Outreach Blotter

by Gene Allen, Outreach Chair

We have had a few non-hardware members coming to Outreach Events, and that is great. If you try it, come a bit early and try to engage attendees as they arrive to ask about their interest and experience and share your own. Sometimes there will be opportunities to assist in activities, sometimes not. Chat with them as they wait between stargazing targets. You can bring your interest and passion for astronomy and science and take away what you learn from the presentation and sky tours.

You will be getting continuing email appeals to help staff Outreach Events as their scheduled dates approach. I won’t list them here except to say we have a “biggee,“ our first Partnership Event with Gravity Hill, on August 3. Come and participate if you possibly can. We are also still short of telescopes for stargazing after Prasad Ganti’s presentation at the Plainsboro Library on August 10.

On July 20, the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon landing, the New Jersey State Museum Planetarium held a party. Dave Skitt, Jeff Pinyan, Victor Davis, and Tom Swords set up solar scopes for attendees in spite of the oppressive afternoon heat. Following the party, only about 10 folks took advantage of Members’ Night at Simpson Observatory.

On July 24 Jeff Pinyan gave our first library summer reading program presentation to about 30 folks in East Windsor. The very next night, Jim Peck gave a presentation to 12 at the library in Cranbury. These programs target youth and tend to end before it’s dark enough to gaze at stars.

On July 25 we were sort of double booked. While Jim gave his talk in Cranbury, I gave my presentation for the first time at a Morven Museum and Gardens event. It seemed to be well received by the mostly adult group of about 25. Stargazing followed, with Hongkun Zhao, Scott Smith, and Jeff Pinyan setting up scopes. They were able to show both Jupiter and Saturn, and Jeff again enraptured those who gathered to hear his constellation walk.

On July 26 I think we had the most folks at the observatory this season. At one point Tom counted 25 inside and nearly as many outside. He was able to take time from his Team 1 duties to repair one customer’s damaged refractor, and Jeff helped another customer set up and get started using their SCT. John Church stopped by to share his vast knowledge and undying enthusiasm. With the turnover of folks throughout the evening, I think we easily had more than 60. Jeff had a group mesmerized right up until midnight, even after we had the roof closed! New member Mark and Keyholder Team Leader Tim Donney were both there with guests, and another Keyholder, Allan Nolde, I think it was, brought his family.

We are off to a powerful start, and there is lots more to come!

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