Saturday, January 31, 2009

1-30,31-09 There's A Bunch To See Street Astro

This has really been a fun series of outings. I ended up with a total of 142 visitors over the four evenings. Some for their second time like Jen and Jerry here. Jerry is a semi-retired, and has worked for OSHA in various industries. His work has taken him around the world and he has great insight and wisdom from his experiences! Jerry's smile, friendly demeanor, and encouragement to me and my guests is greatly appreciated . You will hear about Jen later.

I am very fortunate that the weather has been great to do these programs. People have been awed by the views of various star clusters, star-birth nebula, Luna and Venus. Many stopped their workout routines around the Marina and came over to learn. Many stayed for a least 15 minutes to not only look but engage in modeling and poster presentations. Parents really like the free CD's the kids got to take home with them. Mission accomplished!

1-30,31-09 There's A Bunch To See Street Astro

Jen's lunar observation kept her occupied at the telescope for a good 30 minutes. She made the most detailed observations of anyone to date in spite of being cold after her workout! I was so delighted to see someone take advantage of this opportunity to explore. Her future ambitions include finishing teachers college and being a teacher who will impact and motovate kids in their quest for knowledge. She already has a degree in chemistry - way to go girl!

1-30,31-09 There's A Bunch To See Street Astro

This gent's "whoa's" are still reverberating across the Marina!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

1-29-09 We Have A Bunch To See Street Astro Part 2

Onward with this weeks epic adventure in Astronomy Outreach Education. Tonight was a little cooler and windier than the last. My teaching posters had wings tonight - almost ending up in the lake several times so I had to retire them for the evening. I felt so lost without my posters - they really help my guest to understand important basic concepts and they really capture the imagination quickly. But there are other tools I can use to engage the public. Like in this picture of Debbie who was one of my 34 visitors tonight. I have seen this phenomenon before - Astronomical Rapture! Talk about excitement, she learned how to navigate the night sky with a starwheel and proper flashlight, and with the help of active modeling she was able to comprehend the changing seasonal sky due to Earth's revolution and spin. She was now equipped to explore the constellation studed sky with confidence. Her goals are to learn it for herself and then share it with her extented family! She left in a state of bliss that was a joy to behold. I guess that I did not need my posters tonight anyway!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

1-28-09 We Have A Bunch To See Street Astro

The weather cleared out today so let's do some street astronomy! And what a potpourri of celestial goodies on tap:

Venus: The Evening Star Modeling and Phase Cycle.
Thin Crescent Moon with Earth shine.
The Great Orion Star Nursery.
Stars Great and Small Comparative.
Star Color Comparative.
Star Cluster Families.

There was no way I would be able to place on my resource table all the materials needed so I placed out the most eye catching! Folks were amazed that they where able to see with the telescope the very things depicted in the Atlas of the Universe, and the Star Life Cycle posters. We had excellent discussions about all the above items and others. Several visitors just saw History Channel's astronomy series and were this very day wishing they could see through a telescope what was on that program. Well they got their clusters and nurseries served up just for you! I really enjoy being in the right place at the right time for these folks. I will be doing a series of similar outings over the next few days. I had 46 visitors with at least half wanting to come back again over the next few days. Astronomy Groupies - Gotta love it!

1-28-09 We Have A Bunch To See Street Astro

This is Beth who just happens to be a chemist! Now just because your a scientist doesn't mean you know everything about the natural world....if anything you may have more questions! She was very intrigued and the questions flowed. She came back later to enjoy views of Orion's star factory, star clusters, and luna with her fellow walkers. Can't you just see the photons of fun migrating into her eye? What fun to enjoy the company of others who want to explore and just be fascinated by our universe! My 10" Coulter scope was very busy on this outing.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

1-16-09 Venus - Orion Wonders Street Astro

Well after 3 days of doing personal astronomy and getting recharged it was time to go back to outreach. Our wonderful weather continues so let's take advantage of it! I did not have the normal number of visitors with this outing, but the quality of the encounters was awesome. We continued our view of a beautiful Venus and modeled it's course with the inflatables for our guests - it was really fun to see the excitement of discovery upon the faces of our visitors! Venus the Morning/Evening Star, Superior/Inferior conjunctions, and the transit of 2012 all modeled. "Are you going to be here to watch the 2012 transit and show the rest of us"? I certainly hope so! We than turned our sites over to Orion in the east. Double stars, star nurseries, bought much delight to the public and opened discussion about how stars form. This fun group in the picture could not peel themselves off the telescope. The adults here loved the "bambino" stars! I had a total of 28 visitors, and lots of astronomy cd's went with them to ogle at home!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

