Events 3

I took a short webcam shot of Mars just before the clouds rolled in, but it wasn’t much better than the view through the eyepiece. The high winds and low altitude prevented a high power view, but enough excitement was generated from the guests to make a few say they were going to try to see Mars using their own telescopes. Good enough for me!

-David Ryle

Camp Fire event at Harrell Park

October 21, 2005
JD 2453665.3
Harrell Park
Wichita Falls, TX

Luminous Venus, glowing stars, shooting meteors and incandescent curiosity from eager kids was the mix for the night as Starlight Observers League teamed with the Camp Fire North Texas Council.

A concentrated display through two reflectors and two compound telescopes permitted the young eyes of 25 kids to sweep the star fields of the Milky Way under cool, clear skies. We were able to introduce the Camp Fire kids to many Solar System, Milky Way and extra-galactic fare while discussing the nature of stars, planets and galaxies. An intense reflection of the Sun off of Venus drew our attention early on. The western sky was accented by the glint of our nearest planetary neighbor. Butch Crenshaw showed the glowing orb to wanting eyes in his 200mm reflector. Their curiosity was harvested by his affluent descriptions of our understanding of the hot planet. At times I heard him clarifying a remote question on the subject of aliens from an imaginative camper. This same query came to me more than once too.

The reach went even further as David “Doc” Dockery stretched their gaze outward to some nice globular clusters. The season has arrived for some nice clusters, but the best displays were still captured by Doc in Hercules and Sagittarius. A hard packed crowd congealed around Doc’s 200mm SCT for a glimpse of the Hercules cluster near the keystone. In ways only Doc could provide, the mystical nature of the legendary ancient clusters were laid to young ears. His patter captivated the kids and was a model of how to keep the fire burning in a young spirit’s heart for discovery.

The camp fire was truly burning at the table set up by Russell Horn. The only thing bigger than the eyes of those that gazed on the fantastic imagery shown on Russell’s laptop was the thrill of seeing Mars and the Sun in photographs. A cacophony of cheers emanated from the children’s mouths as each slide was presented. Occasionally, Russell would tell them there was the same view available in one of our instruments. To his credit, none would run off to see, their vision fixed on the imagery.

Many times I heard the story of how the Three Rivers Foundation 15” Obsession I was using wasn’t able to move on it’s own like Rick Harris’ telescope did. I did notice a steady throng of visitors occupying ground about Rick’s 250mm Schmidt Cassegrain. A young boy pointed out how his had a “remote” and could just point at will. The impressive Catadioptric telescope was promoting the clusters in Cassiopeia and Cygnus for the youthful viewers. Always the promoter, Rick handed out copies of the popular astronomy magazines to all that wanted them.

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