Author Topic: The condition of the public telescopes at Mauna Kea hurts my soul :(  (Read 157 times)

Lamar Davies

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Re: The condition of the public telescopes at Mauna Kea hurts my soul :(
« Reply #30 on: January 31, 2018, 02:00:46 AM »
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Unfortunately you can't just walk up to an instrument and its operator and announce that you know how to fix it. You need to be introduced and vouched for in advance.
Maintenance is a big deal. We tend to forget how many little things we repair and replace to keep our kit going.


It has been my experience that only about one person out of every 500 or so visitors to the mountain even own a telescope.

Out of those that own telescopes, about one in 100 have the skills to collimate any telescope.

So please don't be too offended if the VIS staff won't let you even focus a telescope, much less work on one.

More than once a night we have people grab eyepieces and try to pull them down to their eye for a look. Even in the middle of the day. Inside the building.

And if I had a nickel for every time I have had to say "please, no camera flashes!" and "Please turn off that white light!" and "Please, red light flashlights only!"

And here are my #1 and #2 favorite replies:

1. "No. I'm sorry. I can't let your child play with my laser pointer. Safety rules."

2. "No. I'm serious. I am not allowed to let your child play with my laser pointer."

Ugh.

satimoja

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Re: The condition of the public telescopes at Mauna Kea hurts my soul :(
« Reply #31 on: January 31, 2018, 05:09:17 AM »
One of the most important things I try to focus on while working with the public is making sure they everyone possible comes away from their visit with a very positive feeling about astronomy and especially their astronomy experience on Mauna Kea. I never challenge anyone's political, religious or global warming beliefs. However I will diplomatically defend astronomy and general scientific research when I have to. I often point out that in the USA, more is spent on social welfare programs in one day than what NASA gets for a budget for an entire year. Easily verified by visiting the government ONB web site for the U.S. annual budget.

The stress of the TMT conflict has made diplomacy and kindness especially hard for many VIS staff to maintain.

I hope to work with the new VIS manager and new VIS volunteer coordinator on new orientation and training materials for staff and volunteers that better-focuses on that positive experience for visitors.

If there are any videographers out there who would be willing to contribute a little time to some new outreach training videos, that would be awesome. I also need updated basic training videos for using and operating Astro-Physics, Meade LX200, Celestron CGE-Pro and non-GOTO Losmandy G-11 mounts.

The small herd of Orion dobs break down under rough handling so frequently that they don't get brought out on the deck as often as they used to. Mostly focuser and finder failures.

tinlengmmuner

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Re: The condition of the public telescopes at Mauna Kea hurts my soul :(
« Reply #32 on: January 31, 2018, 06:51:36 AM »
Quote
Quote

Unfortunately you can't just walk up to an instrument and its operator and announce that you know how to fix it. You need to be introduced and vouched for in advance.
Maintenance is a big deal. We tend to forget how many little things we repair and replace to keep our kit going.


It has been my experience that only about one person out of every 500 or so visitors to the mountain even own a telescope.

Out of those that own telescopes, about one in 100 have the skills to collimate any telescope.

So please don't be too offended if the VIS staff won't let you even focus a telescope, much less work on one.

More than once a night we have people grab eyepieces and try to pull them down to their eye for a look. Even in the middle of the day. Inside the building.

And if I had a nickel for every time I have had to say "please, no camera flashes!" and "Please turn off that white light!" and "Please, red light flashlights only!"

And here are my #1 and #2 favorite replies:

1. "No. I'm sorry. I can't let your child play with my laser pointer. Safety rules."

2. "No. I'm serious. I am not allowed to let your child play with my laser pointer."

Ugh.
The point about people grabbing the eyepieces is no exaggeration. They had the 4" refractor pointed at the moon before they had set up the other telescopes, and while I waited for the big scopes to become operational, I watched in horror as child after child ignored the step stool and reached up to grab the eyepiece to either use it as leverage to lift themselves up, or yank down on it to look through it. Even the children that did use the stepstool would grab the eyepiece and lean on it as support while they looked through it.

witchcycsuti

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Re: The condition of the public telescopes at Mauna Kea hurts my soul :(
« Reply #33 on: January 31, 2018, 08:01:19 AM »
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One of the most important things I try to focus on while working with the public is making sure they everyone possible comes away from their visit with a very positive feeling about astronomy and especially their astronomy experience on Mauna Kea.
With what's going on there, it very much looks like providing the public positive experiences with astronomy is even more important than ever, and to garner support for the science programs continuance.

