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
Public Outreach Activities
Clouds were fairly thick and discouraged many, but we were still successful at observing this partial solar eclipse and sharing the views with nearly all who came. Our telescope operators (Amy, Steve, Kirk, Stacey, Chuck, and myself) came early and set up. We were joined by Nancy G. of the County Parks. It was difficult to set up with very little to no visible Sun. We managed to get lined up just before the eclipse, and Stacey announced the first contact pretty much right on time.Steve manned a live web-link of the eclipse, with a laptop and monitor at the picnic table. I brought some visual displays of today's Sun and also of the upcoming 2017 TOTAL solar eclipse. We had a field of mostly SCTs today, including one from a visitor with his kids. Amy, Kirk, and Steve were the exceptions. It was a worthwhile overall effort, and the clouds did not 'skunk' us. They sure did hold a lot of people back though. Given the amount of time available to view the Sun this afternoon, we probably had just the right-sized crowd.
The eclipse occurred from 4:41pm to 6:11,pm but we were well-clouded at 5:41pm. We did not get to observe the maximum eclipse (39% at 5:47pm), but we all got to see a large 'chunk" blocked (I'd estimate 25%). Clouds were intermittent with observing from 4:41 to 5:41, with the clouds likely being more than 80-20 vs. the Sun. We estimated that we had probably 50 visitors.
We were told that the camp had around 150 girl scouts and another 50 adults and others, and that pretty well fit my estimate with the time that we spent. We invited many of them to our weekly events at Broemmelsiek Park. We packed up and were out between 10pm and 10:15pm.
Carl Turek and I handled this event. The skies were about 30% cloudy when we arrived around 5:40pm. By the time we were set up, it was about 90% clouds. The satellite views gave the impression it would soon get better, and finally by 7:30 it did and the lines started forming. A few scattered clouds still hung around, but it was mostly clear for the next couple of hours until we were ready to pack up. It was not a perfect evening, but it worked out pretty good, and we had some awesome views most of the time.
We showed off the Milky Way and pointed out stars and constellations with our laser pointers. I asked frequently (as the groups cycled in and out) if any scouts needed help with astronomy awards. There were a few takers. The most frequent request was to point out constellations.
We operated pretty steadily from around 7:30 until about 9:30, with a few stragglers afterwards. We showed the Perseus Double Cluster in Carl's 4" refractor most of the evening, the double star Albireo (beta Cygni) in my 8" SCT (courtesy of volunteer help from Joe), and M13 (the great Hercules globular cluster) in my 16" dob. I offered occasional views of M27 (Dumbell nebula) and M31 (the Adromeda galaxy) in the dob, but showing M13 was much simpler. I hesitated to move up from 60x to 200x, but when I did so I had to acknowledge that the 200x view was astounding! The view of M31 was pretty soft (poor seeing), but it was very visible to the naked eye (good transparency).
Marv performed an interactive exercise with the kids using roll of ribbon to show the size and extent of our solar system, starting with the Sun, then Mercury, then doubling the distances to each successive planet (and asteroid belt). No doubt that the great distances were mind-blowing to many of them.
Clouds and rain were prevalent on this day, with threat of lightning. So, we were assigned indoors to a classroom. The nice, long hallway previously used on such events was needed as a temporary cafeteria. The good news was, we had a large window in the classroom. In the distance, nothing but houses. Ugh. Fortunately, one was under construction, with roofers putting on a roof. That became my target for the day in the 8" SCT. I also had two easels with pictures of the sun, as well as my photos of the latest Venus and Mercury transits. All seemed surprised at how VERY tiny Mercury was, relative to the Sun.Steve B. brought along the club's PST, on his own mount. That was primarily eye-candy for today. The kids were shown how it works and the kind of image of the sun that it puts out. He presented various solar information regarding our nearest star on his laptop.
