Public Outreach Activities

Most of our public outreach is facilitated at our "Friday Night Open House" events at Broemmelsiek Park.  For large groups (50+), we will consider bringing scopes to your event. For requests for a telescope outing, or if a large group (50+) plans to come to Broemmelsiek, please email  Outreach@asemonline.org .     For those who would like to help support our efforts to bring astronomy to the public, free of charge, please consider joining our society ($50) or otherwise offering your support.  We are a tax-deductible 501-3c charitable organization.   Membership application 

Lewis & Clark Elementary - Cuivre River State Park - October 9, 2017

posted Oct 10, 2017, 6:13 AM by Jim Twellman   [ updated Oct 10, 2017, 6:14 AM ]

About 100 kids plus teachers and counselors were entertained at Camp Sherwood.  A few clouds threatened occasionally, and distant 'heat lightning' seen in the south.  A good amount of dew for awhile, but overall a really good viewing night.  We got started at 7pm, which was a little early and provided only Saturn in all 4 scopes for nearly 30 minutes.  We enjoyed a pass of the ISS at 7:35, and a decent Iridium Flare at 8:02.  By then the Milky Way was gorgeous!  The Andromeda galaxy was about 40* up and could be seen naked eye.  Stacey Thater brought a 6" Newtonian and a 4" Maksutov.  I had my 8" SCT and the Nolan 12" dob.  In addition to Saturn, we showed Mizar, Albireo, Messier 22, M13, M31 and a few others.  Plenty of oohs and ahhs.  We lost Saturn to the trees before the last two classes came out. We finished just after 9PM and enjoyed a few more views before we left.  I was surprised to see color in M27 in Stacey's 6", very cool.  I was home by 10pm.

Folks were often reminded that we do this (for free) every clear Friday night at Broemmelsiek Park.

Jim Twellman

"Discovery Days" - Oct 6, 2017

posted Oct 7, 2017, 11:57 AM by Jim Twellman   [ updated Oct 7, 2017, 5:05 PM ]

For arguably the 5th year in a row, "Discovery Days" was clouded out.  Discovery Elementary has been expanded twice since we started supporting this event, and now several classes double up on us.  At one time, 3 ASEM members handled this nicely.  We had 5 members supporting this event this year and I don't think we'd have wanted any less - indoors anyway.   We set up at the end of a hallway, near a door where we could unload.  Unfortunately, it was also the parent drop-off driveway, so we had to wait until that cleared (which wasn't long enough until start-up).

For indoors presentations we had earth and moon globes, Educational Solar science banners from NASA,  telescopes and binoculars to look thru, a PST to look at, and computer map simulator of the earth in space.  Volunteers for this event were Eddie Agha, Amy White, Marv Stewart, Mike Pusatera, and myself.  Mike's two kiddos were among those who came thru.  Sixteen classes of 3rd thru 5th graders were served.  Approximately 25 students each (plus teachers), came thru for a total of 400.

This is a great annual event, but is always disappointing for us not to be able to go outside and observe the REAL sun.  Maybe next year?
-- Jim Twellman










Mike and Eddie's two stations



Progress Elementary - October 2, 2017

posted Oct 3, 2017, 5:54 PM by Jim Twellman

While you were at Camp Cuivre River (for Dardenne Prairie Elementary) last night, Steve Boerner and I were at the Camp Sherwood Forest (for Progress South Elementary), and had just a great time and great view!   The ooh's and aah's from the kids were there, as I remember in the past.  It was again an uplifting experience to give the kids a thrill to look thru a good scope to see details of an object they normally can only see pictures of.

First, the weather was near perfect: clear skies, a light breeze, low humidity, and no mosquito's!   What?  Yeah.  The skies of course were lit up with the moon, but the moon was not yet full, so the craters was target #1 in my 8 in newt, and when Saturn popped, it was target #2 in Steve's 12 inch.  For the kids, this was a show in itself to remember.   Steve brought a small refractor for a full moon view, but it was unattended, and I had my red-lit poster board with a SkyMap chart and standard flyer intro on the club and Star Party etiquette (rules), but the operated scopes were the show.

