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American Astronomical Society to Recognize Amateurs


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A new initiative to include amateurs in the professional organization is being launched at the American Astronomical Society's 237th Meeting, 10-13 January 2021. In 2016, Amateur status was added to the membership categories. Now, the AAS is extending its initiatives for inclusion by actively seeking engagement at the conferences. Ahead of that, an ad hoc committee of correspondence was launched by several AAS members. We held our first meeting online on 16 December.
 
Speaking to the group, AAS publicist Rick Fienberg underscored the fact that when the AAS was founded in 1899 a significant fraction were amateurs. However, the birth of astro-physics with spectroscopy meant that by the early 20th century the communities already were diverging. Amateurs fell away. Then, by the 1990s, amateurs were equipped with CCD cameras, spectrographs, and now are doing good science in collaboration with professionals. It made sense for the AAS to open its arms to the amateurs in 2016. Now we have 300 Amateur Affiliates. Also, the AAS recently purchased Sky & Telescope magazine. That being as it may, the AAS opened the membership to amateurs ahead of a defined rationale. So, in the summer of 2019, the Board of Directors created a task force to develop a coherent set of programs and benefits.

An 8 August 2018 press release said:
As long as amateurs do not depend on the field of astronomy as a primary source of income or support, they are now welcome to join the AAS as Amateur Affiliates.

Applicants are required to be a member of an affiliated organization, such as an astronomy club that belongs to the Astronomical League; the Association of Lunar and Planetary Observers (ALPO); the Astronomical Society of the Pacific (ASP); the American Association of Variable Star Observers (AAVSO); the Society for Astronomical Sciences (SAS); the International Meteor Organization (IMO); the International Occultation Timing Association (IOTA); the Society of Amateur Radio Astronomers (SARA); or the Citizen Science Association, to name a few.

Dues for Amateur Affiliates will be $52 for 2019. Inaugural benefits include reduced registration fees to AAS meetings, access to the AAS family of journals, and the annual AAS Wall Calendar. Additional programs and opportunities are expected for this group once a critical mass is established for survey and feedback purposes.

The Session Notes from the Convention Schedule
Jan 14 2021 6:50PM
 Amateur Astronomers Meet & Greet
"Recognizing the increasingly important role of backyard stargazers in astronomical research, science advocacy, and public outreach, the AAS recently created a new membership class: Amateur Affiliate. Subsequently the Society became the owner/publisher of Sky & Telescope after the magazine’s former owner went out of business. As 2021 begins, the AAS has about 300 Amateur Affiliate members. Many of them, as well as many S&T readers and other amateur astronomers who haven’t yet joined the Society, have registered to attend AAS 237. If you’re among them, please join us for this virtual get-together. (Others interested in meeting an engaged group of astronomy enthusiasts are welcome too!) In addition to getting to know each other, we’ll hear from Rick Fienberg, AAS Press Officer and former S&T Editor in Chief, about how the AAS plans to bring professional and amateur astronomers closer together for our mutual benefit. You’ll also have an opportunity to offer your own ideas about how the AAS can be more supportive and encouraging to amateur astronomers."

======================
Michael E. Marotta, BS, MA.
Assistant Editor
History of Astronomy Division 
American Astronomical Society

Vice President
Austin Astronomical Society

Member: BAA, ASP, SPA
=====================
 

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Throughout history there have been amateurs that were right up there with the best professionals, except they don't get paid and have to fund their research using ingenuity and limited finance.  Today

I view it as more of a spirit of collaboration and I’ve many positive experiences of pro-am collaboration in the field of variable star astronomy.  Looking at who stands to gain more in a collaborat

...and when the outcome is reached it isn’t a larger feather in the cap of the pro? As a retired professional scientist I’ve seen both sides of the door. An eager, talented and knowledgeable amat

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Well since the RAS has been doing this since its beginning I am not sure why the AAS is trying to extend its tentackles over here. The BAA has also been working closely with professionals for the majority of its existence.

