Contributions to the Europlanet workshop “Touching the Planets, Evaluating Excellence”

The Europlanet Society has organized a series of workshops and meetings dedicated to outreach and best practice. During 2018 (July 2 and 3) they organized the workshop “Touching the Planets, Evaluating Excellence” in Athens. The goal of this particular workshop was the demonstration of a toolkit (Europlanet Evaluation Toolkit) appropriate for evaluating outreach activities, as well as practical experience in using the proposed methods.

The first day was devoted to presentations by participants, where they showcased outreach activities and evaluation processes. In total there were 7 talks, targeting students of various ages (pre-school to high-school students) as well as the general public. Among these there were two presentations by members of our club: “Evaluating Star Nights in Mojito Beach Bar in Rhodes island” by Iakovos Strikis, and “Developing new contributors to Astronomy” by Grigoris Maravelias. (The talks are available through our YouTube channel and you can see them below).

During the second day we focused in the application of some evaluation tools. The test case was our visit to the historical building of the National Observatory of Athens at Nymphs’ Hill (Thissio) the previous night.

The central building of the National Observatory of Athens on top of Nymphs’ Hill at Thissio.

A significant part of the workshop was devoted to discussions for exchanging experiences and promoting collaborations. In total, this workshop provided the participants the unique opportunity to communicate their own perspective with respect to Astronomy outreach, to receive feedback, and valuable knowledge on how to evaluate their own activities.

Practicing various evaluation methods.

Learning the various evaluation techniques.


Photographs / Video: Grigoris Maravelias and Iakovos Strikis.

A few more pictures illustrating HAAA’s members by Stelios Kleidis (more can be found at the official site of the Europlanet Society).




Contribution to the EPSC-DPS 2019 conference on outreach evaluation methods

During the 2019 EPSC-DPS joint meeting we had the unique opportunity to present our results from evaluating an outreach / pro-am series of seminars entitled “Introduction to Observational Astronomy” which we carried out in 2018 and 2019. More details follow:

Evaluating introductory seminars on observational astronomy, using the Europlanet Evaluation Toolkit

Moutsouroufi, Konstantina; Maravelias, Grigoris; Marios Strikis, Iakovos; Kardasis, Emmanuel; Voutyras, Orfefs; Kountouris, Giorgos; Evangelopoulos, Athanasios; Aggelis, Konstantinos; Papadeas, Pierros; Schmidt, Tamara; Christou, Apostolos

During December 2018 – February 2019, the Hellenic Amateur Astronomy Association coordinated a series of seminars entitled “Introduction to Observational Astronomy”. The goal of this series was to introduce interested individuals to the aspects of the observational techniques for scientifically useful observations. Using the Europlanet Evaluation Toolkit we implemented a number of evaluation methods to receive feedback. The results show the participation of a mainly young audience ( 60% between 18-39), where females are represented more than equally ( 52%). Using the “pebbles in a jar” method a 94% of satisfied attendees was measured, while by using post-event surveys (questionnaires) the lectures were perceived as “(very) explicit” and “(very) interesting” (94%), fulfilling the attendees’ expectations (92%). It is important to note that 88% considers that their interest in Astronomy increased and is willing to get involved in observations.

A short paper is available at the NASA/ADS link: 2019EPSC…13.1749M ,
while you can also find a local version of the poster.




Seminars on “Introduction to Observational Astronomy” (2018-2019)

Introduction

During the winter season of 2018-2019 (when the weather conditions are not favorable for observations) we organized a series of seminars entitled “Introduction to Observational Astronomy”. The goal of these seminars was to introduce interested individuals to the aspects of the observational techniques for scientifically useful observations, i.e. how amateur observations can help professionals and contribute to Astronomy in general. The topics were split into specific celestial objects in order to provide a short overview of the amateurs’ contribution and the particular observational methods.

Program

Saturday, December 1, 2018

— Introduction to the amateur observational Astronomy
What is Observational Astronomy? The Greek amateur community and its main events, selected international communities and their activities.

— Under the starry night
Introduction to the starry sky, the constellations, the movement of the celestial objects, as well as various methods of orientation and time calculation.

