Prattville Fellowship of Home Educators

On March 21, 2002, AAS members Tom McGowan, John Williams and Russell Whigham along with about 75 students and teacher-parents of the Prattville Fellowship of Home Educators, met in rural Autauga county for a near perfect evening of observing the early spring sky.

Here, Tom McGowan assists with observing using his home-made 8-inch reflector.
Several of the home schoolers brought their personal telescopes to supplement the AAS arsenal. 
A couple of these  had questions such as "Which eyepiece should I use?" and "Where does this screw go?", that we were able to help.

John Williams assists one of the kids with the assembly and set-up of their telescope.

Temperatures dropped to  the mid-fifties by the end of the evening.  This, combined with a moderate breeze that accompanied at cold front that had swept the sky clear of clouds at midday, brought us a dark and transparent night sky. 
During the course of the evening we observed:  Venus, the Moon, Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, star clusters, binary stars, Comet Ikeya-Zhang (naked-eye), and satellite passes.
For some, it was their first look through a telescope

Here is a note from Amy Stackhouse, who invited us to share our knowledge and equipment:

Date: Fri, 22 Mar 2002 09:53:19 -0600
Subject: Re: Star Gaze
From:  Amy Stackhouse <>


Thank you a million times! I, and everyone present, was thrilled beyond words at our experience last night. The kids saw images that they see in books and they could not believe their little eyes were seeing such sights. I could not believe that in my 40 years I have never had such a view. Thank you and to Tom and John. You fellows are so knowledgeable and yet so able to bring it down to the common folk to understand and appreciate. What a true gift!

The pictures are great and I know that I'd like a copy of each for our scrapbook and I am sure some others will too. I can't get the word out until the first of the month in our newsletter, but I will let you know.  I think the Montgomery Parents can pull from the e-mail attachment for a tidbit. Is there something you'd like to mention in that brief feature?  Marty is the publisher of that magazine and a friend of mine and often helps me get home school out there in a positive light.

Again I thank you for your expertise, time and effort. We were all blessed with a super time!  We will make mention of you when we are in Washington at Spaceday 2002 at the Air and Space Museum. The kids saw some of the planets that they planned missions to enter in the contest and that was a thrill for them!

If I can ever help you, please let me know. Please forward this note to John and Tom. We are sending our drawings to "Sketch the Sky" on WSFA morning show...we will scan a copy for you.

Amy Stackhouse