A Guide to the Sky, Telescopes, and Telescope Programs
Required Effort - Staff
All efforts will be taken to minimize ongoing staff support requirements. Ideally, this may consist of simply treating the telescope like a library book in the library.
The scope models in mind will not require user assembly. Accessories will/can be kept in an detachable pouch. A checklist can be included to make sure that the handful of accessories are included at checkout and returned at check-in.
Ongoing Maintenance and Support
Executive Summary: I am willing to do everything described below with an eye to handing the responsibilities off at whatever pace the staff or PTA committees care to take them. My goal is to build a successful, self-sustaining program that excites students about the stars. I'll stay on as long as necessary and am happy to see others run a successful program.
The Telescope would require periodic checkups and maintenance, consisting primarily of aligning the mirror and cleaning the mirrors and eyepieces (which should be done sparingly and gently).
I anticipate being at the school several times a week for the next six years, so I can take care of that until someone would like to help or take over.
This is where the program can be made or broken. A scope loaned without guidance will leave a good experience to chance. A family that has a good idea what to do, what to expect and where to point the scope is far more likely to have a positive experience.
An absolute must is a custom Telescope User's Guide for how to use the specific equipment including any modifications we make. I'll put a guide together at the beginning of the program and provide hardcopies and electronic copies to the school.
A general introduction to the sky is critical. There are a number of good books that fit bill. I'll probably want to put together a summary on a laminated handout ("Which way is Up? Which way is North? How to orient a sky chart, etc.).
What to See Tonight Guides
Knowing where to point the scope at is more trouble than you might think.
This item requires the most work, because every month offers different targets, every week is different (as far as the moon is concerned (and the faint objects moonlight washes out)). Jupiter and Saturn, two of the best celestial targets, and Mars and Venus (bright but featureless) rise and set at different times (right now for instance Jupiter is an excellent target and Saturn is great if you're willing to stay up very late)).
A monthly hardcopy is a very good idea. I can commit to that.
I'll want to see if there is a good resource that automatically provides this information and include the web address in the instruction guides.
Paper is great, web resources are great, but live hands-on is best. I can commit to periodic (monthly?) training/demo/observing sessions at times and in manners determined by the school.
Questions or comments? Email:Jeff Martin