Friday, December 17, 2010

2011 Kick Off

Here's the new SUG outreach for 2011! This Meetup group is for adults of all ages, those hidden astrofiles in my area. I met so many who want to learn so now here's the chance! I will cut back on my street astro for 3 months and see how this goes. You can view the page at and just link over to the Reno site.

My goal is to invest in a folks who want to learn how to observe the sky. I will have a casual and fun approach because that is who I am. Many folks here use the Meetup as a way to network, meet, and be active with others with similar interests. I joined one of the hiking groups and have had a good time with it. Many here are outdoors oriented so I am expecting some to join in. I will try to contain my enthusiasm and excitement and I will not overwhelm anyone! PROMISE!!!!!!!

I will post my activities here along with the people and their stories I am expecting some good stories of discovery and fun.

By the way here's a little leftover from breakfast the other day with Tom and it was good but the leftovers where better! He is very supportive of this new effort and we drove around town investigating 2011 Street Astro sites. Thanks Tom for your support and kindness! He also ordered some new things for next years observing times - yes with SUG's coaching!!!!!

Monday, December 13, 2010

This Sunday the skies opened with nice temps and blue sky over head along with a 6 day Luna & Jupiter sky dance in our early evening to enjoy. I must get out to take in some sun against my face and share some photons with others. So after a quick power lunch I load the SUV and out the door to a power outreach! It has been several weeks since my last attempt and there must be folks out and about on this gorgeous day. My good friend Frank saved a perfect parking space for me at the Marina Park so my set up (ever growing) was quick and easy with Luna climbing in our sky by the minute. As I was setting up the park ranger stopped by to lend a hand and to thank me for the community service I provide - that was nice and encouraging! So I am stoked and ready to go with OJ humming along and my resource table loaded with learning fun. Who's first?

Juan (at the scope) was my first visitor and was impressed with the lunar view and the SUG's presence at the park. After his viewing and educational experience with the 2 Inch Universe he goes to his car and pulls this NOT SO FANCY BUT USABLE 4 inch (100mm) Eq mounted Newtonian telescope out of his back seat and inquires "can you help me with this? I found it at a yard sale and......" No problem Juan!

After a 25 minute set up lesson and tuning his scope is providing very nice lunar views. Juan was impressed that his scope at 55x and OJ the SCT at 55x provided the same view of the lunar surface! So back and forth he is going between the scopes and is just amazed at what his yard sale scope is showing.

And in this new found joy he is starting to share his scope with other visitors! It is impossible to contain the astronomy bug! Juan spent 2 hours with me watching and learning all the time being a kid with a fabulous new toy and experiencing the joy of telling others to come look for themselves.

This sunny little red head Mila and her dad James had a blast this sunny Sunday afternoon. Both grabbed on to this street astro stuff with gusto. Mila experienced the lunar surface with both low power wide field views and medium power views of mountain ranges and craters which "looked like donuts on the moon" to her! This kid was thrilled with the new vistas before her eyes. James as had some science in his college years but this educational experience placed astronomy within his fingertips. All the theories and text book learning had no comparison to seeing Luna and Jupiter live and in your own eye!

Timing is everything. Juan and his son Christian came by earlier to partake of the 2 Inch Universe and to enjoy late afternoon Lunar views. But Jupiter was on their minds and at dark they are ready to get down with the Solar System giant and its prancing moons! And what a show they saw with the largest moon in our Solar System - Ganymede coming out of transit into view and right on time to boot! Here is celestial movement in plain view. First there were 3 moons in sight and and now 4! "How does the SUG know the timing of this stuff?" is a question being asked by the group of 6 gathered for this show.

Like the universe and its many mysteries the SUG must keep certain knowledge hidden so he does not loose his sidewalk mojo with the public!

48 visitors enjoyed the show this day.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Frost Full Moon Dreaming

This Sunday brings us to another full moon which is called the "Frost Moon". Very timely as my locale has been getting pelted with a bit of pre-winter white stuff and cold windy days and nights! Not sure if the now somewhat sunny skies will hold out to catch this full moon rising later today over my eastern foothills.

If not I will spend another Sunday afternoon & evening dreaming. I am really anticipating doing full moon programs showing simple low power filtered views like this!

No outreach tonight as the winds and cold are sure to keep folks huddled at home (along with me fighting a cold) but it is fun to anticipate the months ahead.

