The reply to this keeps 502'ing on me so I will drop it here for kleinbl00
Okay grumpy old man you earned yourself some devil's advocacy.
Your response pissed me the fuck off. Then I sat on top of my hill, and thought about this while watching the smoke from California and Oregon destroying the sky. Since I am camping out in the parking lot of a hospital after my injections, and have wifi access, I'll answer you. I am not nearly as good of a writer as you and I think we talked past each other, so let's see if I can expand our ideas here.
That means the median visual astronomer was 30 years old when the HST went up, and 37 when WFPC2 went online.
You discount the visual astronomers that have died off in the last 30 years. I bring up people don't like space and you reply with the ultimate example of "pretty space picture nobody knows shit about." Why was this picture taken? What question was being asked? Yea Yea Yea first image with the Hubble Palette, whatever. Even here on Hubski, you and I are the only two people that know what "Hubble Palette" means, and I'll get to that in a moment. I've been in a room with Jeff Hestor http://www.jeff-hester.com/about-dr-hester/ and got to talk to him one on one a long time ago when I still gave a shit. He's a fantastic person, he's fighting the good fight for what it is worth. But the person and the idea behind the image means not-a-fucking-thing. Pretty picture on a college dorm, all that matters. PEOPLE DO NOT LIKE SPACE THEY LIKE PRETTY PICTURES
That sounds about right - I was lugging a Coulter 10" Dobsonian around in the back of a Buick Skylark in those years where you could still pretend the ground was relevant. That shining period between billion dollar astigmatism and the Pillars of Creation shot. ... 'cuz I'm sorry - all the SBIG in the world will never fucking compete with that. Not ever. I tried a little game before I started writing this: I googled "most famous Hubble photographs" and "most famous Palomar photographs" and you know what? The Palomar shots are of Palomar.
There are five Messier awards in the Astronomical League Observing programs. https://www.astroleague.org/al/obsclubs/AlphabeticObservingClubs.html I have all of them. I have the Hershell 400 and Hershell 400 (2) awards. I have enough awards to start making a run at the Master Observer certificate if I feel like making that effort. I have used remote telescopes to assist with the confirmation of exoplanets to the point my name is on five scientific papers, and used my own gear back home to track two more that are still being worked on and may finally publish this year. I have a NASA placard on my wall thanking me for engaging in outreach to over 50,000 people. I also have a NASA award for organizing a science campaign during the 2017 eclipse where we rounded up 600 boy scouts to do real data collection backing up the pros in aircraft and satellites that is going to be published this year if not already out. Now that we are done comparing prom gowns and all the other girls think we are pretty, let's cut the bullshit and get to the point.
Oh, and Hubble is in the news at least quarterly, and again PRETTY PICTURES; how many people outside of us even know what the hell Palomar is? People do not like space, they like PRETTY PICTURES.
Ever been to the Griffith Observatory? It's pretty funny reading their plaques trying to justify the place as if it ever did any real science. They pretty much boil down to "we stare at sunspots sometimes." 1.6 million visitors a year, beyotch.
Never been to Griffin, but I've paid for a few nights with the 60" at Mt. Wilson twice. $1500/night for the group. The second evening myself and a few other people used the night to drag some impressive glass up there. I think between the ten of us, we had a combined $25,000 of eyepieces on us. And honestly, I think I had a better view through a 32" Obsession at the star party that got cancelled mentioned above. Of your 1.6 million visitors I wonder how many are there because the Griffin people used to whore themselves out to every movie and TV production they could wedge themselves into. 161 productions according to IMDB. LA is a city of 20 million people, that visitation number is impressive but let's not kid ourselves that the people of Los Angeles give a shit about Griffin, Mt. Wilson or any of these places. What percent of these visitors are out of state tourists?
I remember star parties out in the desert. We had good sky. The Pleiades are a loose cluster from the Sangre de Cristos, they aren't seven sisters. The Milky Way is a naked eye object from under a streetlamp. Rich fuckers, too, with like 12" Meades'n'shit. And what were things pointed at? ... and maybe some rogue crankiwumpus like you insistent on making people look away from the center of the eyepiece so he could claim he showed them M81.
I have data on the state of astronomy clubs across the nation. Clubs with a combined 2700 members in areas representing 36+ million people in the USA. But some few rich people bought a $5000 coat rack they take out a few times a year means Astronomy is healthy? Are you going to seriously make the argument "rich people most effected" to me? Because if that is your argument fuck you and your fucking high horse. YOU.. FUCKING YOU of all people are better than that and I expect better from you. Note the numbers on those clubs. People in astronomy clubs are not even a rounding error on a statistical blip on the long tail. The older guys who did all the work either got Covid and died or noped out because they don't want to deal with the 40% of America that turns out to get its reality from foreign Facebook bullshit memes and flat earth groups. And fuck you, we don't show people galaxies at outreach we show open clusters and globular clusters like M3, M5, M92, M15, M11, M52 etc because those are easy to train someone to see quickly. You pull a "rich people impacted" argument on me of all people then toss around "elitism hur hur?" eat shit.
