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Taz777

Overcoming self-consciousness whilst observing

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A bit of a strange question from me. I’ve got my binoculars and they’re all set up on an old photography tripod. Now it’s time to bite the bullet and get out into my back garden and see things in the sky. I live in a quiet neighbourhood surrounded by houses on nearly all sides that overlook my back garden. It’s rare for anyone to be in their gardens at night.

Did anyone suffer from self-consciousness when they first ventured out into their gardens late at night, wondering what the neighbours might think?

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Only once. But, then I was observing in my underwear and I was so engrossed that I hadn’t noticed that it had gotten  quite light and the neighbours were up and about..... Moral of the tail? Even if an unexpected clear spell gives the chance of some pre dawn planets, pause and put on some clothes. Fortunately my neighbours still speak to me.

I’d make sure that I have a large star atlas and a red torch to hand so that people know what you are up to! Most will be interested and want a look, rather than thinking you strange.

Paul

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Just put on your fanciest pajamas and get out there 😉 If they assume you a peeping tom it will be good for a laugh...but don't worry we'll vouch for ya 🙂 

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We do have neighbours but only on either side nobody really behind us so not a problem for me. Also it probably does look more suspicious with binoculars than a scope. I would be tempted to say something to your closest neighbours just to say you are stargazing then you wouldn't have to worry.

Steve

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If anyone takes particular notice - and tends to question your integrity - you're sure to find out. :happy9:

That's when you have the opportunity to explain what you're doing. The fact that your activity is harmless - coupled with the free benefit of nocturnal neighbourhood watch - should be enough to convince most people that you're a force for good.

As for those who will not be convinced no matter what, well, they're in a different category, probably not to be helped by you in any way. :happy11:

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You could wear a flurecent jacket whilst observing to make yourself as conspicuous as possible. ie. obviously not sneaking around and up to no good.

Whistling the Sky @ Night theme tune loundly whilst observing might help clarify things (Ok. That might be going a bit to far).

Paul

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To the OP, absolutely! When I first started, I lived in a terraced house with a small garden, picket fences and overlooked by neighbours upstairs bay windows. I recall setting up my scope very quietly, hiding in the shadows if someone started looking down at me and generally feeling uncomfortable.

Over the years my circumstances have changed, larger more private garden, but also my own confidence in what I'm doing. I would happily observe anywhere now, and be confident explaining what I'm doing and perhaps getting them to look through the scope.

 

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I have never been self conscious about observing. But I have found there are some dimwits ill informed people out there.

Looking to buy a house, I was being shown around the garden by the owner.
He told me of a neighbour who would sometimes sit in his shed with a stick (yes that was the word he used) pointing upwards.
He had absolutely no idea what it was about. I tried to give my take on it, but he was completely lost.

Despite the obviously strange neighbour I still bought the house.
There must be something in the water supply though. Because I sometimes sit in my shed with a stick pointing skyward.

David.

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If anyone makes a disparaging remark, just say,
" If you think I'm a sight, you should see what I'm looking at.":icon_mrgreen:.
Ron.

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I've long ago given up caring what other people think.  We moved house nearly 2 years ago now and whilst much of the garden is pretty private a couple of houses can overlook the patio area in particular and one resident there often wonders what I am doing - could be anything; bird watching, testing my drones, learning to fly my RC choppers or astronomy.

I am sure she thinks I am up to no good but she never says anything.  Might just start doing some hobbies naked just to get her really thinking :D

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My neighbours know that I'm into astronomy and have occasionally looked through one of my scopes. I only feel self conscious when observing on our front drive as you get the "passing trade" there from folks on their way home from the pub. 99% of my observing is done from my back or side garden which are fairly private and I'm out of sight.

 

 

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I'll mention it to my immediate neighbour as I get on well with them.

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Never used to bother me... If a neighbour spotted me "out observing"
they had all been ALERTED that this is just a totally innocent hobby! 😎

I have "shared" re. a "stalker neighbour" who *watches* me 24/7 (sic).
Also grateful for the understanding and support from SGL members...
HIS house now seems to be "sold" (after years on the market). Today
I saw him taking out the microwave to the car. I still have real hope! 🙂

I used to have an immediate neighbour who used to lean out of his
bathroom window to watch me at 4 a.m? I used to say "Hi"... But he 
would just GRIN at me -- As he took a *toke* on his cigarette?!? lol 😸

Edited by Macavity

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I was surrounded by really nice neighbours bar one and to be honest it wouldn't matter if I was mother Theresa to her.  She had it in for me ever since I blew out her fence panel with the prop blast from a paramotor .  I didnt know that I had done it but my daughter looking aghast and then falling around laughing and pointing behind me was a bit of a clue.