But as I pondered the full moon outreaches Earth Shine came to mind especially when seen with a waxing crescent in the western sky! Using the same low power view point this can really be enjoyed in the early evening sky and even when Luna is waning in our eastern morning skies sharing lighting duties with Sol.

Yes lots of easy and fun opportunities to share our local cosmos with others!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Solar Greetings & Wishes

Hey Jim thanks for the neat e-card featuring our erupting Sun!

He wrote : " Wish you were here!" "Or at least looking here in this part of the spectrum!"

I could not agree more though I would prefer the latter point of view!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Luna Jupiter Conjunction & A Two Inch Universe

Nice weather has arrived with great temps and a sky to behold. This Monday evening promises a nice show with Moon and Jupiter line dancing in our skies at a very convenient early evening time slot. This pairing also provides a very easy reference point for me to use in conjunction (ha ha) with the "The Two Inch Universe" activity, and my new Lunar poster! Yippee! Yes the Sidewalk Guy is very easily entertained.
Here is my set up for the evening. I changed my locale at the Marina to this spot that I have used before with morning waning moon/solar observes. But this evening the close by lighting will aid me in my presentation of this fun interactive/hands on activity. This whole activity can be done in about 10 minutes but will go longer for questions will arise!

Remember part of the deal here is that if you are to look you must also be willing to learn. Oh yes the views tonight with our clear skies is nothing short of breathtaking with CR150 doing the optical duties for this outing showing off a just 10 day Luna features (close up & personal) and a fun Jupiter moon disappearance act which a group of eight got to see! But just let me weave (as the SUG is known to do) the "Two Inch Universe" activity in to your sphere (personal bubble) without you knowing it is coming and engage your imagination and interview your understanding of how you see the universe. Scale activities really challenge the brain and bring out the curiosity in most folks.

Noreen met the Sidewalk Universe Guy 3 months back and has been looking for him since. In this time she has been telling Ron all about her cosmic experience seeing Jupiter, surveying the Lunar surface, and listening to SUG's excited banter over the sky show that evening. She really got a lot out of her prior visit! Tonight out for a few laps around the park energized with fresh StarBuck's Earle Grey Tea (did that smell good!) she and Ron stumble upon the SUG just in time to enjoy his new activity and views of celestial objects to inspire. Yes Ron the SUG is for real and now you too are ensnared in his web of astro fun. Being a good trooper he assisted Noreen with the activity of the evening being amazed how we can scale the universe local; Sun Earth Moon and Solar System, and distant; Milky Way & other Galaxies all right here on this park patio!

Though my numbers were lite, 23 total I enjoyed this outing giving me a chance to practice with the Two Inch Universe and to experiment with ways of introducing it. What I am finding is that I must place it in their hands right at the start - "Here look at this!" without introduction or invitation. There is a built in reluctance with many folks as this science learning is challenging and we for the most part do not want to be challenged. But once engaged with SUG's friendly demeanor and "Hey this fun" attitude most were ready to run with the full extent of this activity. Besides the views where worth the price of admission!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Quickie SEMASWO Outreach

Hey we have a clearing!!!!! If only for a few hours this past Friday afternoon but it is perfect for timing for a SEMASWO. So much fun to have folks come by and inquire as to we can observe this afternoon. I tell them that "there are 3 astronomical objects to enjoy right now and easy to see !" Of course this starts the questions which I carefully place back to them and challenge them to make the observation and guess for themselves! Most folks will not notice this 6 day Luna and do not associate the Sun lighting day or the Earth under their feet as objects of daytime observation and contemplation. I also hear "is there special event is happening today?" My response which is well programed is that "there is always something special happening , we just have to educate ourselves to see them!"

With the arrival last week of a new NSN toolkit with it's awesome Earth/Moon graphic plastic roll up poster and a brief window to the sky out I zoom with my gear intending to do one of my Sun Earth Moon Afternoon Sunshine Walkers Outreaches (SEMASWO) with all the important celestial objects in their proper positions!

Folks were out in abundance enjoying the afternoon and as I started to unload and set up people started to drop by and inquire. Armed with the new mega moon poster I had folks make naked eye observations identifying features not noticed by them before. These large format posters attract a bunch of attention when displayed! Out came the solar viewers to see Sol's face and of course we must model this Sun Earth Moon system while still setting up! Feast or famine so just run with it even though I like being prepared with everything all set up and ready to go.

