Jump to content


Photo

Out reach ideas

  • Please log in to reply
30 replies to this topic

#1 WillCarney

WillCarney

    Apollo

  • *****
  • Posts: 1460
  • Joined: 08 Oct 2009
  • Loc: Bloomington, ILL

Posted 08 November 2013 - 02:36 PM

All clubs do some outreach. These might be at regular sites or one time sites. They might be observing, lecture, sky tour, video presentation to mention a few. Most of the time having a scheduled time and place seems to draw the most public that I have seen.

I was just wondering what other clubs and members do that might not be considered "normal" activities.

William

#2 Doc Willie

Doc Willie

    Surveyor 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 1630
  • Joined: 31 Mar 2010
  • Loc: Mid-Hudson Valley, NY, USA

Posted 12 November 2013 - 12:01 PM

We (MHAA) do events in collaboration with other organizations. Our bridge over the Hudson River Walkway has an evening Moonwalk that we regularly participate in. Last year I did a solar outreach on Earth Day. For a couple years now we have had a multi-night event at a local bluegrass music festival.

#3 GaryJCarter

GaryJCarter

    Ranger 4

  • *****
  • Posts: 394
  • Joined: 06 Jun 2009
  • Loc: Fairview, Texas

Posted 12 November 2013 - 03:08 PM

Aside from the regularly scheduled weekly Outreach events our club schedules event requests through the Night Sky Network. Occasionally we have members that do impromptu Outreach from the simple to the outright amazing.

Halloween, as an example, has become an opportune time to hold a simple Outreach observing session. At other times I'll setup for Solar observing in the daylight hours or an early evening session and invite the neighbors over for a look.

At the other end of the spectrum one of our members JOhn A. Davis, recently collaborated with members of Aurora Dallas to produce the short film "Dream Big", a short narrative film that explores the concept of diving deep to discover your dreams. It features some of JOhn's amazing astrophotography compositions. This was projected outdoors on the wall of the Dallas City Performance Hall. At JOhn's request TAS setup several telescopes for the event. In spite of the cool, overcast night over 30,000 people were in attendance. See the film here: http://vimeo.com/77020640

#4 StarStuff1

StarStuff1

    Soyuz

  • *****
  • Posts: 3860
  • Joined: 01 Apr 2007
  • Loc: South of the Mason-Dixon Line

Posted 12 November 2013 - 05:02 PM

Nice film! Beautiful images and cool music.

I belong to two astro clubs and we just do "normal" stuff like hosting public viewings about 25 times a year, Venus transit viewing for a couple of thousand people, comet watches when appropriate, etc.

#5 WillCarney

WillCarney

    Apollo

  • *****
  • Posts: 1460
  • Joined: 08 Oct 2009
  • Loc: Bloomington, ILL

Posted 13 November 2013 - 11:04 AM

I think the little impromptu events are the best. Especially observing. They are usually people that have never looked through a scope and are amazed at what they see. Several times at a mall Astronomy Day event we had a member demonstrate the mirror grinding activity. A number of people noticed that.

#6 Whichwayisnorth

Whichwayisnorth

    Apollo

  • *****
  • Posts: 1442
  • Joined: 04 Jul 2011
  • Loc: Southern California

Posted 13 November 2013 - 03:43 PM

My club does several outreach events a week as we have members dedicated to that purpose. Most of them are schools but there are some public events we do every month as well. One of them is down at one of the trendy outdoor malls where we set up Saturdays at 6 and go until 9 or 10pm. A lot of families early on doing some shopping and they stop by to check it out as there are plenty of places to eat and there is a movie theater there. Lots of fun :)

#7 skyguy88

skyguy88

    Mariner 2

  • -----
  • Posts: 247
  • Joined: 13 Nov 2006
  • Loc: Prescott, AZ

Posted 14 November 2013 - 09:36 PM

During six years of doing outreach programs with a video camera I've migrated from just showing people spectacular objects to engaging them in discussions about the ideas of modern astronomy.

What I've learned in that time is that the most effective approach is to introduce subjects that people are aware of but don't really understand. Most people are aware of the notion that we are made of stardust, but if I show them brilliant color views of M17 and M27, I can solidify their understanding of stellar evolution and element formation.