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7 hours ago, Taz777 said:

Did anyone suffer from self-consciousness when they first ventured out into their gardens late at night, wondering what the neighbours might think?

The only time I've felt really self-concious with the hobby was when I tried to observe the Venus transit back in June 2012. It would already be in transit at sunrise, so I needed a low eastern horizon. I set myself up with my 12x70 binos fitted with homemade baader solar filters at the edge of a large recreation ground, about half a mile from my home, basically me sitting on a garden chair facing east with the binos from about 4am. The sky was completely overcast, but I remained hopeful. Being a recreation ground I encountered quite a few early morning dog walkers and joggers, most of whom just gave me a stare, but some asked what I was doing. It didn't help when I said I was waiting for the Sun to rise and they looked at the overcast sky and shook their heads. I did wonder if the blue lights (or white coats) would turn up, but they didn't - then neither did the Sun......!!!

Edited by geoflewis
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Oh, yeah, often. My next door neighbours know I'm into astronomy and we're amicable. They looked into my scope and were amazed. The ones at the back are, thankfully, hidden behind their hedge. If, at some point, they decide to cut down the hedge, I'll be exposed to a whole array of houses. It might even ruin my astronomy. 

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I did at first, one of my neighbours came out and asked what I was doing but understood once I explained. I think he was more surprised as it was barely above freezing that night 😂

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Interesting question and one I can relate too.

In my boyhood and early adult life I suffered with crippling social anxiety (it has never left me and I still take flight on occasions). I simply couldn't interface with strangers or even people I knew less well.

I was brought up on a rough old council estate in an easterly facing house. The small, open front yard was the best place to catch Orion in the early winter so I'd often set up my 60mm Tascoesque refactor in the front. If some of the local boys were approaching I'd drag the lot indoors quickly.  Would never end well.

But if "grown ups" came by I would stay put but glued to the eyepiece, ignoring their passage. Sometimes they'd speak and, strangely,  I was able to speak back to them. I was passionate about astronomy even then and enjoyed sharing the night sky. Indeed, astronomy was the only thing that brought me out of my shell. Even in school I had "issues" with group activities and dreaded the "oral exam" we had to deliver to the rest of the class of 40 pupils for our English exam for years in advance.

I chose astronomy as my subject. I took along a few visual aids and a few bullet points for when, not if, I froze. I soon became absorbed. Wouldn't say I enjoyed it but I got the highest mark in the class! :)

So, I think I'm saying embrace the opportunity to share. Most people are astonished to be told what they can see with their own eyes. 

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I suggest you conceal yourself by using your binoculars through your bedroom window like I do.

Signed, your neighbor.

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Yes I was extremely self-conscious the first few times I stepped outside late at night and setup with my equipment. The feeling just slowly subsided as I got more and more experienced. However, recently I was outside and a couple of police vehicles pulled up alongside my back fence....I was worried if they saw me they would expect that I was up to no good and confront me. Fortunately they were looking at something else and quickly moved on. 

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I think most of the locals regard me as part of the furniture now, so I will say "Hi" to anyone who speaks to me as they walk by, let them have a look at what the camera is seeing (one of the benefits of live stacking).

And anyway, as a general principle, I stopped worrying what other people think about me when it dawned on me how rarely they do ...

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10 hours ago, emadmoussa said:

Oh, yeah, often. My next door neighbours know I'm into astronomy and we're amicable. They looked into my scope and were amazed. The ones at the back are, thankfully, hidden behind their hedge. If, at some point, they decide to cut down the hedge, I'll be exposed to a whole array of houses. It might even ruin my astronomy. 

Have you thought about installing a wooden fence along the fence to mitigate that concern? This happened to me and I was so glad to have put a fence up! Good to take control!  :)

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An update: I just heard about this light pollution experiment in the UK. What better motivation or excuse could I possibly need to get out and observe?

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/feb/01/star-count-of-orion-begins-in-attempt-to-uncover-light-pollution

https://www.cpre.org.uk/what-we-do/countryside/dark-skies/star-count-2019

Brilliant!

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25 minutes ago, Taz777 said:

An update: I just heard about this light pollution experiment in the UK. What better motivation or excuse could I possibly need to get out and observe?

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/feb/01/star-count-of-orion-begins-in-attempt-to-uncover-light-pollution

https://www.cpre.org.uk/what-we-do/countryside/dark-skies/star-count-2019

Brilliant!

 

Going off topic. But I make no apology.

Pass these links on to anyone who may be only slightly receptive to recovering our night sky.

Doing anything we can do to recover the sky is the most worthwhile astronomy activity there is.
No posh and expensive scope needed. No university education or special training......

The RSPB has for quite a few years asked the general public to count and identify birds in their gardens to gain a measure of avian population.

David.

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