2009 Meeting Minutes

Today's club meeting was a very special one. We had seven boys from the Cub Scouts and their parents with us.

Mike Swanson gave a presentation (available in Downloads) introducing our little guests to Astronomy with topics ranging from star colors, constellations, sky motion, all the way up to deepsky objects plus an overview of observing tools for parents to include binoculars, small telescopes and their basic optical design.

Mike scheduled less than an hour for his presentation which ultimately took nearly two hours thanks to the children's various questions and comments.

After the presentation, we set up outside with a few small telescopes and a pair of binoculars for the children to observe the 5 days old Moon and nearby Saturn in the constellation of Leo. Club member Mike Bennett brought his SkyScout device to show the children how to point out and identify celestial objects with it.

Our small telecopes, one a 22 dollar assembly kit, demonstrated that it does not take big money to let children discover the joy of astronomy. 400 years ago, Galileo Galilei turned the world's first astronomical telescope, a small 50mm refractor with a crude single objective lens, to the Moon and the large planets discovering the Galilean moons of Jupiter and a bulge around Saturn which was ultimately discovered to be the ring system.

Saturday's meeting was lightly attended by two regular members and a guest with a long-time interest in the night sky.

Mike Swanson gave a presentation about the relative sizes of our planet, solar system objects and the largest stars we know of. Unfortunately a lot of the material in the presentation is copyrighted and we can't post it online for your enjoyment.

Mike also gave a short talk on a new optical tube which Celestron introduced just this weekend at the Riverside Telescope Makers Conference (RTMC). It is a modified Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope (SCT) which Celestron is calling the Edge HD. The Edge HD corrects the two main aberrations of the SCT - coma (also corrected with Meade's ACF modified SCT) and curved field. In fact, the Edge HD has a very flat focal plane out to the corners of large-chip cameras, including digital SLRs. The flat focal plane improves wide-field visual usage as well. Celestron is sending Mike a pre-production model (the 8" optical tube shown at RTMC) next month, so our club will be one the first to see it in action.

The Cub Scouts are tentatively planning to attend our next regular meeting on 27 June. A presentation tailored to youngsters is already in the works, but we will need scopes, binoculars, Mike B's SkyScout :-) and extra hands to assist as we take them outdoors to view the Moon, Saturn and a few other objects.