These guys here made my afternoon. High school fellows out of school early enjoying the afternoon would normally not have much time for science stuff but these guys enjoyed the SUG's astro presentation and natures happenings that they came back twice over as the moon brightened with the lowering Sun giving us a road to follow to Jupiter's brightening pin point in the twilight sky. Impressed with Jupiters moon gaggle lined up on one side, and the banding of it's high speed atmosphere these fellows got a lot out of their visit.

Setting Sun winds cooled things down really quick and it was getting hard to keep my resource table from blowing away so I had to call it a afternoon - but not before one personal observation. Jupiter's South Temperate Belt is starting to reappear so why not try for it as I'm packing up. So let's adjust the polarizing filter a bit and wait for a window of still air to arrive.

Well sure enough there it is as marked by a slight darkening in the region where it is suppose to be! No not the dark belt we are familiar with more like Jupiter wearing nylons! I did not see the new white oval till later on at home with a brief window of nice viewing. Oh how I wanted to share these observations with others but that time will come I am sure!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Rainy Sunday Afternoon Street Astro

Nice to hear that my comrades under the sky are having good weather to enjoy and share the universe with. My fall weather continues to be surprisingly astronomy poor but for our region the moisture and clouds are welcome for other things to other folks. I guess I can't hog the climate here all the time. This Sunday afternoon is rainy and windy with snow piling up in the higher elevations. What to do? How about spending sometime planning outreach activities with the new goodies just arrived from my sponsor NASA Night Sky Network/ Astronomical Society of the Pacific.

I am really grateful to be a part of this with all the various resources at my disposal which make sharing the universe easy and fun. Because of the nature of my outreach (street astronomy) I can not use all of what is in each outreach toolkit but each kit has things that I can incorporate right away. But I am looking and thinking about ways to present more of the materials all the time - more on this later. I want the views through the scope to create an air of curiosity for folks to want to learn more. I want the activities to promote a excitement about looking through the scope too. I certainly do not expect each and every visitor to stay "long" (more than just a look) but I have been able to engage folks in such a way were they stay longer than they expect too!

I am really excited about this activity called "The Incredible TWO-INCH UNIVERSE". Here the entire universe is brought down to a simple mind manageable scales. Imagine holding the Sun, Earth & Moon, along with our Solar System in your hand. How about a whole Milky Way galaxy and Andromeda galaxy spaced about a arms distance apart? Or the Hubble Ultra Deep Field 4 miles away which is depicted on the back of the Cosmic Microwave Background pic. Fun stuff here!!!!!!!!
One of the neat things with this activity is that my more studious visitors will be able to take this with home with them to share with others!

Look at what we got here - the new NSN Space Rocks Toolkit and this is gonna be fun. As I mentioned earlier these kits from the network are loaded with creative presentations and activities that astronomy clubs can use in a variety of settings. Several things will be incorporated soon like the Earth/Moon poster comparative. The moon is seen on the lower right and the Earth poster will be (as standard with the NSN posters) a weather proof plastic roll up 1 meter in size! I should have this by next week. Along with this a nifty Solar System Card Sorting Activity seen in the upper right side which folks can do while waiting to look or as part of a presentation. How much fun is this?

But wait there's more!!!!!! Included in the kit is this hands on "Meteorite or MeteorWrong" activity with a flip book to guide! My visitors can now compare earthy stuff to the real stuff that has fallen from the sky above! For the activities to be effective they need to be guided by a knowledgeable other so............

What is as Sidewalk Guy to do? I can juggle a lot on my outings doing presentations, viewings with challenges, and modeling. But if I am going to move to the next level (which is incorporating more of the NSN activities) I will need some help. I want to have a completely separate activity table manned by a capable individual - me or another. I want a lap top or note pad out there with power points to enhance the experience. Is there a person is out there that has passion to reach folks on a personal level, not just share info but make the universe understandable & personal. One who can be patient as folks look through a scope and work through their misconceptions/misunderstandings about the cosmos. One who can handle SUG's high energy output, constant eating of snacks, and endless banter and desire to push the boundaries of street astronomy!


