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Challenger Learning centers

Education OutreachHey everybody, On my flight up here to frozen north country(Boston area) I spoke with a lady that works with her local Challenger Learning Center. It sounded very interesting so I pulled up the website. They basically allow students to work as teams to run space related missions from a simulated NASA control center and space station. There are 50 of these in operation across the US and Canada. The closest to us is in Oklahoma City. I think teachers and Scout leaders and everyone else should check out the website. I wish I was a kid again. Looks like a lot of fun. http://www.challenger.org
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"Stars in the Parks" 2006 Kicks Off

Education OutreachAOAS' annual "Stars in the Parks" public observing nights kicked off on Saturday, February 4th, at Carol Ann Cross Park in Ft Smith. Eight more events are planned at the same location for the rest of 2006 through September. Our next "Stars in the Parks" public night is set for March 4th, and all public observing events begin at dusk.

ALL our events this year will be held on the FIRST SATURDAY of the month through September 2, EXCEPT for our last one which will be held on September 30. (That's TWO events in September!) Come join us to see what we can show you of our mysterious universe!

Visitors and members of AOAS view Saturn, the moon and much more at the kick-off of "Stars in the Parks" 2006 on February 4th. Member Richard Portman of Ft Smith adjusts his 8" Dobsonian telescope while viewing craters on the moon.

A new observing season has kicked off on February 4th at Carol Ann Cross Park in Ft Smith. Through our collaboration with the Ft Smith Parks Department's "Friends of the Parks" program, AOAS holds public observing nights at one of their facilities, and we receive use of one of their meeting rooms to hold our bi-monthly meetings. The collaboration works well for both entities and we enjoy the opportunity to hold several public nights each year at Carol Ann Cross Park.

Our February 4th event had eleven AOAS members with 8 telescopes set up for public viewing. The crowd was a little sparse, possibly due to the crisp air temperature, but the 25-30 people who DID join us were all well pleased with the views of Saturn, our moon, and a very small and distant planet Mars.

Click read more for the rest of this story; learn how to capture stellar objects with your digital camera
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AOAS New Toy - Canon LV-S3 Projector

Education OutreachThanks to a very good deal offered to AOAS through Bedford's Camera and Video, we now have our own multimedia projector, a Canon LV-S3. Thank you Bedford's!!

Bedford's Camera and Video's Ft. Smith store has once again been extremely helpful to AOAS. At our December 2, 2005, 20th annual Christmas dinner and meeting, we once again found ourselves in need of a multimedia projector to show presentations through our Dell laptop. We were unable to aqcuire a projector this year, and almost as a joke, I mentioned to the crowd of nearly 40 members and guests that sooner or later we were going to have to have a projector of our own. I also mentioned that I had spoken to Jeff Beauchamp of Bedford's earlier in the year, and we had discussed the purchase of a new Canon projector. Jeff made the generous offer to allow us to buy one at their cost and the approximate price of $800 was what I mentioned to the members.

This Canon LV-S3 multimedia projector is now the property of AOAS. We now have the capability for all types of excellent presentations at every future AOAS meeting, and all area school and civic organization presentations as well.
Near the back of the room, long-time member Roberta Parks spoke up and somewhat startled me by offering up $200 towards the purchase of our own unit, and then our webmaster Dave Grosvold stepped up with an offer of another $100. This was quickly followed by Margaret Brogley offering another $100, and I offered another $100 when my checks arrive in mid-January. Suddenly, we had $500 spoken for in pending donations towards a projector, and I closed the subject after no one else offered anything extra. I informed everyone that I'd contact Jeff again about the upcoming purchase.

When I contacted Jeff again this week, he thought of a new way to help us out by offering us a projector unit that they used for rentals out of the Ft Smith store. The unit is in excellent condition and a super heavy-duty hard case with fitted foam would also go with the deal. Jeff offered us this unit for $675 plus tax for the projector and hard case! The cost for both these items new would have been nearly $1200.

I began contacting all AOAS members trying to see how many others might want to "chip-in" towards a projector. In an email to everyone, I mentioned that we had 10-11 members who's dues would be coming up again in February, and I suggested that if they sent in their dues immediately, they would save $5 since our dues will increase to $40/yr as of January 1, 2006. I also reminded everyone that whatever they donated to AOAS during 2005 and before the New Year, they could count off that much on their taxes due to our tax-exempt status.

The final "push" came from AOAS astrophotographer, Mike Holloway, who offered to loan us whatever we needed to get the purchase made immediately. With what I knew we had coming in from the members who had offered to do whatever they could to help, I suggested to Mike that a $300 loan would put us in good shape to go ahead and make the purchase immediately. He agreed, and the deal was done!

