Astronomy Night at Desert Arroyo Middle School

On October 24th, 2009, 6-8 pm, DFAC hosted an Astronomy Night at Desert Arroyo Middle School, Cave Creek. This event was at the request of Sherlyn Halloran, who teaches 7th grade science, and was just finishing a unit on astronomy. It was the perfect time to show her students the actual objects they'd been studying. The date was selected to provide a nice view of the 1st Quarter Moon, with additional targets including Jupiter, Alberio, Mizar/Alcor, M13, M31, and M57. DFAC has done more public events than usual this year, in concert with IYA2009, the 400th anniversary of Galileo's invention of the telescope. We had 6 DFAC members working this event: Roger Serrato, Scott Loucks, Jim Renn, Ron Walker, Raul Espinoza, and Dan Heim.

The sky was clear and dark for the first hour of observing, with intermittent clouds after that. We were able to show the students everything that was up, but there were occasional delays as clouds passed through the field of view. Approximately 80 people attended, including students and parents. All of us were constantly engaged with observers at the scopes. The students were very well prepared for the event, understood what they were seeing, and asked some really good questions. Their teacher obviously did a great job on the astronomy unit, as her students were excited and curious about all things astronomical. There were many questions from parents too, who confessed that their children probably knew more about astronomy than they did. Photos were provided by Sherlyn Halloran.

Scott Loucks explains the physics of globular clusters, and shows the crowd M13 as a prime example. Individual stars were resolved.

Jim Renn is on the Moon. Well ... at least his scope is. Here he explains why there are such strong shadows near the lunar terminator.

Dan Heim used 10x80 binocs to show earthshine on the Moon. He also explained the nature of maria, pointing out the Sea of Tranquility to students born after the Moon landings.