Sunday, May 30, 2010

Marina Saturday Night Saturn View

One thing about this sidewalk stuff is that it is very unpredictable especially on a Saturday night. You never know who you will meet or the reactions you will have when you do this sort of thing as you are catching folks off guard. But this night was a night of pleasant encounters. With this being a holiday weekend I was not sure what kind of crowd there would be at the Marina Park. What I found where curious and excited folks who came briskly walking or riding their bikes by to see what this was all about. Smiles and looks of excitement would follow the invitation to look and learn. I had a lot of fun encounters throughout my time out along with good science lessons. The Galvez family really ran with this Saturn thing. All three viewed moons, ring shadow, atmospheric banding and stayed glued to the scope in between other visitors. This was not the evening they expected as a simple walk turned into a adventure traversing across the Solar System!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Monday Morning Constellation Connection Program

I had a fun program today with 80 students and three teachers. This is the first time I have done a program like this for such a large group but the students were involved and focused along with excellent preparation by the lead teacher . They were surprised as to how much is involved with seeing and understanding the patterns of stars that grace our skies. We covered Earth's revolution, rotation, day/night, tilt/season change, our changing horizonal view. They made Polar Clocks and Star Wheels and practiced their usage. We modeled the Zodiac and the stations of the Sun and ended with a really good question and answer session covering gravity, the multi - universe, space time, super nova, cosmic origins. It is fun to see what simple star patterns can do!

Friday, May 21, 2010

New Outreach Aids

I found these recently at the local community college. They are a laminated tri-fold presenting the basic of the universe. Sometimes in my outreaches it is fun to have folks for themselves read or research the answer to their questions - this is a major component of the inquiry method that I use with my street astronomy. You should see the look on the faces of my visitors when I hand them a easy to read resource and flashlight! Yes when you visit my outpost you get to look but you pay the price with a little effort on your part to learn and engage. This will normally stimulate more questions and on and on we go with a quick look turning into a education time. One thing too is that sometimes it is hard for me to remember facts, numbers, distances etc. Handy resources take the pressure off and I seem less like a know it all. I try to use a variety of materials at any given time to fit the need of the great diversity of folks I encounter.

I have missed my outreach here the last 6 days or so due to funky not so spring weather........

Monday, May 17, 2010

A New Copy Of A Old Friend

I have had a copy of this atlas for many years. I love its simplicity, content and easy layout. It has been a constant outreach friend and quick resource when I'm out with the public as it is seen on my outreach resource table. I truly enjoy this guide except from its poor binding which breaks apart. This old copy was purchased in '96 and is well worn and barely held together with packing tape. The other thing is that the new addition does not have the same feel and layout as this one which was first published in '84.

Well sure enough I was able to locate a copy of the original from a private seller and at a wonderful price. It arrived Friday and is in totally new condition. This one will sit on my bed stand table for now and will be perused at night before sleepy time. What is with the Sidewalk Guy's connection with this guide? What about my old one? Should I take it apart and put the charts in page liners for my outreach binder? The thought of dismantling this well worn copy is troublesome. Can this pocket guide have a second life? Can this backyard astronomer outreach guy get over this?

Friday, May 14, 2010

Saturn Sights Street Astro/ HEOC Request

Lots to see and share this spring for sure from the byways of my desert town. But before you go out and share it all one needs to get fueled up so.......
Here's a Healthy Eating and Observing Club as per special request for one reader who's cloud layered skies will not clear : Quick Thai Pasta Bowl. Angel hair pasta, green onions, snap peas, carrots, mushrooms, edomme beans, rice vinegar, ginger, garlic, almond butter, fresh cilantro, crushed red pepper. I go heavy on the vinegar and seasonings as the pasta is like a sponge. Make lots for this will disappear fast! Total comfort food and so easy to prepare!
Now that I'm fueled up it is time to hit the streets. OJ the C8 is with me tonight for a trial run and our skies look good for a Saturn up close & personal night. OJ did a nice job with Saturn's rings and moons with most of my visitors having no problem looking through his eyepiece. Higher power views of 140x - 200x showed off Saturn's mascara ring shadow to the delight of this foursome. This along with planet scale size and active modeling rounded out their experience with the Sidewalk Guy. This group was spellbound by it all and were greatly appreciative of their experience. 33 visitors in all and some leftovers at home awaiting my consumption!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Mother's Day 2010

Where would we be without mom's gentle but firm tug, hug and influence on our lives!

Happy Mothers Day to all astro moms out there!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

OJ Taking Shape

OJ the intrepid vintage C8 is slowly getting ready for his outreach debut. Last week I had two kind folks give me donations in appreciation for my efforts in bringing the universe to the public. These went to OJ's new light shield and 2" diagonal.

Next up is a power supply and converter that he will need to run his drive motors. One of OJ's desires (OK mine too) is for a Thousand Oaks Prominence Filter setup which will allow for super Solar Prominence views at f30. Up close and personal for the photon deprived masses. A white light filter is also on the list to show Sunspots, Beaches, Limb Darkening and Solar Granulation.

But for now some personal viewing as OJ gathered the light of a waning crescent moon in my dust layered morning skies. Nice sharp views, and easy to look through with the 2" format. OJ and I are anticipating fun outreach sessions with the public.

OJ's gonna deliver the goods while the Sidewalk Universe Guy banters away with the curious public!

Friday, May 7, 2010

Friday Morning Sun Earth Moon Street Astro.

Start with this......

Add a telescope.

You get this...... a fun time for all in the cool morning of a new day! Jackie and Elaina were astro buzzed for sure along with 45 others who received a morning jolt of astronomy caffeine!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Downtown Sparks Planet Show Off

Friday night and where are the people? Movie theaters! So off to the Sparks NV Victorian Square City Center and the Century Movie Theater with it's nice lawn, reasonable sky and people! Besides the theater staff likes me and they will watch my gear when I need a potty break! Even with the city lighting I have good views to the east and west. Winds were light but steady so my planned resource table activities had to be scraped. Tonight Saturn, Mars, and Venus had top billing. Many were very surprised by the views: just how small Mars is, Venus's gibbous cue ball look, and Saturn's edge on rings. Polaris's true identity was reviled as a distant variable/binary system. Castor's multiple members were shown. Rigel's brilliance with the subtlety of it's companion compared. A lot of astronomy can be done out here along with some educating. Let's not forget the Zodiac which is the path of the Planets, Moon, and Sun along our sky . Let's compare Planet and Star sizes while we are here. I had 43 visitors tonight who left with a new experience under their belts and hopefully a greater curiosity about the universe around them.