Once again, our membership has come through with enough funds generated by early dues payments and new outright donations to cover the complete cost of this projector and case. I actually went to the Ft. Smith Bedford's store this afternoon and spoke with store manager, Larry Millican, and purchased the unit for AOAS. We now have what we've needed for such a long time, and we'll be able to make every future meeting and presentation that we give a much more memorable event. Along with the Dell Inspiron 1000 laptop computer that we received in the anonymous donation of July 9th, we're set and ready to go.

Bedford's camera and Video has been so kind to AOAS over the years, and we deeply appreciate the efforts of both Jeff Beauchamp and Larry Millican. Amateur astronomers in our area already know that Bedford's is the ONLY place to go to get what you want out of your astrophotographs, which can sometimes require hours of painstaking work to achieve. Only a trained eye will give you what you want instead of dropping your precious film off at some "Quickie" or "Cheapie" photo-processing outfit. We have always recommended Bedford's Camera and Video for all your camera and video needs, and we always will.

Thanks again, Jeff and Larry! AOAS appreciates your continuing support.
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Last Basics of Astronomy Classes for Summer 2005

Education OutreachThe Arkansas Oklahoma Astronomical Society announces the summer schedule for classes in our Basics of Astronomy. These classes will be held at the club's Coleman Observatory located 8 miles NW of Van Buren, AR, on Tuesday OR Thursday evenings.

Update Notice: The July classes are filling up and begin July 5th and 7th. To attend the July classes, prospective students must PRE-register and payment must be received by July 2nd. Please call for more information on the July classes. Click on Coleman Observatory (in the Main Menu) for a map to the site.

These classes will be 5 weeks in length and class begins at 6:00 pm on the night of the student's choosing. There is a limit of 10 people to each class size, and there must be an adult attending with any students of at least 7 years of age and up to 17 years of age.

These classes will be the last offered until next summer, so make certain to contact us as soon as possible if you'd like to attend. These classes will begin on either Tuesday, July 5th, or Thursday, July 7th, and again will run for 5 weeks through August 2nd and August 4th. Students must PRE-register for these second classes and payment must be received through Coleman Observatory by July 2.

This will be the first time that books will be used for these Basics of Astronomy classes. Two wonderful books are available from DK publishers and will be included in the price of the class. The books are "Children's Night Sky Atlas" (96 pgs) and "Universe" (64 pgs), both by Eyewitness books. Don't let the 'Children' in the title fool you. Every adult will appreciate these classy stellar images and constellation figure overlays. They are simply the best way to show which stars belong to which constellation that I've ever seen. These books complement each other very well with the "Atlas" constellation images and star-fields helping you learn to identify by seeing, along with clear representations of the different types of telescopes and how to use them, the motions of the stars and planets, and MUCH more. The "Universe" gets more involved in the mechanics of astronomy by revealing how professional astronomers use major observatory telescopes to study the light from distant stars and galaxies by the process of spectroscopy.

NEW - The course Outline can be dowloaded from this URL: http://www.aoas.org/filemgmt/singlefile.php?lid=28.
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April 16 Public Night Successful; We'll Do It Again On May 14

Education Outreach
AOAS hosted a successful public observing event at Carol Ann Cross Park on April 16th as well over 110 people are treated to stunning views of Saturn, Jupiter, and a 1st Qtr Moon! We'll do it all again on May 14th.

For the estimated 110 to 125 guests attending the Carol Ann Cross "Saturn in the Park" event on Saturday evening, April 16th, a universal theme emerged something along the lines of "I never knew you could see that" or the more general and expressive, "WOW"! Several visitors brought their digital cameras and AOAS members helped many of them to try and take an image of the cratered moon, or Jupiter's cloud belts or Saturn's rings. Several were moderately successful and a couple achieved one or more spectacular shots. Anyone who did obtain one or more good images is invited to submit them to AOAS at either my email address or simply send them to webmaster@aoas.org. Images of visitors are also welcomed. We'd love to help you show them off to others in the area in one of our Photo Gallery albums.

(click READ MORE for the rest of this story)
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AOAS Provides Presenters for River Valley Area Schools

Education OutreachAmerican elementary schools generally present the science of astronomy and space science during the 4th, 5th, or 6th grades. Teachers are sometimes pushed to their limits with the enthusiastic responses and a deluge of questions from their students when the subject of space comes up. AOAS can help during these times, and we're here to assist those teachers when they need us.