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50 minutes ago, icpn said:

Well since the RAS has been doing this since its beginning I am not sure why the AAS is trying to extend its tentackles over here. The BAA has also been working closely with professionals for the majority of its existence.

We have quite a few members who are USA / Canada based on this forum though so the AAS would be more relevant to them :smiley:

 

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16 minutes ago, theropod said:

I find that more often than not amateurs gain less from collaboration than involved professionals no matter the field of endeavor.

I view it as more of a spirit of collaboration and I’ve many positive experiences of pro-am collaboration in the field of variable star astronomy. 
Looking at who stands to gain more in a collaboration is setting out on the wrong foot.

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Throughout history there have been amateurs that were right up there with the best professionals, except they don't get paid and have to fund their research using ingenuity and limited finance.  Today, amateurs astronomers in that category are probably greater in number, and so may well be able to contribute significantly. They are also very happy to pay to be members of organizations that they may gain very little from personally. So the AAS may be right up their street.  Others like me, don't get involved in anything too deeply, and flit and flirt with any aspect of astronomy that floats our boat this week. Next week we might be studying something entirely different. Not sure I like the idea of having to pay to join one organisation just so I can pay to be affiliated to another. 

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40 minutes ago, JeremyS said:

I view it as more of a spirit of collaboration and I’ve many positive experiences of pro-am collaboration in the field of variable star astronomy. 
Looking at who stands to gain more in a collaboration is setting out on the wrong foot.

Not looking at this aspect is self serving for those that do get the most out of such a collaborative effort.

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11 minutes ago, theropod said:

Not looking at this aspect is self serving for those that do get the most out of such a collaborative effort.

Looking at who gets the most out of a pro-am collaboration is a recipe for unhappiness. The question is how can each side contribute to the outcome. The outcome may be many things, including scientific results and enjoyment (this is a hobby for most, after all).

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...and when the outcome is reached it isn’t a larger feather in the cap of the pro?

As a retired professional scientist I’ve seen both sides of the door. An eager, talented and knowledgeable amateur, no matter how vital his/her contribution, is nearly always denied the credit due them. Meanwhile the pro gets another bullet point on the resume, and his/her career is furthered. Excuse my cynicism, but I’ve seen this play out in several fields of study. Pros are not immune to human frailty/fault in any field, and nearly all of us are self serving. If the amateur’s ultimate benefit from such collaboration is less than that of the pro how can anyone NOT see the inequality inherit to such relationships?

Of course not all pros will exploit amateurs, but the base of the scenario is one where the pro is automatically placed as the leader, and such is rife with opportunity. Unless a partnership of equality is pre-established the pro-am setting automatically becomes one where the pro gains the most. The pro is being paid for his/her time, while the amateur is (usually) self funded. Isn’t that a clear and present advantage, and benefit, only the pro will enjoy?


All I’m doing is playing devil’s advocate. Everything is not a bed of roses in the real world, and just wishing for a level playing field isn’t a indictment of professionalism. Professional astronomers are no less prone to human frailty than anyone else.

I’ve seen the decades long efforts of amateur paleontologist outright ripped off, belittled and dismissed out of hand. Horner (of egg mountain fame) didn’t do any of the leg work to find what put him “on the map”, and he sure didn’t object when issued an honorary doctorate as a result. 

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I suspect, given the demographic, that we are experienced/old enough to make our own judgements on joining a collaboration or not. Personally,  I am a lone wolf by instinct but have made contributions to the HOYS project in the short summer nights. While, they acknowledge all who contribute data, I can't say it matters much to me. I did it as I felt like it.

Regards Andrew 

 

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26 minutes ago, andrew s said:

I suspect, given the demographic, that we are experienced/old enough to make our own judgements on joining a collaboration or not. Personally,  I am a lone wolf by instinct but have made contributions to the HOYS project in the short summer nights. While, they acknowledge all who contribute data, I can't say it matters much to me. I did it as I felt like it.

