Saturday, March 28, 2009

3-27-09 A Razor Thin Moon and A Hula Hooping Saturn

With a wonderful 1 day old Moon with incredible Earthshine and a spine tingling Saturnian system to view has the making of a fun night out with the public in spite of the incoming haze and additional turned on area lighting! Whew!

  • With that said this fun group here really made my night! (LtoR) Melissa, Jamie, Caryanne, Mason, and Kyla really got an ear full of astronomy stuff! What did we cover:
Views of Saturn and it's Moons.
Titan and it's unique environment.
Pluto presentation and modeling.
Venus phases and cycles modeling.
Lunar phases and cycles modeling.
Stellar life cycle poster presentation.
Electromagnetic Spectrum poster presentation.
Planet classifications.
The Cosmic Microwave Background.
Big Bang Atlas presentation.
Getting started in Astronomy.
Building a bridge between Astronomy and Faith/Philosophy.

Not only did these guys brave the incoming cool of the evening by huddling together but they listened and were engaged. I HOPE THEIR HEADS ARE NOT SPINNING TO BADLY AFTER THIS AND THEY CAN THAW OUT! Thanks guys for stopping by!

3-27-09 A Razor Thin Moon and A Hula Hooping Saturn

It continues to amaze me how something so wonderful and elegant as the universe can bring out the best in my visitors. I have spoken to and engaged hundreds of people over the last months since I started this outreach effort - and most of them were exposed to a presentation/modeling and viewing of Venus as was posted numerously earlier on this blog. Well Melissa here was the FIRST visitor to notice on the Venus phase picture in my resource binder that there is no full Venus to be seen! She made to same observation that Galileo made 400 years ago! Needless to say this educator here was elated and Melissa was excited about her discovery! I wonder what other significant astronomical observations and personal discoveries she will make in the future?

Thursday, March 26, 2009


This was today's LPOD pic, well what do you think? I was speechless. By the way I am selling tickets for future manned missions if you are so inclined! I wish!

Saturn / Luna street astro viewing sessions coming up next week if the weather holds out - can't wait!

Friday, March 20, 2009

On the Personal Side

It has been a very interesting season of life - losing my job in the fall, seeing my boys Beau and Jeremy spread their wings leaving the nest to explore their world and developing new relationships, being awesome employees and students at work and school. Cindy going back to work last year after 20 years at home and becoming totally vital to the company she works for and doing classes online! My little clan here out in the world making a difference!

I was up early today to catch up on my web astronomy adventures, continue my job hunt and admire the Equinox morning sky with a waning Moon in Sagittarius, Jupiter on a long leash to it's left in Capricorn, and our Sun rising in the east . The sky never ceases to amaze, comfort, and inspire me. I am very grateful today - yes somethings are unsure and out of whack but most things are right where they need to be. I get to serve and support my family in a different way as a "house guy" and the general public as the "astronomy guy". I am enjoying my 2 occupations. Where is all this going I do not know, but I desire to make the most of it and add a little light and joy to my world when and where I can. What the Spring will bring remains to be seen - but one thing I know the universe will be a part of it!

3-19-09 Planets Coming and Going Street Astro

What a perfect time to do a Solar System program with 2 dominate worlds on either horizon, and our own world firmly ensconced under our feet! The possibilities are endless topic and question wise and open up great discussion with my guests - everyone enjoys planets! The Niles clan was in the right place at the right time. They are a Scouting family with daughter Lyndsie is being exposed to astronomy at this time in her classroom. After sharing WOW views of Saturn and Venus on to the resource table to field questions about the planets. Boy did these guys get a ear full! Jeremy and Casey had questions concerning Mars, Stacie was very concerned about Pluto's new status, and Ron wanted to understand the dynamics our seasonal change. Of course all these inquiries open up more questions too. My personal goal with every visitor is : get an eye full of photons and a mind full wonder. They will be back for more!

3-19-09 Planets Coming and Going Street Astro

Jesus and Lourdes are a friendly couple out for a early evening stroll when they encounter the astronomy guy - "how about a look through the telescope?" The responses vary in every instance from yes/no to no response at all (which I guess is no) to "I don't have time" to "I don't have my wallet with me - what does it cost". "The cost is your curiosity and time for a 5 minute space science lesson"is my typical response.

Lourdes came running over when invited leaving Jesus behind! She has always wanted to look through a telescope and now had her opportunity to do so - she certainly made the most of it! She and Jesus had the first views of the ringed wonder Saturn at the Marina this year along with the horizon hugging vanishing Venus - she was literally speechless!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

3-12,13-09 Virginia Lake - Reno Street Astro

Neha and her sister Devyani were really having a good time. Both are computer engineers - smart, genuine, friendly and focused in their lives They came back last night to view Venus and learn how to use a star wheel! They are anticipating our upcoming Lunar/Saturn outreaches later in the month - I can't wait to see them explore Lunar landforms and Saturnian delights!

