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.


Johany said...


Remember how you were looking for someone to help you with outreach? Well, I think you might have found the right person in Juan! You should ask him. I'm sure he would love it!

Paulie said...

How cool that Juan not only had a telescope, but HAD IT WITH HIM! I get telescope questions, and always give my email to those who need help. To date I have never received an email from any of them. Seeing the telescope firsthand makes a huge difference. Without a good description (or even a picture) of the scope, I can't help them much. I would jump at the chance to help somebody get their unused scope up and running, but nobody has truly sought out my help yet.

How often do we hear from someone like James, who has studied astronomy or general science, but has never had the chance to experience the power of observation. I think for 2011 I would like to try to work with the library and/or park systems to have an observational astronomy program, highlighted of course by telescopic observations, but also focusing on celestial motions that can be observed with the naked eyes. I really enjoyed the astronomy classes I took two years ago, but it was the time I spent on my own watching the sky, watching as Mars moved through Gemini, that really hooked me. I'd like to have some sort of formal setting to try to replicate my own experience with others who might be interested.

Paulie said...

Yeah, and I'm a little bit jealous that on a day we had sub-zero wind chill factors, snow, and 50 mph gusts, everybody in your post is out in SHORT SLEEVES!

Enjoy el Sol, with or without a telescope!

Sidewalk Universe said...

This was a fun outing. Juan had a great time. His English is a bit rough and his scope will need some upgrading (not much) to really make it user and visitor friendly. BUT he transcended the language barrier that I encounter once in a while - may be he will get the bug.

Tom who is featured in past posts is ready to go as far as scopes are concerned but will remain out of action till the weather warms. I spoke with him just this week and he wants to do outreach as long as he does not have to do presentations and modeling - just operate one of his scopes which would really help me out!

Sounds like a good plan Paulie. What is really funny is that I am considering starting a group in my area to help people enter into observational astronomy. We are on the same page just different outlets!!!!

Do not be fouled by the short sleeves - temps change fast here from sun to shade and as the sun starts to set it gets cool fast!

Now Johany your scope will be here soon so what are you going to do blogpal?

East Central Minnesota Astronomy Club said...

Hey Rich!

You continue to be an inspiration, and I am so proud to be able to call you a dear friend. Keep up the fantastic work and know that you are supported by many who love what you do!

I think that I am developing a craving for Chicken Fried Steak?!

Johany said...

Man, I wish I lived close to where you and Paulie live! You guys have such wonderful activities planned for beginner stargazers out there, not to mention the wonderful outreach you do!!!

SUG, I don't know if the hubby is getting me a telescope now. But if he doesn't I'm NOT going to wait till next Xmas to get one! I'm getting it one way or the other! :) But let's just hope he gets it for me. I'm keeping my fingers crossed on this one.

Paulie said...

Meetup sounds like a good idea. With no college degree, I don't know how institutions will react if I approach them. I tried to apply for an outreach training program, asking the Indiana Dunes State Park to endorse my application since we had talked about doing astronomy programs there. They cannot endorse anybody who is not a park employee. I don't really need the training, but a certificate would be nice to show when approaching organizations. I'm pretty sure Calumet Astronomical Society will give me a strong recommendation, but I don't know yet how much support I can expect from them for programs that I initiate without them.

I need to brush up on my Spanish too. With somebody like Juan, I could get by with general stuff, but for detailed questions, there would be a communication barrier.

I can't blame Tom for wanting to sit out through the winter. I doubt I'll be out much, mostly because I doubt most people would be willing to stand around in the cold. I might try to do solar and lunar in the daytime though. We have enough fairly mild days, and as I found out last week, the Sun has been active enough recently to make it an interesting target.

Sidewalk Universe said...

Hey Guys - thanks for hanging your hats here every now and then. Each and every comment and story to share is important to me and I greatly value all your efforts, passion for the sky, and how you share it with others.

Johany your gonna have a scope!

Jim I am working on a CFS for you and the ECMAC is off and running like a well seasoned club-bravo!

Paulie I respect and like your zeal!

To each and all be safe this Holiday season and have some fun talking up the sky whenever to all your company - weather they want to hear it or not!!!!!!!

Drive By I know your out there somewhere...........