Notes from the field. My rants raves and frothing at the mouth about this maddening and frustrating buy lovely hobby
Outreach... Do not ask what your community can do for you...
by, 06-18-2012 at 05:24 AM (366 Views)
I know many if not most of us are in this hobby because of our fascination with and enjoyment of looking at the greater universe. Some of us go to star parties but I think the majority of us observe by ourselves or in small like minded groups of friends. And to be honest I think that this is a down right shame.
... Instead ask what you can do for them!
Last night at the star party was my first real experience with outreach to the community at large. There were a smaller than usual number of people who came out because it is the start of summer so it gets darker later which means that families with kids tend to stay away but we still got a good turn out. And it had me thinking about the amateur astronomy community at large and how we can do our small part to be the messengers and evangalists for this magnificent hobby.
Seeing the wonder and awe in so many people's faces and to hear both the young and the old gasp in pleasure and amazement and make exclamations of that pleasure and amazement really was a great feeling and I strongly encourage as many of you who are willing and able to donate your time and your equipment to reaching out to your fellow citizens and showing them first hand and in real life what really is out there. Not only will it give you some good (call it whatever you want) it may inspire someone else to join our community and more importantly it may be that critical moment in a child's life that puts them on the road to a career in science or engineering.
May sound drippy and saccharine but you know what? It's true. I have done outreach work in other hobbies of mine. And it was rewarding to hear that because of the work I did a very few of the kids did actually begin to learn how to do algebra or chemistry or other areas of science in spite of themselves because they had to to be successful in the particular hobby I was an ambassador for and that they found it to be something they wanted to learn more about because it really wasn't as hard or as scary or as boring as they thought it would be. (The math and science part by the way. They were already keen on the hobby part.)
So give it some thought. Maybe setup at your local mall or down town area. They might not be able to see M51 but they sure could get a hands down spanking view of Saturn and that in and of itself is a real treat!