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First outreach opportunity on the 19th.

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#1 Escher



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Posted 11 January 2013 - 02:51 PM

I've been asked to come to the "family fun night" at church and bring my CPC1100.

I'm planning on it as long as the weather is good.

I was also planning on bringing my ETX125 on CG5..

My thoughts are to bring a full setup with my observing table, chairs, etc... Then I will man the CPC full time and allow the adults and heavily supervised kids to use the big scope.

The ETX125 I can setup to let folks do a little searching on their own - its a manual CG5. And I can let them search a bit as they wish.

I also plan to have at least one helper to make sure people arent using the scopes without supervision.

What else should I be planning for? I have never done anything like this before.

Should I bring my macbook and run the CPC remotely from stellarium instead of using the handset?, thereby eliminating one source of issues (buttom mashing by kids)... then again - do I really want my new macbook outside in downtown Flint...

Suggestions appreciated!!!

#2 Skylook123



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Posted 11 January 2013 - 03:20 PM

IMHO, two scopes and one experienced operator is one scope too many. It means two separate audiences to service. Of course, that depends on the level of expertise and comfort with a crowd of the helper. As far as a visitor doing some searching on their own, nice concept but it boils down to introducing as much confusion as discovery if more than a couple of visitors are involved. It might be a group of people, but in the end it becomes each contact being one on one, and fragmenting attention can be hectic.

I have run my 10"/Atlas with just the hand controller, with a laptop running a planetarium program, and with a ful EQMOD setup with joysticks and full satellite tracking capability. Simpler is better. For me, the situation is the most pleasant when I can just have the scope and whatever fits on the spreader bar; it lets me constrain the show and tell experience. I have tried running the 90mm alongside the 10", or the 18", and it just doesn't work out. Audiences do require a surprising amount of care and attention. And when you can give it, they are VERY appreciative.

But, as always, YMMV.

Good Luck!

#3 MikeBOKC


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Posted 11 January 2013 - 05:00 PM

Jot down some basic facts about major objects (Jupiter, moon, M42) on some index cards so you can tell people a little bit about what they are seeing -- how far, size, etc. I find that is always a hit.

#4 David Pavlich

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Posted 12 January 2013 - 06:29 PM

I agree with Jim 200%! One operator, one scope. You will be busy just trying to keep everyone "entertained" at the big scope. And from experience, the bigger the scope, the bigger the lines.

Stick to brighter objects. Nothing gets a hohum quicker than a faint fuzzy. The only time I deviate from bright objects is if I get a viewer or two that has actually had either eyepiece time or taken an astronomy course and wants to see what M31 looks like. Otherwise, it's M45, Jupiter, the Moon, M42 and the like.


#5 tedbnh


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Posted 13 January 2013 - 03:19 PM

Yep, one scope is all you want there. Be set up way before any of the people come over. Start with Jupiter or the Moon, be ready with answers to the obvious questions (what order are Jupiter's moons in tonight, where are they in respect to Jupiter, why are they in a straight line when they orbit in circles, what day of the Lunar phase is it, can I see the Great Red Spot, etc. If you have a smart phone on which you can show Jupiter's moons on one of the many apps available, or Jupiter2 on a windows laptop, you will be able to explain more quickly about that "moons in a straight line" business.

Two important things:

1) Insure everyone who looks through the eyepiece does adjust the focus for their eyesight. To encourage them to do so (many will be scared to touch anything) tell them that you want them to see the "HD" view and not just the "regular" view. (It works!)

2) Ask everyone a question, simple stuff, like "how many moons do you see" or "does Jupiter have any features on its clouds you can see?" It gets the mind engaged and they see more than if they just look quickly.

Have fun! If you can make up a handout showing which moon is which and give everyone a copy they will be very grateful. You can add to that page info about local astronomy resources, Sky And Telelescope site etc.

#6 cheapersleeper



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Posted 13 January 2013 - 04:31 PM

I have had some success telling little kids: "It's just like looking through a hole at something." This seems to get them to look through the eyepiece instead of AT the eyepiece. Don't worry too much about the questions, my fallback is to explain the general concept and tell folks that when I need specifics I go online. :lol:


#7 tedbnh


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Posted 16 January 2013 - 03:04 PM

"like looking through a hole"

I like that!

#8 Escher



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Posted 18 January 2013 - 02:52 PM

Well its not looking very good... clouds and snow predicted...

I will likely download celestia and do some tours in the main building since my other job is head of AV/Media.. and we installed two 105" projection screens last year.

#9 GeneT


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Posted 22 January 2013 - 07:31 PM

I recommend that you personally supervise your telescope(s).

#10 Whichwayisnorth



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Posted 12 February 2013 - 11:08 AM

Have one telescope dedicated to one object like Jupiter. Make up a little dry erase board telling some facts about Jupiter. Maybe draw a diagram showing Jupiter and which moons are visible. Make sure you use a very cheap eyepiece you don't care about. That telescope will never move to another object. You simply tell people "That telescope over there is pointed at Jupiter. Don't touch, just look. On your main telescope work out beforehand maybe 6 objects that will look good in the eyepiece. Write down some notes about them. Do not take requests. Spend about 15 minutes on each object while people work through the line and move on to the other telescope. Announce that you intend to find a new target soon so if they haven't looked through yet, please do so. If they have please let those who haven't go ahead.

Then move on to the next.

Don't bring your computer. Just use the Hand controller or if you have wireless use that. You don't want kids tripping over the wires and yanking your Mac off the table onto the ground nor do you want usb cables constantly being unplugged.

To recap:
One eyepiece for each scope.
No cables. Keep it wireless or use the HC.
One scope is dedicated to one object only. Assign a family member to make sure object stays centered and help folks find the focus knob.
Pick 5 or 6 targets for the night on bigger scope. Stick to the notes. Don't take requests.

It also helps if you can use some sort of police line tape to force people in one way and out another.

An idea I came up with is on that scope pointed at one object like Jupiter. Record audio telling about Jupiter. Just read off of a script you find online like Wikipedia or something. Then burn the audio to a record able CD and using a little cd player and a speaker, put it on the eyepiece tray of the scope on "repeat" so it constantly talks about Jupiter and it's moons. I over complicate things I guess. :)

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