Wednesday, April 26, 2006

By the numbers

I had occasion recently to receive some advertising information from a major astronomy magazine which contained the results of their reader survey. As you would imagine, amateur astronomers are overwhelmingly male, upper-income professionals, but I was surprised by the fact that more people reported having attended a star party (19%) than belong to an astronomy club or observing group (15%).

Male: 86%

Mean age: 52.6 years

Household income: $95,800

College grad or better: 68.7%

Professional/managerial/technical career: 69.1%

Involved in astronomy hobby (mean): 21.3 years

Replacement cost of current astronomy equipment (mean): $2,614

Average hours per month spent on astronomy activities: 8.9 hours

Readers who describe themselves as intermediate/advanced: 61%

Average magazine subscription: 6.3 years

Actually, this correlates pretty well to the demographic makeup of my club—or at least he folks who ever show up for anything (about 10% of membership). So I reckon this is probably a pretty good description of the people who are really involved in the hobby. I'm sure lots of kids are interested in astronomy, at least in general, but it's really more of a hobby for grownups since it involved staying out late, owning plenty of equipment, and possessing more a little patience.


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