Good luck with the maintenance and managing the public!

fewithciten

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Re: The condition of the public telescopes at Mauna Kea hurts my soul :(
« Reply #34 on: January 31, 2018, 02:01:27 PM »
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I recently got to visit Mauna Kea, and was head over heals excited to view Jupiter and Saturn through the 16" LX200 and EdgeHD 14" they have there, but was met with equal disappointment at the state of deterioration of their optics.

The 16" LX200 has what I can only describe as pit marks in its corrector plate. Not just stains, but full on pit marks. The optics look physically damaged. The amount of dust on the secondary and primary mirrors was significant. The EdgeHD 14 was in similarly bad shape, as was the C9.25.

The collimation of the EdgeHD 14 was way off. I couldn't get Jupiter's moons to focus to points. They just looked like cones. The contrast loss due to the scatter and poor collimation was so bad I had a hard time seeing Jupiter's bands clearly. Similar issues with the C9.25 on Saturn. The view was very soft and very "glowy" despite my best focusing attempts and rock steady skies.

It hurts me to my core to see such beautiful (and expensive!) instruments in the condition they're in

My reaction, too.
I spent my time looking with the naked eye.

I had the same experience at Mt. Wilson on the 60" scope there. Out of collimation and filthy eyepieces.

When you cater to the public, some maintenance is required.

belmadeasus

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Re: The condition of the public telescopes at Mauna Kea hurts my soul :(
« Reply #35 on: February 02, 2018, 08:39:48 PM »
My evidence is only anecdotal but I think another factor at play here is a greatly increased (unsustainable really) number of visitors to the VIS due to the major straightening/widening of Saddle Road. I've been visiting MK off and on for 8-9 years now and over time, the evening crowds at the VIS have just gotten nuts. Saddle Road used to be relatively daunting, and acted as a natural limiter to the numbers of cars and people on MK. You had to be really interested in astronomy, the mountain, or challenging driving to go up there. Now Saddle Road is a freaking 4-lane highway, and tons of people with at most a passing interest in the raison d'etre of the place can and do show up.

Tom Doyle

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Re: The condition of the public telescopes at Mauna Kea hurts my soul :(
« Reply #36 on: February 09, 2018, 01:09:00 AM »
Things have sure changed since I visited in 2005. Back then there was another rental company that would allow driving on unpaved roads, Saddle road (before it was upgraded) and up Mauna Kea. I rented a 4x4 from them because of that. Went on the Saturday tour (which it looks like they no longer offer). The tour back then included one of the Keck's and the UofH <strike>22-inch</strike>2.2m (88-inch) (full tour of the latter).

Back then you had to have a 4-wheel drive vehicle to join the tour. I am surprised that anyone was ever let up the mountain without one, even independant of the tour. Even now I see it is still just a recommendation. How many deaths are required before it becomes mandatory (with gate control to the summit past the visitor's center)?

Although this was before the 30m controversy, even then there was native opposition against the telescopes. But AFAIK no protestors, at least not on a regular basis.

Scott Bentley

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Re: The condition of the public telescopes at Mauna Kea hurts my soul :(
« Reply #37 on: February 09, 2018, 08:33:32 AM »
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Things have sure changed since I visited in 2005. Back then there was another rental company that would allow driving on unpaved roads, Saddle road (before it was upgraded) and up Mauna Kea. I rented a 4x4 from them because of that. Went on the Saturday tour (which it looks like they no longer offer). The tour back then included one of the Keck's and the UofH 22-inch (full tour of the latter).

Back then you had to have a 4-wheel drive vehicle to join the tour. I am surprised that anyone was ever let up the mountain without one, even independent of the tour. Even now I see it is still just a recommendation. How many deaths are required before it becomes mandatory (with gate control to the summit past the visitor's center)?

Although this was before the 30m controversy, even then there was native opposition against the telescopes. But AFAIK no protesters, at least not on a regular basis.


The Saturday tours halted when the protesters arrived.