Holding a Viewing Night for Stargazers
Some Options for Providing Telescopes for Holding a Viewing Night
A viewing night can be one way to really get a community together. In organizing a viewing night, you don’t have to worry about people not being experienced enough when it comes to astronomy. If you do it right, you just might be well on your way to becoming everyone’s best friend.
Also, if you’re a science or an astronomy teacher for school children, the kids will really appreciate it if you would get them together for a viewing night. Not only will they get to have an opportunity to see for themselves whatever it was that you were teaching them about, but they also get to exercise some skills of independence as they view these objects on their own.
With the right tools, a viewing night can be one incredible night for all.
- Ask the community. Ask if students/parents/staff have their own telescopes. A simple item in the school newsletter or perhaps organizing a Parents and Guardians Assembly may unearth keen amateurs within your school community.
- Contact your local amateur astronomy club if they can lend or donate telescopes. Many amateur clubs are only too keen to help out with school visits. The key here is to contact them early enough for them to arrange some telescopes and members. They can act as the “experts” in showing students specific objects and are generally passionate about their hobby. Whilst some do not seek it, a donation to their club funds would always be appreciated and is cheaper than buying a telescope.
- Buy a telescope. Useful telescopes have dropped dramatically in price over the last couple of years. A 20cm Dobsonian can be bought new for $600 whilst easy to use computer-controlled telescopes such as the Meade ETX125 can be purchased for around $1750 and up. One option is to look for promo codes on these telescopes when you shop online for them.
- You can also make a telescope. This would make an engaging project for a school astronomy club or keen students. The complexity would depend on skill and experience but practical and effective telescopes can be assembled using ready-made optics and other components. Some students could even design their own as part of a D&T project.