Solar outreach for schools; ideas, tips and projects

The Charlie Bates Solar Astronomy Project has been spreading Solar Astronomy via various forms of public outreach since 2008 and strongly encourage members to share their love of everything Solar with others. This forum is for outreach ideas and inspirations, etc. Please tell us how you do it or ask us how.
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Solar outreach for schools; ideas, tips and projects

Post by Montana »

HI,

I was wondering if we could do a brain storm post and gather together all tips, tricks and ideas for school outreach either for primary or secondary schools.

How best to run the session, any do's or don'ts.
What solar projects could they carry out using the equipment.

If we could put all this together it would be a great resource for all those that need it. Anyone with experience please share.

Many thanks
Alexandra


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Re: Solar outreach for schools; ideas, tips and projects

Post by Montana »

75 views so far and no tips at all? Can anyone help me??

Alexandra


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Re: Solar outreach for schools; ideas, tips and projects

Post by rsfoto »

Montana wrote: Thu Jan 20, 2022 7:55 am 75 views so far and no tips at all? Can anyone help me??

Alexandra
Hi Alexandra,

I once was invited for an Outreach and it was very interesting. I set up the equipment and started following the Sun and everything else developed by itself. People came, asked what are you looking at and then a conversation starts. I even once took it in vacations to the hotel where we were and suddenly I was surrounded by children and not a single parent :o

Go to the school, offer the outreach and everything will develop by itself as kids are uncomplicated when they want to know something. As they have never seen the Sun they for sure have an idea which will be upside down after seeing the Sum.

Maybe make two big images ... One of H-alpha and one of White light and before starting the viewing session explain them what they possibly will see.

Tell them not to touch the scope as if they do it you will spend most of the time searching for the Sun again. Tell them to put one hand on the eye which is not at the eyepiece and start with a low magnification and work your way up.

Once they have seen the Sun be it in H-alpha or White Light they will bombard you with questions and after a while you will not know where your head is :lol:

After the first session you will have learned a lot and for the next one have some ideas.

IMHO


regards Rainer

Observatorio Real de 14
San Luis Potosi Mexico

North 22° West 101°
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Re: Solar outreach for schools; ideas, tips and projects

Post by marktownley »

Give me a free hour and i'll do a write up :lol:


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Re: Solar outreach for schools; ideas, tips and projects

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Re: Solar outreach for schools; ideas, tips and projects

Post by thesmiths »

A solar Newtonian is a great educational / outreach instrument. If you remove the mirror coating from both the primary and secondary, it becomes inherently quite safe since it's essentially a double Herschel wedge. You also can teach some nice physics principles regarding reflection of light off a glass surface.


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Re: Solar outreach for schools; ideas, tips and projects

Post by thesmiths »

A combination of a CaK PST telescope and ASI 178MM camera and a laptop provides some really dramatic views and is so compact and easy to set up. Not a low cost solution but CaK always shows interesting surface features and I think demonstrating how objects can look remarkably different at different wavelengths is an important lesson.


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Re: Solar outreach for schools; ideas, tips and projects

Post by EGRAY_OBSERVATORY »

I cannot agree with :-
"A solar Newtonian is a great educational / outreach instrument. If you remove the mirror coating from both the primary and secondary, it becomes inherently quite safe since it's essentially a double Herschel wedge. You also can teach some nice physics principles regarding reflection of light off a glass surface." :cat

We must never move away from the safety aspects regarding any Solar-viewing and especially during any outreach to any schools etc.. :bow

The start of any Solar-Reach activity should always involve the well-known warnings - regarding using any optics or even the naked-eye, unless specifically designed for the purpose of viewing the Sun. Any insurance might be invalid - if modified/un-approved gear is used... :oops:

To use a modified Newtonian could well result in severe/permanent-results - when a student etc., tries the same type of scope and gets it wrong !!! :cat

To stick to using the well-proven scopes, such as Lunt/Coronado/SolarMax etc. and with pre-activity safety-checks before any outreach-event is a must and those scopes should be manned by experienced Solar-viewers at all times, or at least covered-up if and when left un-manned. :o

Obviously the use of an eye-piece camera and laptop does make things very-safe and often far-better than struggling with students to see spots in Ha and defining whatever else in either WL, Ha (through E.P's) or Calcium-K, as well as allowing more than one student/viewer at a time to gain the knowledge that could be passed on to them by the attending astronomer... (Also saves some of the repeating by that astronomer)... :D

As a member of a local astronomy club, I and others of us, have run many outreach's to schools and open-days and nights to the public, where in some cases, over 400 public have been in attendance with, at night around +12-scopes being in use by our our members.

