Sidewalk Astronomy ideas
Posted 29 May 2013 - 07:32 AM
-- Pick a high traffic location where lots of people will be as a matter of course. In effect, bring the astronomy to them rather than hoping to get them to come to the astronomy.
-- Hold the event at the same location(s) on the same date(s) each month to assure continuity.
-- If possible piggyback the events on an existing attraction or location (like a park) that can help the club promote it.
We are looking at approaching the merchants association of the large downtown entertainment district (restaurants, nightclubs, concert venues, etc.) where perhaps 10,000 to 15,000 people gather on weekend nights.
Have I missed anything that should go into making an ongoing club sidewalk astronomy program successful? Our goals are public recognition of the hobby, membership recruiting and a bit of light pollution education.
Posted 29 May 2013 - 08:16 AM
Posted 29 May 2013 - 11:24 AM
Posted 29 May 2013 - 12:38 PM
If you're going to do outreach for your club, I HIGHLY recommend getting business cards with your club logo, a simple catchphrase regarding astronomy, and your website. These are very inexpensive to have made at the local office supply store, so you can give them out to everyone who looks in the eyepiece. Cards are easy for telescope operators to hold in their hand and give out while they're doing the outreach thing, and just as importantly they are easy for the recipient to accept and put in their pocket.
If you have the ability to have a manned info table with full-size brochures and schedules, that's good too; even so, having those cards in every telescope operator's hands or pocket is the best way to get the most audience penetration.
Posted 29 May 2013 - 01:29 PM
Posted 29 May 2013 - 01:55 PM
Posted 29 May 2013 - 02:08 PM
We also try to promote our websites calendar of events, and recently someone came up with some QR barcodes so people could link to our site from their phones. Some do have cards which also help because they are easy to hand out to someone interested.
One guy in our club also makes cards for different things and hands them out to kids, we all joke that they are collector items, but the kids (at least at the time) do think it's cool that they got a moon card or a Saturn card. And make sure to bring some kind of a step stool for kids.
The one thing we get a few of, which we never really know how to deal with is someone that says, they want to become a member right now. We never seem to bring any membership forms or stuff to accommodate something like that, so we tell them to check our calendar and come to the next meeting. When they walk away if you'll ever see them again.
Personally I have the most fun doing solar outreach, just don't setup near the optimists office. . Between white light and Ha and solar projection, we usually have enough different views of the same thing. I LOVE when someone looks in my Lunt and then calls over the rest of their family and say, Honey you HAVE to look at this one.
Posted 29 May 2013 - 02:25 PM
Personally I have the most fun doing solar outreach, just don't setup near the optimists office. . [/quote]
Nah. They don't like hearing about the eventual death of the sun.
Posted 29 May 2013 - 06:44 PM
Usually we have a table set up with club brochures and astronomy related give-away stuff. Sometimes we have also a large moon map on an easel folks can check out.
I've never had a security breach at one of these events nor have I heard of anyone else having one. Later in the evening the crowd tends to get younger and slightly inebriated but again, we've never had a problem. I enjoy these events immensely and plan to continue attending them.
Posted 30 May 2013 - 01:23 AM
1. We setup at a downtown location, where hundreds of people frequent on a given night... feature views of first quarter Moon, bright planets.
2. We have a monthly 'Second Tuesdays' event at a suburban park, have begun to get a following.
3. We've hooked up with Earth Day, which is almost always within a week of Astronomy Day, to tap into several THOUSAND people... have a booth, solar observing during the day. Most recently, we participated in a Nebraska Science Fest event... have done events at wineries, outside the symphony hall for Holst concerts, etc, etc.
Posted 09 June 2013 - 06:11 AM
This makes scheduling a bit tougher, but you want to do this in order to always be able to show people something interesting. From bright downtown locations you essentially have 3 targets - the moon, Jupiter and Saturn. (And every couple of years, Mars, but it is so infrequent that I almost forgot about it!) Yes, we have shown people M42, double stars and clusters from downtown, but the experience is not like it is from a dark site. So we don't usually bother.
The moon never fails to be interesting if it is around the first quarter phase. Then during months when Saturn or Jupiter are in the sky, you have "icing on the cake."
If you hold it on the same night every month (e.g. the first Friday) there will be some months when you find yourself with nothing to look at.
During months where first quarter moon falls on a Wednesday you have to decide whether to choose the Saturday before or after. We almost always choose the one after because the earlier Saturday's (thin crescent) moon sets too early.
As far as location goes, you'll need to find a spot where your view to the south is not restricted by nearby buildings, and you want good visibility to the east and west as well. The moon and planets will move through quite a bit of the sky over the course of a 4- or 5-hour evening and you don't want to lose them behind buildings. Good views to the east are important so you can jump on objects soon after they rise.
You also want to consider public safety by choosing a wide place on the sidewalk where people can safely pass and where lines can form without spilling into the street.
Make sure the event is listed on your club calendar and insure your club's liability insurance is up to date. Someone could trip, a scope could fall over, you name it and you might get sued. Be protected.
These are among my favorite events that our club offers. I wish you the best of luck.
Posted 10 June 2013 - 07:45 AM
Posted 10 June 2013 - 10:39 PM
Posted 12 June 2013 - 04:42 PM
Security. Big crowds mean that stuff disappears. Does not mean you have to have a platoon of armed guards, but you should have someone responsible, and have everyone practice situational awareness. One robbery of an eyepiece of pair of binoculars will leave a bad taste in the owner's mouth and discourage others from participating.