From AstronomyOutreach network
Stephen W. Ramsden (b. 1965) an air traffic controller, is the Founder and Director of the one of the most active solar astronomy outreach programs in the world, "The Charlie Bates Solar Astronomy Project".
Since 2007, Stephen has given solar viewing presentations and demonstrations with high-tech narrow-band solar telescopes to over 40,000 students annually in the United States. The Charlie Bates Solar Astronomy Project is a section of www.solarastronomy.org where Stephen also provides solar equipment and reviews as well as his own solar imaging free of charge to whoever is interested.
The outreach program has a presence in 11 countries as Stephen routinely sends out solar goodie packages to those interested in outreach from all over the world.
==Education and Affliations Stephen went to Georgia State University and is a U.S. Navy ET Nuke veteran. He also holds outreach or IT positions with the following groups in the fields of science, mathematics, aviation careers and air traffic control simulation. Below are positions, memberships, and affiliations held by Ramsden:
- NATIONAL AIR TRAFFIC CONTROLLERS ASSOCIATION
- NASA / JPL SOLAR SYSTEM AMBASSADOR
- NASA / AMES SMART SKIES INSTRUCTOR
- FAA AVIATION AND SPACE EDUCATION COUNSELOR
- ATLANTA ASTRONOMY CLUB/CHARLIE ELLIOTT CHAPTER OUTREACH PROVIDER
- FLINT RIVER ASTRONOMY CLUB OUTREACH PROVIDER
- FAA AIR TRAFFIC CONTROLLER/INSTRUCTOR
- National Black Coalition of Federal Aviation Employees AVSED INSTRUCTOR
- PROFESSIONAL WOMENS CONTROLLERS, INC AVSED INSTRUCTOR
- Astronomical League Master Outreach Provider
I started a small Solar Outreach Program in my local community and later officially named it the Charlie Bates Solar Astronomy Project . I use the latest in narrowband solar telescopes to bring solar activity in the Suns photosphere to the eyes of students so that it may spark or reinforce an interest in the sciences among students.
I see over 50,000 students and adults annually at over 70 events.
The National Air Traffic Controllers Association generously provides a never ending supply of eclipse viewing glasses that I give away to every person in line so that they can look up and see the Sun in all of its majestic glory. These have become the favorite souvenir of my program. I am also a NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador and have been able to use their resources to enhance my project.
My visits to schools usually begin with a 10 minute lecture on the formation of our star and the resulting planets. Then I explain current solar theory such as how Hydrogen atoms fuse to become Helium and release photon energy that we can see through my Lunt Solar Systems White Light, Calcium K and Hydrogen alpha Line Solar Scopes. These kids usually have never seen a narrowband solar telescope and I hear a lot of “wows” each time I bring them out.
When the Sun cooperates with a 60,000+ mile filament or prominence or a large active region with sunspots there is no replacing the look on a kids (or the faculty's) face after you explain the enormity and origin of the features. I like to also explain how the heat that they feel on the side of their face is a component of the features that they are looking at. This kind of ties it all together as the big fireball of hot plasma that the Sun really is.
The kids are fascinated by the details of how it takes the light a little over 8 minutes to reach us from the Sun and they always want to know what would happen if it “blew up”. One little girl asked me once “How much water would it take to put out the Sun”. I couldn’t answer that one.
The NASA SOHO site, NASA SDO site and the NASA Stereo A and B programs are a great source of excellent information for me to use in my outreach. It is so awesome to be able to pull up a current Halpha or White Light image of the Sun on my iPhone on site! I also use these sites extensively in the classroom to show some of the wonderful movies of solar activity or the animations explaining the nature of the Sun. It has been invaluable in my work with kids. Thanks again NASA/ESA!
The Charlie Bates Solar Astronomy Project also now offers complete Air Traffic Control Simulator Outreach through the NASA Smart Skies Project. NASA Smart Skies uses mathematical theory to safely complete various simulated scenarios in real world Air Traffic Control.
I would strongly suggest that if you are fortunate enough to own astronomical viewing equipment of any kind that you make it a point to take it out and share it with people who have never been exposed to telescopes before. It is very rewarding. Who knows where the next Einstein or Newton is hiding just waiting for someone to spark their imagination?
The Charlie Bates Solar Astronomy Project is a non profit (501c3) organization that is dedicated to offering students and youth in the Atlanta area a chance to enjoy the mysteries of our nearest star. I can only continue with your generous, tax deductible donations.
Stephen, his wife Natalie and two dogs Biggie and Johnny live in Virginia Highlands, a small intown community in Atlanta.