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General Astronomy >> General Observing and Astronomy

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Skylook123
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Reged: 04/30/05

Loc: Tucson, AZ
Never Too Old To Learn
      #5535587 - 11/23/12 02:04 PM

Six or seven years ago, I put together a quick introduction to objects in the night sky as one of the talks for visitors to the Grand Canyon Star Party. Then I put another one together about why human cultures seem called to look up, and what's been done with that over the many millenia.

I got asked to do a talk at a near-by astronomy club, so I pumped up the cultural talk and it went very well. Afterward, I was introduced to the concept of the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute.

OLLI

OLLI/Univ Of Ariz/Green Valley

Many universities are now fostering some sort of formal OLLI support program. I was stunned when I saw nearly 200 classes taught by volunteers at the three University of Arizona locations (Green Valley, Marana, and Tucson). Bottom line, two of us got talked into putting on a four week Basic Introduction To Astronomy. One day a week for an hour and a half. Introducing astronomy, not teaching astronomy. One session is on why people have looked up and what do they see, and an introduction what really is a cluster, galaxy, planet, comet, star, etc. The second week is on how a telescope works with hands on examples and lots of accessories like tables, red lights, binoculars, mounts, planispheres, the local clubs and vendors, on-line resources, etc. Next week, our third, will be my partner introducing what photography and imaging are, NOT how to do it. Our final session will be what we are calling a "lab session": a star party at the home of the head of one of the University of Arizona OLLI sections. With twenty students, we will set up my 18" Teeter and my 90mm refractor on a small GEM, and my partner Burley will set up his 8" f/6 dob, and we'll cover the waterfront showing the relative merits along with the eye candy.

So, for the first time in a long time, I'm playing with my 90mm for something other than white light solar viewing. Holy cow, learning astronomy all over again. I installed a Rigel Quickfinder yesterday because the 5x24 finder is pretty useless. The tube is too short for a Telrad base, but the Quickfinder was awesome last night. I don't get enough in-travel with a barlow, so I was stuck at 9mm Nagler type of viewing, 55X. Yikes, what a gorgeous universe! Easy hops to Albireo, Double Cluster, Pleiades, Jupiter, the Messier denizens in Auriga, The Owl Cluster, much more. The moon was so bright I had some trouble with hops, so it was basic memory and wide fields of view that allowed me to sail around the sky. First time I've gotten some of these things into a single view, since I live at 2300 and 2540mm focal lengths.

I ended up on the moon, and it was without a doubt the best view of it I've ever seen. Tonight I'll be dusting off the Orion Solar System imager, a $90 webcam with an effective 5mm focal length. I have an Antares 0.5x reducer to get the views of the sun and moon into a full circle.

Not only the students are learning a lot!


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tecmageModerator
Carpal Tunnel
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Reged: 01/13/10

Loc: Glenview, IL
Re: Never Too Old To Learn new [Re: Skylook123]
      #5535718 - 11/23/12 03:20 PM

Jim,
I am an admirer of the work you do with the GCSP.

Universities are figuring out that there is a market for life-long learning, and that people are willing to take a few classes to learn something new. I wish you luck in your class- sometimes there's nothing like teaching to rekindle some old fire!!!


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DavidC
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 11/24/05

Loc: Mesa, Arizona
Re: Never Too Old To Learn new [Re: Skylook123]
      #5535738 - 11/23/12 03:32 PM

That is true, we're never too old to learn. Or too young to learn also, I really enjoy doing outreach at elementary and High schools. It never ceases to amaze me at the kids who have never looked thru a telescope, and that experience opens up a whole new world for them, and they yearn for more. Someday I hope to get to go to the Grand Canyon Star Party.
David


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Skylook123
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Reged: 04/30/05

Loc: Tucson, AZ
Re: Never Too Old To Learn new [Re: tecmage]
      #5535779 - 11/23/12 03:55 PM

Thank you, Richard. C'mon out west and join us sometime.

