An Evening at the 'Y'

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Rotorhead
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An Evening at the 'Y'

Unread post by Rotorhead »

Since nobody else has jumped on this, I'll take a stab at reporting our club outreach at Mattapoisett...

A clear but very windy day began to moderate in late afternoon, and by the time most of us rendezvous-ed at the YMCA grounds around 6pm, the evening was looking very promising. The site is a good one, with only New Bedford ruining the western sky and a few lights around Mattapoisett Harbor which kept the site from being truly dark. It was a very good site for outreach, however.

We were able to drive right onto the field for offload, which greatly simplified setting up, and by 6:45 most of us were ready for the crowd. We had Bruce, Tom, Manny and his daughter, Alan, George, and myself.

My first target in twilight was Venus, which is in a dramatic crescent stage right now, and looked more like a photo of a partial solar eclipse than a planet. It is worth a look if you haven't checked it out lately! I did some preliminary observations of M33 to see if we could use it for a target (not in this light!) and M81/82 (good, and promising to be better as it got darker).

We then divided up an observing list and got down to some real observing for a small but very enthusiastic crowd of about 15 kids, 20 adults, and the two program coordinators from the YMCA itself. I locked onto M31/32 which was sufficiently bright for the crowd to be able to see and appreciate what they were looking at. Although M110 was visible to me, I knew it would be underwhelming to the public, and instead just centered the FOV on M31/32. I got some very intelligent questions about telescopes and galaxies from some of the kids, and I got the feeling that this was a well-prepared crowd. Michelle, our coordinator for this event, runs a small planetarium, and perhaps some of these kids had seen her exhibit.

I moved to M81/82 next, since I am able to capture both galaxies in the same FOV, and the crowd also seemed to enjoy these galaxies, too. There were not too many details visible, but I have found that the 'spiel' is as important as the view, and I made sure that everyone understood what they were looking at. With the small crowd, too, it allowed folks the opportunity to stay at the ep longer, and to return for more looks after others had had a chance. After everyone seemed satisfied with the scheduled targets, I attempted to find Comet Lulin. Pausing at Saturn, I was once again amazed at the unusual appearance of the rings, which on this night looked more like a bright line drawn across the face of the planet. Definitely different. After a few minutes, based on a chart that Alan had remembered to bring along, I found Lulin. It was awfully low for a dob, but I told everyone that if they were willing to kneel in front of the eyepiece, they could see the comet. Most folks took me up on it, and they got a nice view which showed the green color of this comet, and definitely a brighter nucleus within the coma. We discussed the implications of this being an Oort Cloud comet, and the probability that this is its only inner solar system pass. This seemed to fascinate everyone. Again, this was a good crowd.

To get everyone up off their knees, and to entertain myself, I went to gamma Leonis, which is - in my humble opinion - one of the most spectacular doubles in the sky right now. Big, bright, close enough together but just far enough apart, and a gorgeous gold color, this is always a crowd pleaser. Although some people report a greenish tint to the secondary, I have only seen that in a very dark sky on one occasion.

After some hot chocolate and kibbitzing with the staff, we were all packed and gone before 10pm. I enjoyed the evening very much, and would certainly look forward to that venue again. Thanks to Bruce for setting this up, and to everyone who participated.
Bob M
15" f5 Starsplitter Dob/80mm Finder
5" Explore Scientific triplet APO on a Vixen Sphinx GEM
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"He numbers all the stars, and calls each one by name." Ps 147:4
Bruce D
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Unread post by Bruce D »

Bob thanks for CMA! I've been too busy catching up on sleep from the Florida trip and trying to ditch this cold to do anything that actually requires thought!

Nothing I can add to your great report, except thanks to everyone who helped out, Manny, Tom, George, Alan and you Bob. Everyone had a good time despite the cool temperatures, and we already have an invite to come back.

Everyone remember North Attleboro this Thursday!
Last edited by Bruce D on Thu Feb 26, 2009 4:06 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Bruce D
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NGC7000
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Unread post by NGC7000 »

Ditto for me, Bob... Right on report, and it was truly one of the nicest outreach spots one could visit. Looking forward to Thursday evening.

Tom
Tom H
Weeks turn into years, how quick they pass
And all the stars that never were
Are parking cars and pumping gas.
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NGC7000
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Unread post by NGC7000 »

HAHAHAHAA....I just figured out CMA....HAHAHAA....I thought it was something else. :D

Tom
Tom H
Weeks turn into years, how quick they pass
And all the stars that never were
Are parking cars and pumping gas.
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