Astronomy’s Discover the Universe program typically involves astronomy clubs or groups eager to share their knowledge and expertise with the crowds. But individuals with a healthy appreciation for the skies and technical ability can take part, too! Last week, Spanish astrophotographer Joan Català and fellow volunteer Xavier Cabanach took to the public square to show the people what they were missing. Joan elaborates:
From the very first moment, it was clear to us that we would have a remarkable experience. When we began carrying the equipment and setting up the telescope (an 8-inch Meade LX200) in the middle of the downtown square, we immediately gained attention from people. But would we be successful at encouraging them to come near and look through the scope? Fortunately for us, children came to help. Even before we finished setting up the telescope, a line began forming behind it. We had to hurry and get it ready, as the excitement of our guests increased by the minute. The children would not only become observers, but also magnets that would attract parents to the telescope.
As darkness took over, families gave way to groups of teenagers, on vacation while schools are out. They seemed less interested in our activity, simply looking at us from a distance and continuing on. So we shifted our approach to a more aggressive one. As one of us was taking care of the telescope and the people waiting in the line, the other went after those teen groups to let them know that Saturn was there, and they could see it with its rings. It worked.
When we, as observers, get a glimpse of a distant object or finally achieve a picture of an elusive galaxy, we feel compensated for all the efforts and sacrifice our hobby demands. But, in this case, we’ve learned that with much less effort and two easy targets in the sky, we can also get immense satisfaction while sharing knowledge and fascination with others. We want to thank Astronomy magazine for promoting the Discover the Universe program, and for giving us the “excuse” to go out and share!
What a great evening! Thanks to Joan and Xavier for hosting such an excellent Discover the Universe event. If you want to get involved or have any questions about the program, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
wow! I've never go that place it's awesome....