As I show images of Milky Way objects, I use a model of the galaxy to point out where we are and where the objects are. Our normal view of the MW is a band across the sky. With the model I can show people why we see the galaxy as a band of light when, in fact, we know it is a grand spiral.

If I present clear views of a few galaxies, say NGC 253, NGC 891, and M33, I can expand the whole notion of the extraordinary depth of the visible universe. I can then shock people with the number of galaxies and respond to the usual skeptical response with a description of the Hubble Ultra Deep Field Study and complete the story by bringing up the image.

There are several other subjects that guests are really interested in but aren't introduced by anything that we can observe at a star party. Black Holes have universal appeal and the idea of the expanding universe always engages people. Those subjects could be explored by setting up a station with a computer display with a few well chosen images and a member who enjoys talking about them. A demonstration of Stellarium or Cartes du Ciel, pointing out that these programs are free ways to explore the universe is another good way to engage people.

There is no end to the creative ways to engage visitors with the ideas of this amazing and highly photogenic science.

Bill

#8 Matthew Ota

Matthew Ota

    Hmmm

  • -----
  • Posts: 2137
  • Joined: 30 Apr 2005
  • Loc: Los Angeles, California

Posted 15 November 2013 - 12:18 PM

I prefer to have people actually look through the eyepiece to see objects such as the Moon, planets and double stars. Showing them images on a video screen is the equivalent of just showing them images on a computer screen of objects displayed from the internet.

#9 skyguy88

skyguy88

    Mariner 2

  • -----
  • Posts: 247
  • Joined: 13 Nov 2006
  • Loc: Prescott, AZ

Posted 15 November 2013 - 04:09 PM

Hi Matthew,

Each to his own devices. My objective is to provide the richest experience that I can manage. Technology helps. There are usually optical telescopes around so visitors get a broad set of experiences.

Bill

Bill

Bill

#10 Skylook123

Skylook123

    Fly Me to the Moon

  • *****
  • Posts: 7487
  • Joined: 30 Apr 2005
  • Loc: Tucson, AZ

Posted 15 November 2013 - 09:36 PM

There is a large community out there with visual and physical handicaps who just can't use an eyepiece, or are too young to get the hang of it. To deny them the opportunity to experience and learn from the images we "normally capable" can see is rather a bit unfair. Bill did the first night of GCSP this year, I did all eight with video, and two others did part weeks up there. Each night we averaged about four wheelchair bound visitors, quite a few with mobility issues that did not let them walk from scope to scope, plus a half dozen who were not able to process the eyepiece view, including my wife. She taught astronomy for over twenty years, and has an eye defect that does not allow her to focus at night on eyepiece objects unless they are extremely bright planets or double stars to trigger the cones. Her rods have an extra membrane over them that gives multiple near field images. More than once I've seen her in tears because she could not see what she had been teaching all those years. First light with my Mallincam Jr. was on M13. I called her outside, she stared at it and said "So THAT'S what people talk about." Tears again, this time for a good reason.

Halloween night after showing her and the visiting kids the Owl cluster, as I was packing up I used the new Junior PRO on The Ring - gorgeous color. I called her out. Her words: "I've needed this all my life." And this was similar to the reactions I got every night at GCSP. Comments to the National Park Service headquarters after the event mentioned Life Changing Moments at the monitors when the writers had a limitation in using an eyepiece and had never been able to get a telescope eyepiece view.

The visitors to my setup are well-indoctrinated to the fact that this is a live, real-time, view through the telescope they are standing next to. And I have gotten feedback from several of the six to ten schools I do each month that the video display and explanation, and watching me move the scope to a different object, means to them it is NOT like an internet image. Just a bigger, easier to use eyepiece.

Bill and I have been communicating off line about video assisted viewing for at least six years or so, and he is well aware that personally I am strictly an eyeball at the eyepiece observer. I got the Mallicam for myself after hearing feedback from GCSP visitors about handicap accessibility. Serendipitously, Bill, John Suscavage from Phoenix, and Wayne Thomas from Prescott all decided to attend with video capability. In the two hours I was inside setting up and supporting the night talks, my wife or my granddaughter would average 400 visitors in the two hour period. Truthfully, I don't care for the fuss and bother of the video setup, and prefer eyeball to eyepiece viewing, no matter how gorgeous I can make the view. But when it's the only way some people can even see, much less learn, from the object in view, and I see the amazement and even happiness on their faces (I averaged two weepy visitors a night on my three inch color view of Saturn on the monitor), well, I'll put my personal egalitarianism side for the better outcome.

