ALCON 2018 Workshops

David Prosper – NASA Night Sky Network -Using Astronomy Outreach Resources from the NASA Night Sky Network & Organizing Your Club with the NASA Night Sky Network

Find out about the outreach resources available to astronomy clubs from the Night Sky Network. Participants will get hands on experience with some of our most popular outreach materials and activities, including meteorite identification, solar storm demos, lens and mirrors, beautiful astronomy banners, and more.

The Night Sky Network website provides member clubs with tools to help organize their outreach events, rosters, and messaging. Find out how to use these tools in the way that best suits your club’s needs in this workshop.

Bio:  I began watching the skies as a young kid in the Adirondack foothills of New York State, and my fascination with astronomy only deepened while studying historical astronomy as part of my education at St. John’s College in Santa Fe, NM. I moved to Oakland, CA, and joined the Eastbay Astronomical Society while volunteering at the Chabot Space and Science Center and have been very involved with amateur astronomy ever since. I currently work at the Astronomical Society of the Pacific for the NASA Night Sky Network program, providing support to astronomy clubs performing public outreach across the United States.

Daniel Joyce – Mirror Making Workshop

‘Jedi Dan’ Joyce will present a multi-media presentation that would involve mirror grinding and polishing.   Some hands-on demonstrations of the proper pouring of a pitch lap will be done, and mirrors will be ground.

He will then present photos of objects taken with scopes I have provided the optics for including the famous Don Parker 16″ f/6 so provision of a digital projection system is desirable as well.  Videos will be presented on other critical aspects of mirror making.

Bio: I wound up inheriting an 8″ glass blank early in 1968 and with it entered the class at the Adler Planetarium optical shop to make an f/6 which I completed in late April of that year. After making a few other mirrors, including a 12.5″ f/4.4 with a five amplification secondary and helping out the overworked instructor Ken Wolf I was interviewed in late 1974 to take over for him in June of 1976.  I was there until September of 1979 and had well over a hundred students making 4.25 inchers all the way up to 16″.   I occasionally made optics for special purposes, culminating in 1978 with a 10″ f/4.8 for the Astronomical League to raffle off at their convention that year and one for a 10″ f/4.8 scope I sent to Star Wars creator George Lucas as a surprise gift (see page 362 of the Oct., 1979 edition of S&T for details).

From August of 1983 until late 1992 I had a shop operation at the old laboratory facilities at North Park Village Nature Center in Chicago. It was there that many large mirrors were completed including the Peoria A.S. 24″ f/4.1, Don Parker’s 16″, my own 18″ f/6 and several mirrors for the MASIL imaging team (

I have also been working as a science educator at the Cernan Earth & Space Center since 1986 and from there I have provided the information for the “Planet Watch” column found on the lower right corner of the Chicago Tribune weather page. Occasionally, if a question is submitted by a reader for the “Ask Tom Why” column that pertains to space it is relayed to me for answering.

Bob Morrow – Telescope Collimation

Do the stars look like comets in your telescope? That’s probably because your telescope isn’t collimated, which is the process of lining up the primary and secondary mirrors to produce a clear image. Bob Morrow of Bob’s Knobs will show you how to do this simple task that will unleash your telescope’s full potential to produce stunning views of the heavens.

Bio:  Ever since he was given a Tasco refractor (234 power!) in the early 1960’s, Bob Morrow has been interested in astronomy. He was a familiar sight at the Griffith Observatory, north of Los Angeles, where he spent countless hours at the museum and in the planetarium. During his undergraduate work at the U. S. Air Force Academy, his ambitious project in astronomy class was to photograph all the Messier objects through the school’s 10-inch Celestron SCT. He gave up after hours of collecting photons from the ring and crab nebulae onto GAF 500 film. They were barely visible. Bob finally acquired his own C11 and discovered that the views of the skies in rural Indiana were fantastic…when the telescope was collimated. Unfortunately, that wasn’t often, and re-collimating was a real challenge using the factory screws. Eventually, Bob realized that the factory screws could be replaced with knobs, and Bob’s Knobs was born. Now collimation could be done while looking through the eyepiece and without threatening the corrector plate with a pointed tool. After sending another set to an internet forum member, requests for knobs began arriving in droves. Bob got busy designing knobs for other telescope makes and models, creating a web site, and learning about packaging and shipping. Bob’s Knobs are now available for collimating over 100 different telescope models, and for various mounts so they can be assembled without tools.