For those who haven't been to one of these, the kids, at this camp, are brought in small organized groups 25 (approximately).  In our case, that was 5 groups of 25 coming every 20 minutes.  Add teachers and camp counselors and you had a group of at least 30.  The group was broken into 3 sub-groups for each scope.  Yes, Progress South has 125 5th grade'rs!  Quite amazing.  What this means is besides a short intro discussion by the principal, Steve and I, there is just enough time for one kid to look thru each scope to view one object on that given scope.  If we had another operator/scope owner, that would have been one more object the kids would have had a chance to view.  I agree, 3 staffed scopes would have been best, but we had a great show, despite the limitation.

Thanks for helping to make this happen.  I think the Ft. Zumwalt camp program is great experience for the kids.


Tom Richards

Dardenne Prairie Elementary - October 2nd 2017

posted Oct 2, 2017, 8:45 PM by Jim Twellman   [ updated Oct 3, 2017, 6:25 PM ]

David Lloyd and I were at Camp Cuivre last night with Dardenne Prairie Elementary - About 75 people (57 students, plus teachers and counselors) looked thru scopes and binos at Camp Cuivre.  David  and I provided views of the Moon, Globular Cluster Messier 22 in Sagittarius, Globular Cluster Messier 13 in Hercules, the double star Mizar, and Saturn.   Equipment provided included 25x100 binos, 8" SCT, and the Nolan 12" dob.  The kids came out girls first, then the boys later.  They were well behaved and it was super cool to hear the "wow's", "cool's", and "oooh's" that we heard tonight.  I drafted a teacher to man my 8" SCT which was tracking Saturn very well at 145x.  The support and interest of the teachers was great.

The weather was just about perfect.  Unseasonably warm for October, but a nice breeze (which occasionally rocked the image of Saturn in the 8").  Very clear and very enjoyable.

Jim T

August 21, 2017 TOTAL SOLAR ECLIPSE

posted Oct 2, 2017, 8:38 PM by Jim Twellman   [ updated Oct 3, 2017, 7:00 PM ]

ASEM participated in the Total Eclipse with the St Charles County Parks at both Broemmelsiek Park (1' 35") as well as at Klondike Park (2' 14").  The parks were sold out for reservations (1000 each), but we estimate about half that number actually attended.  The heat, as well as traffic, were real issues and once the public had their eclipse glasses they were free to watch it wherever they wanted.  Weather forecasts for the St Louis area were less than great, and a lot of locals changed plans and bugged out to Kentucky and Tennessee.  Too bad, as the weather here was pretty darned great.  

Lots of great photos taken, I got to witness "Shadow Bands", the 360 degree "sunrise/sunset", cicadas going NUTS, as well as the solar corona and the super-cool ability to look at the Sun with a telescope with no filter, and see prominences without a filter.  Some amount of high cirrus clouds prevented it from getting as dark as we'd hoped.  Venus was easily seen before totality.  I noted seeing Regulus in my 80mm refractor during totality, but I recorded no other stars during totality.  It really goes by fast.

ASEM members helped other attendees observe the Sun, with sunspots, prior to and after totality. 

For more on these events, see the TSE website:  **2017 Total Solar Eclipse - August 21, 2017**

Lewis & Clark Elementary - Camp Derricotte - October 11, 2016

posted Oct 12, 2016, 8:28 AM by Jim Twellman

Approximately 120 kids, counselors, and teachers looked thru both my 16" dob and the 8" SCT at the Moon, Saturn, and globular star cluster M13 from 7:30pm to 9:00pm.  The sky quality was decent, but gauzy thin clouds occasionally made deep-sky objects look soft.  I heard a lot of "wow"s and "thank-you"s.  The leaders did a nice job of cycling and overseeing the kids.  Quite a large number seemed to want a "long drink" but time was short.  At this age, most should be able to see thru a telescope well, but I think the glare from the moon slowed down a number of kiddos last night when trying to first see.  Many references to FNOH and the 2017 Solar Eclipse were given.

Jim Twellman

Dardenne Elementary - Camp Cuivre - October 10, 2016

posted Oct 11, 2016, 6:07 AM by Jim Twellman   [ updated Jan 18, 2017, 7:20 PM ]

The skies cleared fairly nicely last night at Cuivre, with the sky mostly clear and fairly steady by 7:30pm.  I'd say about 10% clouds or maybe less. Over 80 participants enjoyed views of the moon, Saturn, Mars, M13, Albireo, and M31.  Lot's of "wow"s and a thankful crowd. Possibly equally thankful that the weather cleared and they didn't have to do square dancing "again".... I enlisted a pair of teachers to man the 8" SCT, which mostly tracked Saturn.  Their first view of Saturn was pretty joyful! 

