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Times are changing?


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Astronomy has always been a fairly solitary interest for me. None of my friends/family have ever shown any interest, and that's how it's been for 35 years or more. Of course there have always been clubs, BAA and more recently internet forums - but on the whole it's been my 'geeky' hobby.

Now I've found out that my niece is interested in 'space' (although she might grow out of it!) and my friends daughter is going to study astrophysics at university. OK, so it's just two people - but wonder if it's indicative of a rise in popularity lately due to Brian Cox, stargazing live, discovery channel etc.

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I have always had an interest in stargazing. And just about to take the plunge to spend £1000 on a scope. I am on my own when i go star gazing and my boy is slightly interested in astronomy but he is only 6. I just found out my next door neighbour is also interested and is buying my old scope off me. 

I personally think that now we have Internet and social media. I think that there is less interest in the subject mainly because young guys/girls my age (29) are more interested in getting drunk and playing video games, and not exploring there back garden. But i agree that our hobby is considered Geeky in mainstream media. Brian Cox has played a small part in bringing the attention of astronomy forward but i think people are too lazy to go out :( 

Just my thoughts!

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'Stargazing live' is all well and good and might encourage some to attend outreach events, yet for most people, the quality of their night sky is poor / very poor. Combine this with the wide appeal of interative electronic accessories (my daughter is wired up to one right now) in nice centrally heated environments and star gazing does not register.

Solution, well there isn't really one, except encouraging more young people i.e. family groups to attend star camping events in the relative unspoilt few dark sky zones and so discover the great outdoors by night.

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Well now, I don't really think of astronomy as 'geeky'.   I think that those who have zero interest in the universe that we are literally part of are the geeky ones  :smiley:

I do realise that many are stuck in the treadmill of earning a living to pay the bills etc, but to have no interest in astronomy is unthinkable to me.

Our daily lives are controlled by the universe, when it gets dark or light, the procession of the seasons, the fossil fuel that took long ages to form that we use everyday, and so on.

Just my opinion of course........

Regards, Ed.

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It depends on your astronomical circumstances as to what your viewpoint is. Most of my friends are very keen on astronomy and each year hundreds of enthusiastic visitors to the Astronomy Centre get their first encounter with the subject. So from my perspective, anyone not interested in astronomy is unusual.  :smiley:

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It would be nice if more people were interested in Astronomy, but does it really matter?

As long as you enjoy it and there are a few others that inhabit forums such as this to bounce ideas and opinions off, why worry?

Enjoy the exclusivity.

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I don't know any friends or family that are interested enough to go outside and look up. They think I'm unusual (shall we say) because I can recognise constellations and objects. Once, when I was on holiday in Australia we had just come out of the pub and I was looking upside down at the sky and my Mother said "what are you looking at" and I said "Orion the belt is upside down and that proves we are living on a ball and we are on the underside of it now". So everyone of our party were looking through their legs to see what I could see. Funny what you do when you've been in the pub :)

Brenda

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I don't know any friends or family that are interested enough to go outside and look up. They think I'm unusual (shall we say) because I can recognise constellations and objects. Once, when I was on holiday in Australia we had just come out of the pub and I was looking upside down at the sky and my Mother said "what are you looking at" and I said "Orion the belt is upside down and that proves we are living on a ball and we are on the underside of it now". So everyone of our party were looking through their legs to see what I could see. Funny what you do when you've been in the pub :)

Brenda

Must be an awesome sight that. I still have to see the southern hemisphere!

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I'm a secondary Physics teacher, and I have to say that there is always a large reservoir of excitement and enthusiam for all things space amongst the younger end of the age range i teach. In fact, i am fortunate enough to teach at a grammar school where we put a large emphasis on academic learning, and we do a pretty good job of maintaining that interest (we have over 130 students studying A level Physics in the sixth form, and most will study the Astrophysics option at A2 level).

It is the case however, that there is a significant "anti-learning culture" in many schools, and to be honest a student can easily attain an A* in GCSE "Dual Science" without having any real understanding of astronomy (or indeed science in general) at all. It fills me with dread when I see that "celebrities" like Joey Essex, a 23 year old reality TV star, go on a TV program watched by millions and proudly declare that he can't even tell the time on an analogue clock, as if that is some sort of badge of honour. Unfortunately, the likes of Essex are admired and respected by a lot of young people who wouldn't dream of watching a program presented by Brian Cox.

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Among my circle of people by in large I'm the only "space geek". To be fair though my best friend shows of interest and my wife always goes with me if I take the scope somewhere so I won't be alone but I carry the banner pretty much alone. I think space is something most people take for granted. To quote Doctor Who who quoted the lion king "From the day they arrive on the planet, and blinking step into the sun. There is more to see than can ever be seen." We are amazed as children as we glance skyward but as we get older we lose this excitement in the daily grind of life. I may be wrong but I think astronomers by in large are dreamers and people that have vivid and awesome imaginations. At least I find this to be true in my case. But in today's society with instant media and tv etc... room for imagination is shrinking.

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I think amateur astronomy is by it's nature a solitary pursuit. Apart from star parties there is usually only one instrument available, and in my case, most of the time is spent just scanning around before actually finding anything! Of all my acquaintances or family, there is no one interested enough to share that experience.

The only place I can share my experiences is here at SGL, which could be seen as being a bit sad:rolleyes:

Sent from my GT-P5110 using Tapatalk

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I'm the only 'space geek' at work and my boss wants me to look at using the premises as a venue/base for astronomy clubs! The sky is pretty dark above the premises, around 5.8 LM.....

