As part of its promise to promote the science of astronomy, SMAS has created a series of COMMUNITY OUTREACH PROGRAMS. The programs are free, but donations are graciously accepted and tax deductible. SMAS is a non-profit organization whose only income is from donations, fund raisers and member dues.
STAR PARTIES: The members of SMAS volunteer their time and telescopes to bring astronomy to the public. These programs are free.
Public Star Parties are advertised in the local media, so that anyone in the general public may attend. Locations may include the Nanjemoy Creek Environmental Education Center (NCEEC), utilizing the Nanjemoy Creek Observatory (NCO), as well as various local national, state and regional parks and community centers. All members of the public are welcome to attend these events.
Private Star Parties are scheduled specifically for a requesting school, scout troop, club, etc., and not advertised to the general public. Locations may be NCEEC (recommended for best observing conditions, plus use of NCO), or local schools or parks.
Whenever logistically possible, Star Parties also include a Pre-Observing Briefing, either indoors or outdoors. The SMAS Program Coordinator reviews "Star Party Safety Tips," "What's Up in the Night Sky," and "Astronomy Q & A." The program may also include optional astronomy projects or lessons, which may be related to a school or scout curriculum.
SCHOOL VISITATION: The SMAS Program Coordinator visits schools during the day to give hands-on astronomy lessons to individual classes. The lessons may be related to the curriculum. Schedule availability may be limited. This program is free.
JOINT ASTRONOMY: Volunteer SMAS members visited NCEEC during student overnight programs. Volunteers conducted observing sessions in NCO, while SMAS members and NCEEC staff members conducted observing sessions in the field. This program was free.
STUDENT ASTRONOMY CAMP: SMAS and NCEEC conducted a Student Astronomy Camp in June 2002 at NCEEC. This was a four-day, three-night program for students entering grades 6 - 9. This program had a fee. As part of the tuition, each student received a telescope to take home.
BACKYARD ASTRONOMY CLASS: SMAS conducted a Backyard Astronomy Class in October 2003 at NCEEC. This was a twelve hour, two night program for families and individuals. This program had a fee. Students learned a variety of topics, including observing basics, how to use their own telescopes and how to purchase equipment in the future.
TEACHER ASTRONOMY WORKSHOPS: In October 2004, local science teachers participated in hands-on astronomy lesson plans at NCEEC, which were presented by the SMAS members. The teachers received a packet of additional educational resources, learned about the various programs that SMAS offers, and toured the Nanjemoy Creek Observatory complex.
In August 2007, local science teachers once again visited NCEEC to participate in a Star Party at the Nanjemoy Creek Observatory, as part of their Space Foundation sponsored workshop.
STUDENT MENTORING PROGRAM: Individual students are paired with individual SMAS volunteers. SMAS members provide guidance in utilizing the equipment and resources at NCO, as students carry out the astronomy classroom or science fair projects that they create. Students must provide their own transportation to and from NCO/NCEEC.For more information on any of these programs or to schedule a Star Party or School Visitation, please contact the SMAS Program Coordinator at email@example.com. Programs are scheduled on a first-come, first-served basis. Back to Top