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Transit of Venus-a cautionary tale

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Transit of Venus-a cautionary tale was created by johnomahony

The following thread is on the Ice in Space boards. It is quite funny really but a reminder that you need to be careful what you write on a forum like this. Just because astronomy is not a main stream subject (like football, politics etc) for the general public does not mean that your comments are not seen and in this case published in a local newspaper.

www.iceinspace.com.au/forum/showthread.php?t=92089

www.townsvillebulletin.com.au/article/20...6/339021_skeney.html
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Last edit: 10 years 5 months ago by johnomahony.
10 years 5 months ago #94294

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Replied by dmolloy on topic Re: Transit of Venus-a cautionary tale

Yes, sad really, The attitude of most of the media in Ireland is probably the same, Ireland as a "modern" technologically advanced nation have done little to engender an interest in science or astronomy - so the prevailing view of both public and media is ignorance.....I would not be surprised if that journalist was the type who read her weekly newspaper horoscope :laugh:
after all....the number of astrologers outnumber astronomers 10/1 :s
10 years 5 months ago #94297

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  • DeirdreKelleghan
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Replied by DeirdreKelleghan on topic Re: Transit of Venus-a cautionary tale

OH my oh my that is very funny , god love her she needs a chill pill :-)
Perhaps a night out ? under the stars in preference would help to bring relaxation and peace of mind
to the poor lost soul :laugh:

Re the venus Transit , a visually beautiful event sadly lost to most Irish eyes, would have loved a h alpha sketch moment however small it was.

:scope: Looking up is good for the human condition
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10 years 5 months ago #94299

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Replied by dmcdona on topic Re: Transit of Venus-a cautionary tale

It's an interesting thread with some interesting contributions and it *does* raise some questions that astronomers (and scientists in general) have never really got to grips with in terms of communication to the general public.

For example, many people still believe the Moon landings were a hoax conjured up in a Hollywood basement. Many people believe that the Mayan's predicted the end of the world in a few short months from now.

I think the article the journalist wrote was actually pretty well put together and to be honest, I actually can see why she would write what she did. After all, many people would have rather more pressing priorities in their lives right now than getting excited about the ToV.

Looking at it another way, Thursday of last week saw a large proportion of the Country getting excited by a sporting fixture. Way more than getting excited by the ToV. But even in the world of sport, I'd imagine rather less people tuned in to listen to another fixture yesterday morning where in fact, the odds of a victory for the Ireland team were significantly greater - and indeed proved to be so...

One other comparison - Katie Taylor. Nuff said.

The independant media will report whatever they feel the people want to be reported. Other elements of the media will report what they want to report and put a particularly positive or negative spin on it according to their affiliations.

In this case, this journalist has given her opinion. However, note that the right-of-reply is given at the bottom of the article. I'm sure a concise and lucid explanation from a keen astronomer as to why the ToV was impressive would have gone a long way. Instead, posts were made on a forum that were pretty harsh - and the journalist read and then reported them. Talk abouting shooting yourself in the foot...

For astronomy to persuade mainstream media that it is a subject deserving of a slice of people's busy lives, we need to educate the journalists first. But lambasting them on boards is hardly going to endear them to astronomy - and worse, scientists in general. And that's a major opportunity lost...
10 years 5 months ago #94300

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Replied by manic_dave on topic Re: Transit of Venus-a cautionary tale

My view on it for what its worth, this lady has an excellent editor. Who has an eye for publicity and has gotten a few percent on circulation in a time when Newspaper circulations are about 25% down on this time 4 years ago. good job.

As for what she said, I found it very funny. After all we all did get up at 4am in case the clouds lifted in IRELAND! Had someone on Have I Got News For You, come out with that it would have been taken very well.

As for the points raised about the attitude to Astronomy in the Irish Media.

Firstly the media are only interested in a subject if it has sales potential, and lets face it, in this interest what excites does not to 70% of the population.

However, lets look at the success of Brian Cox in the UK, he has added personality and little sexiness to the subject ( my wife tells me its his eyes!! i dont know ).

So what can we do here in Ireland.

First we need to look at where the media goes for its information for Astronomy. Are we happy this is a fair representation of our clubs in this country?

