The Mentor Program is an effort to accomplish the goal of the second part of the NOVAC slogan, ‘…and to help others observe.” The Mentor Program helps novice observers get in touch with more experienced observers (the mentors) who can help them with questions, developing observing skills, and assist them with selecting and using equipment.
Some areas that mentors can help novice observers with are:
- Stellar Navigation – finding and identifying constellations and bright stars, star hopping, go-to scope alignment, using star charts.
- Observing Techniques – finding deep-sky objects, planetary observing, keeping a log book.
- Equipment – selecting a new telescope, selecting additional equipment (eyepieces, filters, etc.), setting up and aligning a telescope.
- NOVAC Site Logistics – finding and getting into NOVAC sites. Although the directions on the website are very good, novice observers may want to follow someone to a site for the first time.
If you want help from a mentor:
Send an e-mail to John McDonnell from the contacts page and list the areas with which you would like help. John will help you get in touch with a mentor who is familiar with those areas. You can then set up a mutually convenient time and location to meet. The NOVAC Monthly Observing Sessions are good times to meet, since there will be other NOVAC members around to help in the event that you ‘stump’ the mentor.
If you would like to be a mentor:
You do not need to be an extremely advanced observer with ten years of experience and a 20” dob to be a mentor. All you need is to feel comfortable in some observing skills or area of knowledge, and a desire to help someone with less experience. You will help them get started observing, improve their observing skills, and perhaps steer them away from some of the mistakes that you made when you first started.
We will send you a short questionnaire that will ask about your observing experience. As requests for assistance are received, you will be contacted to see if you can help. After that, you can get in touch with the observer who requested help to set up a time and place to meet.