Bob Moody, current AOAS President, is displaying the Phi Delta Kappa International Certificate of Recognition for Distinguished Service by an Organization Outside Education which was awarded to AOAS May 11, 1998 for having represented the science of Astronomy to more than 60,000 individuals since 1985.
In 1985, I was observing with other AOAS members shortly after we formed this club, when someone overheard me describing the stars of Scorpius to two young ladies who wanted to know more about their "sign". I didn't give them anything they could use in forecasting their futures as an astrologer might, but instead I described the constellation's stars as I pointed out the shape of the Scorpion. I'd loved anything to do with space since childhood and it just seemed natural to me to share what limited knowledge I had. I turned around after a while to find that I'd had that other audience member behind me, and was shocked to hear him say that I'd done a good job at presenting my info on Scorpius. Then he completely blew me away when he asked if I'd be interested in giving any school presentations on astronomy sometime. That was how I began my deepest love involving this wonderful hobby, and I still do presentations for area schools now nearly 19 years later whenever I can.

In 1998, AOAS Education Director, Dr. Chuck Larson, asked Joe Roam and myself how many people we thought we might have been involved with in even the slightest way regarding astronomy and our presentations of it to area schools and the public in general. Well, we took about 2-3 weeks racking our brains to try and give him an accurate guesstimation. The numbers we came up with were some 60,000 people that we had reached in our first 13 years as a group, and we both felt that this was a conservative estimate. Either Joe, or I, or both of us, had participated in most or all of the events that AOAS had held until that time, and we had both seen star parties as large as the estimated 3,500 attendees at Vasche Grasse Park SE of Ft Smith on January 26, 1986. That event highlighted Halley's Comet in it's starring role that evening, but that was one BIG star party! Just three months later in April 1986, another estimated 2,500 people joined us at Ben Geren Park for comet Halley's curtain call before it returned to the frigid depths beyond Neptune where it currently resides. There is no doubt; AOAS knows how to show the public a good time at the eyepiece of a telescope.

I began giving presentations to area schools during this time, also. The Astronomical League had developed an audio tape and slide presentation specifically for Halley's 1985-1986 return that anyone could use to inform the public about it's impending visit. We ordered the presentation kit, placed a few announcements in area newspapers and with the television stations, and the calls came in every few days. I diligently recorded my presentations and within 4 months, I had made 26 presentations to more than 7,000 students and teachers. Several of my presentations were to entire auditoriums filled with from 700 people (Vian, OK) to just over 900 people in Greenwood, AR another morning. I topped off that biggest day in Greenwood by making a quick presentation to 25 members of their Chamber of Commerce during my noon break before returning home. The satisfaction I felt after these presentations was deep beyond description.

Find out how to request a speaker by clicking on "Read more"

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Let the 2005 Observing Season Begin!

Education OutreachAs the weather warms and the Earth begins another time of regeneration and renewal in the Northern Hemisphere, amateur astronomers across America dust off our telescopes and prepare for another season of observing.
Visitors to an early 2004 public night at Coleman Observatory enjoy views of stellar targets through numerous sizes and types of telescopes.

Springtime once again. As the skies turn dark from the Earth's rotation on its axis every evening, the stars of the winter constellations appear in the western sky and quickly follow the Sun, only to be replaced by the stars and constellations of Spring and Summer. Amateur astronomers feel the lure of these happenings that intoxicate us with our own form of "Spring Fever". As members of the Arkansas Oklahoma Astronomical Society, we once again send out word across the land, "Come and observe with us and let us share the universe with you through our telescopes".

Anyone may join members of AOAS for any of our scheduled public events for 2005. Most of these events will be held at our Coleman Observatory located about 8 mi. NW of Van Buren. A printable map to the site can be found by clicking on "Coleman Observatory" in our "Main Menu" box to your left, then print a copy of the map to the observatory.

Other events are held for the public at Carol Ann Cross Park on 74th Street about 1 mile N. of St. Edwards Hospital at Rogers Avenue once each month through October. Dates for these scheduled events are listed in many locations of this web site, (see "Stars in the Parks", or "Site Events") and the public is always invited.

Our 2005 season begins tomorrow night with our first two events being held at Coleman Observatory on March 5th and 12th. The next event will be held at Carol Ann Cross Park on March 19th. All AOAS events are ALWAYS free and open to the public.Seeing Saturn's rings or the craters of our Moon are a great source of exciting new fun for the whole family.

