Scout Troop 605 Astronomy Merit
On Saturday, March 16, we had a stargaze
for Wetumpka Boy Scout Troop #605 in a large pasture owned by Ron and Melissa
Welch, located between Wetumpka and Eclectic. Our contact, Randy
Smithson, estimated about 10 scouts plus several parents. Randy had
written back in December requesting our help with the merit badges.
The night sky was worth the wait. Special thanks to Ron Welch for
risking life and limb to cover an offending security light in a stiff breeze.
Comet Pan-STARRS was the early target.
Sunset was just before 7:00PM CDT, with comet searching beginning about
7:30. As the sky darkened, the comet was spotted and everyone was
able to see it with binoculars and follow it into the horizon.
AAS volunteers for the evening were:
Our hosts, Randy Smithson and David
Coleman, Scoutmaster for Troop 605, had sent us a list of the scouts' goals
for the evening:
Tracy Sprankle, Wetumpka, 10-inch Orion
Robert Fuller, Alex City, ETX90 &
Frank Ward, Montgomery, 12-inch Lightbridge
Rodger Morrison, Prattville, 10-inch
Newtonian and 15x70 binoculars
Russell Whigham, Montgomery, 11-inch
John Ziegler, Montgomery, binoculars
A three hour observation
session is just one of many requirements (mostly scout study or research).
Here are some for the astronomers to be mindful of while at our session.
Among the actual objects observed were:
Explain what light pollution is and
how it and air pollution affect astronomy.
Observe a planet and describe what
List the names of the five most visible
Explain which ones can appear in
phases similar to lunar phases and which ones cannot, and explain why.
With the aid of diagrams (or real
telescopes if available), do each of the following:
Explain why binoculars and telescopes
are important astronomical tools.
Demonstrate or explain how these tools
Describe the similarities and differences
of several types of astronomical telescopes.
Explain the purposes of at least three
instruments used with astronomical telescopes.
Describe the proper care and storage
of telescopes and binoculars both at home and in the field.
Identify in the sky at least 10 constellations,
at least four of which are in the zodiac.
Identify at least eight conspicuous
stars, five of which are of magnitude I or brighter.
5-day old Moon
Bright star and constellation identification
M-42 Orion Nebula; 1,344 light years
M-44 open cluster, Beehive Cluster;
577 light years [Binoculars]
M-45 open cluster, Pleiades; 440
light years [Binoculars]
M-41 open cluster; 2,300 light years
NGC-2392 Eskimo Planetary Nebula;
2,870 light years
Gamma Andromedae, “Almach”
M-65, spiral galaxy; 22 million
M-66, spiral galaxy; 36 million
NGC-3628; spiral galaxy; 35 million
M-104 elliptical galaxy; 29 million
light years “Sombrero”
M-51, spiral galaxy; 23 million
light years “Whirlpool”
In addition to the visual observations,
Rodger gave a demonstration of astro-imaging as the scouts watched the
Orion Nebula display on the LCD screen of his DSLR camera.
Thanks to all for a very enjoyable
evening under the stars.