Advice on an outreach program
Posted 07 July 2013 - 09:26 PM
This would be the first outreach I have done, so is this over reaching a bit?
Does anyone have a program they could suggest from experience in terms of objects? I was thinking like 2-3 hrs from sunset through maybe 10:30 and then sort of free observing after that... Having two telescopes could give people more options but i am also a bit worried about how to manage people flow...
A sort of third option would be to set up my C8 with 80mm piggyback,refractor and offer mallincam pus direct views through the eyepiece... Although this may be slightly underwhelming...
Posted 07 July 2013 - 11:16 PM
Sometimes too trying to babysit more than one scope can be a handful as most people (FOR WHATEVER REASON WHICH IS UNKNOWN TO ME) want to grab the eyepiece and jerk down on it. Then kids you need to keep an eye on because again for some reason unknown to me me, some of them like to touch the glass of the eyepiece. Then if you get people running around the cables and everything else, it just ends up being a scary few hours.
So personally if it was me, I'd setup my CPC only, put Saturn in the middle of the eyepiece for a bit, and then switch over to the moon. I'd let them know when they see Saturn that in a little bit you'll put it on the moon and they should come back, and depending on how many people you have, maybe ask them when they are looking at the moon if they saw Saturn earlier. If they didn't and you don't have a line, zip over and give them a double wow.
Know a little bit about your targets because you'll get questions like can you see the flag or how many moons does Saturn have, how far away is something, how big, stuff like that.
Good luck and clear skies,
Posted 08 July 2013 - 02:55 PM
I would suggest TWO people for two telescopes. Also download a skymap from SKYMAPS.COM for a nice handout and, as was stated before, be prepared for questions.
Spring Creek, Nevada
Posted 08 July 2013 - 03:27 PM
First, find someone to help with the refractor and concentrate on the CPC/Mallincam.
There is a wealth of wonderful targets that show brilliantly with the camera...if your sky is OK.
I would start with M57 and M27. Discuss these beautiful Planetaries and their role in forming elements. Then go to M17, 16, 20, 8, the spectacular star forming emission nebulae.
Certainly do M13. Then a few galaxies like M51, M82, M104, NGC 4565, and take a crack at NGC 4414 with its very prominent supernova(look for images of 4414 with sn in advance so you can identify the sn).
My notion of outreach is that the most important thing that you can do is to engage visitors in the ideas. The camera views grab their attention and the conversation solidifies their interest.
Posted 08 July 2013 - 03:35 PM
Posted 08 July 2013 - 05:50 PM
In terms of answering questions I am not too worried... although I am just a year back into the hobby I was at one time long-ago a serious astrophysics geek...
P.S. anyone have any template flyers for public observing? something in powerpoint or word would be great if I can just adapt the text. Thx!
Posted 08 July 2013 - 06:07 PM
Posted 09 July 2013 - 11:36 AM
I have run 1 and 2 scopes myself, one is much safer. The trick I used with a 2nd scope was to have a scope on an EQ platform running a Meade digital EP ($35) into a small TV showing the moon. I had this setup on a flat trailer whose sides prevented people from bumping or messing anything up. The trailer was more susceptible to vibration from wind or humans but the moon was a big enough target to be forgiving.
Posted 09 July 2013 - 11:53 AM
In my experience, new viewers are much more impressed by something they can see with their own eye vs. something on a video screen. It might be an identical view, or it might actually be more clear or colorful on a video, but the idea of seeing the actual light from Saturn on their retinas really blows people away. An image on a screen is just a picture. Far less psychological impact. So I recommend using both telescopes visually, one on the moon and one on Saturn.
I second the recommendation against DSOs for outreach, but it depends on your local light pollution and how well you might be able to pull in a faint fuzzy with your Mallincam. Even under dark conditions, DSOs are often disappointing to new viewers who are expecting something like the colorful, detailed astrophotos. Add a little light pollution and you're more likely to get something like "Really? That smudge?" For me in my suburb (admittedly set up close to streetlights), even a glorious globular like M13 is tough to resolve. Perhaps you start the night on the bright, showy objects like Saturn and the moon. For anyone who's really interested, and if there isn't a line for the bright objects, slew over to a good DSO either visually or through the camera.
On the binoviewer: it won't hurt to have it out and ready to go, but I think newbies might have more trouble merging the images and/or getting the eyepiece separation distance set right. Don't start with it, or at least be prepared to pull it if it's causing more problems than it helps. The moon through a bino is wonderful if it works, but slowing down the line tries people's patience. Maybe after everyone has had a look through a single eyepiece, pull out the binos and let people take a second look with both eyes.
Best of luck! I absolutely LOVE sharing the skies with people.
Posted 09 July 2013 - 03:50 PM
Posted 09 July 2013 - 05:42 PM
Until a few years ago, I would have agreed that all you could hope to introduce visitors to were solar system objects. Faint fuzzies don't excite.
Times changed with the availability of nearly live video observing. I've done over 150 video outreach projects and I can assure you that a 14 second image of M 27 will have as much impact as anything in the solar system. But beyond the WOW factor, M 27 in brilliant color immediately makes folks receptive to the ideas of element formation and stellar evolution.
No smudges. No "pulling out" faint fuzzies.
Just real, recognizable galaxies. Sharp, brilliantly colored star forming regions. All ideal for engaging visitors, getting them to think about the universe.
Amateur astronomers bemoan the lack of public interest in this wonderful science. Here is a way to enhance interaction and generate interest. We can now go beyond our tiny little corner of the universe and bring the public along.
I agree, "We are of the stars, the dust of explosions cast across space". Video provides a way to share that big idea.
Posted 14 July 2013 - 06:49 PM
Posted 16 July 2013 - 12:36 PM
The laser itself often captures attention. Then you get kids asking where they can get one.
Hi, A handheld laser pointing out some of the brighter stars and constellations seems to capture their attention.
Posted 16 July 2013 - 01:13 PM
I would definitely recommend only one scope!
Posted 16 July 2013 - 07:21 PM
One scope a list of objects, generally 1 or 2 bright star clusters, the moon and a planet. After everyone goes ohh and Ahh over the basic objects, I may try for some nebular (like M27).
Most people pack it up by 10:30, actually by 10PM, I don't have many people around unless its at a dark site and on those nights, I've had people around till 1AM.
Posted 16 July 2013 - 07:22 PM