decide to invite us for your group, here are a few suggestions to help
make the most of your AAS stargaze.
have some latitude in selecting a date, late September, all of October,
and early November are the best months. The weather is usually fairly
predictable, the air is clear and dry (except for an occasional hurricane),
and the evening temperatures are comfortable for viewing. A second
choice would be March, April and early May. Late November through
Febuary are great if they're clear, but less desirable as an option because
of the higher percentage of cloudy nights. Try to avoid scheduling
during the summer months. During June, July, and August when
the air is hot, the atmosphere holds a high percentage of moisture that
results in dimming and bluring of intended celestial targets -- not
to mention the discomfort of our volunteers and your guests. Also,
because sunset is so late near the summer solstice, start time will be
the best time to schedule a stargaze?
however, you're locked in on a date beyond your control, we'll try to work
with you. Since most of our members are doing this after they leave
their day jobs, it's best to try to schedule on a Saturday night. Here's
a calendar with Moon
that ask us to do a stargaze, have selected a place located within the
glare of city lights. For this reason, we try to schedule an evening
when the Moon is at or near first quarter. The Moon shows the most
detail during this phase and it is well placed in the sky at sunset.
If any evening planets are also up, the city lights have little effect
on viewing. If, on the other hand, you have access to a dark-sky
location, we can schedule a visit third quarter or New Moon, and see star
clusters, nebulae, and galaxies. We'll point out any satellite passes that
may coincide with our visit, trace out constellations, and demonstrate
how to find the Big Dipper and North Star.
you expect to see?
will need a fairly large open area -- roughly the size of a school ball
field. Parking lots should be avoided because heat build up from
the day causes thermal currents at night that distort the images through
the telescope. And, since most of our telescopes are quite heavy,
we also need to be able to access the location with our vehicles.
Check to see if local security lights can be covered or switched off.
the site requirements?
also need to know approxiamtely how may people you expect to attend.
We like to have a viewer to telescope ratio of less than 10:1 to keep the
lines to a minimum.
of those in your group, this may be their first time viewing through a
telescope. Here are a few suggestions designed to help beginners:
telescope designs have eyepieces at different locations. The AAS
owner/attendant at the telescope will direct the viewer to the correct
eye placement. The telescopes are equipped with small "finder scopes"
that have a wide field of view for locating celestial objects. It's
OK to have a look through this one to see what the object would look like
through a pair of binoculars. The best view will be at the telescopes
main eyepiece. It's a good idea to begin looking with your eye about
one-half inch back from the eyepiece surface. If you don't see anything,
try making slow spiral circles with your head until the exit pupil from
the telescope is lined up with your eye. If you still don't see anything,
ask the telescope owner/attendant to verify that the object is actually
in the field of view.
the case of the Moon, you can help place a child's eye where the Moon's
bright image is projected on their face.
the eyepiece may seem like a good idea to help steady your eye, but it
actually shakes the telescope unnecessarily. Try not to touch.
of the telescopes may have power cords on the ground. Be careful
and watch your step. If you need a flashlight to get around at night,
turn it off when not in use and keep it pointed only at the ground.
sky is not dark enough for observing anything dimmer than the Moon and
planets until about 45 minutes after sunset.
you have questions about anything mentioned above, or want to ask about
something not addressed, contact Allen Screws.