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news & tips

A collection of helpful articles on teachers and teaching

Twitter to the Rescue Once Again

The other day, I decided to look into how I could get my son an opportunity to look through a telescope.  He’s been really into space and planets lately, and he knows that Lick Observatory on Mount Hamilton (overlooking our city) has a massive telescope.  But it’s not open to the public after 5:00 P.M., so regular people like us don’t have any way to look through that one.  Instead of digging around online myself, I recalled how a number of my local geocacher friends also enjoy astronomy, so I decided to appeal to Twitter:

First tweet about finding a telescope

You may want to make a note of the time.  I got a number of responses back right away, which you need to read from bottom to top (I’m Dowbiggin):

Some Twitter friends respond with ideas

Within about half an hour, I had leads on several places to look.  I checked out Foothill College first.  But then I heard about Grant Ranch, which is a county park in the eastern hills overlooking the city.  The Halls Valley Astronomical Group has one public star party each month, and – lucky us – the next one was the coming Saturday!  In less than 48 hours, I could have my son up in the hills, viewing celestial bodies.

I made sure to respond back to everyone who gave me information (start at the bottom again):

My responses to all the helpful advice I received

And in the meantime, another one of my tweeps, who belongs to ANOTHER local astronomy club, sent me a message (start from the bottom):

More helpful tweets from my peeps

(You can disregard the question about Rosetta Stone from an educator in Minnesota . . . I was multi-tasking as usual.)

As you can see, I also got more information about Hawaii (I wish!) and a friend at MacWorld who asked around for an answer for me.  These messages were now over the following morning and afternoon, and I was really grateful to have so many knowledgeable people to consult.  I was able to let people know my plans and express my gratitude (scroll to the bottom):

My wrap-up on Twitter

The happy ending is that we went up to Grant Ranch Park on Saturday night, and after eating some sandwiches in the parking lot, we met some of the nicest people I have ever talked to in the dark.  Brothers Joe and Paul even had a stepladder to allow my son to see into the eyepiece of a very large telescope to view Mars.  We also spotted the Seven Sisters (Pleiades) through our own binoculars and the Orion Nebula through a telescope.  Even though Cameron was exhausted by seven and fell asleep on our drive home, we all had a great time and were so impressed with how generous the HVAG folks were with their resources.  And we have plans for Friday night, too, to visit SJAA’s event at another park.

Side note: My son and I took some books out of the library on Friday.  I later noticed that an author ‘s name in one of the books looked familiar to me.  He ‘s a professor of astronomy at nearby Foothill College, the site recommended to me within two minutes of my initial appeal on Twitter.

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