πrxr Ryan

πrxr Ryan

Postby drouet ryan » Tue Feb 05, 2019 12:34 pm

I wanted to make my first mark on this site and introduce myself (sorry for the big mark). I have been part of HAS since the first meeting in 2019, but have been a nerd most of my life (the sort of thing I like to watch at night). I had some friends get mad at me since I like all this cool stuff but since I am cheap, I never spend any money on myself. They were right, and since I do not like to sit still, I went out and got my first instrument set:

  • Skywatcher AZ-EQ6
  • Celestron Advanced VX 8" EDGEHD (affectionately know as Luke Skywatcher together)
  • 4 different eyepieces
  • 2x Barlow
  • Solar Filter (the item I have used the most)
  • Some eye piece filters
  • 125 AH battery back
  • Dew Shield
A quick background on me is that I am a cloud architect for a technology consulting firm. Which is a fancy way of saying I take companies networks and information technology workloads and move them to the cloud as either Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) or Platform as a Service (PaaS). I have been working for the same company for 25 years through mergers and acquisitions, and my first job with them was to make cardboard boxes that we shipped computers in (still a good box maker). The job is both a blessing and a curse. Since I have teams across the globe it means that I am awake significantly more than I am asleep, which gives me spots here and there where I can take Luke out and see what is “up”. The downside is that I have a very erratic schedule. There are times where clients want to treat us like we are Whataburger and open 24 hours a day for custom orders. This means that I am always on call and have to drop things at a moments notice. Most of my friends have gotten use to this though and I try to have a good work life balance.

That being said, there are a couple of things that I am looking for outside of just access to a dark site with HAS. First and foremost is exposure to a diversity of different experiences and people. I liked the banter about why Messier got caught up on all those celestial objects that were not comets making his list. It adds a bit of flair to an experience that makes it our own and provides a way to differentiate from just going out and reading the information on my own. I am a social by nature and believe I can learn a little bit from everyone that I encounter.

Secondly are the outreach programs. I like this idea a lot. One thing that I have noticed is that it caters to some of the younger elementary students. My sister is the director of instruction at Cy-Fair ISD for their middle school and high school science programs. They were working on experiments that they could do with Doppler Shift using sound. In the discussion about the binary star observing program, I though about an even bigger experiment that they could do. I have seen DIY spectrometer projects and thought about doing one myself. This could be done with the students, where they are not only seeing the shift with the binary stars, but they could build their own spectrometer and be both theoretical and practical physicist. Most of the quick searches that I have done have all been student led clubs. It would be nice to augment that with the relationships and support that I have already seen given to the elementary programs.
Finally, is the marketing side of the club, or in other terms, getting others excited about astronomy. I like to geek out on a number of subjects, and the opportunity to share that with others is a big draw.

Doing a web search for Houston astronomy clubs, we are number one. But that is a very specific search criterion. What about someone that is interested in the lunar eclipse of 2019. That was a nationally televised news event that a significant number of people went and searched (there were over 60k views of the Rice event , and 300 re tweets with a base of 32.4k followers). If we did something with them, then it reaches all the 32.4k followers, and then each of those followers’ and retweet feeds have reach as well. I am not the biggest proponent of social media, except for one aspect, the ability to get people together. You will never find me sending a picture of my personal exploits in any arena (read this as I have never taken one picture of a meal). However, the other organizations that I am involved in utilize it quite effectively to spread a message about an event. There is no substitute for hands on in person interaction and getting people to that interaction is effective with social media. I have a group of pick up volley ball people, and that group routinely gets invited to participate in events. It has grown so much that we are offered free court time at Volley Bars just to get our group to go there. This group is self-sustaining. None manages it or keep it up. The social platform takes care of it. An email list is required to be kept up to date. Requires that you not only elect to be in it but have a mechanic to be removed. Sending emails in mass can be problematic with sensitive spam filters. Risk exposure to virus and malware being propagated by our group makes email campaings something that I rarely recommend.

I have been a small entrepreneur for a decade now. In every company that I have worked with, they all had a mission statement to ensure that all members of the organization knew what goal they needed to be working towards. In looking through all the errata that is on the website, this would be the mission statement from HAS that I can clearly see from the home page:

“Through education and outreach, our programs promote science literacy and astronomy awareness”