This is our first class, and we learned that we need to reschedule what we present in each session. I never would have thought that "How a Telescope Works" could fill an hour and a half session all by itself. And we don't even touch what type of scope is best for what application, or eyepiece options; I use a handout for that. Astronomics has an awesome set of tutorials that do quite well.

Astronomics - How To Pick A Telescope

Astronomics - How To Pick An Eyepiece

Our twenty students for the first time this has been taught are SERIOUS about learning what's going on overhead, and we've already fully booked the spring semester session. This is such a golden age of astronomical discoveries making the news, the students come to the class having heard some of the terms, not a clue what they mean. My partner is a retired physician who spends his time imaging in his back yard observatory, and although I finally hit the Medicare capability this year, I'm the youngster in the room. And since all of these folks are socially active, we are training ambassadors for looking up and keeping the sky dark to do so. And right after our 90 minutes is a Zoomba class. I want to take one I saw next semester on understanding crime statistics.

It seems that our society has evolved to aggregations of individuals; OLLI is a great way to get back to sharing what we know with our fellow citizens.


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Skylook123
Postmaster
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Reged: 04/30/05

Loc: Tucson, AZ
Re: Never Too Old To Learn new [Re: Skylook123]
      #5535793 - 11/23/12 04:02 PM

David, we're right up the road from you so come on up for one night or all eight. Fifteen years ago I lived in Chandler for a few months and went to EVAC star parties at Florence Junction and Vekol Ranch, and even made the Member's Night meeting when Tom Bopp talked about his recent comet discovery. EVAC provides GCSP great support, by the way, and we can always use more local talent.

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rockethead26
Carpal Tunnel
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Reged: 10/21/09

Loc: Arizona, USA
Re: Never Too Old To Learn new [Re: Skylook123]
      #5535798 - 11/23/12 04:04 PM

Jim,

You're going to have a great time doing this. The folks taking the class will learn so much and I applaud you making the effort.

When I get back to Flag on a permanent basis again in another 18 months or so, I'm definitely coming to the GCSP.


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David PavlichAdministrator
Transmographied
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Reged: 05/18/05

Loc: Mandeville, LA USA
Re: Never Too Old To Learn new [Re: tecmage]
      #5535962 - 11/23/12 06:02 PM

Quote:

Jim,
I am an admirer of the work you do with the GCSP.

Universities are figuring out that there is a market for life-long learning, and that people are willing to take a few classes to learn something new. I wish you luck in your class- sometimes there's nothing like teaching to rekindle some old fire!!!




I've never met Jim, but he's good people! I do know what he does with outreach and anyone that puts that much time to educate the public about our hobby is aces with me.

That's good stuff you've done, Jim.

David


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desertlens
professor emeritus
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Reged: 12/06/10

Loc: 36N 105W
Re: Never Too Old To Learn new [Re: Skylook123]
      #5535981 - 11/23/12 06:14 PM

Too old?... Never. I was an educator for 25 years and this may be the method of the future. I would add one maxim. If you really want to learn a thing... teach it.

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Skylook123
Postmaster
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Reged: 04/30/05

Loc: Tucson, AZ
Re: Never Too Old To Learn new [Re: David Pavlich]
      #5536025 - 11/23/12 06:37 PM

Thanks David. Look what James Ling and his friend Gary are doing in Singapore!

During our first OLLI class, the point of the lesson is that for almost 7000 years of recorded history, people have looked up and used the day and night sky for a variety of reasons. And the great names advancing astronomy going back 1,000 years or more, learning the disciplines, advancing the knowledge, were not in it for the science; each had a different personal reason for their pursuit. One student asked me why I did this stuff. I said, they were the reason. I've seen all I need to see in the sky at night, but I get to see it all for the first time over again through their eyes. THAT'S so cool! So, there is no wrong reason for looking up, whether it's for personal peace of mind or to explore the vast cosmos, or to do real science, or to lure another spirit to the greater universe. It's all valid. For me, it's the look on someone's face when they see Saturn, Jupiter, Albireo, The Owl Cluster, Markarian's Chain, or M13 for the first time. Or, last week, when they first understand what a nova is. Years ago, one night Io was about to transit Jupiter. As it did, a middle school student was watching in my scope and Io eased on over. He ran away and said MOM! Space is ALIVE! You just can't buy that.

