Friday Night Open House + Discovery Ridge elementary - Sept 24, 2010

posted Sep 26, 2010, 4:15 PM by Jim Twellman   [ updated Sep 28, 2010, 5:52 PM ]
We had great weather for the event last night, and had quite a few kids from the elementary school as well as folks who showed up for the open house itself.  This was a very well-attended event with clear skies and a very bright moon.

I was a bit surprised that we did not have a Park Ranger visible at this event, but they did provide a hay wagon for some extra parking, and that was the part I was most worried about.

Since we had no host/hostess and no ranger at the front, a reliable count was impossible. We had a signup sheet up front, showing a count of 51 (with two members). Based on a poll of other members' estimates, we probably had at least 130 guests plus members. One wagon load brought in about 40 or 50 by itself.  The total count could very well have exceeded 150.

Some of us got there early due to parking concerns, but the first guests did not show until it was nearly sunset (good). A big "thank-you" to all those who brought scopes and helped out. ASEM members that I can recall being there include Venus Patel - (at the Observatory), Chuck Simms, John Sgouros, John Furlong, Amy White, Tom Richards, Steve Boerner, Joe Pastor, Jim Trull, Larry Walton, and myself. Bill '?' was also with us, doing some astro-imaging and showing the folks the results on his computer screen.

A highlight of the evening for me was seeing Jupiter and Uranus in the same FOV (several scopes).  John S. (and possibly others) also managed to pull out Neptune for the public. Not so easy in the very bright moonlight. The planet Venus put on a nice show early on, with a nice big crescent shape. Other items shown include M11, M13, M57, Albireo, etc.

Jim Trull and myself tried out a couple of old Meade electronic eyepieces and video screens on the moon and Jupiter. The main idea here was for viewing ease by the K-3rd graders who often have a difficult time seeing anything at an eyepiece, as well as for the dad's who often have to hold their kids up to the eyepiece...

The video screen seemed to draw some kids like moths to a flame. The quality on this was not very good, but did get some positive reaction from the public.  It was a bit of a pain to operate this. The moon was the best target on it by far.

I saw at least one Discovery Ridge teacher there, as well as several of the students that we had shown the sun to the day before.

The kids were pretty much done by 10:30, and when the crowd thinned we still had several adults keep showing up, the last group of which were 5 adults who arrived after 11:00. A gentleman set his scope up next to mine around 10:30, and Chuck and others helped him collimate his 4" Celestron newtonian and get him "in business". He was still there enjoying himself after I left around 12:30 am. I think Chuck also had a late neighbor set up next to him with a nice small scope.

There were a lot of 'thank-you's' last night to go with the oohs and aahs. It was a nice sized crowd and the temperatures were so nice after the hot summer nights we've been accustomed to.

Jim Twellman
Above:  Kids anxiously awaiting while scopes are being readied !
Below:  Kids "stepping up" to see a nice view of Jupiter and its' 4 moons in Jim Trull's 8".