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
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This event had been scheduled for Saturday May 6, but was hurriedly re-scheduled to Friday night due to weather forecasts. I arrived at 7:15 and set up two telescopes (16" dob and 8" SCT) at Shelter #5. The 45 scouts (and families) hiked over from the camp site at 8:10 in an obviously excited state. After introductions, the group was split up in smaller units to look thru the scopes. Two parents were 'recruited' to assist at each scope while I went back and forth. The kids settled into the routine nicely.
Over the course of the next hour the following items were observed/shown:
and it's 4 major moons (Io, Ganymede, Callisto, and Europa), which held fairly well at 290x in the 8"
+ M42 (Messier 42) - the Great Orion Nebula, birthplace of young stars, at 60x in the 16"
+ M3 - globular star cluster in Canes Venatici, at 203x in the 16"
+ M41 - open star cluster in Canis Major, at 60x in the 16"
+ a Canes Venatici ("Cor Caroli") - colorful double star, at 80x in the 8"
+ M45 open cluster: the Pleiades (aka the Seven Sisters, aka, "Subaru"), at 60x in the 16"
+ M41 open cluster, at 60x in the 16"
the belt loops, we covered focusing a telescope, how to find
the North Star (Polaris), and talking to an astronomer (amateur in my
case, but it counts). Constellations and asterisms that were pointed out included: Orion, Big Dipper (part of Ursa Major), Leo, and Cassiopeia.
By 9:15 it had clouded up and I began to pack everything up and left by 9:40. This was my first major outreach for 2013, and my scopes seemed 'heavier' than I remembered! The good news is that everything worked fairly well, and no major surprises.
This event was light on astronomy (some solar views), but was done in cooperation with our partners at St Charles County Parks Department. Someday we may see more of an alliance with local birder organizations. Our thanks to the participants who shared their time serving the public in the cold. - - Jim T
Marc Arnold, David Lloyd, John Sgouros, and I were there this morning.
Cold & windy might best describe it. I was less than a thrill to see ice forming on the shoreline of the river. Kathy Arnold was there, but was
too cold, left for a while, and then came back. The wind was about 15
mph out of the NW. We set up between the parking lot and river so we
could focus on the island and Illinois. I'm guessing that we saw about
10 birds and three spent a good deal of time perched so the optics were on
them most of the time. Surprise, most of the time the birds were on our
side of the river and we rarely were focused on the Illinois side.
John pushed ASEM and FNOHs and passed out quite a few
business cards. After 2 1/2 hours last night, getting up early this
morning, the cold, and wind, I pretty much sat.
Nancy & Betty from the Parks Department were both there as were about 100 people. I get the
impression from talking to Nancy that we'll be asked back next year and
they'll include us in the flyer.
Mark & I both had our dobs & binos, David had binos, and John
had two refractors. Some where along the line I mentioned solar filter. John had one in his car and put it on one of his scopes. It was a
good idea because we didn't always have an eagle present. For future
reference, SCTs would be better than Newts because our birds perched on
their heads;-) and the lower eyepiece location meant that my scope was often blocked by
cars in the lot.. We had Newts/Dobs because we both were too lazy to
unpack & repack from the FNOH less than nine hours earlier.
It's tough to do something Friday night and then on Saturday morning!
- - Steve B
Marc A. and Steve B. sighting in the binos on their parallelogram mounts.
John S. and scope.
[The weather was warm, but the clouds rolled in on this event - JT.]
kids were excited just to see the telescopes and your members did a
nice job talking to them about the parts etc. We took a couple if pics,
but the teacher left
her camera at home today. I will send them to you as soon as I get
also sent out a thank you email to parents with an invitation to your
next public viewing. Hopefully, you will see some of our kids!
Thank you so much for helping us out! We learned a lot this first time, so next time we will be more prepared.
As the guys probably told you, we were completely clouded out after
about 30 minutes. We told a lot of people about Friday evenings at BPO
and let them know about asemonline.org
I had brought my 10" Dob. So I spent the remaining time at the school
showing people their beautiful faces in a 10" mirror with red light.
This seemed to please people.
David is a part-time staff with the
St. Louis franchise of the Challenger Center. It might be good for
ASEM to get to know these folks. Their focus is on school-age kids and
A quick report...
