Astronomy camp

Thank you, all, for suggesting try-its to me. I’m planning to hang onto that list and work through many of them!

I spent this past weekend at Astronomy Camp for Girl Scout leaders. Led by professors Don McCarthy and Larry Lebovsky of the University of Arizona astronomy department, along with an amazing group of other volunteers from both the astronomy department (including harvestar and aerhianna and from Sahuaro Girl Scout Council. There were 11 leaders there in all, from councils throughout the country. It was a terrific weekend–Learned new things, remembered things I already knew, and got lots and lots of good thoughts about how to teach and convey science to others. Basically, we spent the whole weekend surrounded by experts who were willing to answer any question we asked them–in the company of other folks who also enjoy asking question. It was fun.

We actually weren’t atop Mount Lemmon (as the link implies), but we did end the weekend atop Kitt Peak, visiting the large telescopes there after playing with the smaller ones back in the city. (All those ladders inside the older, larger telescopes; all those places and parts someone needed to be able to get to). Just after dark Sunday night, we stood shivering beside the UA’s 90 inch telescope, wind whistling outside, stars visible through the open panel in the observatory dome, taking turns viewing an image of Saturn so sharp we could see the shadow the planet cast on its own rings.

Cool stuff. There was lots more, of course, much of which I’m still processing. If you’re a Scout leader–or even (I think) a Scout volunteer in another role interested in bringing stronger science programs to your troop or council–I really recommend it. There’s even a NASA grant (part of the grant for the the infrared imager the UA is putting on board the James Web Space Telescope) that will cover your travel expenses and fly you out here.

If you’re not a Scout leader, you’ll have to pay your own way, but there are astronomy camps for other teens and adults, too. (Those, I’m believe, are held up by the telescopes on Mount Lemmon.)

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