#11 StarStuff1

StarStuff1

    Soyuz

  • *****
  • Posts: 3860
  • Joined: 01 Apr 2007
  • Loc: South of the Mason-Dixon Line

Posted 15 November 2013 - 09:57 PM

Well said, Jim.

#12 Skylook123

Skylook123

    Fly Me to the Moon

  • *****
  • Posts: 7487
  • Joined: 30 Apr 2005
  • Loc: Tucson, AZ

Posted 16 November 2013 - 05:28 PM

I must add that my personal view, for my personal viewing, matches Matt's. Personally, I'm still eyeball at the eyepiece. But then again, if you don't see it with your unaided vision, isn't that artificial as well? After all, the magnification of the light rays is certainly artificial, not what you can see unaided.

If I came across as preachy, sometimes I should disable my enter key. For myself, anything other than my eyeball at the eyepiece is somehow not the way I want to go. Maybe Forrest Gump put the skeptic in me. But I've done so much good for other people at outreaches over the last five months, and of course my wife, that I really do support the public use of live video.

#13 Anish

Anish

    Lift Off

  • -----
  • Posts: 7
  • Joined: 31 Dec 2008
  • Loc: Bangalore, India

Posted 27 November 2013 - 10:40 AM

Jim,

Is video astronomy possible on a dobsonian? I would like to show the brighter DSOs to others at home/neighbourhood, live, using a cheaper samsung CCTV cam but would I have to first upgrade to a EQ mount?

#14 StarStuff1

StarStuff1

    Soyuz

  • *****
  • Posts: 3860
  • Joined: 01 Apr 2007
  • Loc: South of the Mason-Dixon Line

Posted 27 November 2013 - 03:19 PM

Some of my most pleasurable moments of outreach was when I used my Sammy 435 with a small refractor (AT 66) on a manual alt-az mount. Target: Moon. Zoom in and out on Apollo landing sites. Well received by adults and kids alike.

Brighter DSOs can be imaged by such a camera set up but it may be frustrating as the fov is small with the 1/3-in chip and some integrating may be necessary. So blurriness and smearing of the image is inevitable. A driven alt-az will work. I have had good results with the 130mm f/5 rig in the pic below which I purchased specifically for outreach. OK, it also works with other small scopes such as a Lunt 35 for solar...and that configuration is used sometimes for outreach, too.

FWIW, several years ago our club was doing a public session and a youngster was having difficulties seeing a faint fuzzy in the eyepiece. A couple of customers later was a man who ID'd himself as a medical doctor. He told me that a lot of kids don't develop the eye/brain connectivity to view through a telescope (or microscope, etc) until around the age of 5 or 6. It had nothing to do with intelligence, just nature.

Attached Files



#15 Skylook123

Skylook123

    Fly Me to the Moon

  • *****
  • Posts: 7487
  • Joined: 30 Apr 2005
  • Loc: Tucson, AZ

Posted 27 November 2013 - 03:58 PM

Jim,

Is video astronomy possible on a dobsonian? I would like to show the brighter DSOs to others at home/neighbourhood, live, using a cheaper samsung CCTV cam but would I have to first upgrade to a EQ mount?


I don't believe tracking is necessary for bright objects, but that is just from anecdotal information. If a camera has adjustable shutter speeds, then fractions of a second of image development is easily useable. No image stacking or integration to worry about.

I did try the Orion SSSSIV for some lunar work with my 18" non-tracking dob, but the native equivalent 5mm focal length was way overdriving the field of view, and it was impossible because I didn't try to use frame freezes. But many other folks have told me they've used live video on bright objects without tracking.

#16 skyguy88

skyguy88

    Mariner 2

  • -----
  • Posts: 247
  • Joined: 13 Nov 2006
  • Loc: Prescott, AZ

Posted 27 November 2013 - 05:30 PM

Anish,

You do need a tracking mount. Eq is ideal but Alt-az is fine up to nearly a minute, more than enough for hundreds of objects.

