What does an aircraft carrier have in common with a bookstore? They are both venues for Night Sky Network clubs to do public outreach.
Since January, the San Diego Amateur Astronomers have been doing weekend overnight programs on board the U.S.S. Midway, an aircraft carrier anchored in San Diego harbor that has been converted to the San Diego Aircraft Carrier Museum. Since January, nearly 600 people have participated in Night Sky Network activities as a part of the USS Midway Star Party Program.
"We have twenty-four volunteers at present for the Midway," said Rich Strobel, Night Sky Network Coordinator and one of the club's Midway outreach program leaders. The club hosts the Midway overnight programs twice a month.
"The first weekend, the club hosted about 100 scouts and dads combined each night," said Strobel. In addition to sharing Night Sky Network activities, the club also shares copies of Night Sky Magazine available to clubs in the Network. When weather permits, participants also get to enjoy the use of two brand new 8-inch telescopes donated by Oceanside Photo & Telescope (OPT).
On the other side of the country the Forsyth Astronomical Society of Winston-Salem, North Carolina hosted 150 people for an event that took place both inside and outside a Barnes and Noble bookstore.
The group shared Night Sky Network activities on "Why we put telescopes in space" and "Telescopes as a time machines" as well as lectures on Apollo 13 and the Hubble Space Telescope. Once it got dark, club members shared views through a variety of telescopes set up in the parking lot. According to the club's description of the event, "There were a good number of visitors that have never looked through a telescope."
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After dark, Night Sky Network clubs often share their scopes with participants at outreach events. Photo from USS Midway (left) courtesy of Jose Magsaysay. Photo from Barnes and Noble parking lot (right) courtesy of Terry Richardson.