Saturday, December 15, 2018

— Deciphering the light
The nature of light and how we exploit it to understand and study the celestial objects. Introduction to the basics of photometry and spectroscopy.

— Camera, telescopes, and other equipment
What equipment is required to observe the celestial objects? The human eye as an observing tool, and how telescopes and cameras help us to enhance its capability.

Saturday, January 12, 2019

— Sun, “Star of the Day”
Focus on the Sun, and its importance for the Solar system and for life in Earth. The methods to observe the Sun safely.

— The other “moons” of Earth
An introduction to the artificial satellites in orbit around Earth, and the observational techniques to record them.

Saturday, January 26, 2019

— The smaller “cousins” of the planets
An introduction to the minor bodies of the Solar system, and stellar occultations by them and the planets of the Solar system.

— Shooting stars, the lilliputian inhabitants of our Solar system
Exploring the characteristic properties, the importance, and the methods to systematically record meteors, which are important carriers of information for the history of the Solar system.

Saturday, February 9, 2019

— The Planets and their Moons
A short trip to all planets of our Solar system and to some of their most interesting moons. Discussing the current methods used to observe them, record their dynamic appearance, and to contribute to the Planetary Science.

— The temperamental stars
From birth to death, stars continuously experience phases of instability. Observing variable stars is a key to improve our understanding of stellar evolution.

Saturday, February 23, 2019

— Space clouds and stellar companies
Star clusters, nebulae, galaxies – some of the most impressive sky objects. What equipment is required to see these and which catalogs to use.

— Planets in alien worlds
From hot Jupiters to Super-Earths, a trip to explore the formation of planetary systems.

Feedback

To better acquire and quantify the feedback from the participants we implemented a number of evaluation methods based on the Europlanet Evaluation Toolkit: (a) “pebbles in a jar”, (b) post-event surveys, (c) “3 words”, (d) snapshot interviews. The results are actually impressive, and with some initial processing of the collected data (Moutsouroufi et al. 2019), we have:

  • 94% satisfied participants, as measured by “pebbles in a jar”
  • “Interesting” was the top word selection, followed by “clear” informative”, “detailed”, “understandable”, using the 3-word method
  • 88% would like to know more about each subject presented
  • 91% admitted that their interest in Astronomy increased
  • 88% would like to deal with observations in the future
  • 92% felt that their expectation was fulfilled
  • 97% considered that the whole event was well-organized

Future plans

Currently we are in the process to further exploit the data collected with the post-event surveys, and analyze the snapshot interviews. Upon completion of this process we plant to continue to the publications of the results, in order to share our approach and experience with the community.

However, all feedback, including negative one, was shared with the speakers to improve in future activities. This is crucial since this activity bridges two of our most major actions in this field: (i) a series of 20 theoretical courses on subjects of modern Astronomy (2013-2014), (ii) the “Focus Months” project (2014-2015), where each month was dedicated to a specific astronomical object, including both theory and hands-on workshops on observations and data-analysis (see Maravelias et al. 2018, Kardasis et al. 2015). In that way we have formulated a number of seminars that can proceed gradually from a general view of Astronomy to more specialized topics and finally to hands-on workshops to develop contributors to Science.


All photos © Iakovos Strikis

References
Moutsouroufi, K.; Maravelias, G.; Strikis, I. M.; Kardasis, E.; Voutyras, O.; Kountouris, G.; Evangelopoulos, A.; Aggelis, K.; Papadeas, P.; Schmidt, T.; Christou, A. (2019), Evaluating introductory seminars on observational astronomy, using the Europlanet Evaluation Toolkit, EPSC-DPS Joint Meeting 2019, held 15 – 20 September, 2019 in Geneva, Switzerland
— Maravelias, Grigoris; Vourliotis, Emmanouel; Marouda, Krinio; Belias, Ioannis; Kardasis, Emmanouel; Papadeas, Pierros; Strikis, Iakovos D.; Vakalopoulos, Eleftherios; Voutyras, Orfefs (2018), A paradigm to develop new contributors to Astronomy, submitted to the proceedings of IAU FM14 “IAU’s role on global astronomy outreach, the latest challenges and bridging different communities” (Vienna, Aug. 23, 2018), [2018arXiv181004562M]
— Kardasis, E.; Vourliotis, E.; Bellias, I.; Maravelias, G.; Vakalopoulos, E.; Papadeas, P.; Marouda, K.; Voutyras, O. (2015), Spreading the passion for scientifically useful planetary observations, European Planetary Science Congress 2015, held 27 September – 2 October, 2015 in Nantes, France, id.EPSC2015-707 [2015EPSC…10..707K]




