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#1 jerwin

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Posted 10 April 2013 - 02:02 PM

I've volunteered to do some outreach for some cub scouts this Friday. As part of it they've asked us to talk for a few minutes about our telescopes. We have someone bring a goto SCT, someone with a refractor on an EQ goto mount and I'm bringing my 10" dob.

This is my first outreach that is anything more than here look at Jupiter...next. So, it's got me a little nervous that I need to think about what I'm going to say ahead of time.

I think my talking points were going to be to simply talk about how a reflector telescope works, but there's not a lot to that without getting math involved.

So this dobsonian reflector, blah blah blah
basically the cheapest aperture per inch.
I might talk about importance of letting the scope cool, but mention that my not needing to do any computerized alignments it allows it to be a faster grab and go scope.

Is there any major talking point I'm completely overlooking?

I think\assume there will be some Q&A either during the inside presentation or (skies permitting) afterwards when we let them look through it. I don't know that kids care about price, but I'm willing to discuss what I paid if asked.

Anything you guys get asked often that I should volunteer to chew up a little more time?

Thanks,
Jim

#2 MikeBOKC

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Posted 10 April 2013 - 04:07 PM

Maybe find some simple diagrams of the optical paths of the three types of telescopes on the internet and blow them up to show them how they work.

Also if you have never dealt with Cubs the sign for quiet and attention is two fingers raised (the listening ears.) You will likely need that . . . they have gobs of energy.

#3 Matt2893

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Posted 10 April 2013 - 04:48 PM

Jim,
This LINK has the requirements for the Cub Scout Academics and Sports Program Astronomy Belt Loop and Pin. This should give you an outline of what to talk about that will also help the boys earn the Astronomy awards.

#4 SkipW

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Posted 10 April 2013 - 10:22 PM

"Anyone who doesn't believe in perpetual motion hasn't been around young boys."

Matt's link to the pin requirements should give a good basis for the evening's agenda.

For the telescope talk, stress that a steady mount is at least as important as the optics (and more so than magnification!) Everything is a trade off, and different designs have different strengths, but the Dobsonian reflector is simple to make (so it's relatively cheap) yet steady and easy to use, which makes it very effective.

Mention that a lot of the designs are named after their originators (Newtonian reflectors [Sir Isaac himself], Dobsonian mounts; Bernhard Schmidt and Laurent Cassegrain were both opticians). That makes the terms more than just random, hard to remember, words.

#5 jerwin

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Posted 10 April 2013 - 10:52 PM

Thank you all for your suggestions, especially you Matt that link was excellent.

Jim

#6 core

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Posted 11 April 2013 - 02:58 AM

Jim,

A couple of suggestions (I've been involved with cub scout outreach, belt loop, and pin presentations):

* Best is if you can ascertain the expected ages; cubs range from 1st to 5th grade, and that can greatly affect your presentation imo. You might also inquire if they are working towards any awards; generally belt loops for 3rd grade and under, 4th and 5th may work towards their Pin award.

* keep it basic, they mostly only need to know the two main type of scopes (reflector, refractor), and a general idea of how to use them - better yet if you have a spare scope for them to try out (RDF finder, I have either a 70/80mm refractor or 4" dob) - but you will have to have someone standby at the scope for sure.

* Other than looking through the scope, if conditions allow (it gets dark much later these days, and how much sky you can see), imo the best outdoor presentation would be a constellation guide with a GLP and short mythological stories (eg, at this time of the year, you have Orion (uses a lion skin (Leo) as a shield, it was said to be impenetrable to spears so he had to strangle it), Orion's companions (Canis Mj/Mn), the Rabbit in the field (Lepus), Gemini twins, etc - and since they are scouts, definitely go for Big Dipper and pointing the way to the North. imo naked eye presentation is more important (if available), as it's something you can encourage the kids to do themselves in their own homes (hopefully, even with all the LP) - telescope views adds to the icing on the cake.

#7 tedbnh

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Posted 11 April 2013 - 09:46 AM

In addition to providing a diagram of how the light travels in a reflector, why not demonstrate it? We have this demo constructed out of an old Coulter and kids love it.

Remove the eyepiece from your Dob and place a piece of white paper across the drawtube. Now mount a green laser pointer at the front of the scope, aimed down to the primary near one edge. (Hold a piece of 1x2" lumber across the mouth of the scope and tape the GLP to this, leaving some flexibility. Do this demo with the scope away from vertical so nothing can fall on your primary.)

Look for the green dot on the white paper.

Move the piece of 1x2" lumber around while keeping it in contact with the front of the OTA. The green dot should stay close to the same place on the paper no matter where the light hits the primary, as long as the light is parallel to the tube.

If you are brave, take a can of "dust off" from Staples, turn it upside down and spray some into the tube with the GLP on. The GLP beam will be come visible. NOTE - this may deposit junk on your primary! We do it with our demo scope, but it has been "sacrificed" to this demo with big holes cut in the sides of the sonotube so the kids can see the beams bouncing around. I am not suggesting you do this to your scope!

