Public Events - From Another Perspective

Solar Observing Brecon Beacons Visitor Centre, 23rd June 2018

The Sun shone consistently, it was warm, we had our biggest crowd in attendance, the CAS team were kept busy all afternoon showing the public direct and safe views of the Sun and talking about all things astronomical. Importantly, everyone on the CAS outreach team told me they enjoyed themselves and we had a warm welcome from the staff.

And that is that - but not quite. These events are advertised by us for months, likewise they are on the events calendar for the national park, they're advertised at the Visitor Centre and on the day, the Warden puts up a publicity board on the main A470. We tend to think we hopefully entertain and educate the public, perhaps pick up some new members and that is the end of our responsibility.

Then just after we arrive on site a young boy comes up wearing a solar system T-shirt, and he's very knowledgeable about the planets and so enthusiastic. He can't wait for us to get set up and going. His mother informs me that he's had this event on his bedroom calendar for months and has been up earlier than usual as he couldn't wait to get there.

Later, a chap asks me if we will be there for some time. Yes, I replied. "Until at least 4 pm as it's set to stay clear". "That's great" he replies. His father has always been very interested in astronomy but now suffers from Alzheimer's Disease and is in a nursing home in Brecon. The son was checking the event out and requests that we wait for him to fetch his father, so that his Dad can look through a telescope again and chat with us about his life-long interest. I said we would be very pleased to do so.
When we commit to these events I think it worth bearing those two examples in mind. If we didn't turn up because we found something else to do, our reputation would suffer but that would be nothing compared to the disappointment of others. These events are very important.

They are also good fun, there's much jollity and banter amongst the CAS crew, we get to enjoy and share our passion for astronomy, have varied food for picnics and you will be very welcome to join in. It helps if you can chat to the public at a beginner level, please see me or any member of the committee for details.

Theresa Cooper

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