Now - I didn't drag 50lbs of sonotube above the frost line to stare at planets. I did my dark sky shit, and I enjoyed it. Doodled in notebooks by red light and everything. But I did that shit alone and I didn't expect anyone to come with me. The serious hunting? That shit is solitary. And you yourself, homie, spent half your time photographing and the other half processing. I've seen your shots. The social aspect pretty much demands a trophy. Sure maybe you can get some accolades for your dedication if you describe your adventures but the picture's worth a thousand words. And with the amount of post-processing that's been de rigeur in astronomy since Clyde Fucking Tombaugh, that means an equatorial mount or a steppermotored Dobsonian hack. And that means $$$$$.
Done the visual from dark skies, documented it, have the certificates and notebooks to prove it. Even started on the Urban observing programs because work was killing me and I was unable to travel anywhere. You know why visual observers go into astrophotography? I know 'cause I was one, and talked to dozens if not hundreds who did the same. LIGHT POLLUTION. You know how many people in the USA care about light pollution? NONE. Even the AMA cannot get traction on the idea of overlighting residential neighborhoods is increasing breast cancer rates and has a possible link to the rise in autism. Photography lets me at least pretend that I am doing astronomy even if photos are shit for experiencing the world around us. What would you rather have? Someone looking at nothing put pictures of the Grand Canyon, or actually GOING there and experiencing it. Would you rather have people looking a the moon with their own eyes, or relegate everything to flat images on a screen. I made my choice and walked away from the shit show becasue I see where the world is going; I don't want any part of a society that wants pictures but not the experience.
Try and tell me Stellarvue was selling more than 200 scopes a year ever. I remember when the ex-Soviet Maksutov Cassagrains came out and holy shit you could do planetary astronomy for less than $4k. My family paid $400 a night to go to an astronomy B&B and they couldn't afford a 16" Dobsonian. $22k for a 10" MCT? Hot diggedy damn! You got anything aspirational for little shits like me who saved up half his summer's wages for a cardboard and particle board clunker with a telrad and a $150 Orion focuser?
Six years ago, I got invited to be a part of a focus group, as someone doing outreach and talking to the public. I got to have two days of talks with the folks making beginner telescopes. I think that I am still technically under that NDA, but the telescopes we thought up are now on sale. https://www.celestron.com/products/starsense-explorer-lt-80az They are on mounts that do not suck, the optics are "fine" and just enough tech to make it easy to use. This is what you should be recomending for kids with birthday money, or paper route money etc to get. And no I do not get paid to promote them, never did. Now that Orion owns Meade, I am hoping that the software guys on the Meade side make the Orion stuff better and easier to use. We also promoted the Starblast 4.5" table top reflectors and got some 20 put into the local library system. You almost certainly know that you can get a not-bad beginner telescope for roughly $250 which is a lot of money for someone on minimum income, but doable. You acuse me of eliteism, remember? I'm trying to get people to not buy shitty hobby killing telescopes at Walmart and target, you see to think all there is out there is $10,000 glass.
Know what kills hobbies? Elitism. That's why vinyl still exists, and why skaters are still listening to Dinosaur Jr. 30 years later. That Icona Pop LP you bought at Whole Foods to play on the Salvation Army Technics you paid too much for because you didn't know any better? That's a gateway. So are those shitty Instagram-class Celestrons.
Hobbies die when the people that have been around for a while stop helping the newcomers. Youtube vids are cool and all, but without someone to look at face to face and say "can you help me" you lose the new blood to the learning curve. Write all the checks you want, build all the shit you think you can get. Hell build public accessible observatories like I have done. No volunteers? You are fucked. Chase away the volunteers? Yer fucked. Have a lot of money but nobdy to do the work needed to keep the hobby/club/organization going? You die. Elitism is a minor problem compared to the lack of suckers and fools like I used to be doing all the work cause Duty, Honor, "the Cause," outreach, whatever. When the old greybeards stop attending gatherings, when the old timers like me walk away, when the apathy kicks in, the hoby dies. Make the rewards for doing an incredible amount of shit work not worth the squeeze, and your hobby dies just as dead as "elitism." Insult and berate the people on the ground doing the work, most of whom do it for the love and not much else, and your organization will die.
I'll betcha if you threw another one on the University grounds they'd shut up. Yeah you're right - nobody serious could see anything serious seriously. But nobody following Neil DeGrasse Tyson on Twitter is ready to venture an hour into the hinterlands to pretend they can see Neptune anyway. Couple times *hanging out with their normie buddies? Sipping cocoa and schnapps while staring at things they could legit see through binoculars? That's another matter.
The Devil's advocate question is this: Why the fuck would I do that? The college already showed that they would not back us up, after working with them for TWO FUCKING DECADES where their physics students got extra credit for hanging out with people owning better gear than the bloody university did! All that time of working with them to the point where the star party was a 400ish paying customer event twice a year. What in the HELL makes you think they would step in and help and/or support us in a new adventure? When someone shows me their true colours, and shows me exactly what value they place on my efforts, I remember that. My friends got thrown under a bus for a bunch of idiots chasing social media clout, people that would have forgotten the event even took place as soon as the new thing got more likes and upvotes. The people we worked for free to add value to their students, and asked for nothing in return other than the use of their name to help with the Park Service and the Dept. of the Interior were tossed aside without even an afterthought. Fuck ever associating with people like that ever again. The couple that ran the show since the mid 90's are rumored to put together a very private event with no advertising, no door prizes, no sponsors once the Covid shit is mostly over. The University and its students won't be welcome.
