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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 

American Heritage Girls - 4/12/2014

posted Apr 12, 2014, 10:16 PM by Jim Twellman   [ updated Apr 13, 2014, 10:41 AM ]

This event was our first ever at Towne Park ("Pink Plantation").  I set up at the end of the first parking area, between the two parking lots.  I brought my 8" Celestron SCT and my 16" dob.  Seeing conditions at arrival were fairly poor, and it unfortunately evolved into "lousy" by the end of the evening.

First viewers were around 8:10.  I was joined around that time by Stacey Thater and Doug Kniffen and they provided much-needed help.   Jupiter was displayed in the 8" SCT at 160x, while the Moon was viewed in the 16" dob at 61x.   Despite it being only 2 days before full moon, it was not painfully bright due to the thick layer of cirrus clouds.  Unusual not to need a filter to dim a nearly-full moon, the clouds were a fairly thick filter.  Early views of Jupiter showed two major bands and four Galilean moons.  Luna was bright but lacking in almost any detail whatsoever, due to the clouds.  Tycho showed up simply as a bright spot, all other features were indistinguishable.  Later views showed the Moon as a round blob and Jupiter as a disk, with no features whatsoever.  A very disappointing night weather-wise, but we took solace in showing up and not disappointing the kiddos.  Forecasts are not 100% correct at all times, but they were pretty spot-on tonight.  We invited all to better views at Broemmelsiek Park on any clear Friday night.  The last view given was around 9:15.  I packed up after and was out by 9:45pm.

The total number of people served was given to be 90.

Jim T.

Fairmount Elementary - Feb 27, 2014

posted Feb 27, 2014, 8:13 PM by Jim Twellman   [ updated Feb 28, 2014, 8:15 PM ]

This was the back-up date for this years' event.  The weather tonight was cold, in the upper 20's, but with very little wind.  David Lloyd, Marc Arnold and myself provided three scopes.  There were over 200 in attendance, and the people came to the scopes in small groups - which was good.  The event went from 6pm to 8pm, but it was not yet dark by 6pm.  Around 6:15 it was dark enough to show Jupiter, and the seeing for it was good and got better later on.  David also showed M42 and the Pleiades.  Some of us observed Io as it disappeared behind the limb of Jupiter.

Some constellations were pointed out when asked.  Many kiddos and adults pointed out Orion's belt and the 7 Sisters.  Some of the adults were interested in the telescopes as well.  Folks who needed help with their own scopes were directed to our website, and to the Beginner's meetings.  We repeatedly mentioned the Friday Nights at Broemmelsiek, and that Saturn will be shown there in the Spring months.  All in all, some very intelligent young people as well as their parents.  We were glad that the weather, as cold as it was, allowed this event to be successful.

Jim Twellman

Bald Eagle Watching - Feb 8, 2014

posted Feb 11, 2014, 11:18 AM by Jim Twellman

By request of the St Charles County Parks system, we once again participated with telescopes at their annual eagle watching event.  As the eagles do not generally come real close to people, the scopes are a big help in observing these fine creatures.   David L., Marc A. and Larry C. contributed their assistance here in the VERY cold weather.  Here are some excerpts from reports I received:

=======

Hello Friends!

Despite the snow and cold, there were about 125 guests who came out to participate in the Bald Eagle Winter Watch program this weekend.  Being able to see Lewis, the bald eagle, up close was such a treat!  Thank you Bobb and Patti Holden for your generous donation of the live eagle display for the program.  I also want to thank all who assisted in the program and those who made sure the park was ready for visitors.  In addition to the live viewing of Lewis, we were fortunate to see some eagles soaring across the sky during the program.  Members of the Astronomical Society of Eastern Missouri also assisted and had a nice view of an eagle perched in a tree in their telescope during the program.  Bill also zoomed in on a few eagles with our new spotting scope!  Thanks again for all who helped with the event...good times!  Attached are a few photos of the program.  

Nancy Lee Gomer, Marketing Coordinator  -  St. Charles County Parks and Recreation Department

=======

Marc and Kathy only lasted one hour.  We left our cohorts when they weren't looking.  Dang it was cold out there.  The wind was killer.

David set up his 25x100s we set up our 20x80s and Larry set up his Maksutov.  There was a fair amount of folks come through during the hour we were there from 9:30 to 10:30.  Probably about a dozen or so.  There was even some birds to watch, across the frozen river where the ices stopped.

Wish we could have stayed longer to keep helping.  My face un-numbed itself a couple of hours ago!!