Friday, November 5, 2010

HEOC Request

I have been flooded with requests for a long over due Healthy Eating and Observing Club post. With my skies cloudy the Sidewalk Guy is photon and outreach deprived along with a case of aperture fever. Yes this dreaded illness has struck with a vengeance since East Central Minnesota Astronomy Club Jim found gold (speculum more like it) on Astromart and purchased the Leviathan (along with other assorted optical aids) and is sitting under Mag 6 skies enjoying food stuffs and a telescope of a Irish origin.

I am not feeling "healthy" today! No rather I want my taste buds to enjoy some down home cooking and lots of it. Remember friends that the HEOC emphasis is on healthy; either in quality and quantity. Drive By Astronomy my Hamburg NY affiliate stresses the quantity aspect with his pizza and pasta powered astro sessions teamed up with TelVue 101 or the BAA 20" Dob. Lots of photons both color corrected and copious along Italian food(or anything ethnic) piled up on his plate.

So today it is this wonder to behold, and enjoy - the chicken fried steak! This meal has been on my mind now for days and I want one really bad with all its crunchy, savory down home goodness smothered with gravy with fresh ground black pepper on top. Served with blacked eyed peas, mashed spuds, and a couple of fresh biscuits and butter I would be ready for a observation session with this being served up by the chained lady Andromeda ...........

NGC 891 is a ghost like edge on view galaxy that is a fall favorite for me. With it's needlework dark lane and galactic bulge set against the starry background this specter always fills my photon bucket. One night several years back I had the opportunity to enjoy this gem using my 12.5 Dob and a image enhancing eyepiece - kind of a night vision barlow. Well the view was nothing sort of awesome and reviled the view through a 16"-18" scope.

Like the chicken fried steak the experience was filling, and tasty and left me wanting more.

More aperture and another chicken fried steak with the trimmings please!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

U(you) R(are)K(killing)M(me) Astro Report

Ti's that time of year to enjoy the treasures of the fall sky and this one is at the top of the list; Messier 15 (NGC7078) in the upside down flying horse of Pegasus. It is 33,600 lys distant with a light output of 360,000 Suns! With its dense central region and well aged looks this is a throw back in galactic history & stellar evolution.

And of course today my buddy Jim in Minnesota has to fill me me in on his excellent observe time last evening armed with Earl Grey Tea and scone. Not just any Earl Grey Tea but tea that has been brewed to perfection in the traditional British way. How does he like his? With milk or creme? Sugar or honey? Straight up maybe? I know how he likes his skies; clear and steady with as little moisture has possible.

Of course no observe time is complete without something to munch so why not some fresh scone from the wife's kitchen. These are the stuff of culinary legend and Jim will tell you all about them himself I am sure.

What is really KMT (killing me today) is his report to me via email: "Well, tonight is very mild but with a steady light breeze. My skies from the apron outside my garage are magnitude 6 and I just came in to thaw out and brag that I just saw M15 with the naked-eye... "

OK Jim. Little does my Mn stationed friend know that for weeks we have had haze without a let up. Yes and here he is in his country outpost looking up and bagging faint MefuzzierS with the naked eye drinking tea perfection with scone crumbs hitting the drive way. Mag 6 skies I can only imagine.........the tea and scone supreme will have to be imagined as well.

Tell me my brother under the skies did you also spy Pease 1 the planetary nebula associated with this cluster as seen in the picture? No silly not with your scope ( oh which one?) but with your eye? If you did I am ready to bag this hobby and move on to model trains!

URKM Jim!!!!!!:)

Monday, November 1, 2010

AstroMart Purchase

Tis the time of year to purchase a scope - a used scope that is! My recently reacquainted astro buddy Jim has always had a knack for finding good buys on this popular amateur astronomer website. Much of what he owns is found here including this baby:

Yes when aperture fever hits it is hard to quell so Jim gives in and is now the proud owner of "The Leviathan of Mora MN" - all 70" and several tons of metal mirror are his! He has plenty of room on his country estate for this jumbo scope. Only he will need to employ his wife and daughters to help him maneuver the thing with the heavy chain and lever mounting.

To quote Jim: " This will be a wonderful family experience and bonding time under the skies for us. I could not pass this up!"

Enough said!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Halloween Evening Front Lawn Street Astro

It is that time again for kiddies and parents to be out and about knocking on doors and seeking out treats. Well the Sidewalk Universe Guy has some sweets of the astronomical type to hand out and a few tricks too. With Jupiter anchoring the southeastern sky along with a transit of it's volcanic moon Io during prime time tricks or treats this has the makings of a fine outing catching folks off guard with a space science education opportunity.

