Monday, January 30, 2012

Jan 2012 Starbucks Update

This has been a fun and busy outreach month for me here in N.NV! With our winter being very mild I have had plenty of good opportunities to share the sky with my fellow citizens!

Here are some pics from my two Coffee, Chromosphere & Crater events held at my local Starbucks Coffee on the 14/28th of this month. The Solar pic is courtesy of the Swansea Astronomical Society (U.K) which shows our similar Chromospheric view we had on the 28th with the Lunt 60mm!

I have had a good response to these events with folks coming by via Facebook invitations, word of mouth and just coming in to grab a drink and socialize. The patrons are caught off guard and are asking the staff what is going on out there!
Most will come over and check out the astro show!

I wanted to include this pic so you could see my setup spot. It is on the S.E. corner of the patio in front of the store. At this spot everyone driving in & out has to see me. The drive up exit is in front of the scope. Throughout my sessions drive up folks stopped, conversed, parked, and looked! These folks were serviced quickly as most had time constants and were appreciative of the drive up astro experience! I had planned on moon observes with these events but on both she was hidden at the prescribed times both waning and waxing but the Solar views in the "red" left many spellbound with coffee & tea in hand!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

First Light Trial Public Narrow Band Viewing 1/12/11

Our day today was so mild and with a blue sky over head the views were bound to be good so lets do a short trial run with the public on the Lunt 60THA.

Saturday morning will have me at StarBucks doing a "Chromosphere, Crater & Coffee" outreach on their patio. You guessed it Solar and Moon in the morning and early afternoon! I want to be ready and get all the bugs out of my operation so today is the perfect time with the park lightly used but "lookers" still available. This was not a numbers outreach but a test run on using the scope, coaching folks at the scope, a general rehearsal for my spiel, and scope set up.

No resource table for the StarBucks events. Just the basics - outreach binder, Atlas Of The Universe, Solar System/Universe Scale Model, Jumbo Styro Ball (moon cycle), Solar Ball, Lunar Map, and handouts - lots of them!

I will start out with the morning moon (AT106) and then move into Solar when the Sun is at a good observing height. Later I hope to have another AstroTec ALT/AZ set up to have Solar Wedge & Ha at the same time.

Ha scopes can be tough to look through for one who has not had much (or any) scope time in their lives. When I was doing outreach for the non profit I had a Coronado Solar Max 40mm to use which was a nice scope! But with the narrow field of view and small "sweet spot" and ghosting a fair amount of folks had trouble seeing. How would the Lunt 60 do?

Jeff is one of the guards at the park and is a great supporter of my efforts. I so wanted him to be the first to view and I would value his opinion highly. Needless to say timing was great and he was treated to a whole array of different prom, spicuale, filament, facuale features. No trouble looking through this scope for him or any other person so inclined to stop. Jeff made detailed observes and was blown away. I will be using my Orion Stratus eyepieces - look at the large eyepiece lens, see the bright red ball(exit pupil) that's your window to the Sun! Every time complete beginners were lining up with Sol in the scope first time!

I saw some spicuales today that blew me away!

Joe was a first time observer and let me coach him at the scope for a good 20 minutes and was seeing changes in the Solar environment by the minute - first time!

The Scope Stuff Sun Shield is awesome! Look at that shadow on the observer with no glare to contend with!

All and all I am so pleased and stoked. The Lunt 60 tha (not because I own it) is better than expected. Flat field, no sweet spot, minimal ghosting, black black field of view, easy easy to look through, built like a tank with excellent finish!

What more can a SUG ask for? Well two things; clear sky and a horde of people to show the Sun off too!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

2012 StarBucks Coffee & Cosmos PatioAstro

This winter season sure is a mild one for us western USA types. With temps in the 50/60's and fairly clear conditions I have no reason to not get the 2012 outreach season going! So here are two events I have done so far......

January 4-5 marked Perihelion as the Earth reached it's closest approach to the Sun and is a outreach I like to do if weather and time permit. Awesome day was to be had at the Sparks Marina with 38 visitors. Dave, a former Army Recon Scout (Desert Storm & Panama!) really enjoyed the Sol show and the hands on modeling of this program. He also made detailed Sunspot observes and caught the sudden brightening of a isolated faculae on the S.E edge! Timing is everything!

The double shadow transit of Jupiter's moons Io and Ganymede the following evening made for some fun driveway observing. Moderate winter temps and hazy sky greeted us but we had no trouble watching the event unfold. Tom joined me for this shadow dance and his observing eye is developing quickly.

2012 also brings Coffee & Cosmos to local area StarBucks and this Friday evening was as good as any to give it a go. I have been wanting to do outreach at this particular one because it faces due east with a reasonable view from the N.E to S.E. Not having any contacts within the store I was not sure how I would be received so I was a little nervous just walking in, ordering a drink and "oh I'm the Sidewalk Universe Guy mind if I set up on your patio to share the cosmos?"

I was just gonna set up and see what happens but thought the better of it so in I go to ask this very unique request. Well things went my way as the shift manager knew me from my outreaches at the Marina Park!!! and soon I was off and running! Liane loves coffee and had fun hanging out with the SUG. A busy professional wedding planner she needed a break from the day and got treated to the Jove up in our sky. She was very encouraging and liked this outreach stuff.

I had a line most of the 3 hours out with customers from the nearby eateries coming over to check things out. Most were excited to look at Jupiter with the Galilean Moons on full display.

I had so many nice folks stop, look, talk and generally appreciate the experience. But this young lady made my night. Coming in and out of the Panda Express next door several times over she got a eye full of the evenings servings. She had a very defined "Lunar Bliss" moment observing sunrise on the Grimaldi Crater Complex! I was amazed at her interest level and zeal at the scope!

Coming soon will be a StarBucks SUG Solar on this very patio!

Monday, January 2, 2012

2012 Kick Off

Hi everyone and Happy New Year!

What a year we have in store for us astronomy types with 2012 bringing wonderful opportunities for us to enjoy celestial events galore along with excellent outreach opportunities! Here I am enjoying a New Year's Day early evening with my beloved Luna and sidekick Jupiter nearby with a steamy pot of soup on the stove! Awesome shadows across Imbrium and I did not spill any hot soup on me this time!

Along with you the June 5-6 Venus Transit and May 20 Solar Eclipse are things I am greatly anticipating! I do not have all the data on the eclipse yet (as I write this) but the shadow line runs right through southern Nevada. I have never seen an annular eclipse yet and I will be making a major effort to see it! Following this two weeks later on June 4th is a partial Lunar Eclipse preceding the Venus Transit 2 days later! WOW ! The timing on these events could not be better for my location as the weather is favorable May to early June.

Upcoming in 2012 Sidewalk Universe will expending its outreach by going red with narrow band Solar to inspire the public. Yes and the SUG Guy too! Timing is perfect to coincide with Solar Maximum, the transit, and upcoming outreach opportunities made available to me starting in February. Soon SUG Solar will be multi spectrum.

For me a dream long differed but here! More on this later......

I look forward to fun blog times with you all.

Richard (SUG)