Fun at AstroDay

In the ten years I have lived on island I have never missed an AstroDay. This year was no change to that streak, I volunteered to do the last shift on the Keck Observatory table, 2-4pm. Show up at lunchtime, enjoy the activities myself for a while, say hi to everyone I know there, then do my shift on the table… Good plan.

Thermal image of a young guest at AstroDay
Thermal image of a young guest at AstroDay
We were using a thermal camera for our primary activity. Instead of borrowing the fancy, and very expensive, FLIR camera from the summit, our outreach group has bought one of the little iPad thermal cameras from Seek Thermal.

I was pleasantly surprised with this little thermal camera, it does a nice job costing only a few hundred dollars. Using the iPad linked to a large display using AirPlay the setup worked quite well in practice. I could handle the camera with no wires to tether me to one place.

The kids do enjoy the thermal camera, it is a view of the world they may not know when they arrive about but seem to understand quite quickly. I love showing them how a hand print can be left behind on a tabletop just from residual heat. Once you have them hooked we can explain why infrared is useful in astronomy, seeing the universe in a different light. Slip a little science into the conversation.

AstroDay is a lot of fun, a chance to connect with the community. Definitely worth the drive over the island.

Thermal image of hands creating thermal handprints
Thermal image of hands creating thermal handprints
Thermal image of hand prints left behind on a table top
Thermal image of hand prints left behind on a table top

Author: Andrew

An electrical engineer, amateur astronomer, and diver, living and working on Mauna Kea, Hawai'i.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *