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Do you have speakers at club meetings?

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#1 Thomas Karpf

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Posted 29 October 2013 - 10:01 AM

If so, how/where do you find them? Any guidance would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.

#2 David Knisely

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Posted 29 October 2013 - 01:17 PM

Yes, we do generally have speakers. They are drawn from people in the club who volunteer to do presentations, as well as those outside the club with interesting scientific backgrounds from places like local colleges or other outlets. Tonight, for example, we have Michael Sibbernson of the Strategic Air and Space Museum (located between Lincoln and Omaha Nebraska):


He is doing a talk on the SASM Mobile Observatory and Outreach Laboratory (SOL).

Last year, we had programs on Solar observing in H-alpha, filter use, quasar research, the status of manned spaceflight, Kansas City's Powell Observatory, astrophotography, the 30 meter telescope project, and a few other interesting topics. Several of our programs are the same from year to year, as they are intended either for public outreach, or just club social functions. Usually during June, we have a club barbeque on our regular meeting night with a simple entertainment program rather than a formal meeting. For the November meeting, we often do a "How to Buy a Telescope" presentation for the public, while December's meeting is usually a simple end-of-the-year party and social gathering at Mueller Planetarium. January's meeting is the "How to Use Your Telescope" night, and again, is more for the general public, although new members also find it useful. The programs don't have to be long, and are not necessarily all that formal. We have had club members do presentations on trips they took to conventions or star parties, as well as on particular projects they are working on. Indeed, I helped with two of these programs last year, so it isn't all that hard, and it is good to get club members involved in presenting them. Clear skies to you.

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#3 Whichwayisnorth



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Posted 29 October 2013 - 03:00 PM

My club www.rivastro.org has speakers all the time. I don't take advantage of them and in fact have only ever been to one meeting. I am really missing out and need to participate more. Going to be my new years resolution.

#4 Matthew Ota

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Posted 29 October 2013 - 05:44 PM

I got a speaker for my local club simply by soliciting a professional astronomer that I freinded on Facebook.

#5 David Pavlich

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Posted 29 October 2013 - 09:23 PM

Our club is VERY fortunate that David Levy has family in New Orleans. He's spoken at out club twice since I've been a member.


#6 cliff mygatt

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Posted 30 October 2013 - 08:20 AM

We have presentations each month given primarily by me, the president, but we have an annual banquet where we get a speaker from loval universities.

#7 Alex McConahay

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Posted 30 October 2013 - 08:44 AM

We have speakers every month at my main club. We are fortunate to live in SOuthern California, and have lots of universities, scientific institutions, and other amateurs to choose from. But I belong to several clubs, and not all of them have those speakers. Some have videos, some have discussions, and others just go out in the parking lot and look at the moon.

It can be hard to get speakers, even for us in a large urban/suburban area. It takes a lot of coordination, and lots of emails. But it is worth it.

Step one is to contact other clubs in your area to see who has been successful in having speakers, and get their list of contacts. Step two is to hook up with all the colleges in your area. Step three is to attend some conferences like RTMC, Stellafane, Texas Star Party, and such, and see who in your area is available.

#8 Thomas Karpf

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Posted 30 October 2013 - 12:00 PM


Thanks. That's exactly the sort of thing I was looking for.

Step 1 bombed as nobody is returning my emails.
Step 2 (colleges) is working out well. I have already managed to schedule two professors from local colleges (UConn Storrs and CCSH) and two grad students (if I want to go that route) from another local college (UMass Amherst). I'm still waiting to hear back from Wesleyan and Yale.
Step 3 won't work well as most of those sorts of activities are over before our fiscal year is up (ends when schools close in May).

#9 Alex McConahay

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Posted 31 October 2013 - 05:06 PM

Maybe I did not express point three well. When you go to star parties sand workshops you are collecting contacts. Maybe you don't have exact meeting dates yet, but you can get general commitments.


#10 tfield98


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Posted 25 November 2013 - 11:49 AM

See: http://www.cloudynig...&Board=tiny&... for how some clubs are starting to use webinars to bring in remote speakers (like me) via the web. I know that Tim Puckett has been doing webinars recently for example.

Almost every club I speak to is having trouble finding good local speakers for their meetings. (The exceptions are clubs near JPL, etc.!) I believe that five years from now, a majority of clubs here in the US will have embraced webinars as a way to greatly enhance some of their meetings.

I've now spoken to more than 125 clubs over the web - at no charge - (as well as having given in-person to NEAF, NEAIC, WSP, AIC, SCAE, etc.) And as you'll see from the above link, it works!

Club boards are always understandably a bit nervous at trying out this new approach, but the technology has become quite reliable and high quality. (Of course you need internet access from a computer at your meeting.) The speaker's PowerPoint slides fill the screen, with a small live video window up in the corner. If the club has a microphone on the meeting computer, the whole experience is not all that different than if the presenter was there in person: there can be give-and-take Q&A, etc. (Most clubs have microphones, but if not, questions can be asked over a cell phone, and answered via the webinar screen.) I always prefer that the club have a webcam pointed at the audience, because that helps get my juices flowing and enables me to interact with the audience more directly.

Also see page 33 of the March issue of Sky & Telescope for a article on using webinars. Also, check out the link below to see a short sample video of a webinar.

Tom Field
Field Tested Systems
www.rspec-astro.com/outreach - for a sample video of a webinar

#11 SDTopensied


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Posted 24 February 2014 - 11:20 PM

We do as well.

Talk to folks at your nearest local colleges first. In Atlanta, we're fortunate to have several colleges and a number of experts locally.

Next, start talking to anyone that will listen. Ask around. The worst they can do is tell you to go to...well, you get the picture.


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