South Mountain Environmental Education Center celebrated their one year anniversary and invited us to be a part of it. The event included displays of animals, birds, insects, and plants in the park. Also how animals are electronically tracked, what their footprints look like, and some cool bones! There were activities and games for all! Here was our display which included how our Sun Spotter works, hand outs on how to buy your first telescope and what is currently in the night sky. Activities like placing vials of elements in their proper place on a Periodic Table of the Elements and understanding where they came from, experimenting with meteorites, studying a Moon globe, holding a precision gyroscope demonstrating how the earth moves, how to safely look at the sun during the upcoming Solar Eclipse, and understanding the differences in telescopes. Here Tom is explaining a model of the relative sizes of the Sun and Earth. What a fun day for all!
We had a great time with Franklin Jr. High School being a part of their Science Night! Here's just a portion of our set up as we were getting ready for the evening. We pointed out and discussed the features of the Moon on the live video feed from the camera attached to our refractor telescope, then everyone did their own personal exploration with the other telescopes. We really enjoyed this event being impressed by the students, parents, faculty, and guests with their excitement, energy, and desire to learn and explore the universe. GO FIREBIRDS!
Our partnership continues to grow with the South Mountain Environmental Education Center as another fun event was presented! Tonight was all about Star Clusters. Telescope viewing followed on this nice crisp and clear evening! Our guests now know the difference between Open Clusters and Globular Clusters, where they are, how they were formed, and what kind of stars are in each and how we classify them. At the end of the presentation, various pictures as seen in a magazine were shown. The guests could describe what the object was, what kind of stars were in it, what they were made of, where they came from, and what their cosmic fate is. (Thanks to our new young guest, Aurora, for her enthusiasm, and adding energy and excitement to the event! She certainly was this event's special guest)
We again did our monthly Explore The Night Sky event at the South Mountin Environmental Education Center on 30 December. The subject was Uranus and Neptune: The Giant Gas Planets. However, after the presentation, clouds and rain prevented our planned viewing of these planets. So, we did a different kind of telescope viewing... viewing telescopes! We set up our telescopes inside and discussed each one. The differences in designs and their operation, the pros and cons of each, and what to look for when purchasing one. We had a table of all our various eyepieces and filters and expalined the use of each. We also had our video camera attached to one of our refractor telescopes to show how that operated. Here, we're discussing the operation of our 10" computer controlled Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope. Another fun event as we turned bad weather into a unique, fun, and educational experience!
We set up our Solar Viewing Display for another fun event at South Mountain Environmental Education Center! The Phoenix Zoo Youth Volunteer Team made a special bus trip to see us and we certainly enjoyed their energy and enthusiasm. We attached a video camera to our Hydrogen Alpha Solar Telescope to display the Sun on a TV Monitor so we could point out the features on the surface of the Sun. An actual screen shot of a typical view is shown below. Besides our display of fun facts, we are starting to concentrate on demonstrating methods of safely viewing the Sun for the upcoming Solar Eclipse on 21 August, 2017. NEVER LOOK DIRECTLY AT THE SUN! EVEN DURING A SOLAR ECLIPSE! Come to one of our solar events to learn methods on how you can safely view the eclipse on your own.
This morning we celebrated expanding our portable solar viewing display by setting it up at a trailhead in South Mountain Park for a free event to hikers as we all enjoyed what the park and the sky have to offer us. Here to the right you see our astronomical video camera attached to our Hydrogen Alpha solar telescope feeding a TV monitor inside the canopy! This allows us to point out the detail features on the surface of the Sun on the monitor screen. A great way to generate lots of "OH WOW's" and spur discussions!!! To the left you can also see our SunSpotter where a real-time projection of Sun Spots can be traced out on the paper. It was another great day sharing the wonders of the universe with our new hiking friends!!!
Another monthly public event held at the Center! This event was titled "Exoplanets - We Have Discovered Thousands!". These Center events always draw a fun and eager group and this one certainly was one of the most fun! The regulars were joined by fresh faces who immediately joined in with comments and discussions. We sure hope these new folks become regulars! Here we are discussing "The Big Bang" theory. The telescope viewing session afterwards included learning telescope operation as everyone had the chance to operate the focus mechanisms. Do you know how to properly operate a telescope?
It was another fun event at the South Mountain Environmental Education Center as we presented Mars: Let's Go There. An involved audience spurred lively discussions. We were lucky during the telescope viewing afterwards as the clouds parted and we were able to clearly view Mars, the Ring Nebula, a few open star clusters, a globular star cluster, and even the Andromeda Galaxy was visible. Guests were also having fun learning how to personally operate our simple but powerful 8" Dobsonian telescope!
The Ahwatukee Foothills News newspaper did an article on Arizona Star Tales that was published on 26 October, 2016. Ms. Rachel Eroh was the reporter and it certainly was educational for me being involved with this young journalist's work. She did a great job. You can see the article at the following link:
ARIZONA STAR TALES, LLC