Join us in the Campbell Aquatics Building at Charlie Elliott Wildlife Center for our next meeting on Saturday, August 3rd, 2024 at 6:30 p.m.

Charlie Elliott Chapter’s Outreach program

[Note:  post pandemic, most of our off-site outreach programs are outdoors-only, weather permitting. Please contact for availability.]

The Charlie Elliott Chapter has an extensive outreach program for schools, scouts, and other civic groups. The Chapter has been a member of the Night Sky Network, a NASA sponsored outreach program for astronomy clubs, since 2006. Our participating members have been trained by NASA project personnel in educational seminars on subjects related to astronomy and space exploration. We use many hands-on demonstration tool kits, some of them provided by the Night Sky Network, to make astronomical concepts much easier to understand. If you would like us to put on an event for your group, please fill out the form at the NSN website by clicking here, or please contact our outreach program coordinator by email at Click here to see our current Events Calendar. For a list of past events with descriptions and links to pictures please click on the respective year: 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011. 2012. 2013. 2014.

The following is an overview of our two main hands-on activities we use to educate the individuals in your group in astronomy and space exploration.

Observe the Night Sky
In this segment, which is performed at night at a dark observing place, we point out using powerful green lasers various constellations in the night skyvisible at the time when the event takes place. We will tell stories about them, some of them are mythological in nature, others are more fact oriented. We than will give the participants an opportunity to see, if the seeing conditions allow us, various night sky objects such as, open and globular star clusters, emission, reflection and planetary nebulas, double stars and other interesting objects as well as the planets visible at the time. We will explain in detail what the object is one is looking at, and answer any questions. When the moon is out and causes too much light pollution for the previous objects, we will observe the moon with its craters, riles and mountains instead.

Observe the Sun
This event takes place at daytime. Preferably in the morning hours when the temperatures are still lower and the atmosphere is still a lot more stable than later in the day. We will let participants observe the Sun in white-light and H-alpha telescopes which are specially build for this purpose and are safe for the eyes. Never try to duplicate this at home with your own scope or binoculars if they are not specially made for this, because this will result in loss of your vision. Participants will see the sun and sunspots in the white light telescope and get a view of the sun in the red H-alpha spectral line emitted by the fusion of hydrogen on the sun. This will allow one to see the structure of the surface of the sun, as well as nice filaments, and prominences. Some days there are many and big once, others there are a few or none. In addition, we will demonstrate the relative sizes and distances of objects in our Solar System. Large posters and to-scale models of the planets makes this a real nice experience, all compared to the relative size of the sun. We also will explain the resulting space weather, created of the activities on the sun and how that effects our life on earth. An explanation why NASA launched the two Stereo telescopes closes the discussion on the Sun

We will occasionally be able to bring backup activities such as the following, depending on volunteer availability. These work best with small groups.

Glass and Mirrors
We astronomers use telescopes to get a closer look at the objects in the sky. We will demonstrate how telescopes work and actually build two different models of telescopes with small lenses & mirrors. These will show the difference between refractor and reflector telescopes.

Star Wheels
We will bring pre-printed cardstock that students can cut out and and construct their own star wheel that can be used to dial in the positions of the stars for any month throughout the year.

Asteroids and Space Rocks
We will present an overview of asteroids and meteor(ite)s and explain where they are located in the Solar System, what they consist of and show relative sizes and distances between asteroids. We than will explain the properties of Meteorites and using a number of “Rocks”, ask the participants to analyze each stone and determine if it is a “Space Rock” or not. And YES, they will analyze some real meteorites.