The disconnect here, and this idea hit me in the middle of one of my drives into town to deal with society crap, is that you are not Human. Don't get mad, this is compliment, but I need to dig deep and make sure I am saying what I mean to say with that statement. You and I, and the people on this website are not human. Sure we are all homo sapiens with four limbs, 20 digits, forward facing binocular vision etc, but that "sapiens" part of the name? We are outliers looking in on the human experience. My county has a population of roughly 12K people. The county seat has a population of some 2500 people. There is a library in town, and since librarians are bigger gossips than any bartender I try to befriend them. In June of 2021 the total number of checked out books was under 200. Not 200K, TWO HUNDRED. This includes digital rentals as I specifically asked if there was an uptick during the pandemic. TWO HUNDRED BOOKS A MONTH. Between you and I, I bet we hit that in a typical year. Two people read more in a year than an ENTIRE COUNTY OF PEOPLE do in a month. Now, there are no bookstores in the county, I checked, not even a used book store! It is possible that everyone here, a county where 80% of households are below the poverty line, are buying books online or pirating PDF's, but I've met the neighbors and let's say I have doubts. YOU read more than just about anyone else I've even known, online or off. More importantly, you retain the info you ingest, can process it and explain it to others in context. That skill alone puts you in the top 5% of the smart people in this country. If you last name was gates, or bezos, or Boringoldmoneywhitedude the fourth, you'd have gone to an ivy league, made your business connections and almost certainly be running a Fortune 1000 class company by now. You exist on a level that at times I don't think you understand, maybe you do and just feel guilty or whatever and keep that offline. You and I got the shit rolls on the family dice and had to make due with what we were given. Yet somehow we if not thrived as least did not suck on a shotgun or die of a drug overdose or any other multitude of pitfalls that you and I have shared stories about. We are both retired, and let's be brutally honest here, most people in our generation are NOT going to retire until the last two years of their lives when the body and brain break down from over work and their employer can no longer accommodate their needs, so ship them off to die at home on government health care to keep the health insurance costs low for the rest of the drones in the factory. You and I are talking on a website with maybe 30 active users, four of whom have PhDs in the sciences, and this place is run by two guys using STEM cells to help prolong healthy living, a technology that I bet at most 1 out of 500 people even know exists. How many people know this place exists? 2000? Maybe? When you look at where we are, and where everyone else is, you and I are not even a statistical blip on the very end of the very long tail of human existence. How many people here are into what can be roped into pop culture? None of us, I mean I don't know what a Dinosaur Jr was and had to look it up, some meh band from 30 years ago. Talk to most people and all they spit out is tv shows and movies, and not much else. I could sit here for a few hours and list line item after line item that makes not just you and I but most of the people on this website outside the base human experience. We are "human" by the proxy of our biology, but if we walked into a city council meeting or a PTA meeting, how many people there would we be able to connect with?
The problem you and I both have is that we are in a bubble. Might be different bubbles, but each of the bubbles we exist in protect us from the normal shit normal people go through every day. We can read a book, we can listen to a politicial speach and understand the language about the people they are rallying, but we see this all from the outside. We have the Time, money and privilege to be able to do something that in not directly paying the bills. You can watch your neighbors make poor choices about thier house, but talk about it as an academic exercise to explain the housing market to the rest of us outliers. You get to talk to the rich and wealthy, you mentioned you have had relationships working and otherwise with the famous etc. I've talked to people who have space hardware on the surface of other planets. I can pick up my phone right now and call someone working in mission control for the ISS. Kids I met at outreach events 15 years ago are now building Artemis hardware. This puts me in a VASTLY different head space when it comes to space and astronomy that just about anyone but the guy here that launched satellites earlier this year. Your reply to me really pissed me off until I realized you are coming at this as someone looking in from a 50,000 foot level. Do either one of us really remember what it is like to live on minimum wage? I bet neither of us has 50K in student loan debt. We both own where we live. Neither of us is living paycheck to paycheck. I was homeless living in Truck Center Parking lots off the interstates, and now can barely offer advice from that time nearly four decades ago. We both have expensive esoteric hobbies that the average person cannot comprehend the cost to get into. You can drop a few grand on some widgit thing for your watchmaking and not feel the dread of not eating for a month. Everything about you is outside of a normal human living experience in the current world except your family and upbringing. How many humans do you know that can build a $100K plus milling machine just because they want to fuck around a little bit? Hell, I can't do that, then again I have no income either.
Once I calmed down and actually though about what you wrote, I realize you are not being a cunt just to be a pissant, you are just tone deaf and out of the loop of what is going on at the ground level. Congrats, you won the game.