AAA Members Bring Astrophotography to the 8th Grade

Photo by Stan Honda. This is a slide from Stan’s Dalton presentation, “2020: Comets, Spacecraft, and Celestial Wanderings.”

Earlier this Fall, a science teacher at the prestigious Dalton School in New York City reached out to Chairman John Bills from the AAA board in hopes of collaborating with our members for her upcoming eighth-grade astronomy unit. AAA members gladly answered the call, and a handful were invited to present their work and experience in three Zoom sessions just prior to the Thanksgiving holiday, with about forty students present during each session. The purpose of working with the Dalton students was twofold: to aid student learning as it relates to astronomy, stargazing, and astrophotography around New York City; and to raise youth awareness concerning the AAA and the benefits of becoming a member.

Our presentations touched on a variety of topics within astronomy and astrophotography, including: how we use our understanding of the electromagnetic spectrum to observe the universe; seasonal astronomical events viewable from the New York area; the effects of light pollution; deep space objects and how we photograph them; and equipment, filters, apps, and software.

The students were highly engaged, asking many questions in follow-up. From our few speakers, the students quickly realized that astronomy is for anyone and everyone, since many of us have careers unrelated to this field.

“The students appreciated that there were other people (besides their teachers) who could look up at the universe and see things that they had learned about in class, even take pictures of the objects in Central Park! Many commented that it was great that this club existed, even if you didn’t have a background or occupation in astronomy or astrophysics.” — Evie Harrison, Science Teacher at The Dalton School

Sharing our time and work with the Dalton students was a wonderful opportunity to connect with, and hopefully inspire, the next generation of citizen scientists.

If you’re a teacher or AAA member and know of an elementary, middle, or high school classroom that would be interested in hosting a similar educational, fun, and interactive AAA panel, contact us at [email protected].

Special thanks to my fellow AAA presenters, Stan Honda, John Bills, Stanley Fertig, Irene Pease, Winn Koster, Parker Bossier, and Matthias Schmitt for making this event not only a possibility, but a success.