The Denver Astronomical Society conducts educational astronomy and observing activities as a part of our mission to increase the public knowledge about astronomy, promote the importance of maintaining dark skies, and encourage careers in astronomy, space science, astrophysics, and other physical sciences.
In addition to public nights and open house star gazing at Chamberlin Observatory, the DAS also conducts or supports organizational star parties and can provide telescope operator/docents, and speakers for lectures on astronomy. If you are interested in conducting such activities with the DAS, please contact the DAS External Outreach Coordinator, Julie Candia, at firstname.lastname@example.org
To increase the likelihood that we can accommodate your request, please submit requests at least 1 month prior to the date you would like DAS participation.
See the current list of upcoming educational outreach activities.
How the DAS Can Support Your Astronomy Program
The DAS can provide telescopes and knowledgeable operators for your star party. The term “star party” applies to any educational or recreational astronomical observing event that involves a group of people using one or more telescopes. The largest star parties can involve many hundreds of people. Whatever the size, planning is important (see below.) Star parties may include a lecture or formal information program. They can be held at a school, church, nature center, or even accompany a corporate social event.
You can even hold a star-gazing event during the day! The DAS can provide operators of safe Solar telescopes capable of showing sun spots, prominences and even flares on our own star–the Sun!
To support any program, the DAS can provide a knowledgeable speaker who will present a lecture illustrated with a multimedia computer presentation. The speaker can provide equipment (computer, projector and screen) or use a set-up at your facility.
Sample lectures and topics might include:
- What’s in the Sky Tonight?
- The Messier Objects
- Deep Sky Astronomy
- Planets and Solar System
- Binocular Astronomy
If you want DAS participation, please contact the DAS external outreach coordinator at least one month before you complete the plans for your star party or event. A successful star party requires a dark, but accessible, observing location; a date that provides a sky with a minimum of moon glow; several adult volunteer leaders; enough well-maintained telescopes with experienced operators to handle the size of the group; and people with an interest in observing the night sky. Advance publicity is also important.
The location should be checked out well ahead of time. Ideally, it will be reasonably protected and remote from bright streetlights, commercial or parking-lot lighting, automobile traffic, and nighttime sports with big crowds and lights. If this is not possible, the DAS coordinator can suggest ways to optimize viewing at any site.
The dates just before the first quarter moon are best for a star party. The moon is easiest to observe when it is a small crescent. More than a few days after the first quarter, the moon reflects too much light to allow viewing of dimmer astronomical objects like nebulae, star clusters, and galaxies. The full moon should be avoided if possible.
Adult volunteers can be recruited from a school or organization staff or may include parents of children in a school group. They should be briefed to educate children or other participants how to behave around a telescope (e.g., enjoy the view, but don’t touch, ask questions) and should be prepared to help maintain lines at telescopes and assist the operators with stools and other observing aids for small children. There should be at least one adult volunteer for every 25 participants.
The DAS can arrange to provide as many telescopes and operators as your group will require. A good rule-of-thumb is to provide at least one telescope for every 20-25 people. It is important to provide enough telescopes to avoid long lines and allow each participant enough time at the eyepiece to enjoy the view. This is particularly important for children or people with eyeglasses, who may need extra time to focus on the image.
The cost of DAS star parties is modest. Public school events are always free of charge. Private school events are generally $75. Costs for conventions and corporate events will be negotiated with the event coordinator. Funds are used by DAS to purchase services and equipment needed to sustain our non-profit outreach operations or, if distances are long, to compensate members for travel expenses.
Join the DAS
Contact DAS about the benefits of a DAS membership for young people.
School and Nature Center Programs
The DAS can also provide Information on what to consider when starting an astronomical observing program at a school, nature center, or other facility.