Actually, if you can find an old 4" reflector that you don't mind sacrificing, this makes a great demo and then you can spray the dust off can all you want. Note however that there is a compound in it to make it smell bad, to keep kids from "huffing" the stuff, so don't let them get their heads too close and smell the stuff. It's yukky. Because of this, we switched to using a theatrical smoke generator. Now the place smells like vanilla!

Have fun!

Ted

#8 Doc Willie

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Posted 12 April 2013 - 05:34 AM

There are some presentations for cub scouts here.

#9 Zoomit

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Posted 12 April 2013 - 09:38 AM

If you use the words aperture, magnitude, equatorial, thermal equilibrium, apparent field of view...you've gone too far.

In order of decreasing interest, they will be most excited about your green laser, telrad, and views of Saturn.

Try to make it real, not about the gear.

...father of 3 Cub/Boy Scouts and ex-Scoutmaster

#10 Jay_Bird

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Posted 12 April 2013 - 10:27 AM

Like Zoomit said!!! Stick to the script in the badge handbook. Give 'extra' on sky tours or observing, not a technical discussion at indoor meeting. I started badly for one troop by giving too much info for technical knowledge, ended better with observing. Learned a lesson about following the outline and not starting off too dry.

#11 Raginar

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Posted 17 April 2013 - 02:22 AM

Yup, kids need to be wowed. Stick to the planets, maybe a globular cluster or 2, and finish off with a galaxy/nebula that shows up well.

The discussion on how a refractor works is good; they won't listen :).

There will be a 'techy' kid who will be more into the stuff than the objects you observe.

Follow the guide!

~Chris

#12 jerwin

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Posted 22 April 2013 - 04:31 PM

There was 4 of us and the kids were 6 to 10 I think. I went first and kept mine pretty short, basically showed them how the light bounces around the telescope and gets to my eye, and how to focus it, move it, point it. They thought my dob was for shooting rockets, so I at least had them wondering what mine did. The other guys...I think we got a little too technical. They were talking about astrophotography, and the different finders, and focal length of a SCT, as well as how to find different constellations. One guy pointed out how to find the north star and why that was important to scouts, which I was cool with, but the parents didn't follow the arc to Arcturus and spike to Spica portion, I don't know how the kids are following it. We talked about why to never point a laser at a plane (and I couldn't make this part up) even though it doesn't really effect the pilots. (while maybe true, maybe false, I guess I don't know either way) wouldn't you just leave it at Never shine a laser at a plane?

I think sometimes we're all a little too technical and while I don't like to lie to a kid, when I do public solar observing, I show them my Lunt scope and I ask them if they can see the explosion on the side of sun. Because to me, that is something a kid understands, that's something an adult understands. A filament and prominence to a 7 year old mean nothing in the 30 seconds we can hold their attention.

And Chris, YES there was absolutely a techy kid. I was impressed just how much this kid knew.

We were clouded out, so after the presentations it was mostly parents saying they thought about getting xyz scope for their kid, or how much should they expect to spend. Most were very surprised that my dob was the cheapest thing up there.

I might need to take the other volunteers into consideration before I agree to do one of these again.

#13 Brett Carlson

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Posted 13 May 2013 - 01:51 PM

My son's scout master asked me to bring my telescope to an camp out they are having this weekend. I'm going to bring my 16" Starfinder for night time viewing. I'm also going to bring my 15x80 bino's and my 4.5" Astroscan. I have baader filter for both of these so I'll work in some solar observing.

Should be interesting to say the least!

#14 tedbnh

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Posted 15 May 2013 - 06:30 AM

Brett, if you mean you have Solar filters for the 15x80 binoculars, that scares the heck out of me. I refuse to let our club members use solar filters for binos any time the public is around. From the side or back, or from a distance, you cannot tell they are protected by filters, and I'm petrified someone will see us from a ways away and say to their family member, "See, I told you binoculars are ok to look at the sun - go run back to the car and get ours from the back seat" and before you know it somebody has an accident.

#15 Brett Carlson

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Posted 15 May 2013 - 07:26 PM

Brett, if you mean you have Solar filters for the 15x80 binoculars, that scares the heck out of me. I refuse to let our club members use solar filters for binos any time the public is around. From the side or back, or from a distance, you cannot tell they are protected by filters, and I'm petrified someone will see us from a ways away and say to their family member, "See, I told you binoculars are ok to look at the sun - go run back to the car and get ours from the back seat" and before you know it somebody has an accident.


Good point...I'll save the bino's for nighttime. I'll use my Astroscan for some solar viewing.

Thanks for the advice!

#16 Brett Carlson

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Posted 19 May 2013 - 08:04 PM

My little outreach went well....trees blocked a lot of the sky. We shut off the parking lot lights and we had about an 2 hours of patchy skies.

We had a decent view east and north east but we had some trees to overcome.

I started with Saturn, always a crowd favorite. I just love hearing the reactions when they finally are able to see through the eyepiece. Lots of OMG's and other amazed exclamations. Viewing wasn't the greatest but that didn't stop the great reactions.

I only had a narrow view but I was able to jump from m13, m5 and m3 as the clouds rolled around. M13 really got great reactions. The moon prevented me from looking at the galaxies around Ursa major...so it was the night for globular clusters.

All the scouts and parents had a lot of fun. The scoutmasters wife said the views where the highlight of the trip.






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