Author Topic: Are young amateur astronomers rare?  (Read 389 times)

breadexgera

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Re: Are young amateur astronomers rare?
« Reply #15 on: January 12, 2018, 08:54:40 AM »
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I'm in my mid-late teens and have been into astronomy for pretty much my entire life. I bought an 8 in. dob a year or two ago as my first foray into amateur astronomy. I really enjoyed it, so I decided to join a local astronomy club. I went to one of their monthly meetings a couple of weeks ago, and wouldn't you know it, it didn't like there was a single person younger than 50. In fact, I would wager that most of them are in their 60s. I felt kind of out of place; Like I was walking into a retirement home. It's probably mean of me to say that though, because they were all very nice. Are young amateur astronomers like me really that rare?

They aren't rare, just invisible.

Anthony Cejudo

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Re: Are young amateur astronomers rare?
« Reply #16 on: January 12, 2018, 10:27:04 AM »
Clubs tend to be made up of people who spend a lot of time on a specific hobby. Who has that amount of time? Retired folks!

I've been in this hobby for years, but with limited time I've usually tried to make any "astronomy" time (as opposed to social time, work time, chores time, family time...) actual *observing* time. I've been slowly making strides at becoming more involved in local club activities (as I've gotten older....).

Grant Buchanan

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Re: Are young amateur astronomers rare?
« Reply #17 on: January 12, 2018, 06:56:05 PM »
Like so many of the traditional hobbies, amateur astronomy reached its culmination when the Baby Boomers met the early Space Age back in the late 1950's through perhaps the early 1970's. I recall amateur astronomical societies blossoming in every town of any real population, most having a junior division, too. Most high schools, many of which had recently acquired their own planetariums(!), had astronomy clubs and astronomical events of significance brought out not tens, or hundreds, but literally thousands of public spectators in larger communities. Combine that with the fact that even moderate-sized population centers enjoyed far better skies that 90% of hobbyists see today...and if not in the heart of town, absolutely pitch black skies were no more than a 20-30 minute drive from home, when combined with daily front page coverage and nightly TV of Space Age events, it brought together a set of very favorable circumstances never to be repeated.

As the Baby Boomers age out and the skies every where grow steadily brighter the hobby will continued to be the province of a progressively older crowd, I'm afraid.

BrooksObs

calbeyrefrows

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Re: Are young amateur astronomers rare?
« Reply #18 on: January 13, 2018, 11:43:27 AM »
My granddaughter just turned 21 and has been active in the local club for several years. Fact is people from childhood through the college years and young adulthood have a lot of competing interests which probably precludes many of them with an interest in astronomy (or any other comparable hobby) from indulging it until they get more settled in life. As noted, this is a time and dollar intensive hobby and folks in middle age and into retirement are just naturally going to have more of both.

As to grumpy old guys, yep, lots of older ones but not many grumpy in my experience. Now get off my lawn!!!

piesilila

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Re: Are young amateur astronomers rare?
« Reply #19 on: January 15, 2018, 09:10:31 PM »
I think there are a few things going on here... One is that a lot of us old guys got interested during the early years of the space age. The first satellites were earth-shaking news. There had just never been anything like that. And then the moon landings. This was the culmination of a dream probably as old as mankind. Another is that astronomy is a hobby that can "grow on you." An early interest can get deeper and more profound as years go by and you learn more and get deeper into it, and earning a little of your own money to buy equipment doesn't hurt. What was an interest when we were young can gradually turn into an obsession. Science, history, esthetics, technology... something for everybody. A lot of us old guys do the hobby completely differently from each other. And then, maybe us old guys really are the last "hobby generation." There didn't use to be so much "passive entertainment" available. Three TV stations, if that, no video games, no computers, no portable devices to connect with all sorts of stuff. If you didn't want to just sit around, you had to go out and "do" something. I'm not saying the older generation is better than the younger one, people haven't changed significantly in 30,000 years, but the world is changing.
 I'd say, go out and enjoy the company of those old guys. They WANT to have you there. It can be cool to do something kind of different, like having a bunch of old guy friends
 Marty
P.S. I just read BrooksObs post, which came in while I was typing this. Yup, light pollution is devastating.

