Astronomy Night at Archway Academy

Friday, March 2nd, DFAC fielded 7 scopes and 1 astronomical binoculars at Archway Academy in north Scottsdale. Donna Johnson, Science Teacher, and Astronomy Club Moderator, had requested the event for their 3rd Grade classes. Between students and parents, around 80 people were there to view celestial wonders.

Donna got first light, of course. Here she observes the Pleiades star cluster in Taurus. The 10x80 binocs have an FOV (field of view) of 4, and can see most of that cluster.

This student brought a tablet computer running an astronomy app that showed him what was up in the sky. The tablet senses its orientation, knows where it is via GPS, and will display the sky in whatever direction you point it. Sure beats planispheres, which are looking like they'll go the way of the LP record.

There was a Waxing Gibbous Moon, and that was everyone's first target. Easily visible in the light of dusk, it was showing 2/3 disc with some nice relief at the terminator. Jim's NexStar provided a great view, until the Moon was nearly overhead. At that point the NexStar mount has difficulty not running into itself.

Our newest member, Julio Coppo, has children attending Archway. He brought his 18" Dob, which of course has no problems pointing straight up.

As the sky continued to darken, Jay and Dave spot Venus and Jupiter high in the west. Venus showed a nice 1/3 crescent, and Jupiter cooperated too, displaying the Great Red Spot on its Earthward side.

Mark's scope showed the Great Red Spot clearly at about 125x. Almost all the students reported being able to see it.

Roger always has a long line at his scope. Here he provides a high-mag view of the lunar terminator. As always, the students were amazed to see what were clearly craters and mountains.

After the students all left, Donna grabbed one more look at the Pleiades before we shut down. Dan brought along our red LED DFAC sign for publicity, and most of the students figured it out, saying "I know what DFAC stands for!" Before we left, Donna presented us with 8 hand-drawn cards created by grateful students. The cards are always appreciated, but inside was a generous donation collected by her students. We thank them for that. It goes right into our treasury to help cover operating expenses, and allows us to do more events like this. Archway wants us to come back again next year, so this might become a recurring event.