The Dobsonian Ideal (And Design) About Town – Larry Slosberg’s Recent Sessions At Syracuse’s Quaker Steak & Lube

Greetings fellow astrophiles!

One of the benefits of being on the CNYO Facebook Page is being in the mix as members prompt impromptu observing sessions. Chief among these organizers is the most active CNYO public outreach exponent – Larry Slosberg. Larry had previously spearheaded combined Solar/Lunar sessions at ShoppingTown Mall (link 1 and link 2) in advance of Skeptics At The Pub sessions nearby, now he has taken recent sessions (and his scopes) to a very receptive Quaker Steak & Lube audience in what we all hope is a regular event for CNYO members and the attending public.

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Larry and new observers, 18 August 2013. Photo by Tom Graham.

The Sun and Moon are often taken for granted by many amateur astronomers. The Moon, our closest celestial neighbor, driver of our tides, protector of our surface from many comet and meteor impacts (just check its surface), guide for the calendars of all ancient cultures, and an influencer throughout the history of human development, is also a bright object that dims most everything else by its presence. Many astronomy clubs host public viewing sessions around the New Moon just to make sure it isn’t there to spoil the views of nebulae and distant galaxies. Meanwhile, the Sun, the primary reason for our existence, is a blindingly bright object that one cannot safely look at without various forms of protection, making it something some amateur astronomers simply don’t carry the equipment around for.

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More guerilla observing – Larry and crowd at Applebee’s, 15 July 2013. Photo by Michelle Marzynski.

In both cases, it only takes a few seconds behind an eyepiece to convince a new observer that these objects are much more than they appear to be to our unfiltered, unmagnified eyes. Larry, by scheduling Solar/Lunar sessions around the First Quarter Moon, capitalizes on the combined presence of both in the early evening sky, giving attendees a one-two punch at high magnification that turns both into busy, feature-rich objects that hopefully spur young and old alike to call up the SOHO website (for the Sun) and wikipedia (for the Moon) to learn all about what they’ve just seen.

Besides introducing new audiences to our only Moon and our nearest star, Larry carries on a long tradition of public outreach that arguably began with the efforts of the great (and still kicking at 97!) John Dobson, the architect of the modern “Dobsonian” telescope (and the name makes sense now). John not only instigated the growing community of amateur astronomers who take the time (and evenings) to introduce the public to the universe, he was arguably the first to develop a low-cost, large-aperture scope that ANYONE could build and use. I refer you to the youtube video Have Telescopes, Will Travel.

Larry summed it up best in a recent Facebook post:

Telescopes are to be shared by those that may never have gotten the chance to look through one. I get to give the best gift in the universe, the universe itself!

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The calm before (observing) the solar storm.

As for upcoming activities, we are in the process of making these Solar/Lunar sessions into regular events, but we encourage you to join the CNYO Facebook Page, CNYO Twitter Feed, or subscribe to CNYO posts (using the Sign Up For Articles & Emails link down in the righthand column) to keep track of goings on in the near term. Also, stay tuned for a new Lunar Observing brochure to complement the Solar Brochure put together to aid Larry’s original sessions.

Kudos to Larry for showing that the first astronomical unit is the best!

4 Thoughts on “The Dobsonian Ideal (And Design) About Town – Larry Slosberg’s Recent Sessions At Syracuse’s Quaker Steak & Lube

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