tiodiacontti

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Re: Are young amateur astronomers rare?
« Reply #20 on: January 18, 2018, 01:47:15 AM »
At 38, I am not a young person, nor a retiree. I've only very recently gotten into this hobby, and I've been wondering to myself, why? I've always been interested in space, space tech, science, and such. The only thing I can think of is that I grew up in the age where space travel and discovery was so common it almost never made the news, unless there was a tragedy. Growing up in the 80s and 90s the shuttle was flying and Hubble was snapping amazing pictures. Everyone is familiar with the amazing pictures Hubble takes, but I sort of wonder if that works against an interest in amateur astronomy. The pictures it takes are SO amazing, I think unconsciously I figured that multi-billion dollar device was the only way to see such amazing things. I really had no idea that a reasonably inexpensive home telescope was able to see deep space objects, galaxies, and the like. It wasn't until I stumbled across a black friday day sale this year where Costco was advertising a super cheap telescope of some kind that I started investigating and got hooked.

I also think that, as others have mentioned, light pollution (and weather) plays a part. Growing up in the Pacific Northwest, except for some very notable and amazing experiences when camping, I was rarely exposed to dark starry nights as a kid/teen. It was early to bed, early to rise, go to school, rinse and repeat. I rarely had the experience of wonder looking up at a dazzling sky of stars. Which is kind of sad really.

Chaudhari Evans

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Re: Are young amateur astronomers rare?
« Reply #21 on: January 18, 2018, 04:41:58 AM »
Quote
I think there are a few things going on here... One is that a lot of us old guys got interested during the early years of the space age. The first satellites were earth-shaking news. There had just never been anything like that. And then the moon landings. This was the culmination of a dream probably as old as mankind. Another is that astronomy is a hobby that can "grow on you." An early interest can get deeper and more profound as years go by and you learn more and get deeper into it, and earning a little of your own money to buy equipment doesn't hurt. What was an interest when we were young can gradually turn into an obsession. Science, history, esthetics, technology... something for everybody. A lot of us old guys do the hobby completely differently from each other. And then, maybe us old guys really are the last "hobby generation." There didn't use to be so much "passive entertainment" available. Three TV stations, if that, no video games, no computers, no portable devices to connect with all sorts of stuff. If you didn't want to just sit around, you had to go out and "do" something. I'm not saying the older generation is better than the younger one, people haven't changed significantly in 30,000 years, but the world is changing.
 I'd say, go out and enjoy the company of those old guys. They WANT to have you there. It can be cool to do something kind of different, like having a bunch of old guy friends
 Marty
P.S. I just read BrooksObs post, which came in while I was typing this. Yup, light pollution is devastating.

Agree, light pollution has been a thorn in my side almost since the beginning. I think I have been running in place trying to get ahead of it. But maybe that was good, for me, in some strange way.

I am young enough to have grown up thinking space travel was normal. The space race had synergistic effects with other technologies and cultural trends. TV and Hollywood was coming out with better science fiction and better science fiction probably made more people develop interest in real science, for example.

To me, the presumed rarity of amateur astronomy actually makes the hobby more cool and interesting.

Kapil Majmudar

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Re: Are young amateur astronomers rare?
« Reply #22 on: January 21, 2018, 02:40:29 AM »
Another thing that I think might be playing a part here is that I think many people don't develop a truly deep interest and wonder at things like history and the universe until they get a bit older. Some young people certainly are interested in these things, but for me, I didn't really appreciate and think about our place in the universe and the impact of history until I got into my 30s. I am so much more interested in history museums, history books, the history of our solar system and beyond, and our place in the timeline of the universe than I was as a kid. As a kid, being exposed to these things, it was more like "oh that's a cool picture, neat", rather than letting it soak in and have deep introspective thoughts about my place in the cosmos.

