by Don Selle
As I write this, the state of Texas is in the process of “reopening” from the Corona Virus lock down. What is clear is that while we are far from being out of the woods yet, the situation in Texas was less severe than in other parts of the country and it is slowly improving. We still need to continue our social distancing and sanitary practices, and be very cognizant of the risk of infection.
We are also fortunate that astronomy is an outdoor activity, and that with some restrictions (see the observatory notice in this issue), the HAS Columbus dark site is open for use by our members. The size and arrangement of the observing field ensure that we can maintain our space without too much difficulty. Now if only the weather would cooperate!
I was one of the 20+ members who used the site during the week of May 17th and I can tell you that everyone was conscious of others and practicing good social distancing. It was refreshing (ok maybe restorative is a better word) to get out under the night sky (yes we got a couple of nights)and get some observing in. It was also wonderful to see many friends and even some newer faces out there, even if we had to shout at each other a bit because our chairs were spaced out. Overall, it was enough to ensure me that things will eventually get back to normal again.
Which brings me to my next subject – our HAS December meeting.
Over the last several years, we have planned this meeting to be a social event including a potluck dinner, with a speaker. For over a year now we have been considering a program called “Astronomy Speed Dating” or astronomy fair. The idea came from an article in the AL Reflector describing such an event that the Delaware Valley Amateur Astronomer (DVAA) put on (read about it here – page 12 https://www.astroleague.org/files/reflector/Reflector_December-2018_pages.pdf ) in July 2018.
The concept is that several HAS volunteers who are familiar with and passionate about a particular astronomy activity would set up a table or poster presentation about it. They would then be on hand to discuss their favorite activity, answer questions and give advice to those attending. In this way our newer astronomers could be introduced to new areas of astronomy, and perhaps even find a mentor to help them get involved. Interest areas included
•Astronomy Apps •Go-To Telescopes •Buying Your First Telescope
•Binocular Astronomy •Solar Observing •Observing Without a Telescope
•Collimation Demo •Astrophotography •AL Observing Programs
•Amateur Telescope Making •Observing the Moon
•Light Pollution Abatement
While it is not yet certain if we will be back to holding in person meetings by then or what normal will look like by early December, I would like your feedback on whether you think this would be a worthwhile program. If you would be willing to volunteer for one of the above interest areas or have one of your own you would like to share, please let me know at [email protected]