June 29, 2013

Astronomy Merit Badge, June 17-21

The last few weeks have been busy astronomically, though no images resulted.  I took my C8 and EM-10 to scout camp for a week and taught the Astronomy merit badge to a whole bunch of scouts.  I also took the Orion 80mm f/5 shorttube on a simple alt-az mount.   And I carried with me that absolute necessity for public outreach, the laser pointer.  For fun, I took the AT65EDQ with a solar filter for some solar viewing.

The first night, I had over 40 in the class.  The next night just 26.  The class went four nights for about 1.5 hours per class.  About ten boys ended up with the merit badge, including my son.  The rest earned important parts of it.  Even better, many young men were introduced to astronomy with quality views through good, working equipment.  One night I saw Saturn and 6 moons.  The moon was phenomenal through the C8.  We also looked at M13 one night, though only a couple of scouts stayed for that.  Three scouts came by for solar viewing; I counted over 20 sunspots each day we looked at the sun.

For the merit badge, we did a star party at which each scout had to use the 80mm achromat to show things around the sky.  Saturn and the Moon were prominent, but Venus and Mercury were also viewable.  Some boys also showed Polaris, Regulus, or Vega.  The boys had to learn ten constellations, eight bright stars, phases of the Moon and why they occur, and a bunch of other useful things.