2012 07 16 – Austin Planetarium’s Astro Camp

Austin Planetarium and Starry Sky Austin is holding the Austin Planetarium’s Astro Camp at the All Saints Episcopal Church in Austin July 16-20th. Part of the astro camp includes learning about the Sun. They needed someone with a hydrogen alpha solar telescope (or filter set) to share the chromospheric views with the kids. One of the educators brought an Orion refractor with a homemade solar funnel for the white light views and I was very happy to volunteer for the h-alpha views as part of my solar outreach with the Charlie Bates Solar Astronomy Project Outreach Club and the NASA Night Sky Network.

The age group was 8-11 years old and there were 14 kids and two educators in the group. The kids and I had a short discussion about the Sun: what the Sun is, why the Sun is so important to us, solar facts and a little about what the Sun is made of, as well as solar features in both white light and h-alpha. We talked about how to safely view the Sun and of how to handle the telescopes, then I handed out the solar glasses so that all the kids could enjoy the solar views while waiting for their turn at the scopes.

While each child was seated at the eyepiece of my solar scope, they were able to see filaments, mottling effect in the chromospheric network, active regions including plage and sunspots, and prominences. I explained what each of the features were and told them how the active region (AR 1520 that they were looking at today through the eyepiece) produced a solar flare the other day (X1.4-class on July 12th). That flare caused plasma and other matter to be hurled from the Sun, called a coronal mass ejection (CME), which then produced auroras the past couple of nights. One boy said “This is the best astro camp ever!!”…then admitted that it was actually the first one that he ever attended.

They all agreed on one thing, and that was that the Sun is awesome! To which my response was, “I KNOW, right?!! Very cool!”

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~ by Erika Rix on July 16, 2012.

One Response to “2012 07 16 – Austin Planetarium’s Astro Camp”

  1. […] Astro Camp week at the All Saint’s Episcopal Church in Austin. My first experience was at the 2012 Astro Camp and this year was just as […]

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