once I understood why I realised I had to change how I said things. I now work hard to explain things without the astro technical talk, but in ways that other people can relate to. THIS is the key.

There is no doubt that you know more than you think you don't. Your difficulty is the confidence to just start & just how to express yourself. The great part about this is you DON'T need to use the technical talk. Instead look to describe what is happening in everyday terms.

I'll give you an example:

I try to avoid the expression "light years". Instead I say;

 

"You jump in your car, or your dad's car, and hit the Hyperdrive button - EVERYONE knows what the Hyperdrive button does! It makes you go at the speed of light! So that is 300,000km a second.

So, to get to the Moon, which is 400,000km away, it will take you just over one second to get to the Moon.

9 minutes to get to the Sun.

Nearly 5 hours to get to Pluto.

4.5 years to get to the nearest star besides our Sun, Alpha Centauri.

30,000 years to reach the centre of the Milky Way.

By comparison, the fastest man made spacecraft, the two Voyager probes, at their current speed it will take them over 60,000 years to reach Alpha Centauri, not 4.5 years at the speed of light."

You have now just explained not only what a light year is, but also just how BIG space really is, and in a way that avoided any jargon or astro techno talk, and used a little humour.

The hardest part will be doing this for the first time. Of course you don't know everything. No one does. And I have no problem saying I don't have an answer if I just don't know something. People will respect you for your honesty. And as time goes by, you will read and learn some more smile.gif

I would love to hear about how your first time goes smile.gif Time will fly by & you will have a thrill from the experience & meet some great people. And you will also meet for very knowledgeable people too.

Alex.


Edited by maroubra_boy, 26 October 2023 - 09:09 PM.


#13 Freezout

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Posted 27 October 2023 - 07:47 AM

I rarely have technical questions. Before showing an object I explain very grossly what it will be.

Example M13 (outreach in rural skies with teenagers and adults): "You will see what is called a globular cluster. It's a big group of stars bound by gravity so they form a ball mass (= globe). It looks like an explosion of stars. Pay attention it's plenty of stars you can try to split them".

 

It takes them time to integrate that info and put it in parallel with the FOV. So no question because they're already learning something new.

 

The only technical questions I get are often with the Moon & planets. "how big are these craters?" "how far is it?"

So it's nice if you're prepared with this data. I will soon do outreach at a school so I will also prepare. But the best is to teach people

- how to look so that they enjoy the FOV.

- that they can practice astronomy by spending less than 100 euros with binoculars

- that they have to turn off lights at night


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#14 DSOGabe

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Posted 27 October 2023 - 03:46 PM

Easiest way is to make a list of objects  you want to show to people and make your self some notes on them. Distance, type of object and some general information about them. That way you will have the most likely asked for information at hand. Though most likely, few people will ask you!


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#15 Paul Sweeney

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Posted 28 October 2023 - 11:04 AM

Have no fear: you'll do fine. You just need to follow a few basic rules. Make sure your targets are easy to find. Nobody wants to wait while you search for a tough target. Make sure all the targets are bright. Cover different types of targets. Have a list and follow it. Never argue with astrology or UFO fans.

When I do outreach, I use a list of "Tourist Attractions" that are easily found and seen. Depending on the crowd, I plan on 10-15 minutes per object. Be prepared to help people focus the scope, or even get their eye in the correct position. Most importantly, do not use a scope that you will cry over if it gets damaged. Having a friend as a helper is a good way to prevent stealing.

Have fun!
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#16 JOEinCO

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Posted 31 October 2023 - 08:59 AM

The fact that you are out with a telescope and not a scientist, might inspire other who are also not scientists, to notice the night skies more....

 

YES!!  (Migwan beat me to it.) 

 

I strongly believe what you are seeing as your weakness is actually a strength. 

 

Be yourself. If you don't know, simply tell them you don't know. Show folks that you don't need to be Albert Einstein to enjoy astronomy. waytogo.gif waytogo.gif waytogo.gif waytogo.gif waytogo.gif 


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#17 csrlice12

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Posted 31 October 2023 - 10:48 AM

If nothing else......it's a XXXX, ain't it pretty!

 

May just peak their interest to go look it up and they discover a bit of what is out there to be seen.


Edited by csrlice12, 31 October 2023 - 10:50 AM.


#18 Richie2shoes

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Posted 31 October 2023 - 12:04 PM

I'm doing astrophotography for about 4 years now, I'm just now getting into the more serious gear now though.

I know my way around the nightsky, enough to explain what people are seeing. But I don't have any edjucation in that field and I'd say my 

knowledge is still very basic. If someone were to ask what a nebula is, I can only repeat what i know but I don't really have a deeper knowledge about it.

 

I really want to allow my community to see the nightsky by getting my Telescope out and showing them the moon, saturn and jupiter and maybe even some nebulaes. 

But I'm not sure if I'm really qualified to do that. I'm sure there will be questions about things and numbers that I don't have in my head. 

The main reason of why I'm doing astrophotography is to show people how much beauty is out there and that it is much more approachable than a lot of people think.

 

Would I be running into a wall head first if i were to do this or are the people not asking such questions anyways?

My most frequent answer to questions is "I don't know, let's look it up"  When people ask why I do astronomy, I tell them I like looking at cool stuff that not everyone has a chance to see and outreach is my way of sharing it.  Enthusiasm is often good enough!


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#19 nighty

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Posted 28 November 2023 - 08:04 AM

Jeroe,

I have done a lot of outreach and informal group viewing. My favorite thing to say in response to questions is " You know, I have often wondered about that myself. Tell me what you think about it".

 

Then I stay silent long enough to let them speak. The dialogue helps me understand the reason behind the question and illuminates the most simple path to an acceptable answer.

 

Sometimes there are people who want a more advanced answer, but that is not very often. They do think anyone with a telescope is an expert.

 

Just try to make it a fun experience.


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#20 geovermont

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Posted 28 November 2023 - 04:27 PM

Yes, don't think that you have to know everything about astronomy to help members of the public have a good viewing experience. You'll quickly learn the most common questions and as some have mentioned, having a "cheat sheet" with some answers is a great idea. However, the real goal is to get them asking questions and interested in knowing more. You've done a lot if you've helped them see Jupiter or Saturn or the mountains of the Moon for themselves. That's the basics of outreach.

 

One tip: If Jupiter is up, it's a great target. People absolutely love the Galilean moons. Although now that I've typed that, I think that Saturn's rings might be even a bigger hit. Hard to say.


Edited by geovermont, 28 November 2023 - 04:31 PM.


#21 geovermont

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Posted 28 November 2023 - 04:32 PM

Jeroe,

I have done a lot of outreach and informal group viewing. My favorite thing to say in response to questions is " You know, I have often wondered about that myself. Tell me what you think about it".

 

Then I stay silent long enough to let them speak. The dialogue helps me understand the reason behind the question and illuminates the most simple path to an acceptable answer.

 

Sometimes there are people who want a more advanced answer, but that is not very often. They do think anyone with a telescope is an expert.

 

Just try to make it a fun experience.

Yes, nighty is absolutely correct.



#22 CharLakeAstro

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Posted 28 November 2023 - 11:08 PM

You're fine.

People don't really want to hear what specific details we might know about space, they can look that up.

 

Most they usually ask about the sky, is what the object is that they will be looking at, and that is easy to answer because I usually am showing them planets and the moon visually, and I ask them tell me what they are seeing.

 

The adults usually ask about the telescope, it's the kids that ask the better (harder to answer) questions.

One kid asked me "Why doesn't Jupiter have rings like Saturn?"




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