What are doing to make the subject appealing to the general populist?
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10 years 5 months ago #94301

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Replied by mykc on topic Re: Transit of Venus-a cautionary tale

I agree with the previous post. Much of the stuff on Ice in Space was totally out of order. The journalist found the ToV boring and wrote a light hearted article. In response, she is told that she could have been "a syphilitic fish-wife" and that "she is either a dope or she's being intentionally controversial". Personalised attacks like that are off limits. Not all the posters took that line of course, and in her response the journalist did not properly acknowledge the people who took a considered view. However, she was right to round on the intolerance of some of the critics.

I think that a better approach would be to try to explain why some of us found the event fascinating, without denigrating the majority who have other concerns. Most of the people I mentioned it to showed no more than a passing interest in the transit, no more than I have in the latest production of La Traviata. Let's stick to attempting to communicate the wonders of astronomy and science, and not resort to bully-boy tactics.

Mike
Skywatcher 120 mm ED on a CG5 mount.
10 years 5 months ago #94302

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Replied by dave_lillis on topic Re: Transit of Venus-a cautionary tale

yea, those posters went way over the top.
But lets face it, to the general public its a rather boring/so what event, only special cos its so rare.
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Last edit: 10 years 5 months ago by dave_lillis.
10 years 5 months ago #94303

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Replied by dmcdona on topic Re: Transit of Venus-a cautionary tale

Brian Cox does a great job in popularising astronomy. But to put that into context, he *does* have the support of a very well funded and well run broadcasting organisation who have always been extremely supportive of science for many many years. Life on Earth genre, Sky at Night, Horizon, Christmas Lectures are all series have run for many years. Then add in the once-offs - Mars Beagle programme, Stargazing live... See www.bbc.co.uk/sn/tvradio/programmes/ for a full line up.

Here in Ireland, that support is very limited. Sure, there have been a few science programmes (Quantum Leap, Science Friction) but I think most of the science reported by RTE is based on news items, certainly in the recent past. They are trying to change that but it's a slow process.

I think that the general public are not "bored" about science - they are just ignorant of it. Certainly there are many journalists out there that can make any subject engaging, interesting and simple enough. That can absolutely be for science too. And more especially astronomy. Given that it is one of few subjects that is very accessible (nature being another) in many ways, it is ripe for someone to popularise it. And many have - Cox, Moore, Attenborough, Bonnin, Mulvihill, McWilliams...

It can be done. I'd bet that if the BBC had run a programme on the ToV, many would have tuned in and would have learned a lot and been delighted that they had done so.

As regards the current main source of astronomy knowledge that the media turn to, I actually find David Moore's broadcasts quite good. He engages the audience by making it interesting. Yes, there is a little bit of hype used - but only to generate that interest. If you were to go on radio and just relay the facts, it *would* be pretty boring.

As to being representative, well, that's easy enough to change. Send out press releases to all the journalists, radio and TV outlets you can find. They'll soon build a relationship with you. Trouble is, most of us are amateur astronomers with other commitments in our lives and don't have that kind of time.

In the case of this article, I do feel that it could have been turned around by sending the journalist a communication as to *why* the ToV was "spectacular". I'd bet that she would have run it. I did notice that in her Twitter feed there was a line that went "The transit of meh" - I had to change my underwear. But I also noted that even on the Astro-Physics groups, ToV images garnered the title "yet another transit image" very quickly.

And hey, let's face it, like the article or hate it, it has certainly generated interest.

Dave
10 years 5 months ago #94304

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Replied by dave_lillis on topic Re: Transit of Venus-a cautionary tale

its true,
RTE's science content is very limited, it always been that way, BBC did a horizon special on the night before the ToV.
Dave L. on facebook , See my images in flickr
Chairman. Shannonside Astronomy Club (Limerick)

Carrying around my 20" obsession is going to kill me,
but what a way to go. :)
+ 12"LX200, MK67, Meade2045, 4"refractor
10 years 5 months ago #94305

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Replied by dmolloy on topic Re: Transit of Venus-a cautionary tale

Note: on the subject of Mr brain Cox....my wife likes him too, she says he has a beautiful mind :ohmy:

Perhaps we need, as a community to work harder too educate, cajole the publics perceception of science astronomy earth sciences etc. but it is a tough asssignment when the prevailing culture is becoming more insular and more virtual.
As was already said (in so many words) the public get the newspapers they both deserve and demand - tabloid press. vacious celebrity-obsessed bovine droppings...I know that all sounds a bit snobbish, but it's hard to maintain your patience when confroted with stuff like that.

even when i have been refered to as a "star gazer" I feel a little put out - makes you sound like a member of the bewildered, or maybe im a bit over sensitive :blush:

Folks, we are in a minority.... :rock:

Declan
10 years 5 months ago #94306

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Replied by manic_dave on topic Re: Transit of Venus-a cautionary tale

Perhaps what we need is an event ( I know, the weather !!!! ) that could highlight astronomy and at the same time give a boost to the IFAS.

