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WORLDWIDE SOLAR ASTRONOMY OUTREACH PROGRAM
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Stephen W. Ramsden
is 49 years old and lives in Atlanta, GA with his wife Natalie Anderson.

 

 Thank you for visiting The Charlie Bates Solar Astronomy Project!

Our program takes observatory quality telescopes and cameras to regional schools in order to teach students about the Sun and its many interesting features.  I concentrate on the Sun's affect on our weather, aviation, communications and environment.  I started in 2007 and see roughly 50,000 people annually at over 70 events per year. This program is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) and survives on public support.  Please feel free to use my resources in any way you see fit for education, ask questions about solar observing or contact us to set up a free visit.  If at some point you would like to contribute to the cause, I would be very grateful.  Paypal your donation to info@charliebates.org (or send your pledge via email) or click the donate link on the side menus.  We have less than 3 % operating costs and no one in the program recieves a salary of any kind.

 

 

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My name is Stephen Ramsden.  I am a Navy Veteran and retired Air Traffic Controller in Atlanta, GA.  I use the latest in narrowband solar telescopes to bring solar activity in the Suns photosphere and chromosphere to the eyes of  students so that it may spark or reinforce an interest in the sciences.   I personally administer the program to over 60,000 students and adults at over 70 events annually.  My associates in 17 countries around the world also perform solar astronomy outreach to as many or more students in their local communities. 

The supporters of our program participate in an annual fundraiser in November to generously provide a never ending supply of solar viewing glasses that we 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. We have provided over half a million free glasses to the public globally since 2008.

 

My visits to schools usually begin with a 10 minute lecture on the nuclear fusion that powers our star.  Then I usher the students safely through my White Light, Calcium K and Hydrogen alpha 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.   The students can also see surface images of the Sun live in two wavelengths through hi speed cameras and even take their own photos!

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.

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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!

 

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 a chance to enjoy the mysteries of our nearest star.

 

WHO WAS CHARLIE BATES? 

(pictures generously supplied by Wayne Dombroski and the Bates family)   Charlie Bates    12/22/1966 - 5/3/2008

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Charlie and Susan Bates were Air Force veterans and accomplished Air Traffic Controllers in Atlanta, GA.  Charlie and I were friends and coworkers for over two decades.  Charlie had a lust for life like no other.  Susan was the glue that held the family together.  Charlie and Susan would go out of their way on every occasion to reach out and be kind to most everyone.  He was an exceedingly generous person and was very eager to help anyone who needed it.   You could ALWAYS count on Charlie Bates.  I miss him dearly.

After the untimely death from breast cancer of Susan Bates and then tragically, Charlie Bates in 2008, I decided to do something with my life other than concentrating on  self-absorption and the accumulation of "money and things".  I started this outreach program in his honor so that, hopefully,  others could feel the warmth of  the famous Bates generosity and compassion through my efforts, and that people suffering from depression and loneliness would see  that there are so many wonders out there to see beyond their life consuming problems that they would not schoose to end their own lives in despair.   Life is good, indeed and I believe that science is the best way to discover the intricacies of nature that make life worth living.  Education and community involvement free you from the self absorption that canoverpower all of us in depression and despair.  Altruism is by far the most effective cure for depression and I get as much out of this program s any student ever has, plus it is a great aid in giving opportunity to anyone who wants it to succeed and live a better life through science education.

I think Charlie and Susan would be happy with the results and I know they would love to have been able to see the kid’s faces when they peer through the telescopes for the first time.  I am humbled and honored for the opportunity to give back to the community and country that has done so much for me.  I chose not to waste my time any longer complaining or participating in the exclusionary practices of political or religious extremism but instead the all inclusionary practice of learning hi tech science...Come join me!  PLEASE, go share your passion with another and let someone know you care about them today, the rewards are ENORMOUS!..  Dont wait until someone is gone to let them now how important they were to you.  Life is short and you cant take it with you...:)