Make Me Dream

     I hope that Phil Plait will forgive me, but he posted this over on his blog and it was so touching I had to share it here on mine. This August, 23 high school students participated in an Astronomy Camp that ended at the Oregon Star Party. This video shows what I believe is the key for outreach in the amateur astronomy community: It is getting young people out with telescopes, cameras, binoculars, their eyes and with each other to experience the thrill of the wonders of our night sky.  Key is that there were 23 of them working together to achieve a common experience. That is what we need to be doing, getting them to use the equipment, getting them to experience the thrill and getting them to bond with each other to continue this hobby. It isn't enough to show an object and let others peer. We must if we are to grow the hobby beyond ourselves or have it slowly die with us, grow it by letting young people experience astronomy, using the equipment, studying, knowing, learning about the science of astronomy and bonding in it. I don't care who you are. In the end it is the experience of sharing this hobby with other humans that makes it truly magical. I love observing alone at times, I have grown to love it more and more but I deeply value those who observe with me. Mat, Jeff, Alan, Jorge, Dan, and countless others that have shared an observing area with me have touched me, and made me a better person, for sharing the experiences of observing with me.  I love pushing the limits and though it is great even when alone, it is A LOT more fun to share it with others who are there.

     So this has inspired me to the point that I am committed that next summer I want to bring this about. I will start looking for educational grants to assist and I am now looking for volunteers who want me to help bring the night sky for say 3 to 5 nights next summer during a new moon period alive for 20 teens. There will be required background checks required and a lot of planning and organizing. Students will camp out in tents and cook meals and clean up and learn astronomy by day. Then at night they will observe items they have learned about.  So, whose up for helping me bring this to life?

     So lets commit to doing something like this, to getting young people out for a few days of observing so they can run the equipment, learn how to do it and be thrilled when the capture an wonder of our night sky.  This IS a TREMENDOUS video in my book.