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Getting ready for cycle 25 OUTREACH, new equipment

Posted: Mon Feb 21, 2022 5:09 pm
by barnstorm
During cycle 24 I was doing science outreach at the local nature centers and observatory/club events almost every sunny weekend.

At the time I was using white light projection with a long-focus heliograph onto a table with a foam poster board, and H-alpha viewing with a PST. At some events when I could have a helper I used a 90mm MAK with a solar filter taped on. I will only do this when it can be monitored because I don't want to risk some kid ripping the film than someone else looking through it while the adults are distracted.

For cycle 25 I am investing in upping the game.

I have invested in a long-focus heliostat (it is a heliograph with a limited ability to move the primary mirror with the sun). These heliostats are so far as I know the safest and most fool-proof way to offer public white-light viewing. They project a crystal clear image larger than a pie-pan. I use a tall video tripod so that the heliostat/graph is high enough that people walking by won't block the sun's image going to the projection screen. With the original heliograph, I turned it into a heliostat by putting it on an old Meade AL/AZ mount. The new model of the heliograph has a stepper motor and controller effectively making it a heliostat. I have also purchased a 100-inch projection screen with a "wind resistant" frame. (the old poster board took off with the slightest gust no matter how much duct tape was used).

I have upgraded my PST to a 90mm Solar Max I and I have a 60mm Solar Max II. I have loaned out the 60mm to a close friend that will be joining me on some of the outreach events. My hope is to use a deep-cycle battery to power the scopes EQ mount and a monitor in an adjacent tent to give a live video in H-alpha and have the 60mm for direct viewing.

Hands-on is important for learning and inspiring so I purchased both a "Sun Spotter" and a "Solar Scope" tabletop projection device. The "Solar Scope" is supposed to give a better image but it is cardboard and a bit wonky. The "Sun Spotter" is nicely fashioned out of wood and should be manageable by children. The most important feature to me is that it will allow someone to sketch the solar projection. Sadly the image is small and with the current sunspots, I am unable to clearly see penumbra.

I doubt I will bring the 90mm Mak to any events in which a dedicated volunteer can not manage it. I have been doing night-time astro outreach for decades and I know how quickly a child can manipulate equipment when you turn your back, sometimes even while the parent looks on, and with solar, the risk is too great.

I have made up some laminated cards with a tiny "earth" in the middle so that relative size can be shown next to or over the solar disk projections and video screen. This has always been a big hit. I have been thinking about expanding this with an "identify this feature" set of cards with prominences, filaments, granules, and types of sunspots.

If you have any ideas or suggestions let me know!

Long live Cycle 25!
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Re: Getting ready for cycle 25 OUTREACH, new equipment

Posted: Mon Feb 21, 2022 9:20 pm
by EGRAY_OBSERVATORY
Interesting ideas in addition to the usual manned or woman'd scopes...
Just need to bring the Sun along too...

Terry

Re: Getting ready for cycle 25 OUTREACH, new equipment

Posted: Mon Feb 21, 2022 9:58 pm
by rsfoto
Hi,

Excellent. Looks like the Heliograph is quite a simple arrangement.

What is the focal length of that lens cell ?

Re: Getting ready for cycle 25 OUTREACH, new equipment

Posted: Mon Feb 21, 2022 10:30 pm
by barnstorm
rsfoto wrote: Mon Feb 21, 2022 9:58 pm Hi,

Excellent. Looks like the Heliograph is quite a simple arrangement.

What is the focal length of that lens cell ?
88 feet

Re: Getting ready for cycle 25 OUTREACH, new equipment

Posted: Tue Feb 22, 2022 12:23 am
by rsfoto
barnstorm wrote: Mon Feb 21, 2022 10:30 pm
rsfoto wrote: Mon Feb 21, 2022 9:58 pm Hi,

Excellent. Looks like the Heliograph is quite a simple arrangement.

What is the focal length of that lens cell ?
88 feet
26,800 mm WOW ...

For what is such a lens used ?

Re: Getting ready for cycle 25 OUTREACH, new equipment

Posted: Tue Feb 22, 2022 3:22 pm
by barnstorm
good question but no idea, would have to email the creator.

Re: Getting ready for cycle 25 OUTREACH, new equipment

Posted: Thu Feb 24, 2022 8:34 am
by Montana
I do love the projection and you had such a lovely image. I have been trying with binoculars these past couple of days and to no avail.
Where do you buy these hellostat devices or did you make it yourself?

:hamster:

Alexandra

Re: Getting ready for cycle 25 OUTREACH, new equipment

Posted: Thu Feb 24, 2022 5:00 pm
by barnstorm
Montana wrote: Thu Feb 24, 2022 8:34 am I do love the projection and you had such a lovely image. I have been trying with binoculars these past couple of days and to no avail.
Where do you buy these hellostat devices or did you make it yourself?

:hamster:

Alexandra
SORRY! I thought I had posted it. https://opticaleds.com/unusual-telescop ... projector/

I think he only has one left.

Re: Getting ready for cycle 25 OUTREACH, new equipment

Posted: Sat Feb 26, 2022 3:37 pm
by marktownley
Way cool!

Re: Getting ready for cycle 25 OUTREACH, new equipment

Posted: Sun Mar 13, 2022 4:05 am
by DeepSolar64
Barnstorm,
WoW, I really like the heliostat and I have thought about buying one of those SunSpotter scopes. They are pricey but a work of art that works and would last a lifetime if taken care of. It's a Keplarian telescope, I think. The SunSpotter is certainly kid-friendly!

Alexandra,
Did you get your a pair of Lunt SUNoculars!??

James

Re: Getting ready for cycle 25 OUTREACH, new equipment

Posted: Sun Mar 13, 2022 8:20 am
by marktownley
DeepSolar64 wrote: Sun Mar 13, 2022 4:05 am Did you get your a pair of Lunt SUNoculars!??
I've just managed to get hold of a second hand pair of the 8x32 version James from Ebay. They're currently on their way from Hawaii. I'm very much looking forward to receiving them. I was using the mini 6x30 yesterday and the spots were easy in the scudding clouds. Thanks for your regular reports James because it's you who put me onto them as a viable quick look solar tool.

Re: Getting ready for cycle 25 OUTREACH, new equipment

Posted: Sun Mar 13, 2022 11:58 am
by Montana
Not yet James, I can't find any for sale. I wanted the 8x32 and they are not available. Yes, I looked at those ebay ones yesterday and it looks like I have been pipped to the post for those :(

Alexandra

Re: Getting ready for cycle 25 OUTREACH, new equipment

Posted: Sun Mar 13, 2022 4:37 pm
by DeepSolar64
Mark and Montana,
The Lunt 8x32’s indeed do make a wonderful quick look tool in absence of time to use a more powerful telescope. I think they and especially their smaller cousins the 6x30 pair because of their affordability would make excellent outreach tools once the kids and adults were properly shown how to use them. I paid 79.99 dollars for my pair. I noticed on the Lunt site they have went up to 94.95. The 6x30 pair are only 19.95!

James


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