The moon is nice without tracking if you are operating at f3 or thereabouts. I often start a public evening by pointing at the moon with tracking off to let people see how fast we are moving beneath. I sometimes conscript a youngster to keep the moon on screen with the paddle button.

But to get a good look a planet you want to barlow up to f20 or so and in addition to its normal jumping around, the image will race across the screen.

DSOs just won't work. Even with strong focal reduction, they will just smear.

Bill

#17 Skylook123

Skylook123

    Fly Me to the Moon

  • *****
  • Posts: 7487
  • Joined: 30 Apr 2005
  • Loc: Tucson, AZ

Posted 27 November 2013 - 08:43 PM

What Bill said. My cheapo 15 year old 90mm Orion refractor and an Orion bottom end mount to which I added the Orion RA/DEC motor kit (4 D-Cells) is very nice with live video on many objects, was dirt cheap, and using AmCap and SharpCap for storing and stacking did some good things. I tried untracked once, as I said above, but my personal experience with the 90mm and a 10" SCT is tracking is needed on anything but the moon.

#18 Anish

Anish

    Lift Off

  • -----
  • Posts: 7
  • Joined: 31 Dec 2008
  • Loc: Bangalore, India

Posted 28 November 2013 - 08:57 AM

Thanks everyone for the comments. It is a little tiring to do outreach with a dobsonian and also have to answer questions. I am starting out in astronomy. Whenever I put the scope out in my community, i usually have a few families stop by to have a look. Then it becomes an unofficial outreach. I cannot show them much else other than a few DSOs, the planets and the moon. The solar system objects usually thrills a lot of people.

Just that they cannot connect with the whole DSO thing. Most of them look at me with a question mark when I tell them to look for that fuzz around those central 4 stars. Then I show them Jupiter and they forgive me for trying to fool them with what looked to them like dust in my telescope eyepiece earlier.

I will save showing those objects to my post EQ outreaches.

#19 Skylook123

Skylook123

    Fly Me to the Moon

  • *****
  • Posts: 7487
  • Joined: 30 Apr 2005
  • Loc: Tucson, AZ

Posted 28 November 2013 - 10:51 AM

Anish, it is a wonderful thing that you are doing. EVERYTHING, and ANYTHING, you show your visitors is new to them, and we astronomers sometimes overdo our expectations. My most memorable outreach event to date, and I've been doing this four to ten times a month for almost 20 years, was showing Vega to a Japanese tour group at the Grand Canyon. I was aligning my digital setting circles around sunset, and Vega was visible so that was one of my alignment stars. The tour group came by my setup, and one of the young ladies (most did not speak English) kept pointing at Vega and saying "ring star" and pointing to an engagement ring on her finger. So, I let her look at Vega. She looked for a long time. Since it was getting dark, I moved the 18" dob down to The Ring, and she went back and looked at the beautiful circle at nearly 300X, and was in tears. She came down from the ladder holding her right hand over her ring. Then one of the English speaking tour members said that her fiancé had proposed marriage to her and had given her the engagement ring that morning. Tragically, he then got a telegram that his father had died in Japan so he was already on the way home. He had told her to find an astronomer to show her the brightest star that night, and The Ring, and she would think of him. Not only was the tour group in tears, but so was I and about 20 astronomers around us.

You never know what one life you'll affect, and maybe even change. Anything you show them can have that affect. Planets, and the Moon, can really make an impact. DSOs just sweeten the experience, but context of the view matters as well so go out and spread the joy. It is all new to anyone who stops by. Other than M51, and maybe M31, it takes big aperture to show a galaxy well, and right now, with Auriga rising along with Gemini, open clusters like M36, M37, M38 all will be show pieces as well as NGC457, The Owl Cluster getting high in Cassiopeia. Everyone eventually sees the Owl shape spreading its wings. None of this needs video. Your visitors, and perhaps even you, haven't seen these items naturally, in the eyepiece. You can always recenter, and enjoy the view through the visitors' eyes. Have fun with this, and you are doing such a great service by sharing the experience. :waytogo: :bow:

#20 Anish

Anish

    Lift Off

  • -----
  • Posts: 7
  • Joined: 31 Dec 2008
  • Loc: Bangalore, India

Posted 28 November 2013 - 10:57 PM

That was a wonderful incident that you shared. I dint know a star could mean so much for someone.