Dave Fair

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Re: Are young amateur astronomers rare?
« Reply #23 on: January 21, 2018, 07:34:14 AM »
The Apollo explanation is a good one; but I think light pollution is also a big factor. Light pollution has gotten much worse in the past 50 years, and it can make this hobby pretty frustrating. I'm one of those rare astronomers not eligible for AARP benefits, and after a year of this I can't say I've really seen the Milky Way. It would take substantial amounts of traveling to change that, so the best way for me to really pursue this hobby is to work it into some kind of vacation. The horrible truth is that, for a lot of people in the world today, the sky has been ruined by pollution.

freddormasa

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Re: Are young amateur astronomers rare?
« Reply #24 on: January 21, 2018, 08:52:36 AM »
Quote
The Apollo explanation is a good one; but I think light pollution is also a big factor. Light pollution has gotten much worse in the past 50 years, and it can make this hobby pretty frustrating. I'm one of those rare astronomers not eligible for AARP benefits, and after a year of this I can't say I've really seen the Milky Way. It would take substantial amounts of traveling to change that, so the best way for me to really pursue this hobby is to work it into some kind of vacation. The horrible truth is that, for a lot of people in the world today, the sky has been ruined by pollution.

Boston is light polluted, but is rural New England really that bad? Is it the weather messing things up for you?

David Corder

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Re: Are young amateur astronomers rare?
« Reply #25 on: January 23, 2018, 12:43:37 AM »
Photons age you...but keep you alive for a long, long time...

Robert Porter

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Re: Are young amateur astronomers rare?
« Reply #26 on: January 23, 2018, 12:21:44 PM »
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Boston is light polluted, but is rural New England really that bad? Is it the weather messing things up for you?
Yeah, there's a lot of urban sprawl here. There are parts of New England with dark skies, but it's not very practical for the Boston-based observer. I would need to go deep into New Hampshire (Mt. Washington area) before blue and green zones become prevalent (2 hour drive one way). That's 4 hours of driving, at night, on mountain roads during the winter, in an area I hardly know at all. That's too much trouble for me.

Alex Strouth

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Re: Are young amateur astronomers rare?
« Reply #27 on: January 25, 2018, 06:08:05 PM »
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Quote
Boston is light polluted, but is rural New England really that bad? Is it the weather messing things up for you?
Yeah, there's a lot of urban sprawl here. There are parts of New England with dark skies, but it's not very practical for the Boston-based observer. I would need to go deep into New Hampshire (Mt. Washington area) before blue and green zones become prevalent (2 hour drive one way). That's 4 hours of driving, at night, on mountain roads during the winter, in an area I hardly know at all. That's too much trouble for me.
We have green zones in northwestern CT. I go to Boy Scout summer camp around there in a yellow zone and the Milky Way is almost visible.

hanatuaser

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Re: Are young amateur astronomers rare?
« Reply #28 on: January 25, 2018, 06:37:01 PM »
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I'm in my mid-late teens and have been into astronomy for pretty much my entire life. I bought an 8 in. dob a year or two ago as my first foray into amateur astronomy. I really enjoyed it, so I decided to join a local astronomy club. I went to one of their monthly meetings a couple of weeks ago, and wouldn't you know it, it didn't like there was a single person younger than 50. In fact, I would wager that most of them are in their 60s. I felt kind of out of place; Like I was walking into a retirement home. It's probably mean of me to say that though, because they were all very nice. Are young amateur astronomers like me really that rare?

I'm 72 but we don't all get old quite the same way..........

From my Profile-bio:........"Celestial Wanderer since 1961: (teens to second childhood...!)."

Lamar Davies

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Re: Are young amateur astronomers rare?
« Reply #29 on: January 25, 2018, 08:03:52 PM »
I prefer them well done with some BBQ sauce....I understand the ones from Virginia are especially tasty.