Fort Zumwalt North - Astronomy Class presentation

posted Oct 28, 2011, 10:15 PM by Jim Twellman   [ updated Nov 1, 2011, 7:55 PM ]
Per request for telescopes for a show-n-tell I brought two scopes and performed a solo presentation at Francis Howell North high school.  I set up on the grass median next to visitor's parking, which was a short walk outside from the classroom.  Three classes composing 70 students had opportunities to look at my two scopes, and to look thru them as well.  The classes were currently studying how telescopes work, so it was a good opportunity to look at real scopes from inside and out.

I was still nursing a bad back, so I dragged out my 4.25" Edmund Newtonian reflector.  I had hoped to also do solar projection with it, but the setup that I chose proved to be too much effort while handling two scopes.  So, I let it be the Show-n-tell scope and pointed it at a nearby cell tower, complete with birds!  It helped to have a scope focused on a terrestrial point, to let the observer learn how to position their eye to the light cone of an eyepiece's focus. It also sparked comments on the views being upside-down.  That led back to the illustrations of the focal diagram, which nicely shows this upside-down effect.

I set up my 8" SCT with a white-light solar filter and left it to follow the sun while the students looked at the sun spots on the white disk.  A very large sunspot was dead-center, and several smaller spots were scattered across Sol's disk.  I had a large poster showing the sun in various filters and events (Ha, white light with Mercury transit, solar projection showing Mercury transit, and yesterday's solar picture).  I did experience some problems with this scope's drive, and believe that I have a bad wiring connection to work on soon.  My poster included a picture of the sun from the prior day showing the position of the sunspots to compare to their observations today.

We started out at 11:35 and finished by 2:35.  The teacher (Lauren) was very helpful and the high school students were well behaved.  The school had a big rivalry game coming up, and the Cardinals in the World Series game 7 also were topics of great interest and excitement.

The students were informed of our presence EVERY Friday night at Broemmelsiek Park and business cards with our club's name, web site, and Yahoo! Group name  were given to those who were interested.  I hope and expect a couple handfuls of these students to visit us at Broemmelsiek Park in the very near future.  Each class had some good questions and they were a lot of fun to share with.

Jim Twellman

Discussing sun spots, solar cycles, and where our weather comes from.
Looking at Sunspots in the 8" f/10 SCT

 Looking thru the 4.25" f/10 Newt at the top of a cell tower

One sunspot was so large, you could see it at 1x with a simple filter.