I helped out with a lunar eclipse star party at the Warren Astronomical Society’s Stargate Observatory. A student from my wife’s class was there with his mother, as were several other people of all ages. Member’s telescopes were set up all around the observatory grounds, and the temperature was perfect.
The “Michigan Nebula™” dominated the skies as I arrived, and it remained cloudy through first contact and part of the umbra. But suddenly, the skies cleared, and the seeing was crisp – we got an astounding view of totality. You could see stars right by the Moon’s surface; one even appeared to graze the Moon’s limb. The clouds rolled back in shortly after totality, and by that time many had left, it being a work and school night.
I set up my laptop on a picnic table outside the observatory; two WAS members gave presentations, and I showed these two Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter videos:
I’d brought my “Outreach Kit™” with meteorites, books, pictures, and my binder full of images of the Sun. I talked about meteorites and asteroids, Chelyabinsk, Tunguska, Sikhote-Alin, and let people handle my softball-sided Campo del Cielo meteorite. Then I flipped through my Sun binder, showing SDO and SOHO images, and described solar dynamics. I did this three times for different groups of people.
Four high school girls asked me “Are you a teacher?”
“Yes and no…” I answered, “I’m teaching right now… but I’m not a teacher in any form that the State of Michigan would recognize.”
“I wish you were OUR science teacher!” one said, her inflection dripping with unsaid undertones…
“Thank you, but I don’t have the degree to do that…”
“Well GET one!” They said.
I grinned and said “I DO come to classrooms and lecture about astronomy and space science…”
“YOU DO‽” they all said in unison. It was cute.
“Sure do.” I said, fishing out a couple business cards.
I’ve been asked dozens of times if I was a teacher; this is the first time any student said they wished I was their teacher. My wife gets it all the time. Man, does it feel great!
I wasn’t able to get any photos of this eclipse – I was too busy presenting, making the rounds of the telescopes and binoculars, and chatting-up attendees. A good time was had by all.