3-12,13-09 Virginia Lake - Reno Street Astro

Another fun series of outings - we totaled 92 visitors over the 3 evenings. Not bad. As I was packing up last night I had 2 cars pull up - heard about this astronomy stuff going on and just had to check it out - the word is getting out! The Tanna family really enjoyed this unexpected treat as they were taking a family walk. Mrs. Tanna in the purple coat even went to her nearby home and quickly prepared some wonderful vegetarian wraps for us to enjoy - thank you, they were terrific. Burp!

Robert, in the extreme left of the pic came out for all 3 sessions and was learning quickly. He will be purchasing a scope soon to enhance his view of the cosmos. As his new hobby matures maybe he will help me share views with the public?

3-12,13-09 Virginia Lake - Reno Street Astro

Here are the Tanna family ladies - Neha, Devyani, and their mom Leena with yours truly enjoying a wonderful view of the Perseus Double Cluster!

3-12,13-09 Virginia Lake - Reno Street Astro

Who is this mystery observer taking in a view of the Saturnian system? Oh it's Devyani - she was totally captivated! Me, I'm just captivated by the vege wrap!

Friday, March 13, 2009

3-12-08 Virginia Lake Park - Reno Street Astro

This is what it is all about! This trio was spellbound by Venus, and preceded to take off to other parts of the park and spread the word!
The young lady in the blue had some very adult level questions about Venus. I was floored!

3-12-08 Virginia Lake Park - Reno Street Astro

Stephanie stopped by for a early evening appetizer of the crescent Venus - this only made her more hungry for the main course of the evening which she came back later to enjoy! In between samplings of Orion, Gemini, Perseus celestial cuisine she was on her cell phone telling friends and family excitedly what she was up to and experiencing ! Not only that she was encouraging other passersby to stop and learn too! Love the free PR! With 2 Cd's in hand she was off to her lap top at home to feast some more. The astronomy bug requires constant feeding!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Virginia Lake Park - Reno Street Astro 3-11-09

I moved my little astronomy side show to a new location for this week. It is a popular public park just a few miles south of downtown Reno. It has a wonderful south-east/west view, good skies for a city setting and is very popular with families and walkers! Wonderful views of the Sierra Nv! There are also very mature trees bordering the lake's walkway which happen to cover many of the street lamps! I could not ask for a better setting!

I had a light set-up for my first outing as I was not sure about the level of response - it turned out to be excellent. I was just setting up and folks were starting to congregate and ask questions! I have a new NSN/IYA banner which really catches the eye of passersby. I shared views of Venus's skinny side - and as the skies darken I moved on to Stellar Evolution, Star Clusters, Binary Stars as the winter sky is full of these goodies! No problems star hopping to anything! I was so busy I had no time to take any pics. I had a total of 38 visitors over 2 hours.

David is a local casino worker with very little science education . I let him loose with binos after some basic instruction on usage and navigation - well within minutes he was viewing all the brighter clusters in Orion, Taurus, Canis Major. He was spellbound to say the least! He could not believe how easy it is to do basic viewing! David also noticed the difference in star concentrations over the sky - which lead to a lesson on galaxy structure - AND HE UNDERSTOOD IT ALL!

Robert is a retired gent with a very large family of 11 and a whole army of grand kids! He is an active birder but has had limited astronomy experience. He has a basic knowledge of star names and constellations but no viewing or navigation experience. That was about to change! Robert spent an hour plus with me and diligently LISTENED to EVERY presentation I made and was just taking it in! As the evening progressed he was getting the observers eye and seeing more and more both naked eye and with the scope! I think he's hooked for good! Robert was very kind to help me pack up at the end. Great first outing at a new location!

Saturday, March 7, 2009

3-07-09 Bulging Moon - Skinny Venus Street Astro

A family day out at the Sparks, Nv Marina Park. What do you expect to see - various water fowl parading about, all kinds of folks out for the day running, walking, biking trying not to collide with each other, dogs walking their people, maybe spend some time at the kids play area. The Anastassatos family stopped by and got the unexpected - how about a little astronomical refreshment that ended up as a gourmet meal! After feasting on the wonderful lunar sights offered by the bulging moon such as sunrise on the Humorum Basin with crater Gassendi in tow - it was onward down the buffet line to the delights of a razor thin Venus sliced to perfection! George was blown away by it all and Jackie was all smiles! How about workable easy to remember definations of a Star, Planet, and a Moon. Active modeling of a scale model Earth- Moon system and a Cd to take home finnished this adventure. Thanks guys for stopping by - you have a wonderful family!

I had a total of 63 visitors over the course of 3 hours. It was non stop discussion, modeling, and viewing! I planned a personal observe time at home but all this activity has wiped me out - a good astronomy book and bed for me!

3-07-09 Bulging Moon - Skinny Venus Street Astro

Rebecka had the look of awe on her has she surveyed the lunar surface - she totally enjoyed her experience and got a kick out of crater Tyco and it's magnificent ray system! To her it looked like a giant lunar spider web! Rebecka is one smart inquisitive youngster!