Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Sidewalk astronomy

If you are an amateur astronomer, I do recommend that you try sidewalk astronomy. I have found it to be a truly rewarding experience. People are very appreciative of the effort and always have a great time. It is nice to take along a friend or another amateur astronomer for moral support. In fact, several telescopes really make it an event that will attract a crowd. The best time to go out is between First Quarter and Full Moon when deep sky observing is not possible. People love to see the moon through a telescope and are usually awestruck! When I started sidewalk astronomy, I never observed the Moon or planets for more than a minute or two during a session as I felt is was a waste of my time since I was only interested in deep sky objects. Now I enjoy lunar and planetary observing and have learned a great deal about these objects through my research which I conducted in order to better answer questions I was asked by the public. Anyways the best places to set up are areas of high foot traffic such as Barnes and Noble, and Starbucks. Attracting a crowd is easy when you have a telescope set up.Here is a picture of a small group around my scope in a Albertson's Supermarket parking lot. I had over 30 people come over to my scope and everyone enjoyed viewing the moon that night.


  1. Hi Tony - thanks for stopping by my blog and nice to see and meet others who are actively involved in outreach! You are so right about street astronomy - it is an awesome activity that is simple and effective. Just set up a scope where people congregate and your off. I will be following your activities!

    I notice that you and I share views through a 12.5 PDHQ. I really like the constellation outlines on your scope - how did you do that? I do not use this scope for outreach - I will use either a old 10" Coulter, 8" Orion Dob, and on special occasions a 6" Refractor for my outreach activities. I have a resource table and materials that I use so a quick set-up and ease of take down are important besides space in my car!

  2. Thanks Richard!
    I plan on increasing my outreach time 2 fold this year and may have a couple more amateur astronomers join me in my efforts. I love my Discovery Dob and that is what I use for outreach since that big ol scope draws alot of attention =). I am getting ready to grind a 6" f10 mirror and that scope when complete may end up being my outreach scope just because I can say it was made by me which will get even more questions from the crowd.
    When I added the constellations to my telescope I used paint markers and just placed the stars by eye, and did the constellation lines with a flexible ruler. It was fun but time consuming LOL