I was handing out 3D cards and Solar Pizzas and to those who show a real interest DVD's will end up in their sacks.

Here's C8 ready to go all shaded by my small Oak tree from the onslaught of the Victorian style street lamp. I am glad it still has some leaves to help eclipse this lamp which laminates my south front yard corner. I thought about asking my across the way neighbor Edi about using his front lawn for this outing but I did not want to subject him to the potential crowd control & media blitz problems that the SUG generates........haha!

Last year I got some really interesting responses ranging from "this is really neat" to what the F!!!!!!!!!?????. What will it be this year?

Judy had a wonderful time with Jupiter. She was out with her daughter and grand kids. Judy patiently waited her turn as she was back at the end of a 15 costumed kiddee line with the look of anticipation on her face. One young teenager in this line took up on the Sidewalk Universe Guy's Jupiter Challenge and with this Judy had already decided to take on this crucible when her turn arrived. Well by the time this first time observer made it to the scope she was ready to go and one by one the selected Jupiter features fell before her gaze. Io's 3D effect against Jupiter's cloud tops left her spellbound! Picking out Ganymede, the polar hoods, and Jupiter's not so round shape was easy for this interested visitor. She received her DVD excitedly and with gratitude. When she was done off she went telling other packs of people to stop by and see the Sidewalk Guy nestled behind his tree and shrubs showing a eyeball treat to one and all. I had 40+ this evening out and met several that had expressed a interest in getting started in astronomy.

Tom's Telescope Collection Grows

Tom is infected with the astro bug. His progress has been sure and steady only held up by weather, and the availability of the SUG. The Sidewalk Guy has not been available as of late but some time was carved out the past Saturday afternoon to help Tom do some simple maintenance on his new (used) telescope collection. Tom is building his hobby smart finding good used scopes which will provide years of enjoyment to himself and others.

Here is Tom with his latest purchase a nice Orion Deep Space Explorer 10" Dob. This is a oldie but in fine shape. Look at that giant 9x60 finder and custom skull & crossbones wood box that doubles as a scope cradle when in your car going to the dark sky sight or SUG outreach event! This scope is patterned after the Coulter line of Dobs with a Sonotube OTA and vented particle board mirror cell. Funky & fun! But it is a bit more refined. I will have a post on Coulter's soon. We did some cleaning on the floor boards and bearings and the movement is nice and smooth. Next up will be a mirror cleaning when Tom is done doing his homework on this. No SUG does not do all the work as Tom must know how to care for this telescope. We will also be cleaning out the old grease from the focuser unit. Today we mounted his Rigel Quick Finder and did a mirror lineament with everything moving easily into place and terrestrial targets snapping into crisp focus . This scope came with a nice 1.25" color filter set and 35mm eyepiece.

We also spent sometime working on his C8. Rigel Quick Finder mounted and sighted in, right angle finder fixed, mounted and sighted in, equatorial wedge adjusted, and the light shield custom fitted. I would say this scope is ready to go!

Tom has plenty of scope here and is ready to explore the sky from is backyard and share it with others on the sidewalks.

This novice Minnesotan observer also has his own unique set of camo covers for his scopes. These clash perfectly with just about everything including Tom's Viking's colors. Like a Minnesota duck hunter in a duck blind these scopes will be seeking celestial critters that fly by over head. He may live out west here but he's all Minnesota at heart!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Undercover Astronomer Scoping Out New Locations

Last week I had some free time I thought it would be a good to investigate by stealth some new settings for my outreach efforts. I really like my Marina outpost but for sometime I have been wanting to move my program around. The Sparks Marina Park is right on the a joining mall and future casino complex called "Legends". The mall itself is a outlet style and is only a few short minutes drive from my home. It is nicely done with fountains, fireplaces, gardens, bronze statues, and sculptures depicting the history and nature of the Silver State. I am not a mall person but I do like it here and there is lots of traffic on the weekends! I surveyed the sky here the other night and was surprised as to what I could see. Here are some pics of the mall and I found some good set up areas where the "Big Four" meet.