Join us! Whether it's tomorrow evening or in October for our final event of 2005, we'd love to show you the wonders of the Universe and help anyone who asks to learn how to use a telescope, binoculars, or just your eyes to see the natural beauty that we find in a dark night sky.

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Total Lunar Eclipse Wednesday October 27

Education Outreach
This image is by Ft Smith astronomer Rick Day of the May 15th, 2003 Lunar Eclipse.
Last Total Lunar Eclipse for the Americas until 2007

Public Invited to Share Eclipse Views October 27th

On Wednesday evening, October 27th, the Arkansas Oklahoma Astronomical Society invites the public to join us at Carol Ann Cross Park in Ft Smith to view a Total Lunar Eclipse. Viewing will begin at 7:00PM. The eclipse will begin at 8:14PM and mid-eclipse will be at 10:04PM. This lunar eclipse will be the last of its kind until 2007.

Come join members of the Arkansas Oklahoma Astronomical Society to view the last total lunar eclipse of the year, as well as the last lunar eclipse until 2007 for any of the Americas. As always, we offer these public observing sessions for free, and the public is encouraged to bring your own cameras and telescopes and we'll help you take home an image of the eclipse of your own.

This will also be the last "Stars in the Parks" event for this observing season. We have enjoyed working with the Ft Smith Parks Department to bring the public a little taste of amateur astronomy, and we will schedule another season for next year to begin in mid-March. Check back often to find the 2005 schedule of dates and locations in January.
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Basics of Astronomy Classes at Coleman Observatory

Education OutreachFollowing my highly successful Basics of Astronomy class at the Van Buren Center for Art and Education in June, we will offer another 5 week course for anyone still interested in learning some of the most basic skills needed to begin the facsinating hobby of Amateur Astronomy.

This class will begin on Saturday, July 24th and run through Saturday, August 21st. Class will begin at 6pm each evening and run two hours until 8pm each week. We will observe from the observatory grounds each clear night after class, or on other available nights as the weather or scheduling permits.

Learn to identify at least ten constellations, how stars are born and die, the scale of our solar system as it compares to our Milky Way Galaxy, and the scale of the universe as compared to the Milky Way. Learn to use binoculars, small telescopes or even the unaided eyes to see all that you can from the darkened skies NW of Van Buren at Coleman Observatory.

These classes will be offered for $10 per person, or $20 per family (2 or more). Astronomy is one of the greatest family hobbies available and many fathers, mothers, sons and daughters have taken the time to learn together as a family unit. Dust off that small telescope in the closet, or bring your binoculars and learn how to see dozens of celestial objects with whatever you have, or even without any optical aid.

Call (479) 474-4740 (this # no longer in service) to register for the class, and each class size taught here at Coleman will be limited to 15 people. We'll use videotapes, DVD's, CD-ROM's and the Internet to learn more than you ever thought you could know about the wonderful hobby of Amateur Astronomy.
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AOAS and the Night Sky Network One Small Part of a POWERFUL Team

Education OutreachThe Arkansas Oklahoma Astronomical Society is proud to be among the founding member societies of the Night Sky Network, a collaborative effort between NASA and the Jet Propulsion Lab (JPL), which is administered and coordinated by the Astronomical Society of the Pacific (ASP). The Night Sky Network's purpose is in "Astronomy clubs bringing the wonders of the universe to the public" and that's exactly what we strive to do.

Materials and supplies are provided through monies from the government agencies to the ASP, which in turn organizes and refines these materials into meaningful learning activities and presentations for local astronomy clubs around the US to use at public and private outings under the stars and in classrooms. To date, the program has logged well over 250 events reaching more than 26,000 people in its first 6 months of operation.

Member societies are found in nearly every state in the union as well as Hawaii and Puerto Rico. More clubs are signing up for the next round of admissions. A club must prove its commitment to Education and Public Outreach to qualify. This map details where a member society may be located near you. AOAS is proud to be one of 5 founding member societies in the state of Arkansas.

Amateur astronomers around the world understand the desires of the general public to know and learn more about our universe. Knowledgeable amateurs are the conduit between the professional community and the public, helping to reinforce common understandings while dispelling myths and untruths. Night Sky Network provides amateurs with new ideas and materials to assist in their efforts to educate the populace to a higher level of understanding about astronomy.

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Want It ALL?

Become a card-carrying member of AOAS. Paying dues gives you several advantages over other registered users, including a subscription to the club newsletter, an AOAS.ORG e-mail address, use of club materials, including books and telescopes, and access to the Coleman Observatory facilities. On top of all that, you also qualify for a 20% discount on all books at any Books-A-Million location.

To get your membership application, click here.