I like that part of astronomy, the letting people look through your scope part. I have also shown solar system objects to people who are pretty poor. One such guy believed in astrology and he stared at Saturn for quite sometime and then told me that Saturn has been dogging him since years and he never knew he could see his "nemesis" this way. He meant that half-jokingly.

Like you said, it is always fun. Though peering through a telescope has very less takers here, I am yet to find someone who dint get impressed after taking a look.

And I am starting out in astronomy. I haven't seen those objects you mentioned through my scope. I hope to see them soon. Am also waiting for the time I can get myself a GOTO mount and sit back and enjoy the show. I like astronomy but the whole star hopping thing hasn't gone down well with me so far. :foreheadslap: lol.

#21 Skylook123

Skylook123

    Fly Me to the Moon

  • *****
  • Posts: 7487
  • Joined: 30 Apr 2005
  • Loc: Tucson, AZ

Posted 29 November 2013 - 11:10 AM

My first telescope was a 10" Meade LX-5 SCT that only had a tracking motor, no GOTO. I spent a lot of time trying to make sense out of where objects were in the sky. When I started to do public outreach, I learned quickly that I had no finding skills, so I added digital setting circles and did "push-to"; they told me where to point the scope. Some of the people I work with now doing public events still have no motors or aids; it is all in their notes, and they know how to use their sky atlases very well.

The clusters I listed above are easy to find, the second time you try because you don't know yet what to expect. Keep looking around the areas where they are, and you'll eventually pick them out. They will be very nice in your telescope. Oh, and I forgot the Double Cluster in Perseus, also beautiful right now. Just mentally draw a line down from half way between the bottom pair of stars in Cassiopeia, move down toward the horizon, and a pair of star bursts will pop into view.

Take good notes before you go out, and take notes afterward. They will help a lot.

#22 GeneT

GeneT

    Ely Kid

  • *****
  • Posts: 12655
  • Joined: 07 Nov 2008
  • Loc: South Texas

Posted 29 November 2013 - 08:02 PM

The San Antonio Astronomy Association is very active in outreach. They do Wednesday night park viewing where people set up their telescopes and visitors are given a look at the night sky. We participate in major astronomy events, setting up a variety of telescopes at our schools, on a rotating basis. We have the 'Lunatics' club where people view during a full moon. The list goes on and on. There is no limit to good ideas for out reach.

#23 Anish

Anish

    Lift Off

  • -----
  • Posts: 7
  • Joined: 31 Dec 2008
  • Loc: Bangalore, India

Posted 03 December 2013 - 01:10 PM

Thanks for the tip. and two thumbs up for digital setting circles!

#24 WillCarney

WillCarney

    Apollo

  • *****
  • Posts: 1460
  • Joined: 08 Oct 2009
  • Loc: Bloomington, ILL

Posted 06 December 2013 - 10:58 AM

While most of the time now I use my Atlas with goto there was a long time I used my C-8 fork mounted. I had done the Messier club in the mid 80's. So since then I knew where most bright large objects were. In the last few years I have been about the only one showing asteroids or comets at the public events since few others had access to current data and control programs. That particular night with the unexpected visitors my drive on the Atlas was not working so I pointed the scope manually to brighter objects I knew.

#25 tedbnh

tedbnh

    Viking 1

  • -----
  • Posts: 816
  • Joined: 14 Nov 2007
  • Loc: New Hampshire

Posted 11 December 2013 - 07:52 PM

Our club (NH Astronomical Society) tries to balance inreach (member-only events, mostly for training, questions, checking out EP's, etc.) with outreach to the public.

For outreach:

First Friday night of each month we are in the parking lot of the Christa McAuliffe Planetarium for public viewing.

Saturday night closest to first quarter moon we are in downtown Portsmouth for sidewalk astronomy.

Many nights of the year we are at libraries and schools for scheduled skywatches.

During the year we do public outreach at several "big" events: Portsmouth Market Square Day, Nashua Holiday Stroll, Portsmouth Children's Day, and New England Fall Astronomy Festival at UNH.

Our calendar is full, and our lives are enriched by sharing these experiences with thousands of people every year.






Cloudy Nights LLC
Cloudy Nights Sponsor: Astronomics