Also, the early use of cameras in telescopes outside of a reconstructed ancient round house, have with a digital-projector, projected on to my large screens the Moon - with one of our guys explaining very well to a 20+ audience what they are seeing on the Lunar-surface. :o

Those were +bi-annual-events (weather permitting of course) and not only enjoyed by the public, but also very-much enjoyed by those attending and working at these events - including myself, although I found myself assisting both my club Chairman and Essex County Council staff in laying-out the large sites with banners, low-powered lighting-domes etc. and also being in charge of arranging the parking of the visitor's cars in very tight-spaces - to get as many in as quickly and safely as possible. Two-way radio was also used to help out.

At our school events (some were even two-day events), the enthusiasm of both the pupils and staff, not too-mention ourselves in running and seeing that enthusiasm - was a joy certainly for us and gave us a feeling of doing something "more than useful" with our scopes etc. :seesaw

We would usually use cuttings/pages out of our many magazines for examples of what can be seen through our scopes both for day or night viewing,
as obviously unless we were very lucky with the seeing-conditions, something to fall-back on was mandatory.
With tables provided by schools at least, they were put to good use... :lol:

Noticeably on one occasion at a junior-school in Essex, we were even invited to join-in with the whole-school and teachers having lunch, before starting the afternoon events. One of my best remembered OutReach events, where I showed a film of what was happening on and around the Sun and its' influences of us on Earth, using early SOHO/SDO imagery etc. via M.S. POWERPOINT presentation. One of those two-day events too.. :) ;) :D

Always recommended to have two (minimum) astronomers - whether Solar or otherwise) - as things don't always work to plan and with one being in overall-charge (experienced in similar events) as a good contact with the schools etc., where a pre-visit to see the facilities available which can be utilised is beneficial for the quick setting-up/packing-away and running of the event itself. :)

Always have a good check-list of what is needed, from any table (by the scope/pc), chairs and power-supply/supplies etc., etc... (otherwise too-late to return home to get what you missed-out. And of course don't forget your own personal refreshments, as not always supplied or when you want something)... :(

Schools/Clubs may offer to pay some costs/petrol for instance, but unless you are travelling over long-distances, one should try to avoid making-charges for such - unless you are exhibiting at some of the very-large events where the public have to pay to enter and you are one of the presenting-team(s)... If a charge to say a school is agreed, you might find at short-notice a sudden cancellation and disappointment etc... :cat

That reminds me of two Essex-Maldon Carnival events that we attended with SolarScopes and even my own radio-links with weather-satellites downloaded to pc screens, and using some of my aerials supported upright from the side of my car. One of those was a well-hot day and my cool-box was crammed with cold-cans and ice - to keep us quenched. Even the radio-gear (although was under-cover in a Gazebo, was nearing exhaustion)...!!! :oops: :oops: :oops:
The SolarScopes were even in a worse environment and had to be covered-up from time to time, before they might expire...!!! :oops: :oops:
:oops:

So, all-in-all, Outreach-Eventing to schools especially can be very-rewarding, as well as to various types of clubs and also Public-Open-Day/Night Events, but always take great-care of your own equipment and the students/members of the public etc., at all-times - as they will come-back for any subsequent-occasions and will often tell you such.

One of the benefits to our own Astronomy Club - was that we were granted a large sum of money from the NATIONAL LOTTERY to buy more SolarScopes and presentation equipment, so that was a joy to behold ... :lol:

More suggestions upon request.
Terry
EGRAY OBSERVATORY


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