Colorado Street Bridge Party TIE Astronomy Outreach in Pasadena, California

  A tremendous amount of planning went into the Telescopes In Education astronomy outreach at the Colorado Street Bridge Party in Pasadena, California.  TIE volunteer Carroll Devault agreed the day before to bring his big 15 inch Dob telescope, and I was able to borrow a 10 inch Meade LX200 GPS telescope from OCA Vice President Craig Bobchin to replace my malfuctioning LX50.
  I stopped by Gil Clark’s house to pick up the TIE H-alpha solar telescope and the passes to get into the venue.  I set up on the bridge near the west end, placing the LX200 on my wooden dolly, then atttaching the counterwieghts and the guidescope mount in order to piggyboack the TIE H-alpha solar telescope (see photo).
  The Meade LX200 GPS telescope is highly computerized and features automatic leveling and alignment. However, the telescope inherently cannot point towards the Sun as a safety precaution.
So I had to manually slew the instrument over to the Sun in order to let the visitors see the photosphere and the chromospere of the Sun.  Many prominences  were visible in the H-Alpha telescope, but the white light view of the photosphere through the main telescope tube was featureless as no sunspots were visible.
  As night fell I slewed over to the Moon. I ended up leaving it there all night as the public only wanted to see it, instead of the many other objects that were available for view. Surprisingly, many viewers were able to see satellites trainsiting across the face of the Moon.
  I had a pleasant time chatting with a couple of Pasadena Police Officers, and they also enjoyed viewing the Moon through the telescope. I let them play with my green laser and they were like a couple of kids. Turns out one of the cops was a helicopeter patrol officer, too!
  In addition many employees of JPL were there and they were fascinated by the high-tech telescope, especially when I demonstrated how the computer could drive the telescope with astronomy software.
  We packed it in at 11 p.m., and I returned to Gil’s house in Altadena to return the TIE equipment.  Mary Cragg was home so she made me a cup of black coffee so I could make the drive back to Anaheim. I got home at around 2 a.m.
  Today on my plate is an Orange County Astronomers Board Meeting, at the Lockeed Martin facilities in Irvine, California. They do a lot of U.S. Navy Submarine Ballistic Missile work there, and I am surprised that they let us use thier facility for our meetings.

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~ by matthewota on July 17, 2005.

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