Tuesday, September 2, 2008


Hello, I'm Richard B. Drumm, currently President of the Charlottesville Astronomical Society in Charlottesville Virginia. I'm a video producer by trade and public outreach astronomy education is my passion. I'll have things to post here from time to time and it is my hope that they are enlightening and fun to read. 

My biggest hope is that I won't be boring and that the excitement of discovery of the universe we live in will be your reward for reading this blog.

Here in the photo you see me with my trusty Orion Atlas 10 telescope at one of the NRAO (National Radio Astronomy Observatory) open houses. I have a solar filter on the front of the telescope that is allowing me to look at the sun without frying my eye like an over-easy egg! While I love showing the night sky to people, the daytime sky (basically just the Sun) is the one that is most easily accessible. 

I also have a small solar telescope that permits viewing the Sun in a particular color of light called Hydrogen Alpha. I'll write more on that at a later date, you can be sure, as it's a great tool for doing outreach astronomy in elementary schools. In a very real sense the color of sunlight is a window into the inner workings of the atoms that the Sun is made of! The same is true of the color of starlight and the stars it comes from. We may not be able to physically touch the stars but we can look inside their atoms.

Astronomy is the one science that is almost, well, kind of the "universal solvent" if you will, between scientists and ordinary people. I once looked in MySpace and did a query as to the number of people who had astronomy listed as an interest of theirs. I don't remember what the number was but it was huge! When I go back into MySpace now the system only shows 500 hits on a query and no more. I remember that the number of people who had astronomy listed was far higher than chemistry, biology or mathematics. This tells me that astronomy enjoys a huge groundswell of favorable public opinion that outreach fanatics like myself can take advantage of. 
Now if I can just find my astronomical surfboard...

More later, dear readers! Thank you!