Long ago, in Munich, I heard back from the Berlin Amateur Astronomers and Astrophotographers. They do observing events, hold lectures, and sometimes just get beers to talk about the stars. I was really excited to finally meet Ioannis and join the club for a couple of days.
In the evening, we meet Ioannis at Hackescher Markt for some Currywurst. We share stories of the wonders of the Universe. Ioannis is from Greece, and used to study black holes as an astrophysicist. When he realized he loved Berlin possibly more than black holes, he switched fields into programming and has stayed in this city now for 7 years.
We talk about sidewalk astronomy, and the great difficulty of inviting amateur astronomers back into the city centers to share their knowledge with the public. Ioannis says he's never tried sidewalk astronomy before, but he's very excited to see what it's like.
We walk over to the Berliner Dom, where we set up the scope. Groups of people are sitting all around, enjoying their beer in friendly circles. In a crowd like this, not many people will pass by, so I'll have to walk right up to each group and invite them over.
Our friend Dax meets us again and stays for a while.
We encouraged people to make sketches tonight, and we got enough data on Jupiter to watch Ganymede disappear behind the planet! Saturn again makes its appearance. Yesterday, we started spotting Titan, that faint bluish white.
One MoonGazer is a biologist from California. She says she's been to the Griffith Observatory, where John Dobson did so much of his famous work. But she said they never showed her Titan.
With a small group around us, it becomes so much easier to attract attention. I approach the groups sitting in the grass and point to the light in the sky.
"Hey guys, do you see that star? It's actually Jupiter, and my brother has a telescope set up over there, so you should go see it!" And that's generally enough of an argument for a Berliner. We try out our new Saturn facts and enjoy the fresh air.
As usual, the Earth turns toward sunlight and we ignore our obligation to sleep. By the time we get home, the moon is out, and our host Paulo thinks up the perfect place to spot it. Now it's 2 am and the entire BnB is outside looking at the waning gibbous.
Did I mention that tomorrow morning we're cycling to Potsdam (35 km) to see the Leibniz Observatory?
Photo Credit: Ioannis of the Berlin Astrophotographers.