A message from our friends at the New Hampshire Astronomical Society

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Ted Blank, a member of both NSAAC and NHAS (the New Hampshire Astronomical Society) would like to offer the following information and invitation to anyone who would like to join in the NHAS  monthly Saturday evening sidewalk astronomy events.

NHAS monthly Saturday evening sidewalk astronomy events | Portsmouth, NH

The NHAS  sidewalk astronomy events are always held on in downtown Portsmouth on the corner of Market and Congress Streets on the Saturday night closest to first quarter moon (so they are not always on the same Saturday night of the month.)

Planned dates for the rest of 2012 are:

  • June 23
  • July 28
  • August 25
  • September 22
  • October 20
  • November 24
  • December 22

In the summer months we start setting up between 6 and 7pm, and even at 7pm in partial daylight the Moon is the star of the show.  Later we include whatever planets are up, in this case Saturn and Mars for the next few months.  Later in the year setup can be earlier due to longer nights.

Just to give you an idea of the popularity of this event, last month there were four telescopes with continuous lines of the public from 6pm until 10pm, and we finally packed up at midnight.  We don’t rush people through – I just say to the person at the eyepiece,

“Take all the time you want – the guy behind you is going to take too long too!”  This usually gets a laugh and then they settle in for some good observing.  And following John Dobson’s sage advice, I always try to ask a question about what they are seeing, like asking kids to count the craters they see on the Moon.  It gets the brain engaged!

A tracking mount is a big plus, otherwise you will get really tired of manually adjusting the scope between visitors.  However I always bring an unpowered Orion XT6 or XT8 so people can see what great views you can get for $300-400.  And I am always on the lookout for a young person who shows an interest, then I ask them if they would mind operating the Dob for the public, using the Telrad to keep the object centered between visitors.  Last time a  young boy named Zak ran the XT8 for over 2 hours and went home with his mom really happy.  So come prepared to change lives!

Best access is to take exit 7 from I-95 in New Hampshire and head East on Market Street about a half mile until you come to Market Square (pretty obvious). You will have to turn right at this intersection, however, before you do (or just after you do) pull to the right curb and unload your equipment, someone is always there to watch it, then you can go park (street parking can be tough to find, but the parking garage is only 2 blocks away.)

Obviously bad weather means cancellation, and we don’t reschedule these, we just wait a month and try again.  Partial cloudiness is usually not a showstopper, please follow up with the New Hampshire Astronomical Society regarding cancelled events due to incliement weather. There’s no limit to the number of scopes and observers and we’ve had as many as 10 of all shapes and sizes (the scopes, not the observers).  It’s a lot of fun and we hope to see you there sometime!  Learn more at: http://www.nhastro.com

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