The need for Professional-Amateur collaborations to the monitoring of gaseous planets – poster for the 11th HelAS conference

The Hellenic Astronomical conference is the biennial meeting of the Greek professional astronomers’ society. During the 11th version of this conference (held in Athens, Sep. 8-12, 2013), we contributed with a poster presentation on the need of pro-am collaborations for Jupiter and Saturn. In particular:

“The need for Professional-Amateur collaborations to the monitoring of the gaseous giant planets”

Emmanuel Kardasis, Grigoris Maravelias, Padma Yanamandra-Fisher, Glenn Orton, John H. Rogers, Michel Jacquesson, Apostolos Christou, Marc Delcroix

Abstract:
The observation of gaseous giant planets is of high scientific interest. Although they have been the targets of several space missions, the need for continuous ground-based observations still remains. As their atmospheres present fast dynamic environments on various time scales the time availability at professional telescopes is neither uniform not sufficient duration to assess temporal changes. On the other hand, numerous amateurs with small telescopes (with typical apertures of 15-60 cm) and modern hardware and software equipment can monitor these changes daily (within the 360-900nm wavelength range). Amateur observers are able to trace the structure and the evolution of atmospheric features, such as major planetary scale disturbances, vortices, and storms. Photometric monitoring of stellar occultations by the planets can reveal spatial/temporal atmospheric variabilities. Their observations provide a continuous record and it is not uncommon to trigger professional observations in cases of important events, such as sudden onset of global changes, storms and celestial impacts. For example the continuous amateur monitoring has led to the discovery of fireballs in Jupiter’s atmosphere, which provide information not only on Jupiter’s gravitational influence but also on the properties of the impactors.
Thus, co-ordination and communication between professionals and amateurs is important. We present examples of such collaborations that: (i) engage systematic multi-wavelength observations and databases, (ii) examine the variability of Jovian cloud features (JUPOS-Database for Object Positions on Jupiter) and Saturn cloud features, (iii) provide, by ground-based professional and mainly amateur observations, the necessary spatial and temporal resolution of features that will be sampled by the space mission Juno, (iv) investigate video observations of Jupiter to identify impacts of small objects (Jovian Impacts Detection-JID and DeTeCtion of bolides in Jupiter atmosphere -DeTeCt software), (v) carry out stellar occultation campaigns.

You can also download the poster as a pdf file: Kardasis-2013.




The need for Professional-Amateur collaborations in studies of Jupiter and Saturn – a JBAA publication

This work is a collective presentation of the type of contributions within the professional-amateur framework for the study of gaseous giants. In particular:

The need for Professional-Amateur collaborations in studies of Jupiter and Saturn

Emmanuel Kardasis, John H. Rogers, Glenn Orton, Marc Delcroix, Apostolos Christou, Mike Foulkes, Padma Yanamandra-Fisher, Michel Jacquesson, Grigoris Maravelias

The observation of gaseous giant planets is of high scientific interest. Although they have been the targets of several spacecraft missions, there still remains a need for continuous ground-based observations. As their atmospheres present fast dynamic environments on various time scales, the availability of time at professional telescopes is neither uniform nor of sufficient duration to assess temporal changes. However, numerous amateurs with small telescopes (of 15-40 cm) and modern hardware and software equipment can monitor these changes daily (within the 360-900nm range). Amateurs are able to trace the structure and the evolution of atmospheric features, such as major planetary-scale disturbances, vortices, and storms. Their observations provide a continuous record and it is not uncommon to trigger professional observations in cases of important events, such as sudden onset of global changes, storms and celestial impacts. For example, the continuous amateur monitoring has led to the discovery of fireballs in Jupiter’s atmosphere, providing information not only on Jupiter’s gravitational influence but also on the properties and populations of the impactors. Photometric monitoring of stellar occultations by the planets can reveal spatial/temporal variability in their atmospheric structure. Therefore, co-ordination and communication between professionals and amateurs is important. We present examples of such collaborations that: (i) engage systematic multi-wavelength observations and databases, (ii) examine the variability of cloud features over timescales from days to decades, (iii) provide, by ground-based professional and amateur observations, the necessary spatial and temporal resolution of features that will be studied by the interplanetary mission Juno, (iv) investigate video observations of Jupiter to identify impacts of small objects, (v) carry out stellar-occultation campaigns.