Some kids, at the end of their nights' viewing, wanted to see the moon.  I obliged by giving them the 16" at 60x and they were laughing at how light-blinded they were in that eye when they left the telescope.  Cute!

Camp Cuivre is the only site that we can't drive real close to the observing area, having a nice ditch between the road and the ball field.  A little more challenging every year to tote stuff 40 yards, especially back at the end of the night and climbing the ditch in the dark at the point of loading.  Glad to have it all packed and ready again for tonight, the forecast remains favorable (20-30% cloudy).

Of all the Outreach that we do, I get the biggest kick out of this type of outreach.  5th graders, all now big enough to capably enjoy seeing thru a telescope, the joys they get from their first views of Saturn or M13, and teachers who can appreciate how this can inspire youngsters (and even themselves).

I spoke about our FNOH's at B-Siek, as well as the 2017 Total Solar Eclipse.  We finished right about 9:00pm and I was packed and out by 9:30pm.

Discovery Ridge Elementary - October 7, 2016

posted Oct 11, 2016, 6:02 AM by Jim Twellman

"Discovery Days"

Steve's report:
-----------
As for Discovery Ridge...

We stayed inside.  The weather report called for cloudy for the later morning and partly cloudy for early morning.

We were scheduled to go between 9-12 in six different classrooms for 1/2 hour at a crack.  Sometimes the class we were to meet with was in PE/Art/Library/etc. when we arrived in the empty room. Some of the groups got 20 minute, some a bit longer.

Eddie walked them through some solar facts, light facts, color of the sun with questions/answers on their part.  I demoed my SuperSID antenna and solar storms.  I also pushed the 2017 Eclipse, library scopes, and FNOH.  The last part worked based on the turnout Friday night at Broemmelsiek.

From Wentzville School District's Facebook page:

Students at Discovery Ridge Elementary participated in the seventh annual “Discovery Days” during the week of October 3-7. The event, conceived by faculty members in 2010 before construction of the new elementary school was even completed, focuses on discovery in the physical world. “Discovery Days is an opportunity for our students to learn, explore, discover and imagine about Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM), with a special focus on space and flight,” said Discovery Ridge Principal Laura Bates.

On Friday, October 7th, the week culminated with activities that included students climbing in the cockpit of an F4 Phantom jet built by McDonnell Douglas. Other activities included Monsanto’s Marshmallow Challenge, Washington University’s MySci truck, science demonstrations by Mad Science, and solar scope viewing with the Astronomical Society of Eastern Missouri. “During Discovery Days you learn about the planets in a very fun way,” said fifth grader Deo Reji. “I love Discovery Days every year.”

Additional events included a visit from the ARCH helicopter, Dino Odell’s science songs and the St. Louis Science Center Unisphere - a portable, inflatable mini-planetarium. The celebration concluded Friday night with the St. Louis Science Center’s Family Science Night and a pizza dinner. #STEMSunday


2015 PERSEID PARTIES

posted Aug 13, 2015, 6:50 PM by Jim Twellman

The 2015 Perseids were blessed to occur favoring the USA and on a nearly New Moon.  ASEM hosted two events.  The Cuivre River S.P. event was publicized in a small market, and the BP event was not publicized by the SCCP but got TV coverage at the last minute.  I'm combining both reports into this log.

CUIVRE RIVER STATE PARK:
We arrived at 7pm to find the gate locked.  My contact, Ranger Jaime (the "Interpretive Resource Coordinator") showed up in a few minutes to unlock the gate.  "Special Event" signs were posted along the main road in both directions.  Jaime said that they expected between 200 and 400, and I was a bit worried.  I set up and the crowd slowly trickled in after sunset.  At one point I doubted that we'd even have 30, but they just kept coming.  I had packed up for both scopes, but managed to leave the tripod for the C8 behind, so I only had the 16" dob.  Given how out of practice I am, it could have been worse.  I had brought my son to handle the C8, so he got to enjoy the meteor shower after all.

I showed Saturn for nearly an hour (starting around 8:30), then catered to other DSOs (M8, M13, M57, M27, Albireo, M22, and later on M51, M31, and the Veil Nebula (witches broom).  There were about 7 parks employees there, one with a clicker.  She had 115 at 10PM, and there were probably only 10 after that, so 125 is my count. Jamie had a loudspeaker, and told 'star lore' as well as meteor shower and comet information. 

