SDAA Educational Outreach
Bringing the wonders of the heavens to the curious.
The San Diego Astronomy Association (SDAA) is a non-profit 501(c)(3) educational organization, established and incorporated in 1963, to further the education of our membership and the general public in the subjects of astronomy and related space and physical science, and as an Outreach organization to increase public awareness and enjoyment of these sciences. We are currently celebrating 40 years of serving our membership and bringing the wonders of the heavens above to the general public.
|SDAA member Peter DeBaan explains the workings of a Dobsonian telescope to an interested family at Astronomy Day in Balboa Park.|
The SDAA is composed of almost 600 members, people from all walks of life who share a common scientific interest. Many have built their own telescopes. Most are involved in school, civic activities and public Outreach. Some conduct research for professional organizations, while others just enjoy the serenity of a night under a canopy of stars. Whatever our member's interests, we all share a common fascination for the mysteries of our universe and a willingness to exchange and share the results of practical observational experience.
The SDAA holds regularly scheduled events that benefit our members, the general public, and especially the educational community here in San Diego. Once a month, an educational lecture Program and general meeting is presented for the members and the general public. These meetings are held at the Visitors Center at Mission Trails Regional Park. The SDAA offers Programs from simple observing for the beginner; to gadget nights, where one can learn about the current equipment available to the novice or serious amateur; to meetings where guest speakers share their wisdom and experience with the public. These speakers are club members, prominent academia from our excellent university system, to professionals from NASA, JPL, and other public and private space related organizations. All speakers lecture to the SDAA and the general public with one thing in mind - to make astronomy and space related sciences understandable, available, and accessible to all.
Regular observing sessions--"star parties"--are held at our ten-acre site in the east county, and the Club's 22-inch telescope, along with other club telescopes, are available for everyone to use. Members experienced in their use and in the night sky host the club telescopes, and the hosts are always willing to take on the throngs of curious public, school groups, and other civic organizations that visit our site.
|SDAA member Rich Bentley shares the view through his reflector at one of the Club's regular Stars In The Park (TM) outings.|
We are especially proud of our "School Star Parties." These are held not only for schools, but also for Scout groups, at special needs camps and homes (such as the Polinsky Center), and other youth groups (such as the cancer children at Camp Marsten). Members meet regularly in Balboa Park and Mission Trail Regional Park for public stargazing, and we host an additional 100-125 star parties a year on school campuses and in youth related camps across the county. These star parties reach approximately 15,000 school age children and 5,000 adults, teachers, and civic leaders each year. SDAA members conduct astronomy seminars for educators, mirror and telescope making classes, and classes in observing and astrophotography. Printed educational resources and teaching aids are available for use by any school or group requesting them. All these are provided at no charge to a budget restricted educational system.
There is an increasing need by the educational community, special needs groups, and the general public for Outreach by the SDAA to persons of all ages who otherwise would never have accessibility to the wonders of astronomy. Hence, the SDAA regularly seeks funding to continue expanding our public Outreach efforts to meet public demand for these services. We are currently seeking funding to accommodate the possible donation of a 30-inch telescope and observatory dome. We are working to complete construction of a fire-suppression system on our site, as required by the fire department and the Forestry Department; to upgrade bathroom facilities and septic systems at the site; make improvements to the property fence, erosion control on the site, road maintenance and upgrades to access ways to make the site ADA compliant; and increasing our ability to supply public star party materials, such as informational materials, and materials used at the school star parties.
Through our public Outreach projects, the SDAA has grown immensely in the last 40 plus years, and we strive to grow in our ever-expanding role in public Outreach. This is one of the main efforts that make the SDAA one of the preeminent amateur astronomy organizations in the world.