It was a brisk and fun night at Sowams School. Although the ISS pass was mostly clouded out, we did get a brief glimpse through a crack in the clouds.
I started my observing session, to keep the kids engaged, in showing them Polaris (the only visible object), and how it was a double star. Got to see the true astronomers in the crowd...
As usual, the kids and parents were polite and appreciative of our presence. I waited twenty minutes until one of the fathers asked, "How much does one of these relescopes go for?" I told Jim and James McEachen as we set up that I always had a pool with myself as to when that question would be asked. Usually out of earshot from the wives.
We viewed the Dumbell Nebula next, while I waited for the southern sky around Uranus and Neptune to clear. It always tickles me as to what some kids will enjoy observing. Some were underwhlemed with Uranus, while others were captivated by its robin's egg blue color and asked all sorts of questions. The Dumbell was hard to see for some kids, yet others relished the attempt to try averted vision to see it better and were exclaiming at the results.
"I see it! It's a cloud!" One little girl named Angela exclaimed. I asked her if she knew what the word 'nebula' meant..."no," she replied. "Cloud," I answered. That got both a laugh and "Ahh's" from the parents and kids and that started a torrent of questions on planetary nebula, super novae, etc.
Little Angela's mon came up to me and asked my name and whether I rememered them, which of course, I did from Astronomy Day on the Barrington Town Hall. They participated in the Solar Observing and then returned in the evening. There were a few other children that I recalled from our Sowams School event two years ago, like Charlie, of a million questions.
One other important point to note is that I was struck by how many more really interested little girls there were--more than boys... Several little girls wanted to learn about the GOTO functions of my scope worked, so I asked them to choose an object(M57) and I walked through the steps of inputing the info and they oohed and ahhed at the whirring of the 'scope's motors and ooohed as it slewed to the target.
For awhile, the line at my "poor little 8 inch SCT" dwindled as the line grew to see Comet Swan at Pete's scope. They came back to view Uranus, and those who liked the Dumbell, asked me more about the Ring Nebula and could I show it to them and explain why it was different from the Dumbell.
All in all a great night, although a smaller turn out I guess than the past because it was one of the first chilly nights of the season and some folks were caught by surprise.
Thaks to James McEachen who showed me the Blue Snowball through his 10 inch Dob. Also to Bob Magnuson for affording me a great view of M31 and M32 in his 15" Obsession!
Kudos, to Pete as usual for his organization and all the guys were there early and ready to go and we had a pleasant end of the night at Pete's house viewing his Observatory Project...impressive! I'm jealous!
One last note to members who have not done one of these school events--Volunteer! You'll be glad you did!
Last edited by Galactus
on Tue Oct 24, 2006 9:52 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Galactus, Devourer of Worlds
8" Meade LX90
66mm AT Guide Scope, cameras, etc.
25X100 Zhumell Binos w/Pete's Pipes
Bolt of Light Technologies Laser
Friends to observe with=Priceless