Vincent Safuto’s Weblog

Notes and observations

Wonders of the sky available to all

It was kind of a bittersweet night last Saturday at the “Sidewalk Astronomy” event in Lakewood Ranch.

Many people who had never looked through a telescope before got to see Saturn, and most believed that we weren’t putting them on; that really was the ringed planet (though the rings are getting closer to edge-on.)

The Moon was a joy, as it always is when you can show the shadows of the mountains and craters, and many a kid walked away almost stunned. Many a parent was grateful that we in the Local Group were willing to take out our expensive equipment and share the wonders of the night sky with others.

Of course, while organized events are over for now, I plan on doing a lot of observing in the interim either in front of or behind my house. I recently decided to upgrade my mount to one of those new-fangled “Go-To” types, and there will be a learning curve for me, but I had some experience helping a good friend with his “Go-To” telescope, so I think I’m up to the challenge.

The astronomy club has done so much to keep the flame of science burning bright. Schools are cutting back pretty much anything that isn’t on the FCAT, and it’s good that they know that we amateur astronomers can supplement their efforts. We had some amazing events at schools this past year, and I can remember the kids bursting out of the school auditorium at one event and almost running for our telescopes.

Actually, while the kids were amazed, the parents were also thrilled. “I’ve never looked through a telescope before,” several parents said to me.

“I’ve never seen telescopes like that before,” a few said to me. It looks like we’re packing mortars, some of us, with our short-tube Schmidt-Cassegrains (a few have Newtonians, Dobsonians and refractors, though). But when they see the Orion Nebula, the Andromeda Galaxy, the Double Cluster or any of those other wondrous objects in the sky, I know we’ve made some headway.

I’ll be sharing views in front of my house this summer, if the bugs cooperate. It’s never too late to learn the wonders of the sky, I always say.

In the meantime, as Jack Horkheimer says, keep looking up!

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May 6, 2009 - Posted by | Observations with Vinny | , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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