Tag Archives: Shoppingtown Mall

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.


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.


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!


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!

CNYO Observing Log: ShoppingTown Mall, 17 April 2013


Greetings fellow astrophiles!

Our most recent solar session was organized by Larry Slosberg via facebook:

“Any up for an impromptu Lunar and solar observing session at Shoppingtown Mall at about 6pm? I’ll be heading to Scotch and Sirloin for a CNY Skeptics in the Pub at 7pm (you’re welcome to join that too) and thought, it’s such a nice clear night. Might be nice to get a couple scopes out and maybe get some people as they are leaving the mall.”

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The approximate location (at center) of the session.

With Larry’s 8″ Meade Schmidt–Cassegrain Telescope (SCT) (and homemade Baader solar filter) and my Coronado PST in tow, we hosted a 90 minute session before the CNY Skeptics meet-up with about one dozen attendees (and a curious ShoppingTown Mall security guard) and our two most prominent celestial neighbors – the Sun and Moon.


Larry and attendees #1.


The Moon was a 7-day-old waxing crescent on the 17th and high in the sky at 6:00 p.m. While Larry had his Baader filter at the ready, he ended up spending most of his observing time (due to crowd interest) examining all of the blue-on-grey surface detail that this late afternoon session afforded. A later evening image of the waxing crescent (from two days prior) is shown below from local astrophotographer John Giroux.


The waxing crescent Moon on 15 April 2013. Photo by John Giroux.


The Coronado PST filters nearly all of the incoming light from the Sun, making it comfortably observable and making anything else seen through the Coronado (short of a blindingly bright hydrogen lamp) pitch black. So, by necessity, my part of the session was dedicated solely to the Sun as it set in the tree-lined western DeWitt sky.


Larry and attendees #2.

The Coronado brings out sunspot, surface, and prominence detail using a 1.0 angstrom hydrogen-alpha filter (which is to say, that’s the only wavelength of light that gets through). The views are composed of ever-so-slightly different shades of red, but the detail is obvious with proper focus, magnification, and filter adjustment. The Sun was busy with prominences and highlighted on the surface by Sunspot 1745, shown at lower center in the image below from Ted Adachi’s submission to spaceweather.com that day.


The Sun, by Ted Adachi.

Over the course of 90 minutes of observing, I learned two valuable lessons for the Coronado. 1. Reducing some of the incoming light does a bit to help bring out some solar detail. Even covering the objective 50% produced detailed views that helped enhance some of the surface detail (as Larry demonstrates below). 2. The perfect eyepiece for filling the Coronado with a view of the Sun lies somewhere between 7 and 10 mm (a point that will be addressed in an upcoming discussion about NEAF 2013).


Larry demonstrates the light-block maneuver with a piece of reflective aluminum/bubble wrap.

With short notice, small scopes, and a clear sky, the daytime becomes just as interesting and enjoyable a time for an introductory sidewalk astronomy session as the night does. Young kids and adults alike get to take in a brand new view of our nearest neighbors while being able to see the scopes that make these views possible. And it is much easier to find missing eyepiece caps!