I got to the school about 5:30 pm and Amy was already set up in the SE
corner of the lot. John and Stacey were there by 6. People started to
arrive about 5:45 pm in twilight and got views of Jupiter. You could
see clouds in the west and the kept getting closer and closer. We were
able to align with Capella and Aldebran. John (I think) and I managed
to get M45 in our scopes. Eventually M45 clouded out and I guessed
correctly that M38 would be possible. After about 5 minutes it was gone
too. We were pretty much done by 6:30 pm.
We kept on pushing ASEM, FNOHs, Beginner Meetings for the rest of the
night. Stacey & John were gone by 7:15pm and Amy & I by 7:45.
Amy & I guessed that there were around 200 kids and parents. I'm
going with that number for the count unless you want to get a number
from the school contact.
Everyone was very complimentary & expressed thanks for us coming.
Last Saturday night ASEM was asked to host a star party at Indian Camp Creek
County Park for the American Heritage Girls and their families. Marv Stewart,
Chuck Simms, and myself arrived around 6:00pm and set up our telescopes near the
pavilion and playground across the field from the family campground. It is very
high ground and has pretty good horizons. The pavilion lights came on after
dark but didn't really affect our viewing because they are shaded well. The
lights on the restroom are shaded as well and on motion detectors and timers.
We were a little concerned because when we arrived there was nobody at the
campground. Marv waited there until the first car arrived and it was Pam Winter,
one of the organizers. She said they'd be arriving at 7:00 and just like
clockwork they did.
Families made the trek across the field and up the hill to where we were set up.
We estimate over 70 guests viewed many different objects including Mars,
Jupiter, M13, M15, M31, M32, M57, the Double Cluster, and NGC457. The Moon
hadn't come up by the time were packed up. Many had never looked through a
telescope before and some had been to the Astronomy Area at Broemmelsiek Park. There
were lots of "wow"s heard. One boy commented that he looked through our
telescopes at 5th grade camp (at Cuivre River State Park).
Although the day started out completely overcast, the clouds cleared off nicely
just as dusk began. It was clear and cold, 39*F when we left shortly after 9:00pm.
Well it was interesting. Indian Camp Creek would be a pretty good
observing site. John's guess was 70 kids and adults looked through our
scopes. I had my scope on
Alberio, and (later on) Jupiter when it got about 10 degrees off the horizon, it
looked like a big Mars it was so red in the scud, but there were only a
few groups I did this with. I also pointed out Cygnus, and let them look
at the Milky Way and the Pleiades with my binoculars. They seemed to
enjoy that as much as looking through the scope. I think Chuck had M13,
John may have had M31---my guess. I doubt if there was anyone that
didn't thank me and say they had enjoyed the experience. I'm sure it was
the same for John and Chuck. A real feel-good moment.
Pam was a pleasure to work with. Marv S
This camp event was originally scheduled for Wednesday evening (26th), but the forecast caused the school to request that we move it to Monday. John agreed with the request early on Monday, with the hope that he could get some help on short notice! Chuck Simms and I chipped in with two 8" SCTs, and John brought the 13" Coulter for DSO's. We began with all three scopes on the moon for the first group around 7:20pm. We figured that clouds might cause later groups to get no views, so we got started as quickly as possible although it was not dark yet.
We went thru four classes of fifth graders in pretty quick order, finishing at 8:50pm. Classes were 20+, for a total of 100 including teen counselors and teachers. In addition to the moon we provided views of M13 and Albireo. The moon was 2 days past 1st quarter (waxing gibbous), and some kids seemed to know the lunar cycle pretty well.
The moon was definitely bright. It was easy to view during dusk, but as it got dark it took its' toll. M57 faded out quickly under magnification. Kids who saw the moon would come over to see Albireo in my scope and still be too blinded to see it for awhile.
We went thru this group fast. I believe that this was the first time that we have worked with this elementary school. We may need to stress our educational capabilities with them next year. As a fairly new school they are probably not very familiar with us.
It was a fun night, but we did hurry it with some concern for becoming clouded-out. Clouds did dominate the south, as the Teapot was hardly to be seen all night. All in all we felt fortunate to be able to give the kids a good show and not be shut down due to clouds.
