Tuesday, April 28, 2009
Our very temperamental Sierra Nv Mtn weather has cleared out again - is it winter or spring? Whatever it is the sky is full of fun things and I am rested and ready to go with Luna, Mercury, and Saturn all vying for attention! After enjoying last weeks Venus/Luna dance and eclipse in the morning sky along with Sunday's Mercury/Moon/Pleiades traffic jam and last nights front yard Moon view I am pumped up to go share this stuff with the waiting public! The pic on the right shows a similar view we will share tonight of sunrise on the Fecunditatis Basin with wrinkle ridges. On the far left are the "hills" of the Crisium Basin which were outstanding last night with sunrise showing off there true extent and height - it was fun to meander through the channels between the "hills"! Langrenus crater just right of middle should be showing it's stuff, central peak along with floor fractures, ejecta blanket full of secondary craters, and terraced walls. Click on the pic and blow it up - TOO COOL! I get really worked up about this stuff, how about you?
Monday, April 20, 2009
After a brief hiatus it was back in the saddle again bringing the wonders of the universe to the public with two worlds that could not be more different - Mercury the forgotten lost in glare of the Sun baked rock/iron slab and Saturn the glitzy movie star full of rings and things which dazzle our imagination and make us dream of space. The Longney family; Todd with the cool hat, Lanay behind those sunglasses, and sweetie-pies (R-L) Keira, Amy, and Anachel saw what was going on and went to their car grabbed a blanket and waited for the show to begin! I gave them the challenge of being the first visitors this year to spot Mercury in our western sky - to see a world that so few have seen in our modern era and learn about a world that has a story to tell us about our origins. They met the challenge quite nicely and found time to enjoy Saturn also!
I had 95 visitors for these three events with most getting a earful from me!
I had 95 visitors for these three events with most getting a earful from me!
Dave and Melissa who are busy parents stopped by later in the evening to ogle at Saturn, got an earful on the Solar System, and left with a arsenal of goodies to educate their kids with. We discussed the basic differences of the planets and modeled Pluto's reclassification. This was a very common theme with these programs and Mercury and Saturn set the stage quite nicely. The general public is in a uproar concerning Pluto and needs to be informed why we have had changes. I am finding that with a short 10-12 minute presentation with simple props and my visitors participation they have a better understanding of the IAU ruling - but they even with the newly acquired data set most are not happy about the changes, and I have to agree!
Monday, April 13, 2009
You asked for it and you got it - ok maybe you did not not ask for it but your going to get it anyway! What am I talking about - Mercury! This little and mysterious world makes it's best showing for this year over the next 2 weeks and I will be highlighting it at the Marina along with the Showoff Saturn and it's paparazzi of icy moons. I went to the Marina last night and I was able to spy Mercury in the NW just above Peavine Mtn before the clouds socked us in. So in the early evening I will be focused on this tiny forgotten world if the weather permits - then on to the Showoff.
Tuesday, April 7, 2009
You would think that after a week long blitz of astronomy outreach I would need a break - right? I am not sure what came over me tonight but I had all my house husband chores done with my wife glued to her studies so let me find another excuse to get out! But in reality it never takes that much to get me out the door to do this stuff. What do bikes and astronomy have in common? Well they help us to enjoy the great outdoors and each others company - though there is a bit more exercise involved with the bikes! This fun group came rumbling down the pathway with their awesome cruiser bikes and applied the brakes to take in a view of the heavens! We studied the wonderful gibbous Moon, modeled it's phases and facing side, modeled seasons here on Earth/Uranus and viewed Saturn with Titan. The fellow on the left who by the way looks the part of a bicycle hoodlum got to be the Sun in our modeling time and had the proper attitude of prominence that the anchor of a solar system requires! Thank you guys for stopping and making this evening so enjoyable! I had at least 48 visitors before the clouds rolled in.
Monday, April 6, 2009
Along with hundreds of amateur astronomers world wide the Sidewalk guy of Reno-Sparks attempted to reach as many as possible during this blitz of astronomical public relations. After a very energetic session Friday evening at the movie theater it was back to the Marina Sunday to finish up my effort here in N.Nv. Great weather and clear skies with a beautiful gibbous Moon with Saturn in tow made for a convenient pair to enjoy. Hendrik here was a very active participant and was soaking it all in. His mom mentioned that he is an excellent student and enjoys space oriented things. This young person spent a good deal of time at the scope and with the large format lunar map - and through some active modeling He will never forget that the Moon is on average 30 Earth diameters away! I had over 55 visitors for this session with lines at the resource table and scope much of the time. I wish I had time to take more pictures - I worked with some really neat folks and inquisitive kids!
Saturday, April 4, 2009
Let's go to downtown Sparks, hit the street with a telescope along with celestial eyeopeners to show! How about a for real view of the cosmos after a movie? This fun group braved the after storm chill of a Sierra spring evening along with a wait in line to view-but their friendly and patient attitude paid off as they had the scope to themselves and the astro guy to field questions and stir their minds a bit. You know for the life of me I was so busy at this outing I forgot what we covered-I know it was astronomical! I had over 60 visitors with lots of freebie's given out to the delight of those who came by. I am still recovering this morning-lots of energy expelled!
Thursday, April 2, 2009
If you set the right theme - the right things will happen! Both the Moon and the ringed wonder Saturn and its covey of dynamic/diverse moons will open up people to discovery and enjoyment of the universe. Two wonderful Solar System objects that are easy to view, enjoy, and get more acquainted with. Joe stopped by just as I was setting up - he visited with me a few weeks back to view Venus, and Orion's star factory - he was excited to have the chance to some more street astronomy! Joe is a physical therapist who helps stroke patients recover their lives. We had a wonderful and detailed Lunar session with Joe glued to the telescope first seeing large features and very gradually working down the line to fine crater and maria features which are usually seen by seasoned observers! And these detailed views led to great questions about Lunar geology, origins, and impact dynamics! All this before Saturn's opportunity to produce another WOW time! Needless to say Joe had a blast and the astro guy here is hoping we have created another astronomy addict!
Another family outing to the Marina turned into an educational experience! The Scott entourage get engaged with some serious astronomy with the astro guy. After gleeful views of Luna and Saturn on to questions and presentations. Stephen in the blue t-shirt popped out a question that was so incredible and totally in tune with the evenings observations; " Why does the inner Solar System lack Moons?" This was a incredible question, with a complex answer that involves the whole realm of solar system formation and dynamics of planets and stars. But the Scott clan were up to the task and we tackled this issue with Atlas and Poster presentations which helped to cover this complex issue in easy to understand terms. Then daughter Jesse? asked about life on solar system moons, and Kevin asked about Jupiter's super hot, weird interior structure.....................here we go again! Scott people you made this session too much fun!
I have been wanting to do a program of this type for sometime and today seemed to be perfect. I have always viewed our Sun - Earth - Moon system as the entry way to comprehending the universe for the general public. Daytime astronomy at it's best. How about this:
- Safe Solar viewing
- Daytime Lunar explore
- Model Moon phases
- Model Earth's seasonal change
- Poster presentations of Sun and Moon
- Atlas presentation on the Sun
- Recording Earth's spin by the changing Sun and Moon altitudes in the sky.