Starry Nights Festival, Yucca Valley, California

   This past weekend I was in the high desert town of Yucca Valley, California.  It is a small community which puts on a festival for astronomers every October. Athough the city’s budget allocation for this festival has shrunk over the past couple of years, the attendance keeps growing.  Sam Davidson, the organizer, requested that I bring a solar telescope setup to this year’s event as I have done so in the past.
   So I arrived Friday afternoon, and attened the twilight reception at City Hall, and then took my equipment to Machris Park for an evening outreach.  I set up in a basketball court across from David Levy, a famous astronomer/author who has done more to promote astronomy than anybody I have ever known.  I was showing the Ring Nebula M57 to about 25 local citizens, and then for the last part of the evening I had the telescope on Mars.
  The following morning I set up the telescope in the city’s Recreation Center Couryard (see photo).
With a proper solar filter installed, and TIEs Helios 1 H-alpha solar telescope piggybacked, I was able to set up to show two separate layers of the Sun’s atmosphere.  David Levy set his solar telescope up across from me and had people looking at the sun while he was selling some of his books.
  Later that evening I again set up the telescope at Machris Park, and the city brought in busloads of people. I had a constant line of viewers from 8 to 10 p.m.  I displayed Messier 27, the Dumbbell Nebula, and Messier 15, a globular star cluster. In addition  I displayed M31 by request, that being the Andromeda Galaxy.
  I packed up right after ten o’clock because I was quite tired after setting up and tearing down the telescope three times over a period of 24 hours. This was quite a bit of physical labor….

But I would estimate that over the entire festival , over 200 people looked through that ol’ telescope. So it was worth it….
  

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~ by matthewota on October 30, 2005.

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