We dodged a few clouds this morning, but managed to give views to every class
that came out, some more than others. Eddie Agha provided views from the Lunt
Ha scope. Amy White used the projection method with her dob, and I had a filter
on my 8" SCT.
The first group that came out at 9am was TWO classes, which was hurried. All
the rest (8 half-hour sessions total) were just one class. Those single classes got some "seconds" if the skies were mostly clear. Class sizes probably
averaged 25+, so for nine classes (and including teachers) we had 235 by my
Our program began at 9:00am and ended at 1:30pm. The school provided lunch food and water for us during the half-hour break at noon. We got a lot of 'thank-you's' to go along with the typical "wow's" and "cool!"'s.
This event was handled by Dave Lloyd, Marv Stewart, and myself. Dave Lloyd brought the club's 14" StarMaster dob, Marv had his 8" dob, and I wielded my 8" SCT. The group of 30 were still in meetings (with dinner) when we arrived and set up. They came out around 8:30pm and hung out and talked astronomy and looked thru the 3 scopes until 10pm. We showed them the Moon, Albireo, M57 (Ring nebula), M8 (Lagoon nebula), M13 (Glob) M22 (Glob), M27 (Dumbbell neb), M31 (Andromeda galaxy), and the Veil supernova remnant, among others.
We had set up on the Northeast end of the conference center, staff parking lot. They managed to shut off the parking lot lights for us, which helped tons.
This was a small group, but it was for our friends at St Charles County Parks, and we were very glad to provide the evenings' entertainment. We were offered (and accepted!) some of the food and drink that was available. The event was friendly, educated, and (of course) appreciated.
In a type of a "first" for our Outreach, we took on THREE large "away" events in just one evening. Rain had cancelled the previous nights' plans at two of these camps, and we had volunteers enough to give a decent show to all three.
Camp#1: LEWIS & CLARK ELEMENTARY @ Camp Cuivre
"Lynn and I had about 100 kids and adults viewing with us. We started
out with a deer feeding in the field while we set up. Lynn tracked M13
with the Coulter all evening while I showed Albireo, Alcor & Mizar
and M31 in the 110mm refractor. A couple was showing reptiles inside
while groups came out to view. It all worked well. We packed up and
headed for home a little before 10:00 pm."
Camp #2: FORREST PARK ELEMENTARY @ Camp Sherwood
I crossed paths with a very young doe (a spotless fawn) on the way to the campground, near Camp Cuivre. The sun had started to set, which made the sky bright on the hilltops while being very dark in the valleys and in the shaded glades.
Tom Richards and I took on the largest camp, 6 classes of 5th graders for 140 total. Tom had his 8" f/6 reflector and I had both my 8" SCT and the 16" f/4.5 dob. With three pieces of equipment we could take on 30 kids at a time, platoon-fashion. I "borrowed" a teacher (Diana) to stand at the 8" SCT and tell the kids about Mars and the Ring Nebula. We got started at 7:45 with views of the moon, Mars, and Albireo early on. Later views included M8, M13, M22, M31, M57 and the Double Cluster. The night was nearly perfect, somewhat cool, no bugs or mosquitoes, and very clear skies. We pointed out the Milky Way to the kids, almost half of which had never seen it before.
The Lagoon Nebula and the Andromeda galaxy could be seen easily with the naked eye. Constellations were also occasionally pointed out, as was a very bright (-6 mag) Iridium Flare around 8:47pm. We finished up with the kids at 9:40 and gave quick looks of several objects to two late teachers, finishing at 9:45pm. Tom and I then enjoyed a quick peek at the Veil Nebula, which was nearly straight up. With the 2" OIII in place, it may have been the best I've ever seen it. Not only was the 'broom' end of the witches' broom filled out like lace, it was also showing many small arcs within the lace very nicely. It was quite breathtaking.
Local light issues are a minimum at this camp, but this year we had more issues with flashlights unfortunately. As it was a dark and moonless night, teachers deemed them necessary but unfortunately had a hard time keeping them pointed at the ground. Unless you are dark-adapted and on the receiving end, it is difficult to impress people on how this actually causes pain to others. Overall the kiddos and teachers were well-behaved and appreciative of the views we provided. We found the gates to the camp closed upon leaving around 10:20, but they were not locked, and we let ourselves out and put the gates back as we found them.
