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How was your outreach experience during the April 8th, 2024 eclipse ?

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#1 Sebastian_Sajaroff


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Posted 15 April 2024 - 07:58 AM

Hello everyone,


Just wanted to share my outreach experience during the last eclipse.

It's valid for both eclipses and regular solar observation sessions.


City council (Boucherville QC) contacted our astronomy club to organise a public event for the solar eclipse.

We expected about 100 people and we got 800 !

Sky was clear and sunny, which is exceptional for April in Quebec.


Lessons learned :


1. The park was muddy (it snowed 13" four days ago). It was a mess !

We forgot to recommend people to bring chairs or stools. Fortunately, most of them thought about it.


2. Sun burns even in April.

Sunscreen is strongly recommended for a 3 hours event outside, even if it's not summer or a tropical country.


3. People followed our instructions to the letter. Thanks God !

They wore and removed their solar glasses when we told them so.

No morons trying to grill their eyeballs !


4. Think about parking. Some families found no parking space and had to walk ½ mile with their kids or elders.


5.   People expect a yellow Sun on telescope and binoculars.


We brought 6x30 solar binoculars, 25x100 Oberwerk with film filters, my 70 mm F/6 refractor with a Lunt wedge and three H-Alpha scopes (Lunt, and 2 PST)


Solar binoculars : people didn't like the blue Sun, and it was difficult for them to point at the Sun (even with a 9° field!)


25x100 with film filters : people loved the binocular experience, though elders and young kids had difficulty positioning their eyes and finding a comfortable position.


Refractor + wedge : people loved the view, the viewing height was adequate for all public, they just complained about the "white Sun".

They expected our star to be yellow, not white. I tried to explain our Sun IS white, no success.

A few minutes later, I switched my speech to "You know guys, I chose a white filter to enhance contrast" and everyone was happy about the "enhanced view" !


H-Alpha telescopes : 95% of public didn't like it, just a couple of young amateurs enjoyed the view. 

It was difficult for people to accept a white Sun, imagine them looking at a red Sun... OMG !

Many of them thought those "red Sun" telescopes were defective or that we were showing them a NASA documentary !


What was your experience ?







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#2 Kerry D. Green

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Posted 15 April 2024 - 08:54 AM

So my outreach is what I would consider casual.  We drove to the fairgrounds that was in my chosen location for the path of totality.  I knew there would be a lot of people there and everyone would stare at my setup.  I kept it pretty simple with my dual William Optics gear (80mm ZS and 66SD on top).  The 80mm had my white light filter and the Canon 60D while the 66mm had a "sun funnel" attached.  The 4 cars around me took pictures of my equipment and one family with quite young daughters really spent some time.  We exchanged numbers and I sent him some of the pictures I captured.


Point #2, yes the sun is strong and we forgot sunscreen!


Point #5, I learned this during the 2012 Venus transit.  Since then, I have been placing a yellow filter in the optical train of my sun funnel.  I also learned that I could not look at the projection on-axis without the sun being over bright.  This yellow filter cut down on that tremendously. 


I think if I were doing it again, I'd have a QR code to my astrobin so curious onlookers could see what I was able to capture.  There were at least 3 kids who showed a strong interest and I wish I could have connected a little bit longer, but most people left right after totality.  

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#3 kraegar


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Posted 15 April 2024 - 09:24 AM

I had solar binoculars, and an H-Alpha scope with an eyepiece (though I often swapped in a camera for photos).

Overall both were very well received, had probably 50-ish people, likely more, look through one or both (I think everyone had a look through the H-Alpha scope, and most looked through the binoculars).  I've been used to explaining what H-Alpha is, and why it's red, so maybe that helped, but it was very well received, and if anything I had to move a few folks along so others could have a look at times.


It all went very well.

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#4 David Knisely

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Posted 15 April 2024 - 10:32 AM

All in all, even though we only got to 80% coverage, at Hyde Memorial Observatory (Lincoln, Nebraska), we had 1,200 visitors and were open for over three hours.  We gave out lots of eclipse glasses and a lot of people just set up lawn chairs around the building to watch the event with the (filtered) unaided eye.  We did have two h-alpha telescopes on the observing deck, and with the proper power levels, visitors could see the prominences as well as the progress of the moon as the eclipse progressed (the red color didn't seem to be an issue).  Mostly, our fully-enclosed solar projection telescope got the most use, followed by our 9.25 inch and 11 inch filtered SCTs.  We also ran the NASA eclipse feed from the path of totality, so people were able to see that live in our lecture room. 



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#5 Napp


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Posted 15 April 2024 - 10:40 AM

I drove to Arkansas to catch totality.  I parked my travel trailer at the home of a former president of my local astronomy club here in Florida.  We set up a variety of scopes and binoculars in his front yard.  Another friend staying there set up a television camera with a zoom that was connected to a television under a tent.  About 60+ folks showed up to watch the eclipse in a clear blue sky.  We had been watching the 'prominent' prom as the eclipse progressed anticipating how it would appear during totality.  It did not disappoint.  It appeared that all had a great time.  

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#6 DSOGabe


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Posted 15 April 2024 - 12:57 PM

Pretty good even though we only had about 80% occultation here Sun City Astronomers teamed  up with one of the library branches.


Library staff procured the glasses and we set up 3 scopes, one being a PST. People did question why each scope showed different colorings. We explained about the PST and the different types of filters on the other 2 refractors. I regret not getting a pair of solar binos or at least filters for regular ones.


Had a very good turn out. I got there about an hour before the start and there was already a crowd waiting. Seems that several people pulled their kids out of school for the experience. Also many older folks; some did mention that they felt this would be their last chance to experience an eclipse. I'm glad we were able to help them enjoy it. 


Weather was cloudy but they were the thin high ones so viewing was not significantly affected. 

Edited by DSOGabe, 15 April 2024 - 01:09 PM.

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#7 No N in collimation

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Posted 16 April 2024 - 03:58 AM

How was my outreach experience during the April 8th, 2024 eclipse?




I set up shop and had non-stop action for 2 hours. "Build it and they will come."



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#8 kfiscus



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Posted 16 April 2024 - 09:36 PM

A complete success.  I spent all but the last 10 minutes of the beginning partial eclipse showing the sun to the restaurant and hotel workers at our Mazatlan hotel.  I used my filtered 80mm Frankenscope yielding about a 17-power, warm yellow view.

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#9 Bill Weir

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Posted 17 April 2024 - 01:13 AM

As best I could tell I was the only one on the deck of the ship who had visual scopes. I have no idea how many looked though them.


I waved at Ken back in Mazatlan but I don’t think he saw me.



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Edited by Bill Weir, 17 April 2024 - 01:15 AM.

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#10 kfiscus



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Posted 17 April 2024 - 09:25 AM

LOL!  I wondered how things were going for you guys out to sea.

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