John O'Neal, North Carolina Stargazer







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Past Outreach Events we have proudly participated in...


In conjunction with the NEAF Astronomy Expo! In the past decade, NEAIC has grown in both size and stature, becoming one of the most eagerly anticipated astronomical imaging conferences in the United States. Devoted to all aspects of Astronomical Imaging, this two-day event hosts leaders and acknowledged experts in extra solar planets, variable stars, minor planets, asteroids, comets, and supernova research with the intention of fostering pro-am collaborations.With attendance expected to be more than 200, you will be very busy both days networking and learning from both amateur, semi-pro, and professional astronomers.

The Director of NEAIC is Bob Moore. He has been at the helm for nine of NEAIC's eleven years. Bob's successful vision of NEAIC is to make it a well rounded Astro imaging conference by including a line of advanced deep sky aesthetic imaging, planetary and solar talks, scientific imaging talks, and a full line of basic how to imaging talks to include all of the above on a beginner level. All would agree that he's done a great job!  

I have been invited to present a series of programs on Solar Imaging this April, 2018 .   

BoBfest, The Regional Gathering of Amateur Astronomers, 2017-2018
Dorothy on the Solar Observing FieldMe and Bob BoBfest Bob EskridgePresentation time!!!Bob & Pamela & Randy ShivakCharlie Warren
Our PresentationGuestsPamelaKidsRandyTimmy Telescope


 Regional Gathering of Amateur Astronomers at Catawba Science Center from 9:00am until 5:00pm Join us at the *NEW* location in Hickory! 243 3rd Ave NE, Hickory, NC 28601 (828) 322-8169

Basic astronomy talks (not deep academic stuff), BIG astronomy vendor(s), displays, door prizes, and light refreshments. FREE Event! Everyone Welcome! In the West Wing building of the SALT Block at the Catawba Science Center.

I gave two table top Forums on Solar imaging and Multiple Wavelength viewing and imaging in 2017.  During the Solar Observing sessions I will have H-Alpha, Calcium H, Sodium D and Continuum filters available for viewing.

I gave a presentation on EASY PEASY Smartphone Astrophotography in 2018 and joined Pamela & Randy Shivak on the Solar Observing Field in 2018.

We sure could use solar eclipse glasses...

The Great American Total Solar Eclipse of August 21st, 2017 at Smiths Ferry, Idaho

Camp Solaractivity

On August 20th from 1-4pm I, along with my wife, Dorothy and associates, Pam and Randy Shivak will be providing a "SOLAR STAR PARTY" at CAMP SOLARACTIVITY, at the Grace Chapel Church campground in Smith's Ferry, Idaho. We will have multiple viewing opportunities on hand to demonstrate safe solar viewing. We will be illustrating proper use of Solar Eclipse glasses, projection methods, and will also have multiple narrow band SAFE Solar Telescopes on hand.

I look forward to meeting y'all on the 20th and sharing our very own star up close and personal.

At 8pm I will also be giving a presentation to further reinforce EYE SAFETY during the eclipse as well as to talk about some of the exciting things you will see during the eclipse. Since this is the first eclipse to cross the continental US in almost a decade, many of us are "in the dark" about what events take place during an eclipse and when they happen during the almost 3 hour long duration of the eclipse. The key to seeing these features is to know where & when to look. I will share multiple methods of viewing the partial phases of the eclipse and some of the little less known features of Totality, like Shadow Bands, Bailey's Beads, the Diamond Ring, Solar Prominences, the Corona and Magnetic Field Loops and Streamers.I'll also talk about some of the conditions goin on around us as totally and the shadow of the moon race overhead and engulf us in darkness. We'll see what stars and planets will appear during our two minutes and 12 seconds of darkness.

The 8th Annual Astronomy Festival on The National Mall, 2017

 In Washington, DC, on Friday June 2th from 6 to 11 pm, visitors will be a given a free guided tour of the sky at the 8th Annual Astronomy Festival on the National Mall. This free public stargazing is organized by Dr. Donald Lubowich, Coordinator of Astronomy Outreach at Hofstra University.  The Astronomy Festival on the National Mall (AFNM) will feature solar, optical, and radio telescope observations of the Sun, Moon, Jupiter, and Saturn; hands-on activities, demonstrations, hand-outs, posters, banners, and videos; a planetarium show with a portable blow-up dome, speakers from scientific and educational organization, and a chance to mingle with astronomers.

Dr. Lubowich and local amateur astronomers will set up twenty telescopes on the Mall. Starting at 6 pm, visitors will be able to view sunspots with the help of specially filtered telescopes.   After dusk and until 11 p.m. telescopes will provide close-up views of the Moon, Saturn with its beautiful rings, Jupiter and its moons, colorful double stars, and star clusters that sparkle like diamonds on black velvet.