Camp #2 - continued
I will give a brief report for Jim T, since he is at Klondike
tonight, and I was with him at Camp Sherwood, last night.
All I can say is, WOW, did the skies open up for a great star show
out in the country! The kids had a blast and so did we. Jim had
his 16 dob and C8, and I had my trusty 8 inch newt. The camp
coordinating counselor staffed Jim's C8. Objects shown were the
same, including the crescent Moon at the beginning and the Lagoon
Nebula in Jim's Dob with a OIII filter. The seeing was just
terrific we thought. At the end, Jim and I did a short bit of
private observation, including the Veil Neb with Jim's OIII
filter, to which both Jim and I felt that the view was one of the
best visually we had ever seen of the Veil. The filaments and
where they split was easily seen.
After each group, counselors also expressed interest in the club,
public viewing at Broemmelsiek, and several expressed interest in
building or acquiring a scope.
Was truly another great experience for both us and the kids, who
were fortunate to have such great skies while camping up there. I
am sure glad I pushed to get there after work and dinner (it was
just in time by the way: immediately after setting up and I was
told "look out, here they come").
Hope I can do it again soon,
John with his 110mm refractor setup.
Deer, what deer? (Way to go Lynn!)Camp #3 - DARDENNE PRAIRIE ELEMENTARY - Camp Derricotte
[Marv Stewart and Bill Jones managed two scopes for this camp. -- JT]
"Bill and I had a good evening with the fifth graders. About eight o"clock they
came out in two groups of about thirty each. Twenty five kids and five counselors
and teachers per group. They stayed at either Bill's telescope or mine. I showed
them M15 and Mizar, Bill had M 13 and the Lagoon in his. I pointed out the
Constellations of Cygnus, Cassiopeia and Pegasus.
We found the groups very respectful and interested. Almost all the kids took
their time looking and all expressed amazement. I was concerned without the Moon
or planets we would be over their head and lose them, but this was not the case.
Several came back for "seconds'.
All in all it was very enjoyable.
note of caution, the grassy area below the volleyball court is a mess. They have
put in a city water line, and where they dug is muddy and there is a lot of fist
sized rock and brick lying around to stumble over in the dark. I would advise
setting up on the volley ball court for now."
The weather was nearly perfect, just one day after severe weather had cancelled this event on Friday. The temperatures were very pleasant at sundown, and several kids hungrily buzzed around us as we set up our scopes.
Our shared views started around 8pm with Albireo. No planets were available except Uranus and Neptune, as the Western horizon was blocked by trees. Unfortunately, those planets were low in the St Louis skyglow, and were not viewed. Two parking lot lights in the distance on opposite ends also created some challenges for us. It was easily managed, but when everyone was gone at 10:30 and the timers shut them off, it was a relief felt unanimously - although by then we were mostly packing. I estimate that we had 55 visitors overall. They mostly came in groups of 10-15 and cycled thru. We had very few that came thru twice, but had several mention that they had friends who were very into astronomy. Many campers were from St Louis County.
Telescope operators were John Sgorous, Amy White, and myself. Grant Martin provided laser-assisted naked-eye astronomy and wowed many by pointing out satellites and the great Andromeda galaxy. Objects shown included M22, M13, M57, M31, M27, M52, M8, and the Veil Nebula. Most campers had cycled thru by 9:00pm, but after a brief hiatus for some camp "awards" stragglers came thru in small groups of 2-5. All were done at 10:15 and we packed out. I hung around for a quick view of the Helix before packing and was home by 11:30. My favorite views for the night were M8 with a 2" OIII at 60x and M13 at 203x.
Early arrivals trying to figure out how to look thru John's scope.
The weather for this event was clearing from cloudy, but allowed the moon somewhat easily early on, while the sky continued to clear. Sunset was 7:45pm.
Stacey, Marv, Dave, and I entertained about 150 Girl Scouts and leaders with the Moon, Saturn, M13, M22, M27, M57, Alcor & Mizar, Arcturus, and a few others
between the clouds. The temperature was perfect and one group was treated to a fly-by of the ISS. We finished up and left by 10:45.