by Dave Skitt, Observatory Chair
After several weeks of rains outs on public Friday nights and scheduled members nights, AAAP finally got a break with its Solar Observing event hosted at our observatory in Washington Crossing State Park. The skies were clear with only a few puffy clouds to hide the Sun (and Venus!) on Sunday, May 29, 2022.
Setup for the 1 pm event began with Victor Davis placing a billboard at the park’s main entrance. He quickly moved to set up his scope and binoculars on a parallelogram mount. Victor then paced (plodded?) out a scale model of the solar system along the road to the observatory. Some thought he had gotten lost in space when he didn’t return after dropping Neptune in its way-out orbit. We all were relieved when he did reappear to attend to his equipment. Who else would keep his filtered binoculars on track with the Sun?
Ira Polans, Tom Swords and Dave Reis appeared next to assist me with setting out banners, the literature table and signs. Did you know that 10-Jupiters or 110 Earths can fit across the diameter of the Sun?
Tom Swords whipped out his Scope-on-a Stick in no time. There isn’t much to it. It’s just a series of simple lenses mounted on a rail arranged to project the Sun’s image onto a white card at the rear. “It works”, Tom says.
Tom had the same comment about Michael Hester’s, Raspberry Pi driven camera attached to a hydrogen-alpha filtered telescope. I admit I didn’t get to poke my head under the black cloth Michael had over his monitor, but I can’t believe that anything that he sets his mind to wouldn’t work. His assortment of gear takes a large cart to reach its’ final observing destination. See if you can spot Tom’s “Scope-on-a-Stick” and Michael’s mysteriously shrouded scope in the panorama photo posted on our Twitter https://twitter.com/princetonastro and Facebook https://www.facebook.com/Amateur-Astronomers-Association-of-Princeton-225112680910838/ accounts.
I don’t know who showed up next as I ventured off to get the C-14 and Hasting-Byrne scopes fitted with their solar filters and fire up their mounts. Before I knew it, we had a total of 9 scopes or binocular setups pointed upwards and hordes of members and public wondering in to explore the Sun and Venus in all their splendor. I estimate we entertained, wowed and informed 75 persons. Maybe more.
I told my wife, Jennifer, that I felt like a groom and bride at their wedding reception when everything is such a blur, but you want to savor every minute. I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of the event. Explaining what we were seeing, talking to new and seasoned members and looking through the various scopes.
I know I missed some things but there was so much to take in! All I have now are the memories and these few photos. Many thanks to everyone who helped organize, publicize, set up, host and who attended this warm and sunny event. I look forward to more member events and the next Solar Observing planned for Labor Day Weekend!