Hello all. I live near Louisville KY and will be moving to Phoenix in November for a few months. I'm bringing all my observing/astrophotography equipment with me and want to do some public outreach. I have lots of experience doing it with the Louisville Astronomical Society. I plan on joining the Saguaro Astronomical Society and I'm sure they'll have some type of public outreach/educational program, but maybe not due to the virus issue. I read that the Lowell Observatory has just reopened their outreach program. They have scopes set up outside and are using petri dishes to cover the eyepieces, disinfecting between viewers. I think that's a great idea (I've already purchased some petri dishes. LOL). I even purchased a ZWO ASI294MC Pro to do live view EAA. That way I avoid any Covid related issues with everyone using the same eyepiece. I've never done any EAA myself, but I've seen it done at star parties. I'm looking forward to it. Any suggestions would be appreciated.
Moving to Phoenix AZ area and want to do public outreach...
Posted 25 October 2020 - 02:03 AM
I don't think that conducting a live Outreach observing session is a good idea right now. Consider that the COVID-19 virus is spread by respiratory droplets. Even if your observing guests wear masks, their breath is directed underneath the mask past the eyes. There is some leakage behind most masks (since few people are wearing rare, tight-fitting N95 masks). Droplets are settling on the focuser, telescope tube, etc. The next time you touch them, you could get the virus on your fingers and when you rub your nose, you've got the virus.
"Risk vs. Reward" -- Is it WORTH IT to conduct an astronomy Outreach now? Do you want to take the risk that your event becomes a "super spreader" event? It doesn't take much.
Maybe a year from now (when vaccines are widespread and the infection rate is WAY DOWN) can "normal" activities resume like before.
- Jon Isaacs, Mike G., DSOGabe and 1 other like this
Posted 25 October 2020 - 04:29 AM
Posted 26 October 2020 - 10:19 AM
After more thought, I agree with you about doing public outreach that involves people using my telescope/eyepieces directly, but I still feel there might be a way to safely use EAA Live View and a laptop set up on a folding table 6 ft from the scope. If the number of people viewing the laptop at the same time was kept low and social distancing was maintained I think it might be done safely. Just my opinion.
Sadly, even that may not be enough People, especially kids and teens, are going to want to crowd around the PC for a closer look. You'll also run the risk of having to deal with people who will not wear a mask showing up. That may cause confrontations among the people there.
Don't mean to be a downer, but that is the reality of things now,
Posted 26 October 2020 - 12:12 PM
Club here does/started these Zoom presentations for outreach in conjunction with a university. Have to say they seem very little used by the public.
Probably does not help that people have to find out when each is being done and then set themselves up. Have been puzzled about 2 that took place, one of the "big" meteor showers, puzzlement was it was wall to wall cloud both nights but they still showed some, and really in the wrong scopes, 14" SCT's which are hardly wide field ? That one really got me.
People will I suspect find it easier to get up, get in car and drive down to a real look through a scope event, then drive home. Then to set up a PC. Suppose one is a night/evening out, the other is an hour in front of a PC.
Search out clubs and search out universities. Tucson likely has a lot of outreach, the Univ and the club seem very active there, at least in "normal" times. Unsure of what is on offer at Pheonix, but they may follow a similar line in astro outreach.
Posted 28 October 2020 - 09:38 AM
What would everyone think about organizing small, private, groups for outreach events? The clubs could contact churches, schools, colleges , and businesses, as well as post information about scheduling private group stargazing events on their websites. That way the club volunteers will have way more control over the situation and the people attending would know the ground rules ahead of time. It wouldn’t take much to get something like that going. Just a volunteer or two willing to take the time and effort to start contacting people and scheduling events and a couple of people with scopes and the desire to help show people the universe. I’ve done similar events in the past with a club I belong to in Louisville. I even bet local news services would be interested in doing a broadcast/interview on a program like that during a time like this.
I’m not saying it would be 100% safe, but comparatively speaking, I think it would be worth the risk. Just my opinion.
Posted 28 October 2020 - 09:54 AM
Another thing we could do is utilize DIY light screens made out of PVC and tarps (essentially a big tent with 4 walls and no roof) to limit access to the “observing area”.
One volunteer outside to talk to people and act as a “door man” and one volunteer inside to do the EAA.
Posted 29 October 2020 - 09:34 PM
One day at a time...
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Posted 05 November 2020 - 01:19 PM
Look at it this way. No one will die from you not doing outreach.
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