Regards Andrew 

 

...and yet “grown-ups” elected a tyrannt over here...

My point, which seems to be sailing well over many heads here, is that I don’t see how paying to be used is a reflection of stupendous judgement skills. Neither am I saying this will be the eventuality.

I suppose I should just come out and say it. This looks for all the world to be a money grab attempt. Pay your dues, even though we have excluded you and your ilk for decades, and keep your mouth shut. If there is no room for the notion to be challenged the notion is dogma. Does dogma have a place in science? Has money not motivated many with “good intentions” to screw over the little guy all too often in the past? One wonders why amateurs were ever excluded If they can provide such valuable input. Seriously, nobody else smells the spoilage of fish? 

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2 hours ago, theropod said:

which seems to be sailing well over many heads here,

Sorry, I'm just probably a bit thick  🙂

3 hours ago, theropod said:

The pro is being paid for his/her time, while the amateur is (usually) self funded

 

2 hours ago, theropod said:

world to be a money grab attempt

I don’t see how paying to be used is a reflection

Payment/money is only one part of the consideration, surely? Therefore it surely can't trump everything else (sorry about the pun).

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12 minutes ago, theropod said:

...and yet “grown-ups” elected a tyrannt over here...

My point, which seems to be sailing well over many heads here, is that I don’t see how paying to be used is a reflection of stupendous judgement skills. Neither am I saying this will be the eventuality.

We are a special subset of all "grown-ups".

Clearly not totally immune to stupidity as we spend a fortune on kit the weather conspires to stop us using.

I did understand your point but failure to agree does not necessarily equate to lack of understanding. 

Regards Andrew 

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8 minutes ago, theropod said:

...and yet “grown-ups” elected a tyrannt over here...

My point, which seems to be sailing well over many heads here, is that I don’t see how paying to be used is a reflection of stupendous judgement skills. Neither am I saying this will be the eventuality.

I suppose I should just come out and say it. This looks for all the world to be a money grab attempt. Pay your dues, even though we have excluded you and your ilk for decades, and keep your mouth shut. If there is no room for the notion to be challenged the notion is dogma. Does dogma have a place in science? Has money not motivated many with “good intentions” to screw over the little guy all too often in the past? One wonders why amateurs were ever excluded If they can provide such valuable input. Seriously, nobody else smells the spoilage of fish? 

(engage sarcasm) But ... for $52 p.a.  you can let everyone know you are an actual Amateur Affiliate of the AAS ! And you get a 'free' calendar ! (disengage sarcasm)

Call me cynical ( I prefer 'realist' ) but that bit about the owners of 'Sky & Telescope' going bust and them buying it out ... could that be a clue to why a new revenue stream needs tapping ?

Heather

 

 

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1 hour ago, andrew s said:

We are a special subset of all "grown-ups".

Clearly not totally immune to stupidity as we spend a fortune on kit the weather conspires to stop us using.

I did understand your point but failure to agree does not necessarily equate to lack of understanding. 

Regards Andrew 

It’s not a matter of agreement with me or not, Andrew. It’s a matter of ignoring my point(s) and acting as if I hadn’t made any. That was what brought about the point sailing high comment. I don’t give a stuffed goose if anyone agrees with me or not. My goal isn’t an anti AAS dismantling. I’m just attempting to point out what should be bloody obvious. Y’all might trust that only good and honorable intentions are at work here, and the world rarely, if ever, works like that. I honestly feel the whole thing is an attempt to sweep in a large hunk of cash in a hurry, and dangling the carrot of pro-am cooperation as an extra incentive.

We just couldn’t be blinded by bias because the subject is so close to home, could we?

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@theropod, I was not intentionally trying to ignore your points. I was just commenting that we can make our own judgements.  You clearly feel strongly about this but generally I try not to assign motive (good or bad) without evidence.

I will decline to comment further.