The paper is available either through arXiv: 1503.07878 or directly from JBAA (2016, vol. 126, p. 29).




Poster on solar observations of the FeXIV/FeX line ratio

During the 13th European Solar Physics Meeting (held in Rhodes, Greece, September 12-16, 2011), we had the opportunity to present our work on spectroscopic observations of the Sun.

Observations of FeXIV/FeX line ratio during the extended Solar minimum (2006-2010) total Solar eclipses

Strikis Iakovos-Marios, Kouloumvakos Athanasios, Patsourakos Spiros

Abstract:
During the last four eclipses we were able to image the spectrum of the Solar Chromosphere and the Solar Corona. We report the drop of the FEXIV line intensity and the rise of the FeX line until the eclipse of 2009 and the rise of the FeXIV and from of FeX line during the total solar eclipse of 2010 from the Island of Mangaia (Cook Islands). As a result of our observations we will present that the Temperature of the Solar Corona is following the Solar Cycle and the Sunspot Cycle. In the end we attribute that the rise of the FeXIV line indicates that the new Solar Cycle has already started between the end of 2009 and beginning of 2010.




Imaging dense globular clusters like M3 and M15

During the Society for Astronomical Sciences 29th Annual Symposium on Telescope Science (held May 11-13, 2010 at Big Bear Lake, CA) the following work was published:

Imaging dense globular clusters like M3 and M15

Rodney Howe, Iakovos-Marios Strikis, Ido Bareket, Dimitrios Stouraitis

Abstract
The objective for this study will be to explore new photometric methods for amateur telescope observations of ‘cluster variables’ and globular clusters using CCD photometry. Amateur telescope photometric observations of ‘cluster variables’ in globular clusters are limited because of dense, crowded star fields. However, with improvements in CCD photometric methods, there are opportunities to observe cluster variables, such as RR Lyrae and SX Phoenicis type stars, through time series analysis of multiple exposures of whole cluster images. Traditional methods for determining light curves in ‘field’ RR Lyrae and SX Phoenicis type stars require selection of comparison and perhaps check stars to perform differential photometry; i.e. subtraction of flux density measures between a non-variable (comparison star) and the variable star as they change in magnitudes over time. We explore the possibility of measuring the variable star’s periodicity in areas, or sections of a globular cluster, to sort different stellar type ‘cluster variables’ within each section of the cluster. There are areas or regions of a globular cluster which ‘pulsate’ at a variable rate which is representative of ‘cluster variables’ that make up that region. For example: we have detected different variability periods within the ‘core’ of a cluster compared to the outer circumference areas of the cluster.

A link to the work can be found to NASA/ADS: 2010SASS…29..129H




EPSC 2013: Digital daylight observations of the planets with small telescopes

During the European Planetary Science Congress 2013 (Sep 8-13, 2013, London, UK) we presented the following work:

Digital daylight observations of the planets with small telescopes

Emmanuel (Manos) I. Kardasis

Abstract
Planetary atmospheres are extremely dynamic, showing a variety of
phenomena at different spatial and temporal scales, therefore continuous
monitoring is required. Amateur astronomers have provided the
astronomical community with a great amount of observations, some of
which are unique, made under difficult observational conditions. When
the planets are close to the sun, observations can only be made either
in twilight or in broad daylight. The use of digital technology in
recent years has made feasible daytime planetary observing programs. In
this work we present the methodology and some results of digital
daylight observations (DDO) of planets obtained with a small telescope
(11inches, 0.28 m). This work may motivate more observers to digitally
observe the planets during the day especially when this can be important
and unique.

You can find the poster either from a local file (Kardasis-EPSC2013.pdf), or from the EPSC site (2013, EPSC, 8, 795).