Astronomy Activities Skywatch at Midlothian High - Barker
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Skywatch at Midlothian High

This is one of the skywatches that RAS (Richmond Astronomical Society) puts on for school systems around Richmond. It’s also part of my volunteer activities on behalf of the SSA (Solar System Ambassador) program that JPL/NASA hosts. NASA wants SSA volunteers to spread the word about NASA’s programs, especially to young people.

Around 20 students and parents enjoyed the night sky on Dec. 1, using my telescope to to view the Moon, Pleiades, and double stars Albireo and Zeta Lyra. And we saw a great pass of the ISS passing almost directly overhead. As you can imagine, the sky in Midlothian is pretty muddy with light pollution, so there wasn’t much point in looking for the Andromeda Galaxy or other fainter objects. But, it was worth the trip when one young man shouted out his amazement at seeing the magnified Moon as soon as we started. I need to hire him for my next sky watch.

I actually had two telescopes set up–my Celestron Nexstar 102 and a Meade EXT-60. I had the ETX on the Moon while I maneuvered the Nexstar around for other objects. In between viewing, I outlined some of the constellations planets, and stars with my green laser pointer. And everyone really seemed to enjoy seeing the different colors of the Albireo pair. It’s an absolute must-see in the summer and autumn skies.