Using the mission statement, and the new initiative to use social media, I have a couple of ideas that I would like to put up for discussion:
  1. Using push marketing instead of pull: The idea is to get the programs out there for people to consume on their own, build interest, and spread the message for us using applications that the average American uses 11 hours per day. Many of the web sites that I use to get astronomy news, events, and information all have a social media presence. You can see this picture all over those sites:
    1. Facebook: A Facebook group is essential for pull marketing. The event planning tools are worth their weight in gold. When any member says they are going to an event, then all their friends automatically get a notification that they are going to it, and they can immediately get the invitation all while in an app that they interact with daily.
    2. Twitter: Many of the organizations that I got information from about astronomy use twitter. Having a feed that we can even just retweet what they have said will get exposure for us.
    3. YouTube: Each of our meetings could be live streamed, and then archived on YouTube. Put a link to the presentations, and a link to the presenters’ sites. It only needs a good phone to produce at first. There are people making hours of content online the same way.
    4. Instagram: Pictures say 1000 words. At the event in January, it seemed that there was even a photographer getting good shots of the event. I doubt it is the most effective way to get our message across, but it adds content for the search engines (to be discussed later) and is a quick win for getting messages out. I had dinner with a friend who almost exclusively uses Instagram to plan out what they do for the weekend (She had 20+ options for Saturday and it was on a Monday).
    5. Consume and build an RSS feed: Really Simple Syndication is an excellent tool for building and distributing content. Most of the sites that I have looked at getting information on Astronomy have one (Sky and Telescope RSS Feed)
      1. We can enhance our content using other professional sites work for free
      2. Keeps our relevancy up for Search Engine Optimization (SEO) to be discussed later
      3. If we build our own, then others will pull our content which significantly boosts SEO
      4. The content can be moderated, and this in turn becomes the new GuideStar newsletter which can be published easily, grabbing content from all over, and distributed without any of the risks involved with an email campaign.
    6. Build our own Wiki: A Wiki is a collaborative tool for publishing unstructured content. The most prevalent Wiki is Wikipedia with 5.8 million articles. This would be for members only to build content. Once an article is created by any member, it would go through an approval processes, and once approved, it would be published. That published article could be added to the RSS feed we produce, and tagged with a GuideStar edition tag, which would then make the newsletter. HAS members could even nominate and vote for articles to be in the newsletter. Now every member can contribute as they have time. In addition to definition articles like Wikipedia, the articles could be anything from what the latest experience at the dark site was for, a review of a new toy, or talking about ideas for the next outreach program.

  2. All the above ideas are to create more content for the site, which meets the mission statement for education. Now its time to start talking about the outreach. At this point I am not talking about the onsite programs, an online program. Going back to the news article about the solar eclipse of 2019, HAS was not even listed in the top 1000 search results. Even using the site’s search functionality there were no hits. With the first three ideas, we have content. Next would be to do Search Engine Optimization (SEO). This would put the great content that we have in a manner that will get results from the search engines to show our site at the top of the list. There are companies whose entire product is to maximize SEO, but we are not trying to sell something, we are trying to get information out there, membership up, and include as many people as we can. Using free SEO tools, we can then find out what programs are the most effective, the mechanic that got them there. We need content first, and then I can also help with the SEO. Simple things would be like I built this post. Links to other sites, especially if they link back to yours, make an impact to your search ranking.

  3. Networking with other social events in the community to diversify our onsite programs. I have worked in the past with Super Neighborhood 22, Big Brothers and Big Sisters , Apraxia kids, and the UT Stomp out Stoke Festival. The amazing thing about some of these organizations was that they networked with other service minded organizations. At a recent event for Apraxia, they got in touch with Harris County Office of Emergency Management. The unlikely match was a huge success when HCOEM brought a hazmat truck to the fund raiser. The kids (I am including myself) loved the truck, but at the same time HCOEM was able to talk to a completely new group of people and get their message out all while helping a good cause and having fun while doing it. An idea I had that might fit well with this organization would be to partner with Blue Field Market. They have a small market that has plenty of space, and it is held on Saturday nights 6 to 10 PM. Not good seeing as it is in EaDo, but we could use that for demonstrating the effects of light pollution. As a side note, they normally have some decent bands that are as diverse as the patrons. I am sure that there are other members that have events that they like to go to and would love to share their enthusiasm with that group.
Wouldn’t it be nice to have Doug McCormick (great speaker) talking about an AL observation program on the news on behalf of HAS for the next major celestial event? How about a fund raiser that sponsors youths for one of the JSC camps we heard about in January? An influx of new members getting into astronomy that have not purchased their own telescope would solve a garage full of loaner telescopes. How about a booth at White Linen Nights in the Heights talking about urban light pollution? In each case (well maybe not the loaner scopes) the involved outside parties are actively looking for content, services, and involvement. All we are doing is getting our message out for them to find it, and then we now have an effective pull marketing campaign for the education aspect of our mission statement, all the while increasing the number and diversity of our outreach programs.
drouet ryan
Posts: 1
Joined: Sun Jan 06, 2019 9:12 am

Re: πrxr Ryan

Postby ajay-mandke » Thu Feb 07, 2019 12:13 pm

Hi Ryan,

Welcome to HAS. I am also relatively newer member (been member for couple of years now). Due to work and family obligations, I have not been able to attend any of HAS meetings and Ithink streaming on Youtube is a great idea to involve members in meetings who otherwise would miss them.
I also would like to point out that HAS has a Facebook page and you can request access to it by contacting Bram Weisman after paying membership dues.

Mounts: IOptron ZEQ25GT
OTA: Skywatcher 150mm/f5 refractor, AT6RC
Posts: 7
Joined: Sat Aug 13, 2016 12:14 pm
Location: 77079

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