Monday, May 4, 2009

Grassroots Weekend

I'm so thankful for Saturn. The showpiece object, the grand prize of the planets was plainly visible giving ordinary folk a brief yet exciting peek into our solar system planting in them what might lie beyond our little corner of the universe. What fun it is to see people's eye's light up when they first view the ringed orb. Kids love it the most. Parent almost looked relieved as they watch the joy of their children viewing the known universe in a world of high-tech FX, Playstations and Xbox's.

Then there is the Moon. That always gets a lot of ooohs and aaaawws.

Backyard Astronomy is rather ill-defined in what it is because it has so much depth to it. From simple moon gazing and binocular viewing to CCD imaging and fascinating trips around the world to see "that special moment". Accessible to anyone, Backyard Astronomy is entirely what you make of it. This weekend was all about the grassroots, enjoying the simpler approach and letting those totally unfamiliar with astronomy get a chance to take that rare peek through a telescope and not trying to confuse them with all the technobabble and the hinderance of an advanced telescope. This was put simply, "just observing".

Getting a telescope and using it in a public area will always draw attention. It very rarely, if ever, draws a "n'er-do-well" who might want to harm you. Be prepared to attract a curious group of people who want to know more beyond their view of the universe. It is a lot of fun to share that moment.

How many people became "new astronomers"? I can't say, but I do know for sure that their view of the universe was slightly altered and now they have an idea of what a few things really look like.


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