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8/25/2012

Outreach at the Herriman Library

I just wanted to throw a note in on the outreach event we did at the Herriman Library last night.  It was the end of the summer reading program and the library was open late when my son Nathan and I arrived to set up the 10 inch and 14 inch dobs.  As we were setting up one family, then another and then another and then more and more came over.  I got set up but had no time to even collimate each scope. Luckily a quick star test later that night showed that they had held collimation quite well though they probably should have been tweaked a little.

We showed the moon, and both Nathan and I were swamped when my friend Mat showed up which was very gracious since he had been having a barbecue with his family for his daughter and son who are off to college.  We also then shared some poor views of Saturn as it was so low but the families didn't mind, they LOVED to see Saturn and its rings. There were three middle school age girls that just loved the views of Saturn and they and their mother stayed until 10:00pm to take in all the objects we showed.  Later Jeff showed up with his beautiful refractor and by then it was dark enough that we were showing Alberio and Mizar and Alcor, the Ring Nebula M57 (Mat was showing that) and I plugged in the intelliscope because of the extreme ambient light (the library uses top notch light pollution lights but that doesn't help when your under them) and I showed the Swan Nebula, M17 and M13 the Great Globular Cluster in Hercules.

One thing I really believe in doing at a Star Party or outreach event is to teach people how to use one of the scopes I have and have them find two or three easy objects as I walk them through what to do using the Telrad, the finderscope and the eyepiece.  I did that with a few adults last night and then after everyone had left, a Mom and her 14 or 15 year old son showed up and she asked if they were too late. They weren't as we hadn't started to tear down so each of us, Jeff, Mat, Nathan and myself showed them several objects. I then brought the boy over to the 14 inch dob and pointed out where Mizar and Alcor was and had him use the Telrad, finderscope and eyepiece to go to this double star.  I then had him describe what he was seeing.  His mother was extremely nervous at first about letting him do this but I assured her it was fine, he couldn't hurt the scope and after he had found the object and she was looking at it herself, her pride in her son's first use of a telescope beamed.  More importantly, this quiet and reserved young man got really excited about doing it and when I asked if he liked doing it, an enthusiastic "Yes" was the reply, one his mother was amazing since he is usually reserved.  I think between us all, we instilled a desire in four or five individuals to really take up or at least look up and get interested in the hobby in our community.  It was a rewarding experience for all involved I do believe.

Afterwards, we packed up and stopped by Mat's house to look at the F6 8inch dob he had just finished for his daughter who is going away to college today.  Mat worked feverishly this week to get it done, and his daughter had painted the dob (it's black and she used stensils to put stars, star trails and "glitter" on the scope) and it gave a good view of the moon.  Mat will finish figuring the mirror next summer and then get it coated but it is good enough for her to use on the moon and the planets (Jupiter) while she is at college.