A Night Under the Stars with the Scouts

May 15, 2008

Santa Cruz Gardens School contacted me about helping their girl scout troop earn their astronomy badge by giving them an informal presentation and lecture on the planets, the constellations, and how to navigate under the stars. Fun! Of course I agreed, and we had perfect skies. I set up the 10" LX200 where we could see Mercury, which is making a rare good appearance in the evening sky. I had a bit of trouble finding the school, as I drove over straight from a meeting with some NASA friends over dinner in Mountain View. I thought somehow it was up Fairway Drive near Soquel... and it wasn't. Luckily a resident up there went to his computer and found the address, and with a map I found my way just in time.

About a dozen elementary and middle school girls and their parents were there. I had some cookies left from the Astro 28X class a few days before, and the parents added in their own mega chocolate chip cookies and lemonade, so we were all well snack'd up.

A line develops, to check out Saturn and 4 of its moons. Seeing was good, and it was the clear hit of the evening.

With the laser pointer, I showed "the kids" - 3 remarkable stars near Capella in Auriga.

Big smiles all around, while waiting to see the moon.

Mercury looked like a fat smile, except after I twisted around the eyepiece it was more like a big frown

Betelgeuse, Betelgeuse, Betelgeuse!... as I described what'll happen when this star in Orion through the scope - BLOWS UP sometime soon.

Probably similar to the camera flash, which took some getting used to. Squint hard! or look away