(Credit: Larry Owens)
The good teacher explains.
The superior teacher demonstrates.
The great teacher inspires.
~William Arthur Ward
Astronomy clubs have some of the greatest teachers as members. These dedicated men and women inspire more people at a successful star party than others do in their whole lives. And it is not just the cool telescopes, gadgets, and laser pointers either. Astronomy enthusiasts share their passion for the night sky with the public and inspire countless eyes to look up and take a few minutes to think big.
These huge ideas, distances and sizes can be hard to grasp when you first start to think about them and even after thinking for a long time about them. That is why the Night Sky Network creates models, demonstrations, and resources to help these dedicated educators explain their passion to the novice and to each other. A model of the Solar System can be just as powerful at a club meeting as in the classroom. Hear how these clubs have been using Night Sky Network tools to both teach and learn.
During A Night With The Stars event in Maryland, Tom Rusek of the Harford County Astronomical Society tells us, "There was a discussion among club members while setting up the telescopes about night falling vs. night rising and a description of the item from the toolkit was used to help explain the shadow of the Earth. Also, descriptions of other toolkit help explain the best time to view the moon."
John P. Gallagher of the Hawaiian Astronomical Society talks about a small Solar System scaling activity: "After the monthly club meeting, members were then shown from a pre-made "Pocket Solar System" how far out from the Sun the outer solar system planets would be. This kind of impressed the members watching the presentation."
In Ohio, poor weather didn't stop the Warren Rupp Observatory from learning new demonstrations for the next star party. Barb Hubal tells how the rain was a bit of a disappointment. "But it was a great time to converse with other club members, review activities and plan for future programs!"
These astronomy enthusiasts never stop learning, even as they are teaching. In fact, astronomy is a wonderful example of a lifelong learning project. Joan Chamberlin of the Astronomical Society of Northern New England in Maine expresses a common sentiment, "I have found that the activities I've gotten from Night Sky Network make concepts much clearer in my own mind and make it easier for me to explain concepts to students."
If you would like to meet or even become one of these inspiring people, click here to find a nearby astronomy club.