Thursday, February 21, 2008

Fantastic Lunar Eclipse Event in NYC

Session name: 20080220.2010

This special session away from the lawn at Carl Schurz Park event was a terrific success. Overcast skies allowed the Moon too punch through thinning clouds during the beginning of the event. Over the duration of the eclipse somewhere between 150 ~ 200 people would come by - the skies cleared & cold temps - and share the experience of the full moon transform before our eyes. The moon took on pearly red color, most people exclaimed the same when they noticed it. Bruce Kamiat, Rick Davis and myself manned three large scopes with half a dozen more tripod-mounted binoculars. Team TotL'er Kin, Rich Rosenberg and other AAA'ers provided commentary to many of the questions being asked by the people. Many walked around with bins hanging from their necks. For the lunar ecclipse event, optics are not as important for the type of casual observation were did throughout the night.

My setup consisted of 22x magnification Takahashi bins and the 4" Takahashi refractor. The bins were aimed at the Moon all night, raised and lowered to accommodate all heights and ages. The telescope had Saturn in a field that was magnified at first 90x but conditions improved that a magnification of 120x was steady and clear.

John Pazmino and I prepared different handouts with info on the eclipse and other NYC astronomy resources. John and others responded to the needs of many persons while waiting their turn to look in the eyepiece.

(Lesson learned about preparing material for the public. More about that later)

I must say - probably parroting every other amateur astronomer - that these public outreach events are exciting. People thank us for sharing but they provide the Joy for me: their reception, their expression, their reaction, their agreement. Nature is fascinating and the public is open, receptive, to wonder and awe. While 20 million (?) people sat and watched stars of American Idol, I wonder how many of us looked to the real stars for an exquisite show.

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