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Astronomer Uses High Tech to Teach

Steve Esparza demonstrates the telescope to cadets
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Steve Esparza demonstrates the telescope to cadets C/Amn Joseph Kearns and C/A1c Isaac Trimble. Photo credit: 1st Lt Deborah Leighton, CAP, PAO, Sugar Valley Composite Squadron. (click image to view full size)
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Possibilities of Home Astronomy

9/1/2015––Amateur Astronomer Steve Esparza gave an astronomy talk to the Sugar Valley Composite Squadron on September 1, during the Squadron's Tuesday night meeting at the Sugar Valley Airport. Using the internet, cameras and telescopes, Mr. Esparza captured the attention of senior members, cadets and visitors alike. 

On the first Tuesday of the month, the Squadron invites a guest to speak on a topic of his/her choice as a way to broaden the horizons of its members. This month’s talk was well out of the ordinary. As a member of the Forsyth Astrological Society for the past ten years, and an amateur astronomer, lecturer and astrophotographer, Mr. Esparza showed how today’s technology can make observing the heavens more interesting by utilizing the complexities of the world wide web, and the potential for real-time interaction with other astronomers around the world. Mr. Esparza uses a website in his daily broadcasts.

After setting up one of his large portable telescopes outside in front of our hanger (our meeting place), he then set up a computer link to his at-home backyard observatory. His goal was to communicate with an assistant in the observatory in real time, and to see what was being seen through the observatory telescope. 

With Mr. Esparza was a fellow Society member, Ms. Priscilla Ivester, who used well designed posters to show how Light Pollution can affect everything from our health and the natural environment to observing the night skies. She also talked about simple solutions to the problem, such as cap covers for spotlights and streetlights which direct the light downward where it is needed, rather than up into the night sky where it simply adds to the nighttime light pollution.   Just seeing the changes in light pollution that have been made from the 1950s to the current time was quite impactful.

There were several questions from the audience about the differences between ‘reflector’ and ‘refractor’ telescopes, and what the Forsyth Astrological Society was about. All in attendance showed interest and fascination in the subject.

For more information about Astronomy or the Forsyth Astrological Society which meets on the 4th Tuesday of each month at SciWorks, 400 W Hanes Mill Rd, Winston-Salem, NC 27105, call (336) 767-6730 or go to