Astronomy Day by ASTRA 04/20/02
Yet another great example, just say the word Astronomy and in roll the clouds! Actually only one of our 3 events planned for Astronomy Day was cancelled by the weather. The Ocean County Mall display came off and was great fun. The second event, the Workshop at the Planetarium was not crowded, maybe 20 people who got lots of personal attention. Unfortunately, the StarParty, which might have been the Main Event, was a wash. We invited the Workshop guests to attend next months Observing Meeting. We’ll see what the weather brings.
I arrived late at the Mall, about 12:30. We had a display of 5 tables and several telescopes. A TV VCR with tapes about Astronomy was running continually all day. There were several handouts about the club ASTRA and the Planetarium. Star shaped refrigerator magnets with the Planetarium phone number were distributed. The smaller scopes get more attention at this sort of an indoor event because the larger scopes are not pointed at anything. The smaller scopes are pointed at a box with a light and a slide of Saturn inside about 50 ft. away. This really gives the illusion of how Saturn looks at night through a telescope in person. Very popular. Several children kept asking if that was really Saturn. I said, “Yes, you know how long it took me to capture Saturn and put it in that box!”. There were many questions about the club, the Planetarium, Telescopes and Astronomy in general. People have heard something about planetary alignments lately, so there were questions about that. Lots of shoppers drifted by just to tell us they have a telescope but never use it. I tried to encourage them to dust it off point it at moon and show it to the kids. Maybe even come to an ASTRA meeting, get involved.
Later, we had the Telescope Workshop at the Planetarium. Rich Brady gave a talk about beginner Telescopes and the Sky. After the talk we gave everyone some personal attention. I helped a couple with a Tosco 60MM computerized telescope. The hand control is pretty much user-friendly. I didn’t hardly need to go to the instruction book at all. It prompts you for everything it needs to get you going. I was impressed with that. Of course there were some features that were less that desirable. For example it tells you to center the star in the pointer, you hit enter, then it tells you to center it in the eyepiece. I think that could be one step. I also didn’t like the feature where the focuser hits the tripod leg when slewing to an alignment star. To bad it wasn’t clear, I was very interested to see how accurate it was. Anyway, everyone who came to the workshop left with more knowledge than they came with. I’d say it was a success.
Here’s the StarParty Report. Clouds!
So Astronomy Day 2002 is in the books. Thanks to everyone who participated. I had a good time and I think everyone else did to. You know it’s funny. Things don’t turn Red on St. Patty’s Day. There are always plenty of Turkeys on Thanksgiving and Candy Hearts on St. Valentines Day. The Ball always drops on New Years and what would Christmas be without Trees and Lights and Presents. Maybe one of these years the WeatherMan will understand, “It’s Astronomy Day, for heavens sake! Can’t we get a clear night?”