We entertained and instructed five 3rd and 4th grade classes between 9am and 11am. I believe the classes averaged 24 students per class. So, approximately 120 students served. All were informed of the Friday Night Open Houses at Broemmelsiek Park, and of the upcoming Partial Solar Eclipse event at Broemmelsiek Park on late afternoon Thursday, October 23, 2014. Start of that eclipse is 4:41pm and lasts until sunset at 6:11pm. Hopefully many of these kids will come out and see a show that MORE than makes up for the views of the sun that they missed today!
"Discovery Days" is an annual event at this school, with an emphasis on the sciences but also offering other types of discovery. Per the school's website:
"On Friday the week culminated with activities that included a visit from retired USAF Colonel J.P. Morgan whose brother was an original Tuskegee Airman. Other activities included solar scope viewing with the Astronomical Society of Eastern Missouri, and a Monsanto outreach program on sound and light. Boeing fighter jet pilots also shared with students what it was like to fly an F/A-18 Super Hornet built right here in St. Louis. Additional events included Dino Odell’s science songs and the St. Louis Science Center unisphere, a portable, inflatable mini-planetarium."
There was also a hands-on room for kids to learn and copy drawings of constellations. These to be followed by an evening viewing the stars at Broemmelsiek Park (FNOH), but rain and a sky full of clouds caused this to be cancelled.
The kiddos were very well behaved, and nearly all were able to see thru the telescope easily. It was fun to walk thru the hallways and see many colorful displays of our solar system, including planets, moons, and planetoids. I hope that next year we can enjoy a sunny day and provide a much more interesting lesson about our nearest star, in the sunshine.
Skies were clear at Indian Camp Creek Park. Campers young and old enjoyed the Moon, Saturn, Mars, and Milky Way objects as wll as M31. The youngest camper was only 19 days old! Rangers carted campers up to the observing site on hayride carts. The walk from the dining shelter was kind of long for little ones in the dark, so we did not get many walk-in campers. We entertained the campers from 7 to 10pm.
There was a lot of humidity, but that has been the case for the last two months of observing. We're sort of getting used to it. Still not liking it though.
Carl had his refractor going, Ed ran our C-8, and I worked the Astroscan with the kiddies.
The site we used for observing was very dark, as the Milky Way was easy to show people. All the Little Dipper stars were visible. The northern horizon at this site did not have big trees, so it was good for explaining Polaris and circumpolar stars to the campers. Whoever picked this site for telescopes, thank you!
There is a telephone tower topped with a REALLY bright flashing strobe to the south of the park.
There were 200 campers signed up for this weekend. Gut estimate of telescope viewers was 100+, until otherwise submitted.
There were some cirrus clouds early on, but they thinned out once it got good and dark. The usual 'survey' of kids who've seen the Milky Way before (just under half), and they were all able to see it clearly on this moonless night. There were lots of little "Wow!"s exclaimed throughout the evening.
A very nice evening for telescopes and kiddos. I brought two scopes, my 8" SCT and my 16" dob. I asked a teacher (James) to man the 8", and show the double star Albireo (beta Cygni). I did a short talk as we began, and had a volunteer watching the clock and a spot in the sky. A very bright (~ mag -6) Iridium Flare popped right on time just above Polaris at 7:54pm, and the crowd went wild! An estimated 130+ enjoyed views thru the scopes from 7:45pm to 10:00pm. This was a large crowd for just two scopes, and it was difficult for one person.The location was Camp Derricotte, a wonderful site, limited only by tall trees blocking Saturn :-( and one disturbing dusk-to-dawn light :-O near the center of the camp. I showed M13 in the 16" for all the kiddos. After which, the teen counselors and teachers were invited back and they enjoyed views of M31, M27, M11, and M15.
About 40 scouts and parents showed up under good skies at 7:30pm. They were shown Mars,Saturn, the Andromeda Galaxy, and of course Albireo. They headed back to their campsite at 9pm and Chuck S. and I wrapped it up.
