Progress South Elementary #1 - Oct 3, 2011

posted Oct 4, 2011, 5:02 AM by Jim Twellman
The skies were gorgeous as we set up four scopes at Camp Derricotte just before sundown.  John and Kate Sgouros brought their refractor and the 13"Coulter dob, Marv Stewart brought the 8" Lightbridge, and I brought the 8"SCT.  We got the first customers at 7:45pm.  They came out one class at a time (20-36) and divided up into 4 lines.  In addition to showing them objects thru the scopes, they got to see the Milky Way (show of hands typical of 50% that had not seen it ever before), some constellations, and a view of the new Chinese space station (Tiangong-1) naked-eye.

Scope views included :   the Moon at 1st Qtr, the Ring Nebula M57, the double star Albireo, the globular cluster Messier 13, and the Andromeda galaxy M31.   When I showed Albireo I had a lot of questions about "what two stars are we looking at?" even after I pointed out with my laser pointer that we were looking at Albireo (it was somewhat unclear that magnification split this single star).  Some were confused as to why one glob (M13) was different from the other "glob" (M31).   The sky was quite transparent, so I'm guessing that the fuzzy stuff (not resolved) was more of a conceptual problem.  I would then point out to them the Milky Way again, and the fact that our (naked) eyes do not resolve the stars even in our own galaxy, which looks a bit fuzzy too.  It is regretful that we did not have a good planet to show, since Jupiter did not clear the trees until we left.  The last group finished up at 9:15 and we were packed and leaving by 9:30.

The kiddos were well behaved and had good teachers with them.  The kids' version of Albireo's colors were quite varied, as usual.  A single shared Focus is one issue ("rainbow" and 3-5 colors seen), but there is also something different regarding either perception or ability still at this age.  The teenage counselors and teachers' color answers were much less varied.  I'm sure that color-blindness enters into this equation as well.

It was a beautiful evening all in all.  We had a lot of 'oohs' and 'ahhs' to remind us of why we enjoy doing this.