  • Traffic flow - gotta have people to inspire!
  • Visibility - they gotta see you out there!
  • Access - gotta be able to get in and out with your stuff so they can pass by and see you!
  • Sky To See - the first three mean nothing if there are obstructions to viewing the sky! No not prime observing real estate but you have to be able to show them something or your gonna look silly to most folks. Well you will look silly to some by just being there!

Here's the main court yard with its cozy surroundings. It will be easy to do Lunar and Solar programs from here! People traffic moves in from all directions. Believe it or not the sky at night is not washed out badly for the mall lighting is shielded! There are lots of places for folks to sit and mingle here and it is nice in the winter months with the gas fires going.

Stairway to second level eateries with a awesome sky exposure reaching from the North to the N.W with only the South blocked out. There is a elevator so I could move my stuff to the platform easily. I am imagining my little station up here showing off the sky and bantering away with my visitors! Here is the N.W view from the second floor patio over looking the Marina Park. Programs of all sorts could be done here including brighter deep sky objects. I am jazzed about the potential of this place for outreach from various spots within the complex. I am feeling very inspired about doing 2-3 programs a month out here.

I hope the mall management is open to the Sidewalk Universe Guy!

Several days later and I meet with the mall management with my presentation in hand. The response kind of threw me for a bit with the short of it is that they do not want their visitors distracted from shopping. I have entered a different universe here. I totally understand that this place is open for the purpose of making money but.....I am speechless to say the least and a bit embarrassed and I leave feeling really stupid. I have read stories of other astro groups doing programs at malls without any trouble and what is up with this? I do not know how to reply to this statement. There must be a place for the SUG to go but where?

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Mid Week Jupiter Not So Bash Street Astro

Well here it is a Saturday afternoon in Sierra foothills with a very socked in sky and a double moon transit of Jupiter about to begin in a few hours. No way this guy is gonna see it tonight with unyielding clouds in all directions. Drive By chimed in earlier and was bragging about his wonderful N.Y. skies for this event! I did or at least attempted a outreach on this past Wednesday evening.

A awesome sunset with clouds moving out started things out nicely........

Resource table and scope set to go and...........

Well no one showed up! Seriously 4 visitors this night to enjoy Jupiter and waxing gibbous moon views. This was by far my slowest and least satisfying outreach. One of my visitors did do a detailed view with Luna treasures spurring him forward but did not want his pic taken. To bad as he would have made the headlines on this blog for the quality observe he made that even impressed his lady friend. Well maybe that is all that mattered! And she was impressed with her guy's observing prowess and his car wasn't to bad either...........

OK what is a SUG to do?

Why not enjoy the time out by the lakeside and take in fun lunar views like this one. This was the same view I had on this evening of this crater/transition crater complex on the moon's western edge. Oh sure I missed my people (A LOT) and I was a lonely telescope guy but the moon made up for some it with shows like this.

I think I am ready to try a new location but where?

Friday, October 15, 2010

Midweek Street Astro

"When are you going to be out here again?" is something I tend to hear a lot. For it is a question that implies a good experience was had and curiosity stirred. I do not keep a regular schedule with my outreach due to weather, and the things of life. It is nice to know that folks are looking for me and enjoy their little forays into the cosmos and want to share this experience with other friends and family. I am glad to be a little part of their lives in such a positive way. I try to be out on Thursday, Friday, Sunday evenings (except with full moon) or will try to go out when things are just easily available and interesting to view like this Wednesday evening with our 6 day Luna and Jupiter seen right at dusk.

A day 6 moon is a wonder to behold but this crater duo of Aristoteles/Eudoxes was simply superb in its Lunar morning view with lighted rims, pitch black floors, and surrounding hilltops aglow with sunlight. Lunar eye candy!

Barb, Nigel, and Tammy shared in a wonderful observational experience this evening. Barb is one of my regulars who will always stop and inquire. Her interest grows and she does great P.R. for me encouraging others to stop and look. Tonight her pal Tammy was along the share in the experience. These two made detailed observations of Jupiter and Luna with patience excepting the SUG's challenge to go deeper. With encouragement and resources on hand even first timers can do detailed observes which only helps to foster more and more excitement. Needless to say this night of discovery was not to remain just here so on the phone is Tammy to Nigel who must partake of the show this evening and partake he did. With a rock and roll (he's part of a band) and science bent to life this gent just tears to shreds the SUG Jupiter Challenge. Lunar features where observed with ease and this fellow's zeal for the cosmos was ignited a bit. By the way Nigel has the coolest set of wheels! I had 41 visitors and was not able to leave till 11 p.m. Ok I stuck around by my own choice with lots of later evening viewers as I cannot say no as I'm packing up!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Quickie Sunday Night Outreach

Weather cleared so I got out Sunday night for a fast couple of hours with Luna and Jupiter to show off to the public. My usual haunt was on the quiet side when I first arrived but people started to show up right after I had everything set up - imagine that!