Stacy Thater ventured solo on this event, providing views for 52 stargazers at Camp Tuckaho. The skies cooperated by being clear most of the day and evening. He showed the Moon, Saturn, Mars, M13, M31, and M57.
estimate one hour
Our last effort ended at 9:58pm. We served an estimated 120 people, most of which where scouts. They were pretty well behaved, and made it all worthwhile. We regularly reminded them that we do this at Broemmelsiek Park on Friday nights, and invited them to come on out.
At the end of a cloudy and rainy day, we started seeing some blue sky after 6pm. ASEM club members had gathered for our meeting in Weldon Springs. Carl Turek and myself departed at 7PM and drove to Tuckaho. We met Steve Boerner there upon arrival. Due to the large crowd, we were asked to set up on the far northern end, about 100 yards past the bonfire. This is not the best site for us, but was deemed necessary for the large crowd of girls this night.The sky looked almost decent upon arrival (8:00), but by the time we got set up it was completely overcast. We sat and talked for about 45 minutes, by which time we had the Moon, just now firmly showing thru the gauzy haze. The first set of kids showed up and we showed them the Moon. Soon thereafter, Steve managed to pull in Saturn. These two objects were all that we had for the majority of the evening. Toward the end, we managed a few other views (double stars Albireo, Mizar, Polaris, and Globular cluster M13) for a select few viewers. Besides fighting the cloud cover and fog, it was a humid night and eyepieces dewed up regularly. It was a bit of a constant battle keeping the eyepieces from fogging up! Occasional headlights in the camp showed that we were actually "in" the fog.
High humidity, 90+ degree temps, and intermittent clouds hampered this event. About half the kiddos had left camp by the time we started, no doubt due to the toll of the day's heat. About 35 were present for the stargazing session. We started shortly after 8:30, talking to the kiddos about how these telescopes work. Carl Turek brought his 127mm Mak, and I brought the 8" SCT and the 16" dob, the crowd could see the differences in each type of telescope.Saturn was great for about the first 30 minutes, then clouds rolled and we went for things in the sucker holes. It was pretty tough for a while, but the clouds started to dissipate around 9:30. By then there were only around 10 people or so. They got the best views of the evening. We kept going until shortly after 10pm, and were packed out by 10:30.
We started displaying Saturn in all 3 scopes while it was still twilight, around 8:40. As it got progressively darker, and in-between clouds, we also showed them Mars, Mizar, Polaris, M3, and M13. The clouds hampered constellation-pointing, and more than half the crowd left before it got really dark enough to present this with a laser. I was able to show several scouts Leo, Ursa Major, Polaris, and Corona Borealis. Our hosts were nice, and Dave was a great help manning my 8". I could tell that the day had taken its' toll, but given that it was so hot I thought the kiddos did well. As with other such family events, there were quite a few little ones that had difficulties "seeing" anything in an eyepiece.
Cloudy weather during the day hampered this event. It was mostly clear an hour before sunset, and about an hour was enjoyed after sunset as well. Unfortunately, the clouds came back. We arrived shortly after 7pm and talked then set up. We were talking to visitors and enjoying some views of the moon by 7:40. First views of Jupiter were just before 8pm. Sunset was 7:51pm and it wasn't fairly dark until almost 9pm.Doug Kniffen brought his 8" SCT, as did Chuck Simms. I brought the 16" dob for myself. We set up on the parking lot at one end. Traffic was light, due to the intermittent clouds and very cool temps. I counted 16 total, not including the 3 scope operators.
In addition to the Moon and Jupiter, Chuck showed the setting Sun (filtered), and we also had views of Mars and double star Castor. Light pollution and thin upper cirrus, in addition to the thick clouds gathering later, hampered all but the brightest DSO's. As noted, the clouds started coming in about the time it began to get dark.
Clouds left us very little to look at shortly after 9pm, and by 9:30 we were packing up. Despite the low turnout, it was good to get out for some fresh air and to share some views.