Tech Trek 2003 Star Party

Ben uses his telescope to show interesting objects at the AAUW Girls Tech Trek summer camp star party at Stanford.

[ Jolitz Heritage ]

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2003 AAUW Stanford Girls Tech Trek Star Party

The American Association of University Women offer top middle school girls the opportunity to explore science and engineering for a week at Stanford University as part of their Tech Trek Science Camp. These girls attend lectures and labs on the Stanford campus for one week in biology, chemistry, geology, astronomy, and engineering. By getting a hands-on feel for science, as well as the opportunity to talk to women in science and engineering, these girls are jump-started into continuing their science studies in high school.

In June 2003 as part of the fun, amateurs were invited to bring their telescopes and hold a star party. Ben Jolitz, then a middle school guy, said "It was just the greatest - all these really smart girls in science, and I'm showing them my telescope. I wouldn't have missed this for anything." Nuff said.

Star Party Setup

First, setup and check out of telescopes is needed before the star party audience shows up. Ben works with his dad to move and setup his 50-inch long f/8.5 reflector. This telescope and fork mount were built by his grandfather (see "Where Ben's Scope came from") and dad, from hand-grinding the mirrors to designing and building the fork.

Ben has since taken this telescope over and refined it further, even using it for a prize-winning science fair project in June of 2004 at the Synopsys Science and Technology Championship (see "Benjamin Jolitz Wins Science Fair Award"). This telescope is easily the most popular of the Jolitz family scopes, and Ben has to keep little kids from climbing on it in operation.

Orange Tube Celestrons
Of course, the Jolitz telescope family collection includes quite an array of classic "orange tube" Celestron Schmidt-Cassagrain telescopes, both 5-inch and 8-inch. This compact design is also a study in collimation, with an estimated 11 degrees of freedom to consider. However, once well-collimated and treated gently in transport, these compact design telescopes provide an excellent viewing experience that we believe is superior to many larger "light bucket" designs. If you don't want your Celestron orange tube anymore, Ben would be pleased to "take it off your hands".

Even Mr. Spock thought they were "logical"!
The Girls Arrive at the Star Party

Once everything is set up, the girls arrive - 125 of them. These top-students are smart, fun, and witty, and full of questions. After an initial orientation around the sky by one of the professors, the girls wander about to look through telescopes and ask loads of questions.

Ben liked the Star Party

Well, Ben really did have a crowd of girls around. And loved every minute of it. He advises every guy to get into astronomy and work at the AAUW Stanford Tech Trek Star Party. He says that, unlike Dilbert, you don't have to go to the moon anymore guys to find girls who like science and engineering.

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