Between the sun and our
alien asteroids, there is a small planet with a great team called the Astronomy
Club of Augusta, that is sending out beautiful signals to all of Aiken and the
CSRA and way beyond. Yesterday proved
the benefits of having a great team, and there is no doubt: We have a great team! Our program of some years, ACA Solar
Observing on the Lawn, has expanded to a Walk of the Planets and the DAWN Mission to the
Asteroids. Before crediting the
background hum, we should thank our team on the ground at SEED. Fifteen 15 ACA members
After registering and donning our SEED T-shirts, Stan, Kenneth and Cathy paced out the relative distances from the sun at the obelisk, driving in fence posts and placing our beautiful new planets on top. When they got back, Grant, Cathy and Tedda put up our astronomy information boards.
Virginia and Kay welcomed all comers, collecting about 100 names during the day and contact info of those who were interested in astronomy and our program. This translates into about 500 people who came through our presentation. Wow!
We had a record number of three (3) Coronado telescopes this year. Mike, Ron, and our newest member, Grant, all provided great views of sunspots, solar flares and prominences. Ron brought a bunch of solar sunglasses to hand out, and they were a big hit. Mark D. was tickled to see the interest of many kids checking out the sun indirectly through our 2 solar scopes. Mike Mc. showed them yet another indirect view using the Darth Vader bucket head viewers. He also showed them how they could safely view the sun through #14 welder glasses. Gary O. taught the electromagnetic spectrum and rainbow colors, backwards and forwards. His research showed that girls liked to name the colors in order from red to violet, but boys often named them from violet to red - in order. Many were busy coloring rainbows with the crayons. Later, Cara O. came to help. Stan set up the small telescope, focused on our Saturn. During the day people became curious about it when they noted that the label seemed to read upside down and backwards. This gave Stan and Tedda the opportunity to teach them about even and odd number of mirrors in different telescopes. Mark M. was inside. He demonstrated the Zooniverse Solar Storm program that allows people to assist scientists to search for Solar Storms.
Kenneth gathered many passengers for the DAWN mission to the Asteroids. He presented them with the reasons for going, clarified the location of the asteroids, why Vesta and Ceres were chosen, the distances involved, and how we escaped Earth's gravity in the first place. He then sent them through one of the real sized Delta II rocket booster hoops where Stan, Brenden and Tedda continued to lead their DAWN mission. They distinguished the huge Saturn V needed to take astronauts to the ISS and to the moon versus the small Delta II rocket that was enough to carry our little DAWN spacecraft beyond Earth's gravity. They had kids raising their arms to simulate the solar panels, speeding up by Mars with gravity assist, and controlling direction into orbit around Vesta with ion propulsion. Dot took over at Vesta, letting the kids hold and examine her model, finding the "snowman" and Rheasilvia, explaining that the DAWN spacecraft was able to photograph over 99% of Vesta and gather other information about the asteroid during its orbital year there. As this new, close up information about the brightest asteroid is processed, it will be made available, so keep tuned. Dot then sent our DAWN mission passengers on to Ceres. During the 3 year trip, Brenden had the opportunity to answer questions about the planets beyond the asteroid belt, particularly Pluto and its dwarf status. Karen reminded her incoming passengers that we have never been very close to Ceres, and we don't know much about it yet. Yes, we know it is a watery type planet, versus rocky Vesta, and that it may provide a very good stopping station for future pioneers. She pointed out that DAWN would study Ceres for a year, and then remain in orbit for another 50 years until it runs out of power. She gave the passengers mementos of their trip with NASA stickers, temporary tattoos, bookmarks, fact sheets, postcards, and beautiful 8x10 photos of an artist's rendition of the DAWN Mission.
As to background hum, we can be very proud of our prior preparation, making big papier mache planets. Dot wins the prize for the most: Mercury, Mars, Pluto - with all five moons, and Vesta. Karen's Venus was Magellanic, Mark D.'s Neptune was the bluest, Tedda had big rings around Uranus, and Stan showed hurricanes over detailed Earth. We are particularly proud of our new Saturn by new member, Michael A., age 14. He couldn't come for SEED, but he made sure his Mom brought his belted project. Don H. donated his solar scope to the club just in time for SEED, which could be focused on 3 sunspots. John W. couldn't come either, but he made sure we could use the #14 framed welder glasses, and another solar scope that caught the attention of many students. Of course the beautiful ACA flag he made was out front. Gary S. came out early on this lovely, sunny day and helped us get our space music started. John Hutchens and his RPSEC team for provided tables, chairs, electricity, t-shirts, donuts, and great lunches. Kenneth came over to help load up the truck. Mark D. provided carpooling for anyone who asked. Almost everyone helped set up, &/or stayed to help pack and clean up.
We were interviewed by various stations, complimented by many on our program. We can all be proud of our ACA SEED TEAM effort.