Bicycle Astronomy had a great roll-out event on Saturday, September 1st. In the morning, I loaded the Yuba Mundo with my “solar” sign, rode downtown and dropped it off in front of Stomping Grounds, a great books/gifts/art shop owned by my friends James and Beth. Here’s the sign, contrasted with the “stellar” sign I’ll use for nighttime observing:
I went home, ate lunch, loaded the Mundo up with the solar observing gear, and headed back downtown around 1pm. I set the telescope up next to the bike, and arranged it so that I could kinda hide under the shade while observers looked through the solar scope. A few hours in the direct sun would not have done me that well. I scheduled the session from 1-2:30, but I actually stayed out until 3:30. Though I lost count during a particularly busy period, I counted 37 people who got to observe the sun’s chromosphere and learn a little bit about the daystar. Here’s me in action, describing the dynamic sun (photos by Gabi Mrvova):
I’m relatively new to solar observing myself, so I still have some homework to do about how the sun works. Which is great-one of the reasons I love doing outreach is that it motivates me to study deeper, understand more, and think hard about how to explain some pretty technical stuff in language that’s accessible to everyone.
The solar disk you see me holding in the above photographs was produced a few years ago by NASA as part of an outreach project on the sun. They are enormously helpful for both day and night outreach–I have a stack of about 50 of them and when they’re gone I’ll cry a single tear. Tell your Congressperson to protect NASA’s funding!
Finally we’ve got some thunderstorms and rain after a long summer, so I’m not complaining. As soon as it clears up again I’ll do my first Bicycle Astronomy nighttime star party!