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Educational Programs

Probably ASSA Bloemfontein's specialty, educational outreach forms a key part of the Centre's activities. Due to our relationship with Boyden Observatory, a primary educational institution in central South Africa, our knowledge and expertise reach many hundreds of children and adults each year.

Iets vir die kinders: leer meer van die sonnestelsel, sterre en ruimte-eksplorasie
Laai 'n handige inligtingstuk af, ideaal vir kinders wat take moet doen oor sterrekunde, of vir die nuuskieriges wat hul kennis wil uitbrei in hierdie fasinerende tema. 325 kb PDF.

Presentations and telescope viewing
Shows & presentations
Various members have created multi-media shows for presentation to the public and visitors to Boyden Observatory. These shows are not just visually stimulating, but also informative and educational. Accurate information can be conveyed to others without burdening them with technicalities. Members developed skills as presenters and compilers of digital shows. (Image credit: Hannes Pieterse)
Telescope viewing and sky watching
The club, in association with Boyden, lends their services to non-profit organisations whereby we either go to their venue or invite them to Boyden Observatory. We present informal star shows and set up telescopes for the public's viewing pleasure. In the recent years, successful shows were given as far away as Barkly-West and Bethulie, as well as in Bloemfontein and surroundings.
Boyden Observatory uses amateur astronomers not only as presenters and telescope assistants, but also as educational officials during programs presented to learners. With the amateurs' ability to simplifying difficult concepts, we make a contribution to the effective learning of school children. We supply planispheres, Sky Guides and other material to the Observatory or school groups we reach out to.
Open evenings at the Observatory
During Boyden Open evenings, members act as telescope guides and assistants, as a service to the Observatory and the Friends of Boyden. Hundreds of people attend open evenings each year and members have the opportunity to share their love for astronomy and science. There are few things as satisfying as seeing others warming up to your interests and encouraging them to also take up your hobby.
Need an astronomy show for your non-profit organisation?
We invite non-profit organisations or other clubs to contact us and arrange an astronomy show by members of ASSA Bloemfontein at your location or at Boyden Observatory. Other clubs are welcome to come up with ideas on how we can exchange "event ideas" where both our clubs can be involved. Commercial organisations or businesses must also contact us for reference to professional astronomy presenters in your area. Go to contact details page.

Education tips for members

Tips for members before doing an astronomy show

1) Be sure to check important satellite pass times (i.e. iridium flares, the ISS, HST) which may occur. Go to the site.

2) Get group information beforehand and gather facts on the number of people, age distribution, knowledge levels, whether they had a long day's travel / strenuous program.

3) Get venue information beforehand, electrical power outlets, seating arrangements, length of show etc.

4) Make sure all your equipment are in order: check batteries, bring multi-plugs and leads, make sure all the components of your telescope are available, be sure to take along hand-outs, check your software.

5) Be sure to choose a presentation topic that will be relevant to the group you're presenting to.

Committee member Jacques van Delft demonstrating a solar telescope

Tips for members while doing an astronomy show

1) If you don't know the answer, SAY SO! We are not professional astronomers and the public knows that. They will disrespect you if you babble on about things you don't really know. Remember: you still know 20 times more than they do! Don't walk into the trap - stay humble and you will be placed in high regard.

2) General rule of thumb: 1 to 30 people = 1 telescope. 30 to 50 = 2 telescopes. More than 50 people, good luck! Over 30 people might require 2 members.

3) Specific rule of thumb: Don't talk too much or too long during a presentation. What the ears don't hear, the heart won't want. People can rarely concentrate for longer than 35 minutes. If your talk goes over this time, you are running the risk of boring your audience. Get to the point, accurately and convincingly. Otherwise, incorporate a 10 minute break and then carry on.

4) Don't create false expectations. In fact, try not to create any expectations! The very fact that people are going to an astronomy show creates a mystery for them they cannot quantify. By "promising them the moon" (when there's dark skies!) or Hubble pictures when you use a telescope, you run the risk of destroying the evening's glamour. Don't talk in the future tense the whole time - "we are going to do this, we are going to do that..." Just DO IT and see their smiles afterwards!

5) Give adequate time for questions, but don't take too many questions.
You'll probably bore the rest.

6) During telescope viewing, remember to frequently check the view to make sure the telescope is on target.
Don't show them the faintest galaxy you can find - save the fun for private time...

7) Read the crowd: when they stand at the telescope, do they rather want to talk to each other, or listen to you? Save some talk for the time at the telescope if need be. And you don't have to talk only about the rings of Saturn when looking at Saturn, you can also talk about Cassini researching those rings.

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