View Full Version : Teaching beginners the night sky via YouTube

2012-May-14, 09:02 PM
Hi there,

I follow Nicole (@NoisyAstronomer) on Twitter, and saw a tweet she made about this site. I guess I'll just be blunt: I don't know if what I do is a "fit" for the vision/goals of the site, but I'll toss it out there. (To avoid the long version, skip to the end.)

I used to live a stone's throw from Chicago. And by stone's throw, I mean less than three miles from the city limits, which meant that observing most anything in the night sky was limited to 3.0 magnitude stars or brighter. Since realizing that it was far less expensive to live south of the city (literally with cornfields 1/4 mile from my house), I've had far better skies under which to view. But that didn't stop me from being disappointed about light pollution, and wanting to change things. So I first started writing articles for my local newspaper on how to find things easily in the night sky. I wrote them for free, because my goal was to wedge a paragraph or two about light pollution in every month. I even set up a website so that people could have free star maps and other basic info. Unfortunately, they decided that writing for free cost too much.

Well, the website languished for a couple years, until I discovered that there were precious few videos about how to align an equatorial mounted telescope. Using my Communication/Theater skills (and several TV production classes), I wrote and edited a video that provided that much-needed resource, now within spitting distance of 50,000 views. Clearly I'd found a niche that needed filling!

Then it dawned on me: Don't write for local newspapers, write for VIDEO! So over the last 18 months, I have been making "how to" night sky videos, showing people how to simply find things in the sky. I strive in every video to include a naked eye, binoculars, and small telescope object, but I can't always accommodate that. But I do try, and I always, Always, ALWAYS mention light pollution in some way, to highlight the problem, and hopefully effect some change more effectively than one video that 300 people see that just says, "Turn your lights down - thanks." :p I have also added a "Telescope Basics" set of videos that go over the basic types of telescopes, how to calculate magnification, apparent & telescopic fields of view, eyepiece types, finderscopes and barlow lenses. I have a LOT more ideas of things I can add to the site, but as an amateur with a day-job, I can only do so much.

So... long story short: I hope to help professional and amateur astronomers by educating about light pollution via the mechanism of educating about the night sky. Therefore, would these "how to find stuff easily in the night sky" videos be of help to CosmoQuest? My latest videos can be found on the homepage of my site:


and in the "Videos" section:


2012-May-15, 07:47 PM
Thanks, and I'm glad you found our site! This is certainly the kind of thing that we are interested in. I'm on travel right now, but let's set up a time to chat next week when I get back? I will PM you with my contact info.

Aside: I grew up in NYC, so I totally get your light pollution woes. It wasn't until I moved further inland that I could fully appreciate the beauty of the night sky!

2012-May-16, 12:45 AM
I grew up not far from NYC, but far enough away I could see about the same number of stars that I do today from my backyard. Thanks for the PM; I sent contact info to you too. Looking forward to chatting with you.

2012-May-19, 01:58 PM
those are super quality videos Magic612. The production effort you put in really shows.
I learnt everything i know about using scopes and imaging from the internet, so i can vouch that it does work.

2012-May-22, 03:04 PM
those are super quality videos Magic612. The production effort you put in really shows.
I learnt everything i know about using scopes and imaging from the internet, so i can vouch that it does work.

Thanks so much! I appreciate the compliment. I do put a lot of time into them (about 8-12 hours per week). It is always nice when someone acknowledges that. Thank you again. :D