Regards Andrew 

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2 hours ago, JeremyS said:

Sorry, I'm just probably a bit thick  🙂

 

Payment/money is only one part of the consideration, surely? Therefore it surely can't trump everything else (sorry about the pun).

Well I didn't like to say Jeremy.  But now it's out in the open...:laugh2:

Only joking of course!!

More seriously though is the fact I'm just too tight ££££££ 

 

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" ultimate benefit from such collaboration is less than that of the pro how can anyone NOT see the inequality inherit to such relationships?"

I think we all measure inequality differently . More so when as an amateur we have freely entered into such a relationship with no obligation, coercion nor promise of reward.  If it is "credit" we seek then indeed should we be amateurs?  As non amateurs are we ready to forgo the loss of reputation potentially income  when we next publish our latest great work only to find we left the lens cap on 🤣 I don't begrudge the professionals anything, but if they give me some insight to their world I would be both interested and grateful; when I've had enough I can walk away without carrying the pressures of their work - I have my own  :) 

Jim  

 

 

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The AAS seems to be restricted to US members?

Many amateurs already submit data to various ProAm spectroscopic campaigns.

Their work is recognized by the professionals.

 

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I posted this here because it is interesting on its own merits as news. I do not speak for the AAS and I have no "tentacles" to extend. Having started the topic, allow me to respond as possible or necessary to as much as was posted in reply. Zeroeth, however, I did "heart" everything because I believe in dialog and discussion as a means of supporting the community of which I am a member. 

On 10/01/2021 at 04:35, icpn said:

Well since the RAS has been doing this since its beginning I am not sure why the AAS is trying to extend its tentackles over here. The BAA has also been working closely with professionals for the majority of its existence.

The viewpoint of the AAS is that amateurs chose to not join. The AAS also underscores the fact that technical hardware often separated us from them. Now, that has changed. Over the years, amateurs always could join the AAS. It was just that they had various "affiliate" niches to put themselves into and now Amateur Affliliate is a designation.

On 10/01/2021 at 05:27, John said:

We have quite a few members who are USA / Canada based on this forum though so the AAS would be more relevant to them :smiley:

It is not a matter of scouring for members as telling the news. The AAS is a large organization. It's doings are relevant to any who care to know, otherwise not. Myself, we all like "space travel" but the internal doings of the ESA are less interesting to me. So, I understand your point of view.

On 10/01/2021 at 07:44, JeremyS said:

I view it as more of a spirit of collaboration and I’ve many positive experiences of pro-am collaboration in the field of variable star astronomy. 
Looking at who stands to gain more in a collaboration is setting out on the wrong foot.

See the comments below. "Gain" can be subjective. If you are self-motivated, if self-actualization is important, then the laurels from others carry less weight than if you are dependent on their good will for your advancment or self-esteem.

On 10/01/2021 at 07:54, mikeDnight said:

Throughout history there have been amateurs that were right up there with the best professionals, except they don't get paid and have to fund their research using ingenuity and limited finance.  Today, amateurs astronomers in that category are probably greater in number, and so may well be able to contribute significantly. They are also very happy to pay to be members of organizations that they may gain very little from personally. So the AAS may be right up their street.  Others like me, don't get involved in anything too deeply, and flit and flirt with any aspect of astronomy that floats our boat this week. Next week we might be studying something entirely different. Not sure I like the idea of having to pay to join one organisation just so I can pay to be affiliated to another. 

Well, that is the significant point, is it not. I mean, until the late 19th or 20th centuries, astronomy was an amateur pursuit. In some cases, astronomers had patrons whether the crown or the state, and then the universities. But many people just financed their own efforts.

On 10/01/2021 at 08:26, theropod said:

Not looking at this aspect is self serving for those that do get the most out of such a collaborative effort.

I have different definition of self-interest and self-service. If you depend on other people, then self-interest can be challenging to define. If you are truly selfish in the sense of Aristotlean eudaimonia, then what other people do is of less concern. 

