I was at the Boy Scout event on 10/29-30 with over 500 scouts and possibly rainy weather, and it turned out better than I thought it would (given the weather forecast). It clouded over as the sun was going down but I did get the chance to shoot holes in the clouds. Because of that we got off to a slow start but for about a hour and a half there was a pretty steady stream of people and several of the scouts got to see Jupiter and its moons for the first time-then went to bring their friends to see it.
We managed to get in Globular Messier 22 in Sagittarius as well as Albireo- since one of the merit badge requirements is to identify a red yellow and blue star-here’s a binary (maybe) that gives two of them at once.
I set up a booth with astronomical information geared to the boy scout requirements.
I covered basic information on telescope types , types of objects to be seen and the various types of charts and computers we use- Boy Scout Astronomy merit badge requirements
Another of their requirements is to conduct an observing session, or to conduct or assist a star party so I had another board showing that aspect of our hobby.
Finally I had a set of demos and NASA freebies on the Sun that Aurora was kind enough to provide.
All throughout the day the Sun was playing cat and mouse with clouds and for about a half hour in the morning I put a tarp over my dob when we started to get some sprinkles.
Aside from that the day was a successful one. I gave away all fifty of the Sky &Telescope dome chart handouts I made as well as the Sun cards from the freebie kit.
Another of the scout requirements involves some selenography so I showed them the last quarter moon which was still up in the morning. I got the most questions about the Apollo 11 landing site and as the sunset terminator had not yet reached that point I used my astrometric eyepiece to show the approximate location in the Sea of Tranquility.
One of the big highlights of the day was a visit from a cub scout pack. I got a little nervous initially because these cubs were like I probably was as a cub-mischievous and into everything. They wanted to know what everything in my eyepiece case was from the filters to eyepieces to the magazines and books. I got in some explanations of how the telescope works and let them look inside the scope at their reflections (this always seems to fascinate cubs). One of them asked why Venus looked like the moon so I asked for volunteers. I had one of the cubs playing the Sun, another got to be Venus and a third got to role-play the Earth. I had the cubs demonstrate the orbital motions and showed them the relative locations of the various phases . There were quite a few onlookers watching their performance and when done we gave the cubs a big round of applause.
Soon afterward all the scouts disappeared for a demonstration by the Bomb Squad. What boy could possibly resist the “Things That BLOW-UP” demonstration? Including me. I was sitting there with people from a couple of the other booths listening to the scouts yelling “Fire -In-The-Hole” and we would all stop talking and listen to the concussion. And give our judgment “That was a teeny one” or “Yess-That was a good one!”
The Sun was the big attraction (and also one of the merit badge requirements) and most of the sun was bland. But there was one very well defined sunspot group near the limb. In the morning there was one large spot surrounded by a couple of smaller spots. The whole area around the group is disturbed with obvious mottling. The nice thing is that in the afternoon another spot which had not been visible in the morning made an appearance giving the group a “Pawprint” appearance. By the time the day finished off about 5:00 PM this spot was as apparent as the other two smaller spots. The penumbra was very easy to see around all four of these spots.
The other two highlights for me were several flyovers and a gyrocopter. The flyovers involved a twin-engined aircraft with a performance envelope that allowed formation flying with single engined aircraft. I believe Coordinator Cindi Beaudett’s husband was the pilot.
The other one occurred during one of the periods when the Sun was hidden in the clouds. We were watching an RC plane doing some spins and noticed a craft that a Scoutmaster standing next to me thought looked like an Autogyro. We managed to get on my red dot finder and slew the telescope to him. It was indeed an autogyro. We were both able to slew the telescope quickly enough to keep him in view for about two minutes before he disappeared behind the arena bleachers.
Dark Skies and Good Hunting!
From Cyndi Beaudett, coordinator:
I wanted to thank you for attending our Camporall. I think we had somewhere at +/- 500 scouts. Some even braved through the wet night on Friday. I was down there, but had a hotel room both nights. I know the boys who looked on Friday night were impressed, and luckily the rains didn’t hit when you were there. I think you mentioned not until you hit the bridge. That’s pretty close timing!
Saturday was a completely different animal and more like mud wrestling, so when we repositioned everyone I think it still worked out quite well. Thanks for taking the extra time at the end of the day to show my family the sun spots, and for my son Carson with the different eyepiece so he could see it. Impressive stuff especially since you said it WASN’T there in the morning.
So thanks again David for attending our 100 Years of Scouting celebration called Camporall. My family hopes to fit into our crazy busy schedule a time when you are up at Santa Margarita so we can see some more night stuff especially some of the deep space things you were talking about.