Jump to content

  •  

CNers have asked about a donation box for Cloudy Nights over the years, so here you go. Donation is not required by any means, so please enjoy your stay.

Photo

Not your typical outreach...

  • Please log in to reply
5 replies to this topic

#1 tazer

tazer

    Surveyor 1

  • -----
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 1871
  • Joined: 22 Dec 2011
  • Loc: The Pitts (NC)

Posted 21 April 2017 - 12:22 PM

Since some of the goals of public outreach are to generate interesting in and raise awareness of obstructions to the hobby, I figured I should mention an unusual outreach I was part of last weekend. 

 

The Chapel Hill Astronomical and Observational Society (CHAOS) has been hosting a star party at the Staunton River State Park (SRSP) in VA for 5 years or so. During this time the park manager and district manager have not only helped to facilitate this event but have also come to realize that the night sky is one of the natural resources under their care. Given how great the park system is in VA it shouldn't have been surprising that they put their knowledge to work.

 

It first began with lighting changes at SRSP and then began the push for dark sky certification at the park. Since the district manager was on board with the certification, he encouraged the local communities to amend their ordinances to include light pollution mitigation efforts. Most, if not all, took heed and made the recommended changes. Even more, the district manager mandated that all parks in his district become dark sky compliant and ensured there was budget to do so. A couple of these parks are now seeking certification themselves.

 

As it happens SRSP became the first park in VA to be IDA certified, an achievement not overlooked by the governor. During an annual meeting of park officials at SRSP last weekend, the governor dedicated the field as a Dark Sky Observation Area with an official sign. To show appreciation to the governor and park officials, members of the CHAOS group, the Raleigh Astronomy Club (RAC), and the Richmond Astronomical Society (RAS) held an observing session for everyone on Sunday and Monday nights.

 

The governor, his family, and his staff were there on Sunday night and were treated to views of whatever the clouds would permit. The DSOs in general held out very well however the jewel of the evening was Jupiter. Europa's shadow transit was definitely the highlight. M51 was visible to most and you could just make out her spiral arms. M3 was superb and even the Owl Nebula separated itself from the hazy background for a moment or two.

 

It wasn't a long session and most everyone had gone back to their cabins by about 10:30PM. However, the governor was interested in seeing Saturn so myself and some folks from RAS hung around, observing a little, drinking coffee, and sharing stories until 3AM when we advised him to show up. Show up he did, with a couple of staff in tow as well.

 

Saturn didn't look particularly great at 3, being somewhat in the soup,  but M13 was wonderful as always. The governor even climbed a ladder to look through the eyepiece of a large Dob and got to see M13's "spider legs." Disappointed with Saturn I slewed back over to Jupiter and what do you know, there was another shadow transit (Io) already in progress. We all got to appreciate seeing two shadow transits in one evening before calling it a night at about 4AM.

 

At some point during the evening I realized it was a regular public outreach, as the governor stopped being the governor for an evening and was just enjoying the night sky with his family and friends (and staff...). Seeing his kids lying in the grass staring up at the night sky enjoying all that it had to offer left me confident that we made a lasting impression. Not just with some politicians, but with a family.

 

I didn't ever expect I'd participate in such an outreach but was glad I had the opportunity to do so. It's wonderful to see such interest from not only the park system, but from the top politicians in the state. VA may not be nearly as dark as many areas out West but it's certainly an astronomy friendly state.


  • CharlesC, brave_ulysses, nubycakes and 7 others like this

#2 jimr2

jimr2

    Messenger

  • -----
  • Posts: 400
  • Joined: 26 Sep 2013
  • Loc: Tonopah, NV

Posted 21 April 2017 - 01:09 PM

Great news and good story Mark! Now if we could only duplicate your success in the remaining 49 states w/ their Governors, etc!

P.S. By your location of "The Pitts"--is that Pittsboro, NC??

-jim-

#3 tazer

tazer

    Surveyor 1

  • -----
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 1871
  • Joined: 22 Dec 2011
  • Loc: The Pitts (NC)

Posted 21 April 2017 - 02:19 PM

Thanks Jim. Yeah, that's Pittsboro, NC. It's really a great small town and I use "the pitts" more ironically than anything else.

 

Edit: Though I could use "the pits" to refer to the NC state park system which chains up the parks at sunset locking you out (or in if you're a camper.)


Edited by tazer, 21 April 2017 - 02:20 PM.


#4 jimr2

jimr2

    Messenger

  • -----
  • Posts: 400
  • Joined: 26 Sep 2013
  • Loc: Tonopah, NV

Posted 21 April 2017 - 03:18 PM

OK Mark, thanks. I've never been to The Pitts, but have a younger brother (younger as in 50 yrs old) living there who's interested in astronomy--he's got a basic Orion 90 mm refractor--that I bought him a couple yrs ago--but has never hooked up w/ a group there or has anyone else he can observe with, so was wondering if you know if there's an astronomy club there locally that he could try contacting? He doesn't drive so can't go far to go to star parties w/ clubs in other cities like Raleigh, etc.

Thanks Mark, again, glad of your light pollution success in neighboring VA!

-jim-

#5 tazer

tazer

    Surveyor 1

  • -----
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 1871
  • Joined: 22 Dec 2011
  • Loc: The Pitts (NC)

Posted 21 April 2017 - 04:00 PM

Jim,

 

Have him sign up to the CHAOS mailing list at (and even join the club):

 

http://www.chaosastr...ndex.php/email2

 

It's not incredibly high volume but there's pretty regular conversation. We meet once a month but attendance isn't required. There are a few of us in Pittsboro he might be able to meet up with to do some observing for sure.



#6 jimr2

jimr2

    Messenger

  • -----
  • Posts: 400
  • Joined: 26 Sep 2013
  • Loc: Tonopah, NV

Posted 21 April 2017 - 04:48 PM

OK, Mark, many thanks!

-jim-


CNers have asked about a donation box for Cloudy Nights over the years, so here you go. Donation is not required by any means, so please enjoy your stay.







Cloudy Nights LLC
Cloudy Nights Sponsor: Astronomics