Marc

=======

I will agree with Marc.  It was very cold, and the event was well attended by everyone except the eagles..

The parks department had set up a very well planned event.  Nancy was running things, and there was a full complement of rangers and park workers.  They had an area plowed, marked and a site upwind set apart for us to set up the optical equipment.  I saw a large male in the trees directly across the river right after set-up and thought that was a good sign, but that was my closest sighting.  Maybe about 4-5 eagles seen, most of them downriver on the ice or in the trees. There was a steady stream of guests to the event over the course of 2 1/2 hours- I would guess around 50- but perhaps Nancy has a more accurate number.  They were very appreciative for the ASEM scopes and operators, and everyone seemed to enjoy looking through the binos (and Larry's scope) to see even just the winter scene.
 
There were some folks from the Wild Bird Sanctuary in attendance, and they brought a live bald eagle for show-and-tell.  He was a hit!  It was cool to see a specimen live and up close, and they were very engaging with the crowd, answering all kinds of bird questions (which is good, because my range of  bird-lore is mighty slim).
 
A good time was had by all.  It made me appreciate our Parks department all the more...
 
Dave L



Bino-viewing some eagles. ((double-click on photos to enlarge))

Needing a little help keeping that one eye closed!

Lewis, spreading his wings!



Mount Hope Elementary - 9/30/13

posted Oct 1, 2013, 10:35 AM by Jim Twellman

John Sgouros, Marv Stewart, and myself set up at Camp Derricotte shortly after sundown.  The first wave of campers came to us on-schedule at 7:30pm.  With our 3 scopes we showed them M22, M13, M27, M31, Albireo, and the Owl Cluster, over the course of the evening.  Four waves total came thru at about 30 minute intervals, for an estimated total of 110 campers, counselors, and teachers.  Sky conditions were really good at the start of the evening, but some streaks of upper atmosphere cirrus clouds (or vapor trails?) hung around motionless, criss-crossing the sky by the time we finished shortly after 9:35pm.  These did not harm telescope views, but they sure took the wow out of the Milky Way.

The kids were well-behaved.  The temperatures were moderate, and the mosquitoes were much less prolific than they had been at Cuivre's campground (Beach area) just 3 nights prior.  Many groups gave a coordinated "thank-you" as they moved on.  Our volunteers feed on the frequent exclamations ("ooh", "ahh!", "Wow!", etc.) uttered by the kids when they first spot the targeted object in the eyepiece.  Many kids took "a long drink" at the eyepiece, and we informed them and their teachers that we provide these views every clear Friday night at Broemmelsiek Park.

Boy Scout Troop 353 - Cuivre River State Park

posted Sep 27, 2013, 9:16 PM by Jim Twellman

We had very nice weather for this event.  David Lloyd and myself set up at the Beach Access area of the camp grounds area of this state park.   David brought the 25x100s and the 12" dob, and I brought the 8" SCT and my 16" dob.  We got started around 7:30, before it was truly dark.  The main group, all cub scouts and other young ones, came at the beginning.  Dave and I drafted a couple of adult volunteers and we went thru this group pretty fast.  By the time they thinned out, the older scouts came thru.  Many asked good questions.  At the end, some of the young ones came thru a second time.  We realize that these are the ones who have true interest.  Both of these last groups enjoyed a lot more personal time with us and the telescopes.

Among other things we showed them M22, M31, M27, M57, Albireo, M7, the Double Cluster, and the Veil Nebula.

The group thinned out by 9:30, and a State Park employee came with bright lights to clean out nearby trash cans and pretty much ended the event.  During the evening we enjoyed showing the Milky Way, at least one satellite, and pointed out several constellations.  The Big Dipper was behind the trees, making it impossible to show how the pointers direct us to the North Star.

This camp had many scouts not showing until Saturday, and likewise some who would not have been there Saturday and only attended camp on Friday.  I estimate that we had 85 folks (parents, scouts, siblings) total look thru our scopes tonight.  The kids were fairly well behaved and the parents were very thankful. We probably should have split the initial wave into two separate groups, but beside that things went very well.

Jim Twellman

Discovery Ridge Elementary : 9-20-13

posted Sep 21, 2013, 5:37 PM by Jim Twellman

A very cloudy day once again at Discovery Ridge Elementary.  We started out inside as ther was some risk of lightning to start the day.  After the first hour we moved outside.  Even if we could not see the Sun, outside is always more fun!