On 10/01/2021 at 08:41, JeremyS said:

Looking at who gets the most out of a pro-am collaboration is a recipe for unhappiness. The question is how can each side contribute to the outcome. The outcome may be many things, including scientific results and enjoyment (this is a hobby for most, after all).

I agree, of course. I do see the other side, also. And I have to nod to the fact that when amateurs fund their own efforts so that professionals can get ahead in their careers, it seems unfair. But, as I said above, that worry over the status of others is not truly self-directed.

On 10/01/2021 at 09:42, theropod said:

...and when the outcome is reached it isn’t a larger feather in the cap of the pro?

As a retired professional scientist I’ve seen both sides of the door. An eager, talented and knowledgeable amateur, no matter how vital his/her contribution, is nearly always denied the credit due them. ...  All I’m doing is playing devil’s advocate. ... I’ve seen the decades long efforts of amateur paleontologist outright ripped off, belittled and dismissed out of hand. Horner (of egg mountain fame) didn’t do any of the leg work to find what put him “on the map”, and he sure didn’t object when issued an honorary doctorate as a result. 

Paleontology and archaeology are notorious for using amateurs as unpaid labor. I see astronomy as being more akin to numismatics in how amateurs and professionals both advance the study.

(to be continued)

 

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(continuing...) But to return to the first point: 

On 10/01/2021 at 04:35, icpn said:

Well since the RAS has been doing this since its beginning I am not sure why the AAS is trying to extend its tentackles over here. The BAA has also been working closely with professionals for the majority of its existence.

There is no "here" here. For the early to mid-19th century the primary place to publish was Astronomische Nachrichten, whether or not you were from somewhere in "Germany" which was not even nation-state back then, and whether or not your report was in German. To draw a parallel between astronomy and numismatics again, I read festschrifts and other anthologies that are in multiple languages, regardless of who publishes them. Moreover, while it was true for some time that if you lived in the UK you were more likely to attend a BAA conference than cross the pond to an RASC or AAS conclave, that is no longer true. The Covid crisis only brought the online media to the fore. Email lists, Usenet, etc., all have been around for 35-40 years or more.

1134154120_ScreenShot2021-01-12at4_45_02AM.png.9ad7d5c2b64a1df222fb6666248667f8.png

As you can see, there is no requirement to be in America and the Amateur Affiliate is just one such status. Just about every serious society I know of has such tiers and sets. 

On 10/01/2021 at 10:04, andrew s said:

Personally,  I am a lone wolf by instinct but have made contributions to the HOYS project in the short summer nights. While, they acknowledge all who contribute data, I can't say it matters much to me. I did it as I felt like it.

I feel pretty much the same way. One taxonomy I like is the alpha-beta-gamma-omega of social animals. We know the alpha-leaders. They need beta-followers. But every gene pool depends on gammas, those who ride or roam the edges and move from one group to another, bringing in new material (ideas, here), and preventing in-breeding. Omegas are non-participants, hardcore loners. 

I am working on an article about "astonomy as a collecting hobby" because of the parallels that I find between this and numismatics or philatelics. In all of them, we are alone looking at things through lenses. They appeal to people on the autism spectrum who love to categorize and count. Asperger called the children he studied his "ittle professors" for their penchant for acquiring arcana. Think of how kids who supposedly have a hard time in school love learning the tongue-twisting names of dinosaurs. Anyway... I find that here in myself and others.

On 10/01/2021 at 10:42, theropod said:

My point, which seems to be sailing well over many heads here, is that I don’t see how paying to be used is a reflection of stupendous judgement skills. Neither am I saying this will be the eventuality.

I suppose I should just come out and say it. This looks for all the world to be a money grab attempt. Pay your dues, even though we have excluded you and your ilk for decades, and keep your mouth shut. If there is no room for the notion to be challenged the notion is dogma. Does dogma have a place in science? Has money not motivated many with “good intentions” to screw over the little guy all too often in the past? One wonders why amateurs were ever excluded If they can provide such valuable input. Seriously, nobody else smells the spoilage of fish? 

