If you are a Boy Scout leader who would like to do astronomy with your Troop or Patrol, the Rappahannock Astronomy Club would be happy to help. Public outreach is an important part of our club purpose. We have years of experience working with Scouts and other community groups, introducing the night sky to children and adults. This group of Web pages contains notes to help amateur astronomers assist Boy Scout groups to do an astronomy program.
The essence of astronomy is getting outside and looking at the night sky. If possible, I prefer to build any astronomy presentation around observing. The sense of wonder at seeing something beautiful that you didn’t know was there is often the beginning of curiosity about an important science and a great hobby. It’s more fun to see than to listen to facts about astronomy. It gives people the actual experience of what astronomy is about.
Rappahannock Astronomy Club offers public star parties through the year. Our parties are free, family-oriented times the public can come and look at the skies with us. We offer views through our own telescopes. We often have Scout groups as guests at these events. These are great opportunities for Scouts and their families to look through a number of different telescopes and see many different sights in space.
We are also happy to arrange for club members to come to your own Troop meeting or other event to introduce your Scouts and families to astronomy. We can bring equipment to observe at your usual meeting place (though we can not bring the number and variety of telescopes that usually appear at the club’s own star parties). And please remember that inclement weather can suddenly cancel any plan for observing the sky.
The First Class requirement to find your with without compass contains astronomical knowlege about daytime and nighttime.
The Astronomy merit badge requires more material and study than we (or you) can cover in a single meeting. In one evening, we can give you an overview. The merit badge teaches a level of knowledge appropriate to a serious hobby. It requires observing the night sky multiple times over the course of a month or more.
In an introductory meeting or star party, we will show the Boy Scouts many of the objects in space that the merit badge requires them to learn about. Some boys will complete some requirements during that time. Our members include a Mattaponi District merit badge counselor, who will be happy to sign merit badge cards for boys who complete requirements. We can set up follow up events. We have at times done clinics with daytime teaching and nighttime observing. We can also point you to resources that will help your boys complete the merit badge on their own.
Thank you for your interest in astronomy. We look forward to working with you and your Scouts. Please contact RAC scouting coordinator Glenn Holliday to request RAC support for your scouting activities. The author of these Scout-related pages welcomes comments and feedback on this material.