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Paper: Engaging the Public and Astronomy Students through Remote Observing
Volume: 531, ASP2020: Embracing the Future: Astronomy Teaching and Public Engagement
Page: 181
Authors: Finn, R.; Hassel, G.
Abstract: Siena College recently completed construction of a campus observatory featuring a 0.7-m Planewave telescope. Since the Breyo Observatory opened in November of 2018, we have hosted over 1000 visitors for public observing sessions. We present our efforts to continue to engage the public and our introductory astronomy students during the epidemic by combining lecture with real-time observing over Zoom. During these sessions, we observe popular deep-sky objects and demonstrate how to create a color image from monochromatic CCD images taken through red, green, and blue filters. While the camera integrates, we interleave basic astronomy concepts that relate to our imaging targets with multiple-choice questions delivered through Zoom's polling feature. The capability to remotely control the telescope offers a unique opportunity to continue and extend our public observing program. Although in-person visits may be preferable, remote observing sessions allow us to show the details of deep-sky objects to all visitors at the same time (no lines), extend the visit to participants across the country, and to interact by polling.
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