I brought plenty of ASEM brochures and had several very interested parties. Several had some decent telescopes that they needed help with, and some had general (non-telescopic) astrophotography interest (particularly on shots of meteors).  I stressed the Beginner's meetings and A/P SIG to them.  I sounded off about Friday Night Open House every Friday night at Broemmelsiek like a broken record.  A private school in Winfield also mentioned a camp in September, expecting 100.  I directed her to our website on the brochure.

It was a very nice night, weather-wise.  We couldn't get completely away from headlight issues here of course.  My best views were the Veil and one GORGEOUS meteor that blazed and wiggled for about 45* before burning out.  They kept me busy at the scope, often with good questions, so I only got to see about a dozen meteors before packing out.

The work crew came last and got some of the best views.  I started tearing down shortly after 11pm and got out around 11:30, home by midnight.  From the sounds of the ooh's and aah's, I would guess that it might be one of the best Perseid nights in the past 6 yrs.  Around 10:30 I asked a couple of 20-somethings how many they'd seen and they answered 20 and 30 since 9pm.  The crowd was a bit thin on elementary kiddos, I expected more but back-to-school issues likely lowered their count.

Jamie had a strong interest in this, and she mentioned doing another event for the Sep 27 lunar eclipse.  We'll see.  Her husband is the CRSP superintendent.

Jim Twellman


BROEMMELSIEK PARK
823 people were clicked in by 1:30 am. The actual body count will be higher. There was a steady stream of cars coming into the park after midnight. Telescopes started getting business when Saturn popped into view.

ASEM people helping the public enjoy the Perseids were Lisa Barnes, Steve Boerner, Grant Martin, Stacey Thater, and Mark Shea. Jim and Ann Trull provided emotional support for the weary scope handlers. We were so busy, I could not leave the telescope and chat with folks.  Rangers were called fairly early, as parking became crazy right after sunset.

Well so much for the thought of not pushing the Perseids and only 100-200 visitors!  I don't think there were more that 200 at any one time, but there was a steady stream in and out pf the lot all night long with cars parked everywhere.  I know that before the ranger showed up cars left without parking not knowing that they could park on the grass over by the entrance.    There were lots of headlights and flashlights going everywhere.  Quite a few people set up out in the lot and east of the entrance road.

Since we didn't "push" the night, the crowd must have heard about the event from elsewhere where we have no influence...TV, radio, etc. (Note:  Fox 2 News broadcasts at 5 and 6 pm were at Broemmelsiek LIVE with Anna Elise Parks talking about the Perseids, before we were even set up).

The shower is a yearly occurrence and in the future we should plan on a crowd whether it really happens or not.   While it was a small minority, I do know some visitors were upset with the lack of parking and crowd control.   The 2016 Perseids are on a Friday night/Saturday morning with the Moon at 77% full and setting at 1:46 a.m. on the 13th.  Both Saturn and Mars should be visible before midnight.  The timing next year should mean a double whammy of FNOH and Perseid crowd.

For our part, we promoted the event in Facebook. The top 5 Perseids related posts caught more than 3600 reaches.  When I left at 3AM, they were still rolling in. I'm pretty sure that over a thousand folks went through between sunset and sunrise.  When I left, I policed the area and found only two beer cans, two soft drink cans, an empty bottle of wine and a wrapper for those self illuminating wrist bands. Not bad for a crowd that size.


(compilation of individual reports from Amy W., Steve B., and Grant M.)

Spencer Road Library - "Here, There, Everywhere. The Bending of Light."

posted Apr 30, 2015, 6:31 PM by Jim Twellman

Chuck Simms and I put a special program together by request of the St Charles County Library District.  It ran from 7pm until 9pm at the Spencer Road Branch.  The first hour was a 30 slide PowerPoint program built around the title of the program, showing both natural refraction and man-made refraction, and telescopes in general.  Part of this highlighted ASEM, Broemmelsiek Park, and the upcoming Library telescopes (one of which was front and center). 

The second half of the program (after it got dark) were views thru telescopes.  Chuck had his 10" dob and I had my 8" SCT.  We gave them views of the gibbous moon, Venus, Jupiter, and the double star Castro.  Thirty-seven people attended and they were very appreciative. 

Jim T.



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