Dorothy O'Neal manning the scopes on the National Mall

Dorothy O'Neal manning the scopes on the National Mall

We were honored to show George Washington his first views of the Sun. He was VERY curious about the tech involved in filtering the "deadly solar rays."Young & old alike enjoyed the viewing the sun in multiple wavelengths. By aligning the scopes side by side, one scope is just right for the little folks, while allowing their parents a comfortable view, too.We used free solar power to drive the scope and the Solar Filters
Basking in the shadow of our National Monument. The weather could not have been more pleasant. Mid 80's, light breeze and moderate humidity.The event was held on the National Mall in the shadow of the Washington Monument. We were this close!!!The SUN parked atop the monumentThe MOON parked atop the monument
Telescope viewing on the left. On the right are the 40+ exhibition booths & tables. There was a steady stream of visitors at our eyepieces.Dr. Donald Lubovich, coordinator of Astronomy Outreach at Hofstra University is in the center. Amelia Draper,  NBC News Channel 4 Weather Reporter is on the right.

The June 2nd, 2017 Astronomy Fest on the National Mall was a HUGE success by any measure. It was the 8th year for this esteemed event and we were proud to be invited to participate. From the time me we setup at 3pm until we tore down at 11pm, there was not an idle second at the eyepiece. The line to our scope went as far as the eye could see ALL DAY LONG. Our friend and colleague one of the Event Coordinators, Bob Moore said rough early estimates were showing 10,000 + people passing through. I believe it. This was the most intense session I've ever participated in. I could not have done this without Dorothy O'Neal.  

In over 40+ years of doing outreach and reaching many thousands of viewers at my eyepieces or attendees at my presentations, I never imagined the thrill of introducing  astronomy to over 10,000 souls IN ONE AFTERNOON. 
Although physically draining, it was mentally challenging and exhilarating at the same time.

The Triennial Earth-Sun Summit, 2015

David Wexler and I at the Indiana Westin during the TESS Convention in 2015

2015 Triennial (TESS) Earth-Sun Summit in Indiana

On Saturday, April 26th, 2015 Dorothy and I drove to downtown Indianapols, Indiana to attend the 2015 TESS Convention. The Triennial Earth-Sun Summit is jointly hosted by the American Astronomical Society, Solar Physics Division and American Geophysical Union, Space Physics Aeronomy Section.
They invited SOLARACTIVITY Members to setup our Solar Telescopes for the viewing pleasure of convention attendees. Here's what they wrote about us in their program:

"Solar Viewing in Multiple Frequencies"  Sunday, 26 April - 9:00 am - 3:00 pm

The Solaractivity group is a group of pro-am solar enthusiasts who share their love of solar astronomy, solar imaging and solar outreach efforts through the use of social media such as Facebook, Twitter and Google +. Our global community, (over 22,000 members strong) hosts numerous annual outreach events as we bring our love of all things solar to all the people of the world.

SAA members will be setup on the Executive Club Lounge Patio at the Westin Indianapolis. They will have state of the art Hydrogen Alpha scopes on hand, a Calcium K telescope and a white light scope for convention goers to view the sun in multiple frequencies. See sparkling views of Solar Prominences, Filaments, Sunspots, Granulation Cells and even Super Granulation Networks with your own eyes through our SAFE Solar Telescopes. We will even have solar viewing glasses and a spectroscope on hand. Stop by and chat with our presenters and see the sun like you've never seen it before!"

We had over 100 convention goers stop by for views in the scopes and to watch our slide shows and presentations. Many were impressed with the state of our amateur gear and the advances made in recent years in amateur astro-imaging. When you are used to using the best solar gear in the world on a daily basis, it was amazing for them to see some of the images amateurs are cranking out on modest gear today.
As far as tech, I think they were most impressed with the new DAYSTAR QUARK and the Lunt Ca-K Module. I forget who commented that making this gear affordable to the common enthusiast is a worthwhile goal. I ccan't agree more!!

I was proud to be representing our amateur community and getting the same oohs and ahhhs out of pro astronomers as we get out of school children. It just goes to show that our love of the sun is not something common only to children. The solar majesty is something that is inherent and undeniable in each and every one of us.
 We can all appreciate the beauty and majesty of the center of our solar system and giver of life to every living creature we know...

David Wexler stopped by a couple of times. We had some great conversations and he got me some really good info on NASA's Solar Ambassador Program, of which I am now a member. Thanks, David!! — with David Wexler at SOLARACTIVITY/TESS SOLAR OBSERVING SESSION.

This is Julien Sharp. She was really enthusiastic about the views in the scope. — at SOLARACTIVITY/TESS SOLAR OBSERVING SESSION.
That's Katie Whitman checking out my Astrophotography book. I also forgot this gentleman's name. He's from the Observatory in Hawaii. — at SOLARACTIVITY/TESS SOLAR OBSERVING SESSION.