Saturday, April 4, 2009

100 Hours of Astronomy

I was thinking (at times, this can be dangerous) this year is such a great time to be an astronomer. There are literally hundreds opportunities to get out and share the love of Astronomy. This weekend I was slated for two events to celebrate the 100 Hours of Astronomy. On the fourth of April I had a Public Star-gaze to attend as it was hosted by my club, the Cincinnati Astronomical society and a" Sun"day event hosted by the Cincinnati observatory center on the Fifth a Sunday. Yep someone way more clever than me thought that up. They even had Sundaes served up. (Caution! tangent ahead) I went to Bob Evans Restaurant and got the Sunshine skillet breakfast to celebrate the end of a successful 100 Hours of Astronomy. Sorry I digress.

On Saturday, I had the pleasure of meeting several folks and their kids for a very grand evening of star gazing. We were blessed with clear skies for the entire event. At Keehner park we had 9 scopes to look through. A nice 6" Celestron refractor and several 8 inch SCTs and one Meade 12 inch flown By Pat Freeman. Pat showed up early and He set up his Coronado PST for solar viewing. Those are such cool little scopes. The Sun showed it's gratitude by delivering us a Prominence.(alas, still no sunspots) This served as a great way to start the event. About thirty folks showed up for the shindig. This included a cub scout den of Tiger cubs. The time spent together was wonderfully had by all. I was able to align my CPC scope with the moon and moved it to Saturn. Dead on! It was about 7:00 in the evening and still very light out but there it was looking like someone had put a line through the planet crossing it off the list. ( the edge on ring) Later in the evening we were able to pick up 4 of Saturn's moons. That was fun. Every scope driver chose something different to look at. I showed the Double cluster in Perseus to many ooh and ahhs. We pulled out M37, M42... all the eye candy we could muster for these fine folks They were sent away with a new appreciation for the Heavens . I hope they will always look at the night sky with a new set of eyes. I get such a kick out of sharing the night sky with people.

Sunday brought on a new day and a new adventure. I ventured to the Observatory situated in the beautiful Hyde Park located in Cincinnati. The observatory grounds were very well kept. The main scope, (a 16" Clark refractor) is kept in this building pictured to the right. This is such a great place to visit. Not only does this place have a Clark,the COC also has possibly the Oldest Telescope in the world working every night! The Scope is a 1843 12 inch Merz and Mahler refractor. This scope was the first to split Antares in to double star system. Enough of the history lesson. The Sunday/Sun-day was a great success. I saw about 75 to 100 people there at any given time. There were 400 here on Saturday night for Saturn/Moon viewing. A fine PowerPoint presentation was given by Dean Regas outreach Astronomer for the Cincinnati Observatory (pictured left) about the Sun. I was thoroughly entertained by Dean as he fielded questions from the kids. Folks lined up to look at the Sun through the 1843 12 inch Lens. There was a volunteer out front with various solar powered gadgets. The Ice cream sundaes were a hit with everyone as well. It was a first class event run by a first class outfit. All in all this was a great Hundred Hours of Astronomy here in Cincinnati. This is the oldest professional observatory in the USA. I could not expect any less!!!

Clear Skies and good seeing too!

Steve T

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