by Gene Allen, Outreach Chair
This may really be the summer of our discontent. Since Baldpate Mountain in late February, all scheduled outreach events at schools and other venues, and the hosting of groups at Simpson Observatory, have been cancelled. For the foreseeable future, no “normal” events will be scheduled.
We had decent success using Zoom to broadcast our May monthly meeting and we are considering ways we might elaborate on that to offer some sort of virtual observing experience as an outreach option. A session would obviously need to utilize an astronomical camera, so it could not satisfy any of those folks who “want those photons that have travelled for millions of years falling right on my eyeball!” Such a session could be promoted by any school, scout, or other group, with no need to assemble and effectively no limit on the number of attendees. There may be a better platform than Zoom. The best situation would be to once again have access to Simpson Observatory for an extremely limited group of keyholders.
Last year we were developing formal presentations, and this year it looks like we will be developing virtual observing sessions. If we are successful, we have the potential to also free ourselves from geographical restrictions and greatly extend our reach. Many questions arise:
- Can we do so with adequate professionalism?
- Will we then be competing with other astronomical organizations which are similarly unencumbered by geography and can offer a darker site, better hardware, and better production values?
- Who among us has expertise or experience creating live or recorded video programs?
- Do we duplicate tutorial programs that are already on YouTube to make them more personal or stick with live and locally specific material?
If you have helpful thoughts or skills that you can contribute to this effort, please do reach out to any of the Executive Board.