Directions for Telescope Coordinator


  • Plan and execute the observing in front of Pupin (or on College Walk).
  • Pick out the target objects and assign them to the telescope volunteers (and yourself) beforehand.
  • Be in contact with the Movie Captain before and during the event to coordinate planning.
  • Help to set up both of the telescopes being used.
  • Take the telescopes in from your location at the end of the event (after an hour or so).
  • Answer attendee questions on astronomy, physics and science.
  • Positively represent the University, the Department, and our profession.


Movie nights have the following schedule:

  • 5-10 minute introduction to the film by Movie Captain
  • Film (for its total duration of x minutes)
  • ~20 minute lecture and additional x minutes discussion on the relevant science and fiction in the film.
  • Before the film concludes, telescopes will be setup on College Walk (or in front of Pupin) by Telescope Coordinator and Volunteers until closing (weather permitting).
  • Close things down around 10 or 10:30PM (depends on duration of film and enthusiasm of audience participants in film discussion).

The Week Prior to the Film

  • Plan what targets will be observed. Use the observational resources and Handy Facts pages for ideas. Is there a target that ties into the film topic? Keep in mind that you don't have total sky visibility from different locations on campus and there will be a lot of light pollution. Stick with bright easy-to-find objects (e.g. moon, planets, M42, Pleiades, binaries).
  • Determine who is on which telescope. There should be 4 of you total, 2 for each telescope. Plan to bring 6" or 8" (or 4.5") telescopes out. One person in each pair should be operating the telescope, while the other person focuses on answering questions about science for the people not actually looking at the object. All volunteers present (and you) should be familiar with the scientific and relevant details for the objects that they're showing (i.e. read up on the object in the observational resources.
  • Figure out when you want to set up the telescopes (presuming good weather). Look at the duration of the film, and plan to at least be setup and ready for visitors when the film ends (some people will leave when the film is done and not wait for the lecture/discussion). You'll probably need a good 30 minutes to get the telescopes from the observatory to your destination with all the equipment and be setup and ready.
  • Look at the weather forecast. If the weather turns bad, you don't need to attend the event at all, but make sure the Movie Captain knows your plans.
  • Contact your Telescope Volunteers. Give them their assignments and remind them at what time they are expected to be at the observatory to setup the telescopes.
  • Contact the Movie Captain for the event night. Exchange phone numbers so that he/she can text message you at the end of the movie to get a weather update.
  • Check to make sure the batteries in the Telrads are charged. If not, charge them.

Thirty Minutes before Observing

  • Get the roof key (and tally counter) and open the roof to the Telescope Volunteers (but close it afterwards or you might get random people showing up).
  • Sign in as "Roof Captain" for the night.
  • Get the telescopes you plan to use and move them to your destination. Be careful not to jar the telescopes too much, or the mirrors will get out of alignment (and the image in the telescope will look weird).
  • Set up your telescope and help the volunteers to set theirs up on the assigned targets.

After an hour or an hour and a half

  • When you've been out there for a while and you're ready to finish up, announce that observing is over and pack up the telescopes and equipment.
  • Shutdown the telescopes: turn off telrads, put caps back on, etc.
  • Gently bring the telescopes back to Pupin's roof and put them away as you found them.
  • Sign out as Roof Captain for the night in the transit room. Note any problems you may have encountered.
  • Meet up with the Movie Captain to discuss how things went, how many people attended, etc, so that he/she can include details about the roof in his/her writeup.