From where I am standing it seems that dark sky awareness and interest in astronomy is growing.

Edited by Beulah
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I must say, I do feel a little sorry for people not interested in the night sky. Very poor situational awareness of their extended environment.

They are missing out on so much wonder, though I do think shows on the likes of the BBC such as those presented by Brian Cox etc are making a dent

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I observe by myself and occasionally show my wife or neighbour something I think will interest them, usually one of the major planets.

It takes a certain amount of effort/determination when starting out and the rewards are hard won. Unfortunately we are now in an age when instant gratification is the order of the day and to mind too many people have the attention span of a gnat.

Not that it worries me, each to their own, I enjoy my time observing but accept not everyone has this interest.

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Nah, times are not changing although it would be nice :) The population on Earth is increasing and thanks to technology and media the availability of information about space and astronomy is higher then ever, this might lead to find more people interested in astronomy.  Also, until you really start thinking about it, you usually don't notice / find many other people interested in the topic. My little nice got hooked by watching a series of old VHS documentaries I have left in my bedroom many years ago when I left home :)

In truth,  a good amount of people find astronomy visually interesting, fashinating, cool and mind blowing but that ends up more in simple plain curiosity rather then in getting totally enslaved or addicted by this subject :evil:  this kind of curious people do not make a life style out of it like many of us do :)

And often, people who really like astronomy just don't go around talking about it like they would with sports (maybe because they also feel that other people don't care that much about it?) some people might also like to watch documentaries and read the occasional article to keep updated about what's going on in the universe without actually being into it (i.e. they are not planning to get a telescope or to be involved in events, forums etc). I personally rarely talk about astronomy to anyone (when I was 8 or 9 I did it a lot, maybe too much!).

I also feel that some of the basic concepts of astronomy might not be of interest to most people, because they might not appreciate or understand them fully, this makes them feel that astronomy is just a topic of interest for a niche of weirdos, or even worse, they might perceive astronomy as something fancy that does not have any link with every day's life, thus discarding the subject as a "waste of time and money". I know a few people that have a judged my passion that way :undecided:

So although I am surprised about the increased amount of curious people that have been approaching astronomy in recent times (often attracted by big and popular events, just an example the landing of curiosity on Mars),  I do not feel that times are changing that much: in my circles the amount of people who are seriously into astronomy hasn't changed much in the past 20 years :cool:

does anyone else agree with any of my points?

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I agree with what Rihard said. I think people who like astronomy do not talk about it with other people (unless they like astronomy,too) because they don't want to look like geeks.

I also think that a child is more likely to be interested in stargazing and astronomy (that is why every kid wants to be an astronaut) but after a while they get bored or find it too difficult and they completely forget about it. 

Besides, we have so much information nowadays about everything and you see astronomy news very often. Many people read and find them interesting but it is not something that they find useful and the interest never lasts.

A few months ago I went to the Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles . It is really a beautiful museum and in one of the documentaries I saw it said that Mr. Griffith was very interested in astronomy after he looked through a telescope for the first time.  He bequeathed  money to build the observatory so ordinary people could be able to do and feel the same way he did.There are many visitors (after all it is free and it has the best view of the city) but most of them just go because it is a tourist attraction and not because of the knowledge.But that place reminded me  how much I liked astronomy as a child and that, although now I am too old to start a new career, it is never too late to learn.

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Well they do say stamp collecting is a geeky hobby too like train spotting and other niche hobbies. What I observe is that half the kids who prefer to sit in and play on electronic gadgets - seem to enjoy space based games, software, and shoot 'em ups, or films like Star Trek, Gravity, and Star Wars etc.

So there may be some latent interest in astronomy being expressed in an electronically twisted way, but I agree that there are folks who openly express a total lack of interest in the night sky. Just wait till Earth is invaded by aggressive aliens - they may well take an interest when that happens lol. :)

Edited by brantuk
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I believe that Scientists... Amateur Astronomers are BORN rather than made? [part serious].

(Genuine) Kudos Brian Cox and (even) his "troupe" of alternative / skeptic / comedians. :p

BUT will their enthusiatic "bums on seats" at University last? Science can be BORING etc.

If I can encourage folks to do Astronomy - I TRY! Myself - "Council house kid" made good"?

Degree, Ph.D in Physics - Not sure it got me anywhere - No riches... No TV contract, but!  :o

Face it, anyone with a "whiff of academia" is still pretty much despised by a general public?

I WILL talk science with anyone who shows genuine interest. Try to... disavow... TV science!

I strongly feel science is for EVERYONE. I tire of today's rich, intellectual, political elitists... :(

Despite past "Social Phobia" etc., I increasingly like to give "talks" to my local Astro Soc? 

Really into such things now. And I genuinely feel among (slightly oddball? lol) friends too! :D

Edited by Macavity
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A PHD in physics! Not too shabby. I left school in 1986 with a Grade 3 GCSE in Art!

I guess that's why I have been in the Infantry for over 24 years. I guess the interest in astronomy comes from all that dreaming on being an astronaut as a young chap. An army Captain will have to suffice! Lol

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A PHD in physics! Not too shabby. I left school in 1986 with a Grade 3 GCSE in Art!

Equally difficult to "come out" about EITHER? :D Amateur Astronomers are all sorts...

You never know! Some of us watch rubbish TV. But don't tell Prof Cox and the BBC? ;)

"Management" is a different beast? Be that academia, the military, the shop floor etc.

And, to be quite frank, I am no fan of the TV science's "New Nerdists" etc. etc. but... :p

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