I went to Houge Park last night, taking out my 10" f/5.7 CPT. There was a nice turnout of scopes. My daughter Mimi joined me there. We showed the public several nice views - M57, M27, Alberio, Epsilon Lyra, M5, M15, M11, Gamma Delphinus, among others. Pleasant evening and well attended. It was nice to see Marek, Turley, Steve Sergeant, Charlie Wicks, Daniel S, Heather, Dr. Robert Armstrong, Mike Koop, Jerry Elmer and Rob Hawley there.
Koop was coming around and noting who was in attendance manning telescopes. I hadn't seen anyone doing that for the SJAA since Paul Barton used to up at Fremont Peak, maybe ten years ago. So I asked Mike why he was doing it. Turns out the SJAA is running a drawing based on who is out supporting their public nights at Houge. What a nice idea! Last time the prize was a Karkoschka Star Atlas. This is an innovative idea, I think Mike's. I'd never run into anything like this before.
So, I'll put in a plug for the SJAA. Its a very good organization, putting on public observing events, offering interesting speakers at the monthly general meetings (next month is slide & equipment night - maybe I'll come talk about observing in Chile), taking astronomy into the south bay schools, and hosting CalStar. They have a wonderful loaner telescope program - like a library - club members have a large selection of telescopes that can be "checked out" for a month or so (or more?) at a time. Nice way for beginners to get hands on experience with different types of scopes before spending their money. And club dues are a deal - $15 a year, although insurance is driving the price up to $20 effective 8/1/05 (still a deal!). Sign up now at www.sjaa.net, save $5, get access to the loaner telescopes - and enjoy supporting a great community minded organization.
Nice going SJAA - I hadn't been to a Houge star party in a long time. It was a lot of fun.