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4/28/2012

Outreach at the Herriman Library

On Friday, April 27th, at the Herriman Library parking lot, my friend Mat, myself and my 18 year old son Nathan conducted an outreach event for our local community.  It was cold, very cloudy and I wasn't sure if it would go.  I set up the 14 and 10 inch dobs and Mat set up his 8 inch dob. We had people waiting for us as we set up and though the clouds were there, the moon did begin to peep out enough that we could share views with them.  We had one or two families with about six kids and the kids had quite a bit of energy, more than normal (remember, I am a teacher).  So Mat, Nathan and I each stood really close to our scopes.  However, what was wonderful was as the moon came out and played peek a boo for a little before it came out more, the thrills and excitement from both the parents and the children at seeing the craters and other features of the moon was endearing.

After the initial group (we had about 20 to 25 people show up which wasn't bad considering the conditions but down from the 45 or so from last month) we had an elderly couple who was there when we set up, but had come from a wedding reception and then went home to put on some warmer clothes and then came back.  The wife really wanted to view Venus and then BLAM, Venus came out and the sky cleared up really well. She and her husband were able to see Venus, Mars, and Saturn.  After about 9:15p.m. the people were gone, the cold and the weather put a damper on things but the sky and seeing improved so each of us put a view on Mars, Saturn and the Moon.  Mat taught Nathan how to Star Test also.  

So though we didn't see quite as many people as last time, the magic of the evening was interacting with the public, spending time with Mat, and having my son share in a local outreach event and watching him learn and enjoy showing the public items through the 10 inch.  Nathan also ran the 14 which he has been a little nervous of and found it was just like running the 10.  So in the end, we did serve our local community which is wonderful and we strengthened friendships and from about 9:30 to about 10:15p.m. we had our own little observing session.  We'll be doing this on the fourth Friday of every month through September so if you live in Herriman and/or Riverton and want to stop by, feel free to do so.  If you live in the area and want to set up a scope feel free to come by or not.  As John Dobson has said, "IF THERE WERE A MILLION PEOPLE WITH TELESCOPES WILLING TO LET A FEW THOUSAND OTHER PEOPLE LOOK THROUGH THEM, IT IS POSSIBLE THAT EVERYONE WHO WALKS THIS EARTH, WITH EYES TO SEE, MIGHT SEE THE UNIVERSE."  Though I enjoy my time at a dark sky site working my observing lists, there is time once a month, to share the views of the universe with others. This can be done with or without a club, with or without a scheduled event, the important thing is to share with others the wonders of our universe.  Again to quote John Dobson, "Obviously the billions of poor can NEVER afford a telescope at any price, but they can, IF GIVEN THE CHANCE, afford to look through one."  To be given that chance means we don't attempt to limit ourselves or others from the opportunity to share the views in any location, or at any time.  We need to promote more people sharing the views.  If you don't think your telescope is big enough, or good enough, here is the last quote from John Dobson (he created the Dobsonian telescope btw) "Now to me it is not so much how big your telescope is, it's not so much what figure the mirror has or what pretty pictures it takes. It's how many people in this vast world, less fortunate than you, have had a chance, through your telescope, to see and understand this universe. To me that is one thing that drives me."

I'll post on my observations from last weekend sometime this weekend!

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