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Is Astronomy becoming lost to the poorly paid.


Bigwings
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On 12/02/2022 at 17:15, Peter Drew said:

As a 2 quid a week engineering apprentice in 1958 I couldn't even afford a used telescope let alone a new one.  Ended up having to make my own, still look where that got me!      🙂

As a college engineering intern for General Motors in 1986, I was paid $8/hour.  Considering the US Federal minimum wage was $3.35/hour back then, it wasn't that much when you consider I had to pay for a room to live in near Detroit and buy my own food and pay for transportation out of that money.  Since I was paying my way through college, it wasn't like I could just ask my parents for financial help.

The US Federal minimum wage was $1/hour back in 1958, so you were really underpaid, and UK labor laws were pretty lax over there back then.

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2 minutes ago, Louis D said:

As a college engineering intern for General Motors in 1986, I was paid $8/hour.  Considering the US Federal minimum wage was $3.35/hour back then, it wasn't that much when you consider I had to pay for a room to live in near Detroit and buy my own food and pay for transportation out of that money.  Since I was paying my way through college, it wasn't like I could just ask my parents for financial help.

The US Federal minimum wage was $1/hour back in 1958, so you were really underpaid, and UK labor laws were pretty lax over there back then.

Yes, I (and others!) were certainly underpaid financially but the skills I learnt set me up for life in an occupation that I enjoyed every minute of.  And still do after "retirement".      🙂

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37 minutes ago, Louis D said:

Off topic a bit, but don't y'all have outdoor public tennis courts that are free to play on? 

 

Certainly didn't when I was growing up, nor now round here. They exist, but there is a fee to be paid, small(ish) but there you go. Never stopped us playing tennis endlessly every summer! Cricket too, which we played anywhere, where we didn't get chased off! As for golf, growing up in Blackpool, a seaside resort, many used to play golf on the beach, though I doubt that really counts. There was/is a local municipal golf course though, which was affordable. I do believe that  is no longer so affordable. 

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There is no doubt that astronomy is an expensive hobby at any level.  No matter what scope you buy at any price you might as well just tape the credit card to it because there is always going to be something new you are just going to have to have.  

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If by elitist you mean: requiring critical thinking skills, perseverance, resilience and enthusiasm for learning then yes I would agree. And long may that continue - God forbid we ever fall to the instant gratification of the social media/celeb/reality TV, TIK TOK, Instagram  mindset. 

Jim 

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Louis D.. there are free tennis courts, but they are few and far between. It's also rare to see them used. Despite tennis supposedly being one of our national sports, it's played by very few compared to rugby, (proper 😉)football etc. Although that is partly due to image rather than just finances. Moving along, if a particular player is very good, it's incredibly difficult to progress, and that is due to finances and facilities. Unlike football, were a talented mucky faced kid off the street can get a foot in the door.

 

Regarding the recent comments about elitism in amateur astronomy, on the whole I disagree. Generally people are very willing to help, advise and mentor although I do appreciate that may not be everyone's experience and in such a wide reaching hobby, unfortunately not everyone is going to be nice. That's life sadly.

 

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Tennis is a hobby that can be as expensive as you want it to be, so i think the comparison to astronomy is quite good.

Just renting a court and playing with a friend is not really that expensive, even if you do it a couple times a week. Equipment doesn't have to be top tier, really any decent racket and balls will do. But the thing that is expensive is the lessons you will probably want to take, if you have never played tennis, and this is quite expensive and not something i would want to pay out of pocket. I used to play tennis and i got the feeling that there were the casual normal players and then the super enthusiast i-must-get-better types of players and the teaching was mostly focused on pushing everyone to the latter category. There was also a bit of pressure to take more lessons and make tennis my only hobby, which it wasn't at the time so i just quit in the end. I do get the feeling that tennis is a bit of an elite sport if you take it far enough, but if you just play with friends casually then not. Actually come to think of it the logic applies to most sports hobbies i can think of.

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4 hours ago, saac said:

If by elitist you mean: requiring critical thinking skills, perseverance, resilience and enthusiasm for learning then yes I would agree. And long may that continue - God forbid we ever fall to the instant gratification of the social media/celeb/reality TV, TIK TOK, Instagram  mindset. 

Jim 

It's pretty obvious based on turnout at public star party outreach events around here that only a tiny fraction of the population have any interest in amateur astronomy, even in or near big metro areas.  In my experience, those interested tend to be families that want to broaden their kids' experiences or are adults that come from techie backgrounds with an insatiable desire to learn new things.  Elitist perhaps, but many of these same people drive technology forward for the betterment of the other 99% of the population.

