Let's hear what my friend and astronomy club member, Erich Meyer, tells about his first experience running his first "virtual" star observing session using cellphones.

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Our local observatory (Kepler Sternwarte) is closed due to Covid19-pandemia, so there are no public viewing events using our big telescopes.
Nevertheless, using modern technology, there is an opportunity to run simple guided public sky viewing events under the starry sky - even without telescope.
Of cours, everything done without gathering people and in strict accordance with Covid19 restrictions.
How can this work? I will explain it with following example: On the initiative of a physics teacher  we organized a virtual meeting on April 02, 2020. 21 students and 3 physics teachers of our local Kepler-School in Linz participated.
As part of the invitation letter for this event I handed out some instructions and a little starmap for this night (see attached pictures).
We used the software "Microsoft Teams", which is very common in schools for e-learning. For our "meeting" we used primarily the audo channel. Only sometimes the videochannel was opened just for presenting something.
I have been sitting very comfortable in my camping chair, of course alone, on a nearby greenfield site. All participants have been at their own locations - on a balcony or in their garden at home, wherever, all connected by their cellphone.
This evening we had a wonderfull start for our observing night. The International Space Station (ISS) crossed the sky. We looked to Venus, the Moon, and I guided the audience to several star constellations like Orion etc....The time was running and 2 hours passed very quickly.The capacity of our cellphone batteries have sometimes been the limiting factor for participants.
I kept all my instructions very short, so following there was always enouhgh time for everybody for questions & my answers.
Summing up I can say, that even without telescope a "public" viewing can be styled exciting.The feedback was very positive and everybody wanted a retake of such an event.
The challenge is to give clear, short and distinct instructions - to explain where is what to see - you have to make a typical starhopping - of course you have no laserpointer ;-)

Erich Meyer, Kepler Sternwarte Linz


The instructions (of course here written in German) sent before our meeting helped the paricipants to prepare themselves.

Sternkarte new

A little starmap with star constellations and actual position of the Moon, Venus and even the calculated path of ISS.


Erich Meyer sitting in his camping chair, connected with his cellphone and notebook to the audience, starting his observing session. Moon and Venus have been already shining bright in the twilight.

Best wishes from Austria, stay healthy my friends


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