Amanda with her daughters Kayla, Karla were some of the first to stop. Dad was busy securing dogs (large) while these ladies had some fun at the scope. 3day moon views with Crisium sunrise started the juices flowing and at last Jupiter was within grasp to marvel at. Cell phone calls going out to friends and family soon followed as Amanda & Kayla successfully conquered the SUG Jupiter Challenge - not hard at all with reasonable skies, well aligned scope, and the Sidewalk Guy nearby with atlas in hand to guide you on your way! What was really fun was watching and listening to the reactions of others waiting their turn as these two got down to some serious observing! 36 visitors this fine evening out.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Friday Night Street Astro

I had a really fun program this past Friday and here's some of the happenings:

Allison and dad Paul decided to do the Sidewalk Universe Guy's "Jupiter Challenge" after a short 5 minute presentation of this Solar System giant. Both made the observations with ease along Allison's older brother who was able to pick up on the subtle colors of Jupiter's swirling atmosphere! They were pretty stoked about it all.

Robert came by with his family troop to take in some astro fun and by the smile on his face you would have thought he found some buried treasure. What he did find was the treasure of discovery and a real personal experience with our moon's rugged surface. "I feel like I'm holding it in my hand!" was his response to his first time experience viewing through a scope. Enough said!

Emilee stopped by with Jared and baby Oliver upon the recommendation of Jared's encounter with the SUG a few months back. She was taking in all that the sky was offering her. After nailing the Jupiter Challenge on to Uranus and then the moon. She made quality observations with minimal coaching and was getting hooked very quickly! Can the astronomy bug be contained? NO!

Bundled up and cozy there was hardly a peep from baby Oliver. I wonder if this young family will have a telescope in their future? Based on this evenings exposure to the sky I believe so!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

International Observe The Moon Night(s) 2010

With our nice late summer weather showing signs of fall I thought I would get my butt out the door and start the IOMN event early.

Tuesday was showing a wonderful just before first quarter moon with Aristoteles and Eudoxus craters right on the lunar terminator along with Mare Serenitatis western wrinkle ridges in a fine display. Wonderful sight to kick off this weeks lunar fest !

Elyse came by early on while still light and said "I have been looking for you forever! Where have you been?" She had heard about the SUG from other walkers around the park and just happens to be a good friend of my son's girlfriend. And it was very recently that she was able to connect these two astro guys as the same. Well she was really enjoying the early evening lunar excursion and came back later with pal Andy and lots of questions. These two made nice astro music together at the scope sharing questions and enjoying the whole Lunar and Jupiter experience. I had 32 visitors and that was really good for a Tuesday night.

9/15/10 Wednesday evening started out on the windy side so my plans to put out my resource table went by the wayside. But I got C8 up and running quickly and people started to gather. With so many lunar delights to show off it was hard to stay on just one. But this familiar crater trio bought wows to the masses with lunar day break showing up on central peaks with pitch black crater floors! The pictured family stayed glued to the scope and enjoyed astro presentations for a good hour with the kids being like sponges absorbing everything ! Dad and mom along with grandmother were heartily involved with this outdoor school experience. Mom really was shocked and delighted with the stark beauty of the lunar surface and dad enjoyed Jupiter's moons and Red Spot show. I had 41 visitors and many want to come back later in the week to experience more of the unfolding show.

9/18/10 Well its finally here - the night of nights so we're official now with our outreach to the public concerning the moon. I wanted to get out on Thursday evening but was prevented due to some allergy symptoms. So here I am anticipating a fun evening out and the park looks a little quieter than expected and sure enough it is. I really thought that with the fine weather we have been having that the place would be bustling with activity but no. I can't leave now for I have had several hits on my Night Sky Network address so I am committed to the cause right here. I am glad that the folks that were aware of the InOMN and inquired did saw up and their interest level was indeed high. Early on the Bay of Rainbows and the Jura Mtn light show held top billing much to the delight of the budding Selenographers but later on the sunrise on the Gassendi/Letronne crater complex was stirring the minds of the viewers. Tiffany and son Hunter enjoyed a bit of Lunar exploration with oohs and wows following every new discovery.

