Events2021-04-08T11:58:40-05:00

AstroEvents

I love to teach! In the past, I’ve spent hundreds of hours giving tours of the sky through my telescopes at astronomy outreach events. I’ve presented for a wide range of organizations, from 4-H clubs to the Houston Astronomical Society and the American Association of Variable Star Observers. COVID-19 has put a real damper on in-person outreach events, but at the same time it’s broadened access and participation by pushing meetings and workshops online, for a different kind of learning experience. If you’d like to request my participation in an event for your organization, please contact me.

AAVSO Thrice-Monthly Webinar Series
The American Association of Variable Star Observers’ stated mission is “to enable anyone, anywhere to participate in scientific discovery through variable star astronomy.” One way that the AAVSO works to accomplish that mission is by offering thrice-monthly webinars on varying topics. My job, as AAVSO Webinar Coordinator, is to find engaging speakers to present on topics that are both interesting and relevant to astronomers of all experience levels; then act as master of ceremonies during each webinar.

AAVSO Webinars occur on the 1st, 2nd, and 4th Saturdays of each month, and are free and open to everyone — AAVSO members and non-members alike. To register for a webinar, click on the yellow date next to the presentation’s title.

The AAVSO webinar series relies on the generous contributions of sponsors and donors in order to make these beneficial events come to life. To contribute, please visit the official AAVSO website: aavso.org/2021-webinars .

A working list of our 2021 speakers is below. Click on each speaker name and/or presentation title for details.

TieDyeAstronomer Online Talks
The social distancing that came with the COVID-19 pandemic has changed how I interact with the astronomy community. I still love to teach, and learn, but most interaction now happens through Zoom calls and webinars.

On Nov. 6th, 2020 I gave a 45-minute presentation on the drift scanning method — Let the Earth do the work! High Quality Spectra at Low Cost with the Drift Scanning Method — via Zoom during the AAVSO’s inaugural spectrography workshop, ASW2020. During my presentation, I told the story of how I came up with the drift scanning method, gave step-by-step instructions on how to use the method, and displayed some of my drift scanned results — including the resolution of blueshifted absorption lines in P Cygni’s atmosphere. You can watch a recording of that presentation here.

On August 22nd, 2020, I gave a 15-minute talk on the drift scanning method — How to Shoot Stellar Spectra with a Dobsonian — during an AAVSO Spectroscopy Observing Section webinar. My goal with this talk was to reveal how recording high quality spectra of the stars is easier than ever before believed… and I think I succeeded! I began by sharing the story of how I came up with the drift scanning method, a way to record scientific spectra using any telescope, even those without tracking drives. I showed how dark skies aren’t required when drift scanning, and how the large aperture of most telescopes means that your limiting magnitude will be much deeper using an untracked dobsonian than a standalone DSLR, even if the DSLR is on a tracking mount. Finally, I showed off some examples of spectra recorded with the drift scanning method. You can watch a recording of my presentation here.

In-Person Astronomy Events – A.K.A. “Outreach”
Astronomy outreach events can take several different forms. One of the most popular types is the “starparty”; a (usually) nighttime event where astronomers set up their telescopes and allow visitors to look through the scopes while the astronomers talk about the visible targets and answer any questions about astronomy. Other types of astronomy events include classroom talks, lectures, webinars, and online livestreams that use cameras to show the view through a telescope. I do all of the above! Below you will find a small sample of the in-person outreach events for which I’ve volunteered. These are posted as examples of what you might expect to see, hear, and do if you choose to attend an astronomy event in your area. I have taught at many more events than I’ve included here (both on my own as well as with a variety of astronomy organizations), but I just don’t have time to document them anymore.

Children’s Lighthouse

I must say that this was not the ideal situation or environment for an astronomy talk. The kids were great, but the people putting the event together didn't really know what they were asking for.At first, they said that they just wanted someone to talk with the kids, and hold a conversation about astronomy. Perfect! I didn’t particularly want to do a formal presentation in a daycare environment, but a conversation with kids [...]

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Texas Buddhist Association

We were invited to take some telescopes out to a camp held for Buddhist youth, quite a ways out of town compared to our usual outreaches. Objects shown included the Moon, Jupiter, Saturn, and the Cat’s Eye Nebula.Night Sky Network Log:Event Date: Saturday, 7/1/2017Name of Event/Service: BYC CampType of Service: Public Outreach# of Hours: 2Description of Service Performed: We arrived sometime before sunset and I set up my XT8. The kids came out around 8:45 and left sometime just before [...]

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Brentwood Baptist Church

In churches all across the country, an event called “Galactic Starveyors” was being put on by VBS. One participating church, Brentwood Baptist, reached out to HAS and asked if we could bring out some telescopes and give a talk about the stars. We wound up showing the full Moon, Jupiter, and Saturn (and a very red star).Night Sky Network Log:Event Date: Thursday, 6/8/2017Name of Event/Service: Brentwood Baptist Church VBS “Galactatic Starveyors”Type of Service: Public Outreach# of Hours: 1Description of Service Performed: We [...]

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Middlelands Music Festival

Well, I think Steve summed this one up best when we arrived and he greeted me with “Welcome to Woodstock!” A modern Woodstock, indeed. I didn’t mention this in the Night Sky Network log, but there’s definitely a reason the crowd was so easy to impress. I think that, except for the couple who hung around all night, most everyone there was “chemically influenced” in some way or another, which made their experience at the eyepiece (and [...]

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Shadydale Elementary

I brought my Z12 to this one, because I left directly from the outreach to have an extended stay at the HAS dark site! It was paradise. Night Sky Network Log:Event Date: Friday, 4/21/2017Name of Event/Service: Shadydale Lock-InType of Service: Public Outreach# of Hours: 2Description of Service Performed: I set up my Z12 in the parking lot of the school alongside 6 scopes brought by others. A combination of the severe light pollution, partial cloud cover, and being set up directly underneath [...]

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George Observatory

Event Date: Saturday, 4/15/2017Name of Event/Service: Public Observing Event – George ObservatoryType of Service: Public Outreach# of Hours: 2Description of Service Performed: We arrived around sunset, and I set my up my XT8 near the eastern stairs. There were some thick cirrus clouds over the western portion of the sky that came and went throughout the night. Ten or so minutes after setting up and pointing at Jupiter, the first people started to come by, and it became fairly busy after [...]

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St Francis Episcopal School

It took a bit longer than we had hoped to get to this outreach, as initially we went to the wrong campus… Oops! Fortunately we realized our mistake and arrived at the correct campus with enough time to set up, and it was a fun night. There was one quiet kid who I didn’t mention in the Night Sky Network log, who I tried for a minute or two to help look through the eyepiece, but he [...]

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Cross Creek Ranch

This was my first outreach with the Houston Astronomical Society, and little could I know at the time just how much it would change my life! Here I am just over two months later, and I’ve already found incredible friends and mentors among the club. Good people, who take me seriously and treat me well, and it all started here, with meeting Ed, Steve, and Amelia. Before this point, while I had done plenty of outreach and [...]

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