I was reading about how Mexico holds the record for the most telescopes pointed at the moon at one time.

latino.foxnews.com/latino/lifestyle/2011...ing-with-telescopes/

I wonder if we could do something like that. There is scope next summer with the Gathering, and perhaps we could tap into that and get some Government funding.

I have some access to media contacts through work, and I think we could also get some sponsorship.

It would be a lot, and I mean a lot of hard work, but I have several smaller ideas based around the media which could help.

Perhaps we could approach the Minister for education and see could this be useful as a transition year project.

It would require a website and organisation on a regional basis.

just a thought !
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10 years 5 months ago #94307

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Replied by dave_lillis on topic Re: Transit of Venus-a cautionary tale

perhaps we could do a country wide observing session and do a world record for the most clouded out observers in one go,
yea, I know I'm been smart :devil:
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Carrying around my 20" obsession is going to kill me,
but what a way to go. :)
+ 12"LX200, MK67, Meade2045, 4"refractor
10 years 5 months ago #94308

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Replied by johnomahony on topic Re: Transit of Venus-a cautionary tale

perhaps we could do a country wide observing session and do a world record for the most clouded out observers in one go,
yea, I know I'm been smart :devil:


We did that here-for the transit of Venus.! Most places we're washed out.
Yes we are a minority group. But at least we have events like an eclipse or comet or transit to grab a bit of public attention. Train spotters don't have it so easy!
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10 years 5 months ago #94309

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Replied by donnellan.brendan on topic Re: Transit of Venus-a cautionary tale

I must admit that is one of the best astronomy articles i have read yet and im glad she did not use the term astronomist im sure there would have been blood if she did. :bricks:

I agree we should elect a more photogenic and less profit minded astronomy representative than david moore i think its the first lesson to be learned from the bbc selecting brian cox.

You know from reading this topic ive just realised that three Daves actually make a right :P

Clear skies,
Brendan.
10 years 5 months ago #94311

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Replied by dave_lillis on topic Re: Transit of Venus-a cautionary tale

Elect?, we?, Mr Moore, ?
nope, never happened.
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Carrying around my 20" obsession is going to kill me,
but what a way to go. :)
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10 years 5 months ago #94312

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Replied by manic_dave on topic Re: Transit of Venus-a cautionary tale

Elect?, we?, Mr Moore, ?
nope, never happened.


This is one of the points I was getting at. As good or bad as anyone might feel he is. He is unelected. Personally I always feel his radio and tv slots are as much about selling telescopes.
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10 years 5 months ago #94313

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Replied by donnellan.brendan on topic Re: Transit of Venus-a cautionary tale

His slots are completely about selling scopes ive noticed hes always standing in the show room and always with a 8se behind him a big bright orange one we need someone whos not profit based and is photogenic and give that other lad the big bad bullet.
10 years 5 months ago #94314

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Replied by dave_lillis on topic Re: Transit of Venus-a cautionary tale

You cant knock him for been a good sales man, he is a business man after all, and his business is selling astro equipment.
He isn't a philantropic amateur like some think he is and if rte use him, then he is a very good businessman.
Dave L. on facebook , See my images in flickr
Chairman. Shannonside Astronomy Club (Limerick)

Carrying around my 20" obsession is going to kill me,
but what a way to go. :)
+ 12"LX200, MK67, Meade2045, 4"refractor
10 years 5 months ago #94315

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  • johnomahony
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Replied by johnomahony on topic Re: Transit of Venus-a cautionary tale

we need someone whos not profit based and is photogenic and give that other lad the big bad bullet.


So we need someone who is not greedy and good looking then? :laugh: Any volunteers?
I'm ignoring my own cautionary tale here :whistle:
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10 years 5 months ago #94316

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