A BLT and fingersteak basket later, Nina led us up the nine-mile winding road to Cambridge, where we were greeted by a few dozen Cantabrigians at the library. For about an hour, Karan and I described the upcoming event and answered questions from the public. As always, I was impressed by how engaged and interested everyone was, especially late on a Thursday evening.
After passing out eclipse shades to the attendees, we packed up our road show and drove back down to Boise, just as the Sun set in the cloud-strewn pink sky, a preview of the twilight effect we will experience during the eclipse in August.
The presentation I gave in Cambridge is posted below.
Just returned from my trip to Idaho Falls, speaking to hundreds of locals about the upcoming eclipse.
I was invited to give two presentations at the Idaho Falls Public Library, a library so beautiful and spacious it has an atrium with a fountain.
On Tuesday evening, I gave a presentation to the broader Idaho Falls community. A few minutes before the presentation, there were only about a dozen attendees, which made me a little nervous, but by the appointed hour, the space had filled beyond capacity, with nearly one hundred folks – an unexpected large but very welcome crowd.
Before my next presentation on Wednesday afternoon, I took a side trip up to the St. Anthony dune field. Since the dune field is likely to be a prime spot for eclipse-viewing, I was curious to see what preparations they were making.
Back to Idaho Falls for an afternoon presentation geared to the youngest eclipse enthusiasts. Here again, we had an unexpectedly large crowd, with easily 200 kids and parents cheerfully crammed into the presentation space.
After helping the kids make souvenir planispheres, I packed up my roadshow for the long drive back to Boise. The megaflood-carved landscape of the Snake River Plain combined with a Planet Money podcast about a flatware-crafting commune to make the time pass quickly.
The presentations I gave in Idaho Falls are posted below.
Idaho Falls Community Presentation
Idaho Falls Children’s Presentation
Last week, I spent a few days in Ontario, Oregon, our neighbor just across the border.
I was invited to visit by Sam Castonguay, a geologist at Treasure Valley Community College (TVCC) as part of my American Astronomical Society Shapely Lectureship. I was allowed to interrupt an advanced calculus class to talk with the students about the upcoming eclipse and astronomy in general. Lots of great questions and enthusiasm for science amongst the TVCC folks.
In the evening of May 31, I gave a presentation to about 70 members of the broader Ontario community about the eclipse. I was really impressed by how engaged and receptive everyone was, and I was able to address concerns folks had about this historical event. People were also very excited to receive eclipse shades.
The next day, I visited with science students at Ontario High School. Even though the semester was nearly over, the students were very attentive and asked a wide range of questions.
And finally, on Saturday, June 2, I attended Ontario’s Global Village Fest at the invite of the local Chamber of Commerce. Good audience, and the clouds that moved into that morning were thick enough to keep the temperatures bearable but thin enough that we were able to set up a to-scale demonstration of the eclipse.
Although all the events left a very positive impression of Ontario, one thing really stuck out during my visit to TVCC. The school recently received a donation of mastadon and mammoth fossils dug out of a nearby quarry. Between my visit to the calculus class and the evening presentation, Castonguay showed me these amazing bones, pictured at left. One of the best things I’ve found about this part of the country is that there are a fair number of fossil deposits throughout. TVCC is in the process of setting up a display for their fossils, and so if you’re in Ontario anytime soon, be sure to visit their collection.
This visit and many others are made possible by support from the Idaho STEM Action Center and donations to the Pony Up Campaign from lots of generous donors, including Michal Martinez, Kathryn Scott, Debra Sklenar, John Freemuth, Keith Sander, Stuart Weiser, Tamsin Clapp, Dorothy A Snowball, Russell Wolff, Luanne Tangedal, Laurie Barrera, Mary Rausch, Steven Drake, Theresa Weiland, Earnest Harper, Brian Cronin, Robert Applequist, Darrell Palmer, Gay Pool, Garretta Reynolds, Lisa Marie Howell, and many anonymous donors.
Thanks to these folks and many others, we raised more than twice what we’d originally asked for, giving us $10k to do public astronomy outreach – an unbelievable outpouring of support from our Boise State community.
I’ve posted my presentations to the community and to the high school below.
UPDATE (2017 Jun 7): Some press coverage in the local paper – http://www.argusobserver.com/news/eclipse-explained/article_805c98f6-46eb-11e7-b41e-6b1b70b6b1d7.html.
Ontario Community Presentation
Ontario High School Presentation
Had a nice visit last night with the folks in lovely Garden Valley about an hour’s drive north of Boise at the confluence of the Middle Fork and Payette Rivers. In response to an invitation from the Chamber of Commerce, I gave a short presentation about the solar eclipse at the Crouch Community Hall. The presentation I gave is posted below.
Folks were really engaged and interested, and I was impressed by how thoughtful and forward-thinking everyone was when it came to logistics and planning for the eclipse. The Idaho Board of Tourism expects lots of people to come to Idaho, many of whom will visit or at least pass through Garden Valley, so being prepared for August 21 is key, especially for municipalities with limited resources.
After the talk, my hosts invited me to dinner at the Two Rivers Grill, where we enjoyed a pretty amazing cobbler made from marionberries, a berry I’ve only encountered after moving to the Pacific Northwest. At dinner, my hosts explained that the marionberry was developed by Oregon State University via crossbreeding between a smaller, flavorful Chehalem blackberry and a larger, better-producing Olallie blackberry in the mid-1950s.