by Gene Allen, Outreach Chair
Things have been pretty quiet these past few months. In late January, Jim Peck gave a presentation to a group of twenty some in Edison, using Stellarium to show things in the night sky. His audience was enthusiastic and they are considering having him come back again.
A special thank you to the six intrepid souls (Mary, Doug, Isabelle, Bill, Tim, and Dave) who stood ready to bring scopes to the annual stargazing event at Stuart Country Day School. Sadly, the clouds and rain on February 26 left us no opportunity to even try. Another six have pledged to suffer the frigid temperatures on Baldpate Mountain on February 29 to offer a presentation and star gazing to friends of Friends of Hopewell Valley Open Space. We have our fingers crossed, because early season dates are especially at risk of weather issues.
Coming up in March is another annual event, the Hopewell Elementary Science Fair and Community Science Expo on the 20th. This year they are requesting interactive experiences, so we will be doing the Pocket Solar System with them and, weather permitting, have a few scopes set up for early evening star gazing. Then, in the afternoon on the 26th, I will be giving my presentation to the Princeton Windrows Science Group.
In April, we have a small Trenton Boy Scout troop coming to the Observatory on the 17th, and Communiversity Day in Princeton on the 26th. This annual event gives us the opportunity to interface with hundreds of people, hopefully recruiting new members by sharing our enthusiasm about astronomy and all things scientific. A few solar scopes will be set up, and some others aimed at pictures tacked to trees (!). More than those scopes, though, we need members to come and fill our ranks. You do not need a degree in astrophysics, experience with telescopes, or intimate knowledge of the night sky. We set up tables on the lawn in front of Nassau Hall from 1-6, so bring your smile for at least an hour or two.
Members will be receiving emails with updates and additional events, and remember you can check the website calendar to see which of your friends have already volunteered, and how much we need your help to fill out our ranks.
We are well on our way to complete outfitting our Outreach Scope. It is an Orion 80ED refractor on an iOptron AZ Mount Pro. Our intention is that Members who have no hardware of their own, or only especially precious instruments, can use it at Outreach Events or at the Observatory on Public Nights.
Discussions are proceeding about a second event at Morven and a first event at Allentown High School. And please, remember that Friday Public Nights at the Observatory are Outreach Events. Each one is an opportunity to invite new folks to join. I try to attend even when my Team is not on duty. This year, maybe I’ll manage to bring a scope now and then.