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The South Plains Astronomy Club is a small group of active astronomers who enjoy observing under the beautifully dark West Texas skies while being serenaded by coyotes and night birds. We’re a friendly bunch who enjoy showing newcomers the night skies and discussing the latest in telescopes, astro-imaging, astronomical discoveries and space exploration.
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OUTREACH ARCHIVE
     2020
     2019

CLUB OUTREACH ACTIVITIES

The South Plains Astronomy Club welcomes opportunities to bring the the fun of astronomy to the public. Besides our regular Public Stargazing Events, we have participated in numerous public and private events involving youth, church and educational groups wherein we have shared our knowledge and enthusiasm for astronomy through lectures, demonstrations, and observing sessions. Some of our recent outreach activities are described below.


January 2020.  Our first Public Star Party in Ransom Canyon for 2020 saw around 20 visitors (about half of them children) brave temperatures in the 40's and 30's to gaze at a variety of celestial objects through telescopes set up by SPAC Members (see the photos below). Conditions were excellent for observing, with clear skies and calm winds. Among the objects viewed were the planets Venus and Uranus, star clusters and nebulas, and colorful double stars. The International Space Station even made an appearance, gliding silently overhead in the darkening sky. Considering the weather conditions, it was a good start to the new year.



February 2020.  On February 1st, SPAC Vice-President Tom Heisey presented a seminar at the Hodges Community Center in Lubbock. The topic of the presentation was "The Solar System". It lasted from 10:30 AM to 11:30 AM and drew upon Tom's knowledge and experience as a NASA Solar System Ambassador. The educational outreach event was hosted by the Community Center and was publicized by the Lubbock Parks and Recreation Department. It was aimed primarily at Home Study families in the Lubbock area. The event drew a large crowd, with the attendees filling the room to capacity (see the photos below). A total of 47 individuals participated, including many children and teens.



In addition to Tom's presentation, the event featured hands-on activities in which the attendees constructed paper models showing the relative distances between the planets in the Solar System (see the photos below). In these efforts, Tom was assisted by SPAC Secretary Patrice Fay, who circulated around the room helping with the projects. SPAC President Steve Maas and Treasurer Rick Fay also attended, and assisted in the more mundane tasks of setting up tables and chairs.


February 2020.  On the evening of February 1st, SPAC hosted its first "Saturday Star Walk" in the Rose Garden at the Lubbock Arboretum. For this stargazing event, SPAC Members set up nine telescopes of different sizes and types along the paved paths running through the garden (see the photo below). Visitors could stroll from scope to scope and view a different celestial object at each. Club Members manning the scopes provided descriptions of the objects and answered questions about them. The event started 30 minutes after sundown and continued for 2 hours. It generally took about 30 to 45 minutes for visitors to complete the Star Walk.


The event drew an unexpectedly large crowd. SPAC Members at the welcoming desk tallied 102 visitors. It is likely that more visited the event but didn't stop by the welcome desk. It was by far the largest number of visitors to a SPAC public stargazing event in recent years. The weather was also atypically mild for February and sky conditions were good. Visitors were treated to great views of numerous celestial objects (see the photos below), including the first-quarter Moon, the planets Venus and Uranus, the Andromeda Galaxy (M31), the Orion Nebula (M42), the Pleiades, the Double Cluster (NGC 869 & 884), and the ET Cluster (NGC 457). Visitors and Club Members alike proclaimed the event a great success.



The "Saturday Star Walk" was the result of several months' planning by representatives of SPAC, the Hodges Community Center of the Lubbock Parks & Recreation Department, and the Lubbock Arboretum. Substantial publicity for the event was provided through the Lubbock Parks & Recreation Department, to which SPAC is indebted. This event replaced the Public Star Party that SPAC used to hold at Tech Terrace Park in Lubbock. Based on the success of this new event, it is likely that the "Saturday Star Walk" will be a regular feature of SPAC outreach activity.



March 2020.  The Saturday Star Walk at the Lubbock Arboretum surpassed the previous month's event with a total of 140 visitors over its two hours. The Club fielded 11 telescopes and treated the visitors to great views of the almost-full Moon, Venus, Uranus, the Orion Nebula, the Pleiades, the colorful Winter Alberio (double star), and other objects. The weather cooperated with clear skies, light winds, and temperatures in the mid-60's. Substantial publicity for the event in print, on TV, and through the Internet was provided through the Lubbock Parks & Recreation Department which likely contributed to the great turnout.




Want to arrange an outreach event with the South Plains Astronomy Club? Send us an email at SPAC@cat-star.org.





 

 

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Questions or comments? Email SPAC@cat-star.org