Our Response to Dylan O’Donnell’s “10 Most Useless Astronomy Products (Trigger Warning)” video

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In this video Dr. James Daly of Astronomy For Change responds to Dylan’s claims that printed star charts are a waste, that we don’t have to “cut down trees to look at the stars” and that he will always defer to a digital solution. He’s free to do that but the claim that the digital solution is somehow superior is unfounded – although he does describe how the printed star charts are produced now, that wasn’t always the case.

In his last point, he suggests we discard all our eyepieces, abandon visual astronomy in deference to fully digital observing. For most (observers), the digital solution isn’t practicable on many levels and removes the observing experience, that the image observed with the telescope makes an indelible impression on the observer and finally, the digital-first (or only) approach removes the observing experience while turning the pursuit of astronomy into a clinical exercise. The act of visually observing with the telescope is a transformative learning experience, not realized with a digital-first approach.

Granted, professional astronomers making observations at large, ground-based observatories (many located atop high mountains or arid plateaus) work within a digital framework but that shouldn’t be the first path for the fledgling astronomer regardless of their age.

Dylan’s original video: https://youtu.be/wEQs6OBG73Q

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Child chasing Juno along a Florida beach: Melissa Kendall, 2011 (https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap160712.html)

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