Indian Hill School N.J. Star Party Review 01/17/02
What do all 3rd graders have in common? They all think you need to grab the eyepiece to see what’s in there. This is natural, even adults do it. Usually every 3rd or 4th kids will do it. But for some reason, these kids, it was like someone told them all to grab the eyepiece. I’m not complaining. I expect to go home with fingerprints on my eyepieces at this sort of an event. Otherwise, these kids were very well behaved. Real nice crowd. We had about 10 telescopes from a 60mm refractor to a 12.5” Dob. There must have been over 300 people there.
I arrived around 6:30, ShowTime was 6:45. I meet a friend Doug there who was more than happy to man my 80MM refractor. The line for my scope was long throughout the night. As a matter of fact, my line extended into Doug’s line so the 80MM was sort of a introduction view before you got the big scope. Lots of fun. Unfortunately, the sky was not so good. But good enough for this type of event. The targets were mostly The Moon, Jupiter and Saturn. The kids always want to see them anyway. Even though it was partially cloudy, we got a decent view or the planets. From time to time the sky would clear slightly and I’d quickly turn to Open cluster M37 or the Orion Nebula M42. With the 14MM eyepiece at 218x, M37 filled the field. It looked great, but you couldn’t really see how the stars were concentrated in one area. Everyone said, “Nice, lots of stars”. I changed to the 40MM eyepiece at 76x and that was much better. Now the comments were more like, “Wow look how there are so many in one spot. Why is that?” Then I had explaining to do. That’s good, that’s what we were there for. To teach and hopefully raise some interest in this wonderful Hobby.
I had a first for this type of Star Party. One young girl got down from the stood at the eyepiece. Very excitedly she announced, she had just lost a tooth. Yup! That was the first time someone lost a tooth at my eyepiece. I try to have some fun with the kids. One boy, before looking in the eyepiece, ask me what planet this was. I told him, “Earth! This is the Earth”. When I see the same kids more that once, I yell at them, “You again!” A small girl told her mother she wanted a telescope for her birthday. Mom said, “I don’t think your old enough”. Mom then asked me how old you should be to get a scope. I ask the little girl how old she was. She said 7. I of course told Mom “7”. The girl and I together went into a chorus of “Please Mom, Please Mom”. Mom gave me that raised eyebrow, “Oh you’re a big help”. I Am!
Anyway, it was a very successful night. The crowd broke up about 9:00, just as the sky started to clear (What else is new?). Glad we had good turnout of observers and scopes. All the scopes were busy all night no matter what size. I don’t think anyone had any down time. Hope to see you all at the next one.