Use Nextdoor app to arrange a neighborhood skywatch

I used an app called Nextdoor last Saturday night to announce a skywatch that I wanted to hold at my local high school. The tennis courts at the school are perfect, because there aren’t any parking lot lights in sight. And the webbing they have up on the surrounding fence almost completely eliminates the glare from outside lights on the building itself.

I put up my post at 4 pm for an 8:30 observing time, and got 4-5 responses. I did it with short notice on purpose, because I didn’t want hundreds of people showing up. I ended up having about 15 people and we had a great time. Most of them told me they loved the idea and hoped I would do it again. I also got some responses the next day from people who didn’t see the post in time, and expressed that they hoped I would do it again. I was ecstatic that half the audience were teen age and younger.

So, I’d call that a success. I also used it to drum up support for a presentation I did at my local library threes months ago, on “Getting Acquainted with the Night Sky.” I got about 8-10 extra people from Nextdoor, besides the people that signed up through the library.

Nextdoor is a web app with a mobile counterpart that attempts to connect people in your immediate neighborhood. So, it’s like Facebook in that you can post messages, events, reviews, etc. to a common site, but the connections are limited to people in your neighborhood. You have to confirm that you live in that neighborhood to get onto the site.

In my case, I see announcements all the time about lost pets, warnings of strange things people are seeing, reviews of neighboring restaurants, and notifications of local events. If you do some research on the app, you’ll see that a lot of people do not like it because activists, crazy people, and people with an agenda can corrupt their local Nextdoor site. But, I haven’t seen any of that in the six months I’ve been active. It probably depends on your neighborhood.

I plan on using the site again for skywatches–beats the heck out of going door to door and handing out flyers, which is what I’ve done in the past. And it was a good way to meet some of my neighbors.