Recent ASNH Activities
Girl Scout Outreach Event, Saturday October 20
We had a great time celebrating International Observe the Moon Night at Eisenhower Park with some Milford brownie troops working on their Space Adventure badge. About 42 girls, 20 leaders and parents, and seven amateur astronomers attended. We viewed Mars, Saturn, and the Moon through telescopes, and identified the constellations Cassiopeia, Cygnus, Pegasus, the Big Dipper, and the Little Dipper. Using Bob Crelin’s book Moon Faces we learned about Lunar phases and the girls modeled the phases using images of the eight phases and arranging them in order. We learned the names and order of the eight planets with the help of the mnemonic “My very excellent map just showed us north” and using Brownies as units of measurement, compared the sizes of the planets. 42 girls later completed their Space Adventure badge during follow-up meetings with their troops.
Madison Moonlight Walk, Sunday October 21
In addition to the girl scout event on Saturday, we continued to celebrate International Observe the Moon Night on the following evening at the Madison Surf Club with lunar observing as part of the annual Moonlight Walk. It was a clear but very cold and windy night. A good crowd of about 60 people came to look through the telescopes. In addition to the Moon, Saturn was visible low in the west just after sunset, and Mars was a brilliant red-orange in the southern sky.
Young’s Park Observing, Saturday November 10
This is one of the few events that weren’t cancelled this year. It was a very cold night with clear skies.
There were plenty of scopes set up with a few visitors. And then, a man named Frank stopped by with lots of his friends. They also brought snacks and drinks. It was great to have an eager group to help us forget about the cold for a while. An enthusiastic young boy and his mom brought a 4.5-inch Dobsonian telescope, and our members helped him to get some practice using it. He learned to point it at Mars, Albireo, the Pleiades, and the Andromeda Galaxy, and the views through this light table-top telescope were actually very good. He was very excited that he could locate these objects by himself.
As I said, it was cold. So as soon as the crowd left, so did we. This does count as one of the few successful outreach events of the year.
Hammonasset Astronomy Night, Friday November 16
ASNH members participated in this night of observing at the Meigs Point Nature Center at Hammonasset Beach State Park in Madison. Members of the Thames Astronomical Society also participated, and volunteers from the nature center also operated two scopes, so we had plenty of equipment out at the observing area. All forecasts predicted clear skies, but in reality there were a lot of clouds and so our observing was limited. Despite the unpromising skies, about 50 or 60 visitors showed up.
During breaks in the clouds, everyone who came got a chance to see the gibbous moon with a lot of surface detail, and at various times we were able to observe the Pleiades, the Perseus Double Cluster, the Ring Nebula, the Andromeda Galaxy, some double stars, and Mars. Some of the sightings were short because of the clouds, but most of the visitors were able to see at least a few of these objects, and they appreciated what they saw. This was a good group who asked a lot of interesting questions.
Meigs Point extends into Long Island Sound, so there is a good view of the sky in all directions, and the location is relatively dark, as the nearest homes are at least 1/2 mile away. Ranger Russ Miller was able to turn off all the lights at the park for this event. For future observing events when there is no Moon in the sky, this should be a good location for deep-sky observing.
(Reports provided by Laurie Averill, Donna Pursley, and Jim Mazur)
CSP Telescope Winners
This past Connecticut Star Party was a very lucky one for the Connors family. Lin Connors won the grand prize of a 6-inch Dobsonian telescope, and Brianna Connors won a 3-inch table-top reflector in the children’s raffle. We are happy to see that the scopes are being put to good use!