Keck Open House

I suppose I should do a write-up of Keck Week. It has been a week since the event wound down. But… That was a massive whirlwind of activity, way too much to do, I am just now exiting decompression mode.

I am not the only one attempting to recover. I stopped by Debbie Goodwin’s office Monday. Her desk is piled with follow-up work, her usually neat office a bit of a wreck. The same story everywhere around headquarters, the remains of open house litter the complex, slowly disappearing as folks clean up and put away. At least the conference room had tables and chairs for Tuesday’s AO Team meeting.

We are still awaiting the numbers, visitors to open house, donations, etc. But even without data I think we can call the event a total success. It was huge in any case, turnout for open house was somewhere in the 1,500 to 2,000 visitor range as expected. What I do know was the reaction I got as I walked about the events.. A lot of happy folks! Everyone was having a good time.

Telescope Shop
An array of backyard telescopes await the crowd in the Telescope Shop, photo by Maureen Salmi
The two West Hawaii Astronomy Club exhibits were a mixed success, not through any fault of the club. The solar viewing was completely wiped out by the Waimea weather, not just the usual misty clouds, but pouring rain. To the success side, the Telescope Shoppe worked well, as I hoped it gave our club members something to talk about, a hook to draw in the visitor. The display of small, amateur instruments looked pretty good, everything from some of my binoculars on a parallelogram mount to Tony’s 12.5″ Obsession dob. A pair of Orion 8″ dobs gave us a ‘scope to point to for budget minded folks, an iOptron cube and a Meade 8″ LX-90 represented some GoTo options. This is an activity I highly recommend to anyone hosting a similar event.

Soldering Flashers
The fun of soldering a flasher circuit board, photo by Maureen Salmi
The rain did little to dampen the crowds every part of the complex was crowded. The other Operations Department exhibits were quite popular… David was playing with liquid nitrogen in the courtyard, exploding bottles, freezing bananas, making ice cream. In the electronics lab there were flashers to solder, small circuit boards with LED’s and a battery allowing folks to try their hand with a soldering iron. In the shop we had a hydraulic press stamping keychains. Kids pumping a lever to create the fifteen tons of pressure needed to emboss the Keck hexagons into brass.

It is a lot of fun, and a lot of work. It is a real treat for the community. With the enormous effort we will not be doing this every year. The last open house was three years ago, it will probably be that long before we do it again.