And Dave, we have to get you out of the swamp and up to our mountain desert for some GCSP time. As one of our regular volunteers always says, you never know what one life you'll touch. James and Gary in Singapore really understand that.


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Skylook123
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Reged: 04/30/05

Loc: Tucson, AZ
Re: Never Too Old To Learn new [Re: desertlens]
      #5536075 - 11/23/12 06:56 PM

Quote:

Too old?... Never. I was an educator for 25 years and this may be the method of the future. I would add one maxim. If you really want to learn a thing... teach it.




Oh, Yeah! Mr. Google and I have become quite well acquainted.

There is so much information exploding exponentially out there, that this method of a practioner of a topic passing on the knowledge may truly be an essential method of education in the future. The risk is that there has to be a demand. THAT is a scary thought.

As a corollary, I was told once that you don't understand a topic until you can teach it to someone else.


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David PavlichAdministrator
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Reged: 05/18/05

Loc: Mandeville, LA USA
Re: Never Too Old To Learn new [Re: Skylook123]
      #5536342 - 11/23/12 09:53 PM

I don't know what I'd do. My backyard is about 26' above sea level. I'd probably get altitude headaches at your place.

David


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Skylook123
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Reged: 04/30/05

Loc: Tucson, AZ
Re: Never Too Old To Learn new [Re: David Pavlich]
      #5570718 - 12/14/12 11:45 AM Attachment (12 downloads)

Well, to wrap up the Fall semester of our Beginning Astronomy class, we ended with what we first called a Star Party, but have renamed it the Lab/Practical session.

Burley Packwood and I set up some instruments at the home of one of the Green Valley OLLI coordinators, Edy Alderson, and just showed off some of the cosmology we had been talking about in the three classroom sessions. I set up the 18" dob and a 90mm ShortTube refractor on a GEM that tracked, and Burley used his 8" tube dob and 10X50 binoculars, to give a range of possibilities. It ended up as a great night. A couple of the students posed the concept of bringing appetizers and wine samples, so we were back to Star Party mode. Sixteen of our 20 students showed up.

We were able to dazzle folks with views of Albireo, The Owl Cluster, The Pleiades, some globular clusters, The Ring, The Dumbbell with and without an Ultra High Contrast Filter, The Andromeda Galaxy, and lots more. Plus Burley demonstrated Starry Night software, while I showed off Stellarium and did an overview of how to use the computer for satellite tracking. Of course, I forgot to take pictures but one of the students put together this collage of our night.


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csrlice12
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Reged: 05/22/12

Loc: Denver, CO
Re: Never Too Old To Learn new [Re: Skylook123]
      #5570932 - 12/14/12 02:28 PM

"...that this method of a practioner of a topic passing on the knowledge may truly be an essential method of education in the future."

Apprentiships...this method has been around for ages. It was how early man lived. The blacksmith trained his son, who trained his son....and so on....

It's not new, it's more like "returning to the basics".


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GeneT
Ely Kid
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Reged: 11/07/08

Loc: South Texas
Re: Never Too Old To Learn new [Re: DavidC]
      #5572856 - 12/15/12 04:50 PM

Quote:

That is true, we're never too old to learn.




I don't know--at 69 I am almost there!


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Skylook123
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Reged: 04/30/05

Loc: Tucson, AZ
Re: Never Too Old To Learn new [Re: GeneT]
      #5572931 - 12/15/12 05:55 PM

At 65, I still learn very well.

I also forget with frightening efficiency as well.


Some of my knowledge seems to have acquired a shelf life.


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TexasRed
scholastic sledgehammer


Reged: 05/17/11

Loc: East Texas
Re: Never Too Old To Learn new [Re: Skylook123]
      #5573110 - 12/15/12 08:10 PM



I know the feeling, all too well!


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