Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Moving Forward

Today was our actual meeting with James from Cache Valley Space Education Center. M.Robin was also there. We've decided we do want to include the simulator as part of our program - and are going to be spending the next few weeks looking into places we could move it to and run programs. The 501(c)3 application is almost ready, so we will soon be sending in grant applications. We're also going to look into the possibility of setting up a payment plan with USU to buy the Jr Engineering equipment. We also discussed the possibility of working with the high schools in the area for some design work and possible collaborations with various research groups in the region.

Our next meeting is February 8, 2010 at 8:00 am. The location is not yet set.

It was an excellent meeting, & very exciting, even if my reporting of it is not. I suppose I need to work on my writing skills. A good opportunity for that will be at LtUE February 11-13 at BYU. This Science Fiction Symposium is FREE, & I will be giving a presentation on the StarHouse Discovery Center on Friday, February 12th at 10:00 am. Hope to see you there!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

For M.Robin

The StarHouse is an attempt by a few former Jr Engineering employees & me to establish a planetarium & science museum here in Cache Valley, and keep a mobile, hands-on science program going for elementary school students in the region.

We could use a student's perspective. Our next meeting's January 26 at 3:30pm. Email me for more info or if you'ld like to come.

Too Excited

Apparently, I'm a little too excited to get this thing under way. At least I'm not the only one. At our last board meeting, we decided that for our next one we wanted to meet with James Porter of Cache Valley Space Education Center. He teaches at Thomas Edison South, a local charter school, so we had to change the time to after school got out. Both James & I thought that meeting was supposed to happen today. It's not 'til next week. Argh! I want to get moving on things!

Meanwhile, I had a brainstorm over the weekend. With the simulator, we could start running programs ASAP. All we need is power to it, and access to a classroom. Currently, it's located at North Cache 8-9 Center, & if we can't work out something with that school, we'll also need to move it, which requires a semi. James has some files about what it would cost to move it & run it, some of which he got from CMSEC, & which he has sent me copies of. I also have some files, which I need to share with him. Once we've both had a chance to look over all the files, next week, at the real meeting, we'll be able to talk over them with Neil & Arno, & hopefully move forward with this project of ours

Monday, January 18, 2010

Parents in New Zealand

I mentioned the other day that my parents are in New Zealand. I asked if they had been able to see the Southern Cross. I heard from them today, & here is their response:

    Hi, having a great time, the only night was clear for stars was Friday night and we did not know where the southern cross is ( I assume in trhe south but wwe are a little disoriented what with driving on the wrong side of the road sitting on the wrong side of the car-- it is even worse in the passenger seat. see ya later mom and dad

I hope they've had a good time, in spite of the difficulty of being on the wrong side of the road.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Down Under

So my parents are in New Zealand, & my Dad has a blog: The Trigator, but when I tried to make a comment on it, the link for comments wasn't available. 8-( In an e-mail from my Mom the other day, she mentioned that they might visit a planetarium down there. I want to know if they've managed to spot the Southern Cross. It's not as easy to find as the Big Dipper we have here in the Northern Hemisphere. I've had some opportunities to practice in the Clark Planetarium Dome, & with Stellarium. If I remember right, it's in the Milky Way, across from the Magellanic Clouds. Which is probably not a really useful description, but I'm having stupid computer problems, & Stellarium won't open, so that's completely from memory. I hope to one day visit the Southern Hemisphere so I can see it for myself.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Today's Meeting

We had our semi-monthly board meeting today. We are planning some fundraising events for the coming year: in the spring a "bike-a-thon," a fancy dinner & silent auction in the summer, a "Fall Fling," and the Second Annual Faraday's Holiday Event. We've also received inquiries from several schools on when we'll be able to come visit them with the Jr Science & Astronomy program. The answer to that is "when we have the equipment." We have a few small activities, but nothing with the "WOW factor" - the main thing we need to get our hands on is a portable planetarium, such as a Geodome or StarLab. We are also making progress on filling out the 501(c)3 forms.

Friday, January 8, 2010

USU's New 'Scope

Tonight was the monthly Cache Valley Stargazers meeting. We changed locations from Old Main to the Physics Building so we could have access to the new telescope that arrived on Tuesday. But first we had our regularly scheduled meeting, with Michelle Larson speaking on Solar Observing. She had diagrams of how to make a pinhole camera, a picture of one made using an oatmeal container, how to make a sundial, & how to make a solar filter for $15. Shane promised to put her slides on the Stargazers website, so as soon as those are up, I'll link to it.

Now for the new 'scope. The freight elevator to get on the roof requires a key, so people can't just go up there whenever - someone from the USU Physics Department has to be with you. There were 23 of us who went up, & the scope is awesome! It's a 20-inch, Planewave Corrected Dall-Kirkham 'scope, with a parabolic primary mirror, a spherical secondary mirror, & a couple of lenses to correct the aberrations from the spherical mirror. We looked at the Orion Nebula, & most people went home after one look (it is -5°F after all). A few of us, including the 10 year old, stuck around for several looks, & then we aimed the 'scope at Mars. Couldn't see a whole lot of detail on either the Orion Nebula or Mars, but that was due to the H2O Nebula (or the haze in our atmosphere) :-). Mars looked bigger than I had ever seen it, by at least twice. I can't wait 'til I get an opportunity to use the new 'scope on a night without any haze.

In March, there will be an event where the new telescope is open to the public. This will be a joint event between the USU Physics Department and the StarHouse Discovery Center. More details on that will be posted as we get closer to March. Meanwhile, check out the article in Wednesday's Herald Journal about the new 'scope.