1-12-09 Venus - Polaris Street Astro

What do Venus and Polaris have in common, and how are they different? Well to most folks they are just points of light in the sky, one is a famous star - the other is a planet. Ok, but what else do you know about them? Not much is the usual answer. In fact upon interviewing my guests this evening most said that they have never even heard of Polaris! How can this be? Is this just the luck of the draw in regards to my visitors, or are we in a really bad state of ignorance concerning the cosmos? Time to go too work!
Here's how it went tonight:
Interview - what do you know.
Model with the inflatable Earth it's spin and axial tilt.
With the inflatable Earth and star wheel model the turning sky, with the pivot point of Polaris as the key focus.
Let's find Polaris: Fist out at arms length - face north - four fist width up. "Hey this is easy!" "Wow"!
Telescope view of Polaris: "Oh my God!" " It looks like a diamond!" "How cool !"
Do you see that tiny star to Polaris's right - that's it's partner! "No way" " This is awesome!"
Let's compare our Sun which is a star with Polaris: Sun/Earth model and a length of yarn do the trick. Most visitors are VERY impressed with comparative sizing of these two stars! The ladies in the picture were totally blown away, and went off telling others to stop by and learn!
And we have not even made it over to Venus yet!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

1-10-09 Street Astro Full Moon Perigee/Venus Elongation

More of nature's happenings, just a bit more sublime. Moon's close approach was all over Yahoo today so I thought there would be lots of interest - and there was! And how about Venus's western elongation this weekend. Sounds like the makings of a great outreach time. I had over 63 visitors in 3 hours. We did plenty of modeling with the inflatables. At one time I had a group of 23 involved with the modeling. I am finding that people want to understand what is going on. They may read the web article, but the modeling really brings it home to them. I would say that most of my visitors were aware that something was up with the Moon - just the nature of what was happening was not understood. This young lady at the scope was one of our more studious participants. She was actively involved with ALL the modeling demonstrations and enjoyed the views. As the moon rose higher in the sky we were able to filter it down quite a bit and and view impact ejecta from Tycho, Kepler, Copernicus. Now I realize that full Moon is rarely a time of great observation for most amateurs, but it is a gold mine time to do outreach to the public. I am finding that the public wants to make sense of what is going on around them. The general impression I have of this is that lives are too busy to take the time to research, or more commonly that they are not smart enough to understand - the facts are to deep to comprehend. I hope to continue to dispel this with active outreach and engagement with the public. I am not a college grad, I am self taught, and I have a learning handicap. If I can love and understand this stuff I know others can. They have to have the opportunity to learn and be engaged! The Universe is accessible to everyone!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

I Really Do Have A Life

The weather cleared out again, and the sky was calling. Beautiful gibbous moon - sunrise on the Aristarchus Plateau, and Marius Hills. Orion and it's splendors on the rise in the southeast. I hear the whispers of the Pleiades. Should not the public be exposed to such wonders? Yes, but not tonight. Let's stay in and make a yummy ginger raisin cream scone with my cutie pie! It came out great, and she is really cute!

Assorted Ramblings

It's 5:00 a.m. My body won't move, but my brain is already overloaded...

Why am I so ocd about astronomy outreach - I am always thinking about it. I am always looking for excuses - reasons to do it. How can I do it better? What can I add to my programs? Is the weather good enough for me to a program today? Do I still have a family and other responsibilities that need my attention?

"There are other things in life you know." Really?

Interesting encounters of the spiritual kind with some of my visitors:

" Do you know that all our ancestors came from Venus? "
" I can tell that you love the universe, but you need to be more spiritually connected to it."
" The Earth was shifted from it's original position in the center of the universe after the fall of Adam and Eve."
" If you go to Stonehenge you will feel its power". ( Ok, I will do that as soon as I can move.)

And finally:

"Time to get up and be ocd, I have two new outreach kits from NASA to go through!"