Eddie Agha and Steve Boerner brought Hydrogen Alpha (Ha) scopes, while Marv Stewart handled the solar charts, pictures, and diagrams.  I brought my 8" SCT and had the kiddos look thru it at the tops of telephone poles!  It was training for some who had no prior experience looking thru a telescope.

We started at 9AM and got a couple of breaks, ending at 2:30PM that afternoon.  Over the course of 3.5 hours with the kids we provided education and entertainment for over 220 kids and staff.  They learned how telescopes work, factoids about the nearest star (our Sun), and other tidbits of astronomical science.

Unfortunately, the cloudy skies continued into the night.  Many of our guests from DRE came out to Broemmelsiek Park that night anyway, and we invited them to come back to Broemmelsiek Park on the next clear Friday night, or any Friday night for that matter.  Hopefully we'll get better weather next year for Discovery Days.

(Wentzville School District photo)


DRE kiddos hamming it up at Marv's "Solar Table".

Inside the school at the start.  Telescope views of nearby artwork
of Mars and Jupiter at the other end of the hallway.

Below:  Outside, under the eaves, protected from an occasional drizzle.


2013 Family Camping

posted Sep 16, 2013, 7:25 PM by Jim Twellman

Amy White, David Lloyd, and myself arrived at Klondike Park Shelter #1 around sunset and found the air thick with smoke.  We set up as far from campsites and grills as we could, but it was still actually thick enough to taste.  It turned out that the Park Rangers were cooking some deep dish (?) peach cobbler in a camp fire!  Some was brought to us later on, and it was really delicious (but probably not offsetting the extra time I have yet to spend wiping eyepieces clean).  It probably wasn't all that bad, since none of us were spotting a Zambuto mirror tonight...   Still, I think we may need to move back to our "Old" shelter (#3) in the future here. 

In any case, we had our first 'customers' viewing the moon before it got dark, just before 8pm.  Amy brought her reflector, and David brought both the club's big binos as well as the club's 12" dob.  Over the next hour and a half a pretty steady line formed, and I believe we had around 75 look thru our scopes. I showed the gibbous waxing Moon, Albireo, M13, M31, and M15 thru my 16" scope, and showed constellations via laser and told related Perseus mythology to a couple sets of eager listeners.

The skies had a few pesky clouds, but not bad at all.  It was cool with a slight breeze, so no 'skeeters or other bugs to bother us.  We had lights at both far ends of the parking lot (not terribly bothersome with the bright moon out), and a great view of the red lights on the coal fired generating plant just across the river.  The view here is SO much short of the beautiful rock hills surrounding Shelter #3, but I have to admit that Shelter #1 gets more traffic from the campers, since it is the closest restroom facility to the cabins and camp grounds. 

The lines thinned out around 9:30 and we packed up and I was out by 10pm. 

2013 Perseid Meteor Shower

posted Sep 8, 2013, 8:38 AM by Jim Twellman

The moon was fairly kind for this event in 2013, but the weather could have been better.  The shower has a long "peak", and our plans were to maximize our local peak period, on Sunday Aug 12  thru the morning of the 13th.  Given plenty of consideration, we (ASEM and St Charles County Parks) did NOT publicize this event.  It was simply on our club calendar.   Here is kind of what happened:

SATURDAY EVENING, AUGUST 11
Pre-Peak.  This was the evening of our club's monthly ASEM meeting, so we did not arrive at the park until sometime after dark.  Some "public" were already there upon arrival. 
I did not get a total people-count, will update this report if I can ascertain a number from someone else. It was probably in the 40-50-range, not unlike a Friday Night Open House.  I set up near the front with just my lounge chair and my big binos.  Grant set up nearby with Nolan's 8" scope and gave it a try out (it split the double-double in Lyra easily).  I hope that scope finds a good loving home soon.

Dew hit around 10pm, almost before it got completely dark.  Not a real heavy dew, but bad enough to cause repeated fogging of my binos, which I fought for a while.

I spent as much or more time observing and talking than I did looking out for meteors.  I also got stung on my finger tip by a wasp when plugging in a hair dryer that Amy provided to me to rid my binos of dew, and my concentration was completely down-hill from there.  I personally observed only 4 meteors and two of those were not Perseids.  I left around midnight or so, and I think there were at least 20 people still there when I left.  Many came in later on with blankets.  We had around 4 telescopes for them until around 11pm as I recall.

Despite everything, I had a good time overall, observing with my binos and chatting.  The night was mostly clear and not too warm at all.


SUNDAY EVENING, AUGUST 12
I came to the park during the daytime, and systematically sprayed all of the electrical outlets to rid them of the offending wasps.  My vengeance-sated, I returned home for a nap and more first-aid treatment.

