Kermit King Elementary held theirs on the evening of Thursday, January 26. These events are held in the schools’s gym and feature various science exhibits- some by the school’s students ,Van de Graaff Generators by High School students, and of course our own CCAS members with telescopes. This is education at its best- hands on with active participation by teacher’s, parents and kids.
Central Coast Astronomy was well represented with three members-Joseph Carro, Dave Majors, and Gus Nelson. Joe and David had their usual scopes but Gus brought a Mini Tower Pro equatorial mount and was able to mount two parallel scopes- enabling him to handle twice the number of people. A real nice touch. Gus was wearing a “Glow In The Dark” T-shirt with the Periodic Table of the Elements. Want to know what a star is made of? Point to the top left of Gus’s T-shirt! Another nice touch. David was wearing his “Galileo” Renaissance Scholar’s robe and cap.
The evening started off with a bit of a scare- the infamous “Observing Night Clouds” were hiding precisely the objects we wanted to show-Venus ,the Moon, and Jupiter.
Early on we were chasing holes with these objects but fortunately at this time there were relatively few viewers. As twilight faded the clouds finally began to clear. Almost like a curtain going up they cleared about the time large numbers of kids and their parents began to filter out of the main gym.
We explained the various phases of Venus and it was still high enough and the atmosphere calm enough to clearly show Venus is still on the far side of the sun and in its waning gibbous phase.
The moon was in its waxing crescent phase with the morning terminator at Theophilus. The sun had not yet risen over the Apollo 11 Landing Site. The seeing condition were quite good as Petavius showed the central peak complex and the associated Rille quite clearly.
Jupiter was the big show with the equatorial bands very apparent and all four Galilean Moons visible. Io and Europa were very close together and appeared as double moons.
Jupiter is always a thrill for the youngsters anyway and the usual “AWESOME” remarks. You can always tell when the youngsters actually see what you hope they did- even the shy ones suddenly exhibiting uncontrollable grins. We also showed M42 and parents as well as the kids were fascinated to learn about this stellar nursery.
From about 6:30 to after 8:00 we never got a break as kids and parents just kept coming. I stopped counting after about 100 people. Joseph explained to several of the parents about his double star work , Dave covered why M42 looked green and Gus explained how there is no surface per se to Jupiter but the atmosphere of the gas giant just gets denser and kind of becomes like soup.
We would like to thank Teachers and Staff at Kermit King for a thoroughly enjoyable night.
From a participant:
I want to thank you so much for coming out to our Math/Science Night at Kermit King and sharing your time, knowledge, and enthusiasm- families loved it! I am so sorry I did not get a chance to bring you pizza and something to drink. The attendance was much greater than we expected and we were a bit overwhelmed inside. Again, we really appreciate you being there. The students are still talking about seeing the moon, Jupiter, and all of the other neat astronomical bodies. I overheard one student from 1st Grade tell his friend that he “Met a wizard from Hogwarts!” – the wizard get up was a hit! Please relay our heartfelt thanks to everyone else who helped. Hopefully, you would be willing to do it again next year:)