2012 06 23 – Solar Outreach with Webelos Scouts

This late spring, I joined the The Charlie Bates Solar Astronomy Project Internet Outreach Club to become more involved with solar outreach. This club was founded by Stephen Ramsden and is listed with NASA’s Night Sky Network. The club is represented in 17 countries at this time and growing. To give you an idea of the how many children and adults this program reaches, Stephen started the The Charlie Bates Solar Astronomy Project in 2008 as a small local solar outreach program. By 2009, he reached over 50,000 teens and adults in Atlanta! “2010 was a record breaking pace with appearances at Dragon*Con and national vendor shows lecturing all across the country” and he has received several awards for his outstanding outreach efforts.

In Stephen’s words:

CHARLIE BATES SOLAR ASTRONOMY PROJECT INTERNET OUTREACH CLUB

“The Charlie Bates Solar Astronomy Project Internet Outreach Club (CBSAPOC) is a global coalition of like-minded individuals whose primary interest is sharing solar astronomy with students and the general public. The world’s first internet based astronomy club is hard at work distributing solar related supplies, solar glasses, equipment, support and motivation to its members around the world. There are no fees or charges for anything in the club if you abide by the general principles stated in the membership application. The club is the first of its kind and is recognized by the NASA Night Sky Network as an official astronomy club for event reporting.”

Although I’ve been involved with outreach events in the past, I’ve been itching to branch out and become more involved. What better way than through Charlie Bates Solar Astronomy with the support of Stephen and the others in the group…especially when it involves my favorite object in the sky, our Sun.

To start off, I log my upcoming events with NASA’s Night Sky Network. After the event, I log the completion and details of the events and also share the photos and stories with whoever will listen! What’s in the middle is sheer fun, with adults and children alike. It makes my day to have someone look through the eyepiece for the very first time, let out a gasp and say “WOW!” The telescopes aren’t the only stars of the show. The solar glasses supplied from the club could just as easily be $100 dollar bills if you could see the excitement on the kids’ faces when you hand them out and tell them they’re theirs to keep!

The Webelos scouts were no exception. They were camping at Camp Mabry that weekend and I asked if I could share the Sun with them. I created a solar poster for visual aid and explained a little about how the Sun and the solar system came to be. They were already pretty knowledgeable with the importance of the Sun to Earth and our existence. I told them some fun facts about the Sun such as it only takes about 8 minutes for the Sun’s light to reach us, you could fit about 1 million Earths in the Sun if the Sun was a hollow ball. Likewise, if it was flat, you could fit about 100 earths across the solar diameter. I explained plasma and how hydrogen fuses together to create helium in the Sun’s core and that’s what creates energy which equals heat. Using rubber bands, they learned how plasma is held  structurally by magnetic field lines, producing filaments and prominences. But then (such a newbee is prone to I guess), I went into too much detail and could see their eyes glazing over similar to what I imagine mine looks like when Paul tries to explain his imaging techniques to me (recording an observation is so much similar with a piece of charcoal and paper!)

At that time, the solar glasses were passed out and we made our way to the telescopes! There were about 20-23 people in total with the scouts and adults together. I had a brief moment of embarrassment when after packing up the equipment, I headed out the wrong way on a one way road. Nevertheless, it was a great time and I think the scouts will remember their solar views for a long time to come.

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~ by Erika Rix on July 4, 2012.

4 Responses to “2012 06 23 – Solar Outreach with Webelos Scouts”

  1. Erika, you are the greatest..>

  2. […] that Saturday, I had a solar outreach event with the Webelos Scouts. I had time for a quick break at home before heading back out to the Canyon of the Eagles Lodge and […]

  3. Excellent event! Looks like fun!

  4. They look like they had a great time – I am sure some will remember it for a long time!

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