School Event -Green Acres

7-9pm, School Moon Party for parents and students of Green Acres Elementary.

This school is located off Paul Minnie Drive, near the Soquel & Highway 1 interchange.

Moon Transit at 6:35pm, moon sets at 11:47pm.
42% Moon - Waxing Crescent

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so, it turned out, this event was at the Ocean Alternative Education Center, a K-8 school in a cluster of portable buildinngs next door to Green Acres.

Running on 'wishful', I went ahead and loaded both my coulter and my c8, and headed over. Green Acres -would- be a good school for a student star party, if a few exterior lights were doused, its got good horizons, lots of level space, and is in an island of relative darkness inspite of its being right off the freeway across from Dominican Hospital... There -was- a big light tower due west, probably Harbor High School's playing fields, 0.5 miles away. Naturally, being over by Live Oak, the marine layer moved in right on schedule...

So, after finding the 'right' school, and seeing it was a bunch of younger kids plus their parents, I winged a classroom session. Ms. Luther had a digital projector, so I whipped out my laptop, fired up Starry Night, realized that on a 800x600 PC projector it was less than impressive visually... I showed them how to find Comet Holmes and several parents were quite interested, so I gave them a bit of a history about it, the discovery, yada yada. The school had wireless internet, so I dug up the NASA orbital simulation via the link on my blog page about Holmes, and showed how it was between mars and jupiter and quite unlike most comets.

I don't do this classroom thing very often, so after a bit of winging it (someone asked me how fast it was going, so I used Starry Night and showed how far it would move in 24 hours, then measured the angular seperation as 12 arc minutes, and used google to calculate "1.6 AU * sin(12 arc minutes) in miles", and got about 550000, which divided by 24 gave about 20,000 miles per hour, which impressed the grownups when I said I was just using my high school trig).. anyways, I hooked up the nice Altec computer speakers that were packed with the projector, and played "Magnificent Desolation - Walking on the Moon", a 40 minute IMAX film about the Apollo Moon Landings... The teacher took about 1/2 the group to another classroom where they played astronomy games and it worked out great. Phew.

Memo to self. Spend some more time with Starry Night, maybe read its documentation, save a bunch of 'eye candy' orbitals and stuff. I normally only use it to show me the night sky as a fancy star chart program... I know it can do 'space flight' stuff, but it requires a lot of setup.