Dear ACA,                                   20130421

            Congratulations on your outstanding presentation to the CSRA Community for National Astronomy Night on April 20 at RPSEC.  The Basic Astronomy Challenge was embraced and enjoyed by all who came.  It was obvious that many of you enjoyed preparing and becoming more knowledgeable about your station topics and imparted that enthusiasm to those who listened.  We were a great team, helping and encouraging each other, stepping in as needed.  Some were asked to help with sign-in and logistics, but when the opportunity presented itself, they helped as station masters too, and did a great job. Many of you brought scopes, binoculars, other equipment and visual aides to help.  The boards helped some learn and practice at their own pace.   Many learned an appreciation of seeing the real thing!  Real views of Jupiter and its Galilean moons, and Saturn and its rings were first-time and life changing experiences for many.

Our NASA Program with Russell Romanella drew almost 50 attendees, a recent record number with standing room only. It was a fantastic presentation with many compliments for our club and our speaker. We would like to "do it all", but the program did cause our Challenge on the Lawn to begin a little later. We had warm weather the week before, but that evening turned rather chilly. It was light until 8:30, and some people didn't think about observing then. In years past, we have had 300-400 people attend, but this year they just didn't turn out as we hoped. The graduated prizes motivated many to try for more, but we really didn't have that enthusiastic bunch of boys who completed 12 or more challenges for the sake of learning.

            So the question is:  Should we do it again?  The resounding answer so far is: YES!   


            This is the third year that we have done the Challenge. Still many of you are new members and new to the Challenge effort. For your first time, you did great!  The format seems to work.  Still it provides us an opportunity to improve both logistics and content.          Each year we have tried variations on this good idea, deleting some things, adding new ideas. We need more people and sheets to sign-up visitors.  A few smaller tea tables and/or easels might have been useful at some stations.  And we should probably figure out a better way to mark and collect the slips.

            We can all continue to learn more about our station topic and others, and how we present this knowledge and help the public learn.  I've had a terrible time figuring out some of the parts of the telescope in the past, but John has it right.  I learn so much in the process of preparing, but I still have more to learn.  I made typing errors too, so feel free to let us know about these and make our team better.   Some pictures/illustrations/photos could be replaced with better or perhaps more clearly black-on-white. New Q&A could be added to our database.  Your continuing interest and help is so valuable.

            Fifteen challenge questions seem enough, but we could have had more help at each station for assistance and testing.  We had great participation in all age groups this year. Our "over 70" group is still strong, our "mid range" is getting stronger on the lower end, and our "under 15" group did an impressive job! Some of us had legitimate reasons and were sorry to miss out on the event, so we will just have to encourage more active members.  I would like us all to have soft drinks,  popcorn, and nice new t-shirts for next year, and I am looking for a corporate donor. 

            For all our effort, more space on the lawn is available, and we would welcome even more public participation.  If you heard or read publicity about our event, please let me or an officer know. We would be happy to have a copy of any publicity for our club during the year. I was delighted at the number of people who came all the way from Grovetown, GA. Good for you!   I hope we can reach more local teachers who will come and encourage their students to come as they do for SEED.  Gary says RPSEC does exactly the same advertising/publicity for National Astronomy Night as for SEED.  I didn't see any reporters there.  I sent publicity to all I could think of, so we will have to put our heads together on that.

            More than anything else, I admire the teamwork you showed on Saturday evening!  I am confident that this framework of cooperation will bring us forward to develop the skills, dedication, and leadership we will need in the coming years.  Our club has grown to over 60 families this year, and I am confident that this coming year can be better than ever.   We are a club of great people.              Congratulations on a great evening!   We look forward to many ideas and contributions.

              Please come and welcome new members at our Star Gaze on May 04, and at our meeting on May 17, and get a good start on our new year.


            Clear skies,