Last week I was in Reno for the Division of Planetary Sciences meeting. This meeting is held each year in a different location and provides a forum for those of us that study the solar system can get together and share our latest research results. Next year at this time I hope to be showcasing the results from our project. But first, we have to assemble the team of participants for the project. I had to drive south to Las Vegas after the DPS meeting so that I could talk to members of the International Occultation Timing Association (IOTA) about how they could participate in our project. Along the way between the two meetings I had a chance to meet with prospective team members.
My first stop was in Yerington, Nevada. I received a very warm and enthusiastic welcome here. The teachers were very excited about being a part of the project and I could tell they were already thinking of ways to use the project in their classes and how to enhance student involvement with multi-year participation in our project.
The next stop on my trip was in Hawthorne, Nevada. The biggest feature of the town is the nearby Army munitions base. At the school I was able to talk with an 8th grade earth science class and a 10th grade physical science class and tell them about exploring the Kuiper Belt. At this location I found the first strong community supporter in addition to the enthusiastic school response. The view from the back of the school across the ball fields was very nice. This will make a really good observing location.
The third and final stop on this trip was in Tonopah. A small mining town nestled in the mountains. This is a community that is starting to embrace its locale in being able to provide access to dark desert skies. In this community there is a strong component of educators working closely with astronomy enthusiasts.
With these first three site visits, the RECON project is off to a great start. We’re looking forward to more visits and the opportunity to work with all of these folks.