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Primary school Astronomy Club


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Hi all,

I am in the process of setting up an Astronomy Club for my primary school and have around £500 to buy some equipment.  I am ideally looking for at least 2 scopes to start off with and am looking for any guidance or advice?

I want something that will wow the children if possible and keep them engaged as the club grows.  I am a bit of a novice so any help will be much appreciated.

thanks in advance

Darren

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hi mate and welcome to the wonderfull world of SGL from south wales. with the money you have you get 2 or maybe if you went 2hand 3 dobs there great for kids to learn with, a 150p would be a good size to start with. hope this has been helpfull. clear skys charl. 

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Hello and welcome to SGL. The first telescope I would choose is the Skywatcher EvoStar 90 refractor with AZ3 mount http://www.firstlightoptics.com/evostar/skywatcher-evostar-90-az3.html. The telescope is easy to use and requires less maintenance than a reflector. The mount is also less complicated than an equatorial mount so should pose no problems in using it. The second telescope might be a medium sized newtonian reflector on an alt-azimuth base  ie  http://www.firstlightoptics.com/dobsonians/skywatcher-skyliner-150p-dobsonian.html. You should also factor in the cost of accessories such as red light torches and planispheres / star charts.

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Hi Darren,

Warm welcome to SGL.

The best  bang for buck is the Skywatcher 200p, they can be bought for c£275  :--  http://www.firstlightoptics.com/beginner-telescopes/skywatcher-skyliner-200p-dobsonian.html    , And perhaps a 90mm refractor on an az3 mount c £125   :--http://www.firstlightoptics.com/evostar/skywatcher-evostar-90-az3.html  . Tell FLO to match Jessops price!

This would leave enough funds to buy a couple of eyepieces to make viewing more flexible.  If the 200p  is too big consider getting a pair of skyliner 150p's. You are also close enough to go to Rother Valley optics to have a look at these before you buy. Also consider finding your local astro club  so that you can see these scopes, you may also find that they have surplus kit which may be donated.

Download a planetarium program so that you can show what you are going to view. Lots out there but try Stellarium its great and free , to be found here :-  http://www.stellarium.org/ . Also request the School Library to get a few copies of 'Turn left at orion' and 'sky&telescope pocket star atlas' these will help guide you round the sky.

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Have a look at "UK Asto Buy Sell" website Darren - they advertise used equipment which is very often as good as new and for sale around 2/3rds the retail price. Here's an example of a 200P Dobsonian - email the seller for pictures - it sounds pretty good and comes with a few extras. Hth :)

http://www.astrobuysell.com/uk/propview.php?view=99454

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Welcome to SGL..

Have you talked to any local astronomy clubs. If they are like ours they would do outreach and have a good idea of what is easily handled by youngsters.

I do agree with the idea of refractors as they are more intuitive to use even though the Dob provides a bigger bang..

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I agree with baggywrinkle. If you could organise someone from a local astro club with a solar telescope to do a bit of outreach I think that alone would blow their minds and be a bit more convenient for primary age children and parents to attend and you might get more attendees for evening sessions - leaving the rest to be spent on your scope(s) and tea and Jaffa Cakes.

Graham.

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North links astronomy society are in Barton, which I am a member in, you could pop along on the first Monday of each month! Although dobs are great, if you are sharing telescopes the object may drift out of view which is a slight worry. Also northern optics, which is based in Barton, may help you equipment wise and let you view some, they have a website and Nigel always goes to the astronomy meetings so you could have a chat

Edited by Ibbo!
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Hi all,

I am in the process of setting up an Astronomy Club for my primary school and have around £500 to buy some equipment.  I am ideally looking for at least 2 scopes to start off with and am looking for any guidance or advice?

I want something that will wow the children if possible and keep them engaged as the club grows.  I am a bit of a novice so any help will be much appreciated.

thanks in advance

Darren

Hi Darren. A warm welcome to SGL, and well done to want to start a club.

You have some good advice with equipment.

But one thing that would be advisable, is to have a plan 'B' for a proposed event, if it's cloudy. Not trying to be pessimistic, but realistic !!

If you have some scopes, you could talk about those, then what you might have seen if it had been clear.

One thing I have seen that works well with youngsters, is to have an A4 pic of the sun and all the major planets, then teach them the order from the sun outwards. Having done that, ask for volunteers to hold each pic, and line up in the correct order. They fairly quickly get the order right, but always stand close to each other. Give them plenty of praise for getting the order right, but point out that the distance between each planet increases enormously as you travel away from the sun. Ask them, with your guidance, to space out (pun intended !). You can bunch up Mercury/Venus/ Earth, then an increasingly greater distances between the others. You don't have to work at an exact scale of course.........and a large hall is definitely best !

You could then give basis facts about each object. Of course, there's loads else to try, and best to keep whatever you do very simple.

Having a plan 'B' saves your first meeting being a damp squib if it's cloudy.

Good luck !! Ed.

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Hi and welcome from me too   :smiley:

I run a primary school astro club and the best scope in my view is the 150p dob - as they can all get to the eyepice without having to climb onto a step or grab at the scope.  It will also give you great views of the Moon, planets etc.  Yes, it might need collimating, but I always do this before the meeting.

+1 for getting your local club in too - kids will really enjoy meeting people with telescopes!

PM me if you want any further advice, resources etc   :smiley:

Sarah

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Hi Darren,

Welcome to SGL...

I'm planning / I've planned to create  a similar astro-club for few local schools here in my area.

I'm not a teacher but I have a direct link to them as part of my job.

I have my own scope and other bits and pieces, all ready to be shared.

I've decided in not jumping straight to equipment as that will kill my teaching strategy, they will learn "how" to use a scope or a eye piece but not "why"  and "where".

I will start by using hardcopy, audio video material, as part of the computer club or after class hours.

Then, once I have few kids interested, I will see if I can corrupt them on to a real equipment.

Also and not lastly, as you need to do the outside observations at night, very late at night, the issue with child protection, privacy, "touching" the child as you are friendly, sorting out the location (drive on / drive out) it has/had a great pressure on my decision and I kind of thinking of give up. Not to mention parents involvement, safety & health insurance...

Good luck and keep us posted here...

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Welcome to SGL..

North links astronomy society are in Barton, which I am a member in, you could pop along on the first Monday of each month! Although dobs are great, if you are sharing telescopes the object may drift out of view which is a slight worry. Also northern optics, which is based in Barton, may help you equipment wise and let you view some, they have a website and Niger always goes to the astronomy meetings so you could have a chat

Have you talked to any local astronomy clubs. If they are like ours they would do outreach and have a good idea of what is easily handled by youngsters.

I do agree with the idea of refractors as they are more intuitive to use even though the Dob provides a bigger bang..

I am a member of Reading Astronomical Society http://www.readingastro.org.uk/

It has a Friday BASICS club/section. It primarily aimed at 'newbies'. It too does outreach events to local schools, and other local events. Weather permitting members will bring their equipment for them to look through. I too agree with refractors, as it most childrens idea of what a telescope looks like.

On the day of the June 2004 Transit of Venus, I set up my TeleVue Ranger in a public playing field near home. I did not know at the time their was a pre-school/nursery for children nearby. (I thought the building at the side of the park was a pavillion/changing rooms not a nursery). One of the teachers approached me during 'playtime' and asked me what I was looking at/what was happening, so I explained it to her. Within thirty minutes I had the class of about twenty children and teachers/helpers wanting to have a look at a 'once in a lifetime' event. I showed them some digital photos that I had taken earlier in the morning. I also showed them my 35mm photos of the August 1999 solar eclipse.  

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