Luna - Venus Street Astro 1-07-08

Our fantastic weather continues and so do I. I am glad that I did. These sessions out with the public are just getting better all the time. In two and a half hours, I had 56 visitors with excellent interaction and fun conversation. There were plenty of smiling faces! This gentleman in the picture spent twenty minutes on the lunar surface doing crater surveys - he was picking out very fine details in their structure and layout. He commented to me that he never thought he would be able to do what he just did. He went away awed and very moved to say the least. My guests overall are receptive to learning about the Lunar/Venusian phases. I had a group of eight visitors glued to a interactive simulation of "Venus: Evening and Morning Star" done with a flashlight, inflatable Earth and Styrofoam ball. I especially would like to thank my son, Beau, for the photography.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Sparks Marina Street Astro Jan 3-4 2009 Extra Value Deal

You may be asking just what is a "Extra Value Deal" anyway? Well, sometimes the universe and nature just dishes out assorted happenings at one time that must be observed, studied, and pondered. For example, this weekend Quarter Moon and Perihelion were some happening astronomical events. Folks who stopped by my little side show these last two days got just that. How about a short, easy to understand, inquiry based astro lesson that is fun, fast, really cool. Here is the menu - Moon viewing with expert guided tour and your choice of:
-Modeling of Lunar Phases with inflatables
-Lunar Phases and personal important dates
with the Moon Phase calculator
-Reason for the Seasons modeling with inflatables
-Perihelion/Aphelion modeling with inflatables
-Safe Solar viewing
-Inflatable modeling of the Sun/Earth/Moon System
-Brief history of Galileo's observations of the Sun/Moon
-Sun/Earth scale model exercise and handout

All this and more for just fifteen minutes of your time and willingness to explore. And also very convenient- this was program took place between the hours of 2-4:30pm under sunny skies with clear brisk air! We had ninety visitors over the two sessions. Most partook of at least two items!

Sparks Marina Street Astro 1-04-09 Extra Value Deal

Russ and Cindy stopped by to see what was going on. After a peak at the Moon questions followed and before too long they had taken up on the Extra Value Deal. They also had a side order of questions on the speed of light and the electromagnetic spectrum. Here they are using the solar viewers safely viewing our nearby star.

Sparks Marina Street Astro 1-03-09 Extra Value Deal

Antonette and daughter Kaitlyn asked for the Extra Value Deal - and they got it! Imagine a multi-faceted astro lesson personalized just for you with take home CD and scale model of the Sun/Earth. Talk about a deal!

Sparks Marina Street Astro 1-03-09 Extra Value Deal

The Stegmaire clan received more than they bargained for on their outing to the Marina. How about quality views of the lunar craters, maria, and the Apennine Mtn range to boot! The girls were very impressed by the lunar Apennine and their impact origin.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Sparks Marina Street Astro Dec. 29-31, 2008

We were fortunate to have a great break in the weather, along with incredible planet/lunar pairings - so why not do some street astro outings! What a way to end and start a year. In 3 sessions we were able to impact over 100 visitors. My goal for these sessions was for my visitors to have quality views of the Moon and Venus and naked-eye viewings of the Mercury/Jupiter pairing on the western horizon. I wanted them to have an understanding of Galileo's first observations of the Moon and Venus as he was the first to observe their true nature and he was also the first to observe the changing phase cycle of another planet. This is a picture of my resource table.

Sparks Marina New Year's Eve Street Astro

Astronomy outreach education has allowed me to meet great locals and out of towners from all over the country. This is Dr. Karimah Adisa Thomas. She and her husband Jonathan were visiting Reno for the weekend, and came down to the Marina to run their very BIG dog. Dr. Thomas is an educator but has had little exposure to astronomy. She was glued to the telescope, and after some help from the Astro Guy was navigating around the surface of the Moon like a pro picking off features left and right! After viewing Venus we discussed Galileo's observations of the Moon and Venus, and the science of the Lunar/Venusian phase cycles. We also modeled with the inflatables how the Moon only showes us one face all the time. Dr. Thomas, thank you for making my evening so worthwhile!

Sparks Marina New Year's Eve Street Astro

How do we break in the new year? With family, friends, good food, and astronomy! Jay and Teresa, along with Katie and Roberta came down to the Marina with a hot pizza and wings to enjoy a pretty evening outdoors and each others company. Little did they know that the Astro Guy was waiting! The excitement rose as views of the Moon and Venus where shared, and the science education that followed added to the experience. The aroma of their pizza and wings was very distracting!