Bennetsville, SC January 29, 2024
As a result of the Astronomy on the Square event recently started by Richmond County NC Amateur Astronomers the group was asked if it was possible to bring an astronomy activity to the 8th graders at Marlboro Academy in Bennetsville, SC. A date was worked out in pretty short order. Since the class was held during the daytime, the amateur astronomer, Mark Gibson of Rockingham decided to demonstrate how a telescope is set up to find objects in the sky. The Moon would be setting at 9:20 so that would not be visible.
After a telescope safety lesson that included getting permission before looking through the telescope and never looking at the sun through a telescope without making sure it had proper filters the demonstration started.
For a portable telescope an alignment procedure is required before the astronomical object is found either by using the objects published location or using the telescopes computer. To be accurate a Polar Alignment of the telescope would be required. The students were invited to look through the polar scope to see how the alignment would be done. At night the stars would be lined up by using the gears on the telescope.
After this the telescope was focused on a nearby fence. The students were shown how to focus the telescope for their eyes and how to move the telescope using the hand controller.
The event moved away from the telescope to the star that was visible. Our own sun. The telescope used for the event is not equipped with the proper filters. Glasses and viewers were demonstrated to the students. These glasses were purchased by Mark and his wife Linda Gibson for promoting the upcoming April 8 solar eclipse. The eclipse will not be total in the Carolina’s but will be able to see about 70%. See the website Time and Date for exact details of the eclipse. A few of the glasses and viewers were left with the class to use for the eclipse and to look for sunspots that are visible without magnification. The viewers meet the. ISO Safety Standards. A solar eclipse poster was also left for the students to remind them about the upcoming eclipse
Mark Gibson has been an amateur astronomer since he was 13. He credits his neighbor across the street in Norfolk, Virginia for getting his interest in astronomy started by allowing the neighborhood kids to look through the telescope.
Photo credit for the photos below. Catherine Shelley