Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Summer Solstice Street Astro With A Twist

Another Solstice come and gone. Seems like they are coming around faster all the time. Through my eastern facing bedroom window it is so much fun to see old Sol move from the SE to the NE and back again. From my western facing front porch to see the drama of the Sun's bye bye times shifting from the SW to the NW. How can we get the public informed and interested in this Sol movement? Most folks know the Solstice as the "longest day" but what does that mean? When really pressed (SUG is always gentle with his cross examination) most do not know what this is all about. One of my goals with all this is for the average person to begin to notice the changing position of the sunrise and sunset and the reason for it. Solar standstill time - gotta love it! Equinox - like it but Solstices rule! Hook them in with a telescope view and then educate them about this sublime bi-yearly event.

I received two generous donations last week for my program which allowed me to purchase this wonderful 38mm 2" eyepiece from University Optics - just perfect for the OJ the C8's f10 optics! This thing is like a porthole to the sky with plenty of eye relief so just about anyone can view through it with ease. I was weathered out over the weekend so I was anxious for some good weather to roll in and to put this eyepiece to work. With our busy Ecliptic and Waxing Moon I want to do some astronomy outreach in a bad way.

I barely get my outpost semi setup when Jared stopped by from zooming bike laps around the Marina and inquires as to what is going on. He is certainly not prepared for what is about to happen to him as he is reeled in to this outdoor astronomy classroom. Jared is a busy guy but somethings are meant to happen and this was his night to get a full dose of the Sidewalk Universe Guy's presentation of our local universe. He had the first look through OJ C8 on Luna with the new eyepiece. This one look started a 2+hour time for him under the sky learning the Solstice, Luna surface features, the Ecliptic, and nailing the Sug Saturn Challenge! He was actively engaged with all the modeling and presentations - a shift in his evening plans indeed!

Kyle and his generation 2 Archuleta's got a eyeful also. All eager to see and learn this family was a joy to spend time with. Kyle was digging on the views and the kids were so well behaved and patient as they waited for their turn to look - by this time I had a crowd closing in. Family bonding and astronomy at its finest!

My resource table is a disaster, presentations are quick, questions coming at me left and right, and my Solstice plans are on hold much like the Sun's movement - just go with it and have some fun! Over 60 where exposed this night to our sky with the Sidewalk Universe Guy packing up around 12 a.m!

What is the twist? It was one of fate. My best laid plans for Solstice demonstrations and modeling fell to the power of the telescope views and the contagious excitement of seeing distant worlds with a convenient crowed ecliptic. Hard for the everyday Solar movement to compete with Lunar terminator, Saturnine views and a growing line at the scope. But some did get the Solstice presentation and eyes where opened to this aspect of celestial mechanics.

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