Monday, July 26, 2010

Open House Craziness!

Saturday was the first open house at the observatory. Driving up there, I was worried - the skies were cloudy, and the forecast was for rain, thunderstorms, and even included a tornado warning! I was expecting that maybe 50-100 people would show up, if we were lucky.

The event began at 6pm, and the cars started coming...and coming...and COMING!! There was a steady stream of people from when we opened until about 11pm! We estimate that about 500 people came out - it was amazing, jaw-dropping, and practically made me cry with excitement!

We even had a couple hours of somewhat clear sky, and pointed the big telescope at Venus and Saturn. People loved it. Even when it clouded over again, people just loved having the opportunity to see a research-class telescope in person - right in their own backyard.

I also loved some of the stories!

Some people came from neighboring farms - they had lived there for over 40 years and had never been allowed to see the telescope before! They were so excited that they could experience something that has been in their community for years.

Then, there were people who took astronomy classes at the university, and were asking about certain professors. One guy had taken an astronomy course with the current director of the observatory in the 1960s! It was so cool.

Needless to say, the event was a great success, and I am so proud to be a large part of it. I received so many great comments about the volunteers who helped out, and everyone was very supportive about keeping the observatory open.

Let's hope the results from this event, and the one in August, will help gain support from the higher-ups at the university!