That is all pretty harsh @theropod. First of all, the AAS says: "Our membership of about 7,700 individuals also includes physicists, mathematicians, geologists, engineers, and others whose research and educational interests lie within the broad spectrum of subjects now comprising the astronomical sciences." So, the 300 amateur affiliates are  3/77 or under 4% of the total. And they always could have been members with other designations. The AA program is at a greatly reduced price, also. So, this is not "a money grab."

I will agree with you that the AAS is hierarchically organized and headquartered in the nation's political capital, not its largest city. This initiative was launched in 2016. Two years later the board decided to make a program out of it and it was another year before they formed a committee. But, you get that with any complex organization. The Royal Society is probably the paradigm. The BAAS was founded to provide access to science to people - women - who were denied membership in the offical club. 

On 10/01/2021 at 10:59, JeremyS said:

Payment/money is only one part of the consideration, surely? Therefore it surely can't trump everything else (sorry about the pun).

The basic motivation as I understand it was the realization that for 20 years or more amateurs had been using the very same equipment and instruments as professionals and sometimes better. Amateurs do not need to get committee approval for a budgeted item in a fiscal year. We just buy whatever we want. Anyway, the AAS came to understand that any previous distinctions between "scientists" and "stargazers" no longer applied. And as above, the small numbers and lowered cost of admission deny the claim that this is about money.

On 10/01/2021 at 11:05, Tiny Clanger said:

(engage sarcasm) But ... for $52 p.a.  you can let everyone know you are an actual Amateur Affiliate of the AAS ! And you get a 'free' calendar ! (disengage sarcasm) Call me cynical ( I prefer 'realist' ) but that bit about the owners of 'Sky & Telescope' going bust and them buying it out ... could that be a clue to why a new revenue stream needs tapping ? Heather

Actually, Clanger, Sky & Telescope did not go bust. Their holding company did. You can read the history in Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sky_%26_Telescope#History The fact is F+W was the previous owner and they filed for bankruptcy, but Sky & Tel was profitable on its own. The reality of business accounting is that assets and liabilities must balance. When you take money, you assume a burden of delivery. Every asset represents an obligation. So, the question for the AAS board was: "What now?" They bought Sky&Tel to rescue it. The Amateur Affliate program was already in place.

On 10/01/2021 at 14:19, saac said:

" ultimate benefit from such collaboration is less than that of the pro how can anyone NOT see the inequality inherit to such relationships?"

I think we all measure inequality differently . More so when as an amateur we have freely entered into such a relationship with no obligation, coercion nor promise of reward.  If it is "credit" we seek then indeed should we be amateurs?  ... I don't begrudge the professionals anything, but if they give me some insight to their world I would be both interested and grateful; when I've had enough I can walk away without carrying the pressures of their work - I have my own  :)

We agree on that much. I wrote up a "credo" about being an amateur and you hit on one point. We set our own goals. We can walk in and walk away. Professionals cannot change their research programs because their funding is tied to it. I agree also that the benefit to me in the pro-am collaboration is working with someone who can teach me something. We do that all the time in our own clubs anyway. 

On 10/01/2021 at 14:37, Merlin66 said:

The AAS seems to be restricted to US members? Many amateurs already submit data to various ProAm spectroscopic campaigns. Their work is recognized by the professionals.

See above, the AAS is not restricted to US members and professional off-shore can join at a lower rate. Several pro-am initiatves have been running for several years. It has been a fact that the databases (data warehouses) have more images and other recorded signals than the professionals can process. And many self-direct hobbyist scientists jump at the opportunity. 

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I wrote this and sent it to the six AAS amateurs who formed the first core group to discuss our status as Affiliates within the Society. I have received no replies.

The Amateur’s Credo

My love of astronomy is its own justification.
I am motivated to practice the science of astronomy by my enjoyment of the activity.

