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9/29/2015

Full Lunar Eclipse: September 27th, 2015: Outreach My Way!



            Growing up my Dad would listen to Frank Sinatra and one song that I really enjoyed was "My Way.  Not sure why, probably because it reminded me of my father. In many ways, he lived his short life that way, "His Way."  The more I reflect on that, yes, he did things his way, but often, more often than not, he was much like I am, a man, striving to do his best for his family, while struggling with all the things that go with being a man, the doubt, the self-confidence, the desires and burdens and the simple joys that each of us find in life.  Those simple joys for him was listening to music, a lot of classical but other genres also. He love to play the guitar and to sing full out.  Everyone in my family has that joy but me. I LOVE music but man, I have no knowledge or lick of understanding of it. Glad my children and wife do! Another simple joy he had was short wave radio, ham radio and listening to and decoding Morse code like messages he could pick up (he did that in the Air Force and Navy).

     So this Sunday, like so many of you, I engaged in one of my simple joys, amateur astronomy.  I pulled out the Explore Scientific AR102 Refractor (a 4 inch refractor) and took out my 9mm and 20mm 100 degree eyepieces to observe the moon.  I was able to get in a fair about of observing when I sent out via Facebook an invite to the neighborhood to come over and look.  Well, that old adage from Field of Dreams is true, I brought it (the telescope) and they came.  I was able to share the event with well about fifteen plus of my neighbors.  That was delightful.  Thoroughly enjoyed it! Then one family, was still there when I was getting a lot of questions from their teen kids so I broke out the 17.5" in the backyard and collimated it, put on the Telrad and finder, aligned everything and put in an eyepiece.

     From here I did my kind of outreach.  I showed for awhile, M57, Alberio, Alkaid, NGC 457, M31, M13 and a few other objects.  I had showed their middle son how to run the AR102 and he did wonderful using that and keep it on targets.  By the time I had brought out the 17.5" dob, the eclipse was out of full and it turned into a wonderful evening.  At the end , they helped me with my son to take everything in and that made the break down go so quick.

     In reviewing this in my mind since Sunday, I cam to the realization that this is the outreach I want. I have said it before but I have to now really figure out a way to get a family out with a scope, teach them to use it say in the backyard and to read an atlas and then go to a dark site.  Will that distract from my traditional observing? Probably but it adds to it. I'm an educator, and more importantly, by nature, I love to share and teach.  Helping others to "do" the hobby is what I think is critical. Now I need to put the camp together and get moving on this. Here are some pics we got of the eclipse.