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All anybody needs to engage in stargazing is a clear sky above their head and a curiosity to do so; no need for any equipment whatsoever.  Does not get any more egalitarian than that :) 

Jim 

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When I first wanted to get a telescope the setup was around £250, I was on £77 a week before deductions so I kept to my vices, smoking, beer, skittles, discos Fridays and Saturdays, nowt left after that, but today I think we have more disposable income.

I’ve spent a few quid lately on astronomy, but that’s after getting into the game via a financial short track! Working for SCSastro, Keiron McGrath. 
I certainly couldn’t afford it at the time as I’ve just had gone through a divorce and with the csa involved I was having to live on £26 a week!

But I have other hobbies too, Paragliding, which is now at an end, RC aircraft , have a whole room filled to the brim! Need to sell them to be honest.

Now then, telescopes, if looked after, will last you for the rest of your life, so chose one( or two) to accompany you.

I’m the only member of my club so have no subs to pay, keeps things cheap, oh! I also have 3D printers to play with and have printed a few items for my Astro hobby. I’m no rich man, monetary or academically but I get by and hopefully will remain in this hobby of ours for a lot longer yet.

In relation to other hobbies, costs are very much in what you want to spend.

Just to add, the list below only has two items that I bought brand new, and that was because I had sold other Astro items to pay for them, I’m certainly not in the group that the title suggests.

chaz

 

Edited by Chaz2b
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22 hours ago, Carl Au said:

I think it’s considerably more elitist than it was not so very long ago

Personally I think there will always be case of elitism in any hobby.   I remember 20 years when RC transmitters used 35 mhz the JRx3810 was the HEQ8 of its day.   I paid out the £600 or so for one... A nice transmitter but did it make me personally fly the helicopters any better than a £150 Futaba ?  - No !  But it did give out the message that I was serious about the hobby, and I admit it did give me a feeling of being "in that club" for want of a better phrase.   I mean is there any difference in the basic fundamentals between a Ford Focus and a Ferrari? - they both have 4 wheels to run on, an engine to power it and seats on which to sit on... but one cost 10x the other and has a reputation for performance.  I think its the same with astro gear.  A Tak will take an image of a DSO much the same as my 200P, but the performance of the Tak and the precision of the mount makes the process less stressful and the results probably (definitely) superior.  I wouldn't say that anyone owning a £20000 Tak rig is an elitist, but they certainly get respect from others much the same way a Ferrari draws a crowd of envious onlookers.   But seeing some videos on Youtube, owning a Ferrari doesn't  necessary make them a better driver....

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As a bit of a lurker here, I don't see any eliteism at all. I see folks spending wildly different amounts of money on a shared passion, all willing to offer up their advice, enthusiasm and experiences. To me at least, it seems like the very opposite of eliteism and it's incredibly refreshing to see.

 

On the subject of how expensive it is, again I see a wealth of relatively cheap / affordable observing equipment and the usual technological improvements in imaging equipment making stuff more accessible, not less accessible. Sure, the recent supply chain issues don't help but over all it looks to me (as a relative newbie) that things are moving in a healthy direction

 

One real issue is the ever-expanding light pollution that makes astronomy harder and harder for those living in cities and suburbs, which I suppose can end up making it more expensive / less accessible

Edited by mr_belowski
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I must say I have seen some "equipment snobbery" at times, frequently from the "all the gear and no idea" crowd, but by and large people tend to be very encouraging of those just starting out in the field. I always find it is amazing to see what some people get from very modest kit (apart from mere enjoyment). I think the EQ3 DSO Challenge thread is a case in point, loads of great images obtained with a simple mount can be found there.

 

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  • 1 month later...
On 12/02/2022 at 09:57, cajen2 said:

And don't even get me started on marine reefkeeping, where even a modest 90cm tank plus equipment runs into several thousand....each fish or coral that you buy is £50-£100+ ..... and the electricity / maintenance costs a fortune too.

One of the things that convinced me to sell my reef tank was the loss of a Flame Angel who somehow got sucked into the intake for the trickle filter. Back in 1992 he was £55, dread to think what they cost now!

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I think it's happening to all hobbies.  Model railways is just as expensive, if not more so than astronomy.  These days the manufactures are concentrating on realism and detail, producing fine detailed, weathered locos with sound that has been recorded from a real full sized loco of that class.  These often cost in the region of £300 - £400.  By the time you've added a rake of coaches costing £50 a pop you can have upwards of a £1000 running round the track.  And that is just one train.....  Gone are the days where model trains was a hobby for a child....

As for flame angels.... £199 example  - I remember getting the one for my tank from a local retailer for £30 around 6 years ago !!

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