I choose my own research projects.
I can change (or abandon) my research programs, goals, and methods.
My funding and my spending are my own.
I schedule my own time.
I choose my own instruments and equipment.
I schedule my own instruments and equipment.
I choose when and how to share my instruments or equipment. 

My amateur colleagues and I call each other by our first names. We also have cool usernames. 

I do not need approval from anyone to engage in and practice astronomy.
My advancement does not depend on approval from another person or group.
When I publicize my work, peer review is after the fact, not as permission to publish.
My publications stand on their own merit, independent of my name or ascribed status.

My learning is continuous and informal, an integrated aspect of my life and lifestyle.
I decide when and how to extend my knowledge, drawing from an open market of learning platforms including self-paced and self-directed studies offered by accredited organizations. I also benefit from public libraries and bookstores. Through social media, I ask questions. My love of the learning is its own justification, motivation, and reward.

 

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On 10/01/2021 at 15:42, theropod said:

...and when the outcome is reached it isn’t a larger feather in the cap of the pro?

As a retired professional scientist I’ve seen both sides of the door. An eager, talented and knowledgeable amateur, no matter how vital his/her contribution, is nearly always denied the credit due them. Meanwhile the pro gets another bullet point on the resume, and his/her career is furthered. Excuse my cynicism, but I’ve seen this play out in several fields of study. Pros are not immune to human frailty/fault in any field, and nearly all of us are self serving. If the amateur’s ultimate benefit from such collaboration is less than that of the pro how can anyone NOT see the inequality inherit to such relationships?

If it is a freely entered-into joint enterprise then I don't see a significant inequality. If you don't like the expected rewards, and this applies both to professionals and amateurs, don't join in.

I have been in pro-am relationships in molecular spectroscopy, computational number theory, and in photometric astronomy. My reward, which more than satisfies me, is the intellectual stimulation and the co-authorship on papers published in the professional journals. I truly don't care about not being paid, nor that the professionals can use my help to advance their own careers.

Edited by Xilman
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As mentioned above paleontology and archeology are rife with exploiting amateurs, and that’s exactly why I have issues. Yes, I understand these are my issues alone.

What’s worse is often these amateurs pay to be exploited! I have both been the admin of such and participated as the “volunteer”. Our museum didn’t have a reliable/continuing revenue stream, and the yearly summer dig program was a big boost. We openly fessed-up that this influx of cash was critically vital.

Interestingly many of our “volunteers”, although never seeing a dinosaur bone still in the ground, required very little guidance in their techniques. Most had put in the time to learn as much as possible prior to showing up with a rock hammer. In the end my hopes and expectations for each “volunteer” was to come away with the knowledge that they had made a concrete contribution to the efforts.

Try to forgive my cynicism. The state of my nation has me skeptical of anything and everything. Covid fatigue is also at play with me. I’m sick and tired of denialist and cultists being the direct cause of needless death and suffering. Yep, I’m angry that uneducated rhetoric is driving critical thinking into the ditch, and that questioning motives is seen as unpatriotic. So, sorry for the spillover here.  I’ve challenged authority my entire life, and have the bank account to prove it.

 

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I think that many amateurs look at the bigger picture and are more than happy to have the opportunity to contribute to our over all understanding, even if they are asked to pay for the privilege. I'm not sure that's really exploiting the amateur, but more reasonably making clever use of an available resource. An example of this would be the relationship between the AAVSO and Leslie C. Peltier, arguably one of the greatest variable star observers of all time. Leslie paid to be a member of the AAVSO and contributed throughout his life to that organization. Was he exploited? Not at all - it actually added to his enjoyment of his hobby, and even helped to fuel his enthusiasm. He also benefited greatly from the relationship in that the AAVSO loaned him two wonderful refractors during his life. The first being a 4" F15 Mogey refractor and the second a beautiful 6" F8 comet seeker.

Edited by mikeDnight
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