This night was closest-to peak for our location on our side of the globe, and it was the night we had planned on and had posted on our club calendar.  The skies were turning cloudy, and the forecast for the 13th was even worse.  My stung finger had become badly swollen, and due to it being predominately cloudy that was enough to cease my plans for going out again.

Here is Amy's report:
---------
90 visitors came out to Broemmelsiek tonight to view meteors. Maybe 3 visitors actually saw a meteor streak.

I got to BPO at 8:30pm and there were already 25 people hanging around. The sky became unambiguously crap at 9:30 and continued to be lousy until I left. But people still kept coming. Then an equilibrium state existed for a few hours, when the number of bored people leaving equaled the number of optimistic people arriving.

I greeted people, welcomed them to the Park, and let them know what to expect (not much). Also strongly encouraged them to visit again on a clear Friday evening for the public telescope viewing.

I left around 1:40am today. There were still around 20 bodies at the Park. I will not be back on Monday evening.

Curious: no dew at all. Not a bit.


-----------
Thank goodness for Amy showing up and being an angel to all those who came to see little but the clouds.  Showing nebulae can be fun for us, but not so when it is the "Missouri Nebula" (!).  I almost cannot believe that we drew 90 people there without any type of publicizing, and on a mostly-cloudy night!

Monday August 13 was completely overcast and cloudy.  I would not be surprised if some people came to the park that night anyway, but none of our folks have admitted to it so far.  The public may have come out even with it being completely overcast, as we have seen many times before. 

I believe that a large part of the adult population are inclined to watch a meteor shower, to show their kids the "falling stars", and to relax under the stars in the summer night (before the school year starts) as they probably did once or twice when they were young.  Sometimes the moon and the weather just don't cooperate as well as we would like.

- Jim Twellman

Alton IL “Change for Change” event July 11, 2013

posted Aug 6, 2013, 5:45 AM by Jim Twellman   [ updated Sep 8, 2013, 8:44 AM ]

Eddie Agha, TNI Astronomy Educator shares his love of astronomy to our 5th and 6th graders at our “Change for Change” event July 11, 2013. He is shown here with his solar scope and he “enlightened” over 60 campers and their parents being able to view the sun safely. Later in the evening he took parents and campers on an astronomy hike to view the constellations.

Thank you Eddie for sharing your knowledge and love of astronomy!


Patricia Brown, Education Director
Certified Interpreter Guide
President, Environmental Education Association of IL
The  Nature Institute
www.thenatureinstitute.org












Cub Scouts at Old Monroe - June 13, 2013

posted Jun 14, 2013, 5:47 PM by Jim Twellman   [ updated Jun 16, 2013, 2:17 PM ]

We provided 3 scopes to this event.  John Sgouros brought his APO refractor, Mike Clemente brought his 11" SCT, and I dragged out the 16" dob.  We set up in the grass behind the horseshoe pits at the Old Monroe (Winfield area) K of C grounds. The scouts had daylight/twilight camp activities, and were well behaved for us. 

Due to an unfavorable weather forecast for Wednesday, we pushed the event off to its' back-up date of Thursday which as of Wednesday morning looked preferable.  It turned out that Wednesday night was the pick of the two. Our meteorology department was caught napping! The skies Thursday were tough at times, but for the most part we gave the scouts what they expected.  Early views of the moon at all scopes.  I let them focus the dob on the moon, so my line was a bit long and slow.  Saturn was responsible for many ooh's and ahh's at John's and Mike's scopes.  When possible, with respect to maintaining the scope and the clouds above, we would use laser pointers to show how to use the Big Dipper to find Polaris.  The Northern sky was often more free of clouds than the Southern sky.

We got started just before 9pm, with a small part of the crowd. The 30 per shift thing was a little loose, as those in waiting were close by and the anxious ones got extra looks in, which is sort of good.   We had some parents and siblings, for a total estimated crowd of 90. Several were very interested.  I noticed some had planetarium apps on their cell phones.  We mentioned Friday Night Open House's at Broemmelsiek several times.

More than half the crowd departed by the time it got fairly dark.  I turned to double stars, like Mizar and Cor Caroli.  I know that Mike showed M13 and M57 later on.   Toward the end the clouds were approaching 80%, and the sucker holes got small.  The campers were all needing to head home, as their parents were to be at work the next morning (just like us!).  We were pretty much done by 10:15 and I was home by 11pm.

Hopefully we will see some of these families in the future at Broemmelsiek Park.

Jim Twellman






 

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