All totaled over the course of three outings during the week I had around 100 visitors. I estimate about 25-30 walked off not wanting to wait for others in the line to the scope before them. But those that stayed and participated got to enjoy old moon a bit. Fun conversation filled the air, space science was taught, some pseudo science debunked, new friendships made, and some imaginations ignited!

Friday, September 10, 2010

A Sunday Evening Under the Sky

I had a really fun outing this past Sunday of the holiday weekend. I was invited out to a volunteers BBQ for Manna Cafe which is a outreach of various services to the poor and struggling of Carson City NV. This turned out to be a really awesome time as we had excellent skies and a wonderful group of people which kept me hopping over my 3 hours out under the sky. The time went so fast it felt like I had hardly started. Lots of good interaction, questions, and everyone loved the views and constellation tour toward the end of the evening. What was really fun about this time out was the simplicity of heart and attitude my crowd (no science geeks or scholars here) and the enjoyment that the sky gave to everyone. A joy just to watch the group just take it in and enjoy each others company.

This young lady was totally enraptured by the views through the scope. It is always fun to see how expending gas shells from dying stars ignites the imagination !

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Tom's Big Chunky Astro Adventure

I met Tom several months back at the Marina during a Sun Earth Moon Saturday morning program. His interest level was keen and he was actively involved with all I was doing this day with a expressed interest in getting started in astronomy. I meet many folks who share a interest in getting started in astronomy but I tend to never hear from them again. Maybe they forget or get sidetracked (did they get overwhelmed by the SUG?) but this was not the case with Tom. Sure enough several weeks later my phone rings and its Tom asking about my whereabouts and program times along with questions concerning a certain pair of large binoculars he has acquired. Sure enough Tom meets me at my next outing and is totally into it and now has become a regular at my programs just soaking it all in. He also pulls out these beefy binoculars so lets get out the credit card and order a snazzy mount (that can also hold other small telescopes and one that the SUG can barrow from time to time) to get his hobby rolling.

Two weeks later in early July the mount arrives and so does Tom and in my backyard we are like 2 youngsters at play tearing open boxes and thinking about some fun binocular views. My mind is racing thinking about getting Tom trained on his new toy when oh no! Missing mounting post. Here's Tom holding some steroid binoculars with a stoutly built mount and we can not use either. Yes we where sad and heart broken. Tom would be leaving for several weeks the next day so no binocular fun for us till August.

Here we are now with the finished product. Our wait is over and Tom is digging on the Lunar views this evening. Nice gibbous moon details and comfortable viewing from almost any angle. But there is more. Yes this guy has gotten infected with the astro bug and of course I am going to egg it on whenever possible. Over the weeks Tom has kept his eye on my C8 OJ and has expressed a interest in having one. Sure enough I saw one for sale locally and Tom went out and bought it while I was at home still thinking about it and wondering when I could break free to check it out for him!

How can you go wrong with one of these? Yes it is old but in nice condition. Built like Fort Knox, light weight, easy to set up with good optics. So in between binocular views we start to tinker with this black beauty and it will only require minor repair to the altitude adjuster, finder bracket and a fresh mirror alignment. The drives hum along nicely and it is tracking like a champ. Tom already had a power supply and inverter - cool. I quickly make out a minor shopping list to get this scope ready for some fun beginner astronomy and outreach. Yes outreach ! Tom not only has acquired the astronomy infection but also the outreach passion. He has experienced first hand the joy in sharing the universe with others. No Tom is not a seasoned observer and has much to learn but he wants to give out of what he knows now and share what he has acquired. This so cool to watch and be part of this process so expect to see another scope and outreach guy in the pics on this blog. Tom is in no hurry to learn everything or master the sky but I expect his patient and quiet demeanor to be a great assist to a whole other segment of people that the SUG bowls over with his energy, excitement, and observing challenges! Not everyone needs a SUG but some will need a Tom with his binoculars and black C8 to lead them on a simple heavenly viewing quest.

Welcome aboard Tom!