THE PEDALING ASTRONOMER PROJECT
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© The Pedaling Astronomer Project, Inc. 2016
The Great American Solar Eclipse of 2017
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The Pedaling Astronomer Project's unique outreach efforts would have negligible effect without the sponsors whose continuing contributions of equipment and funds assure maximum success. Put simplest: Each enterprise listed randomly here is critical to this effort.
What came first, the bike or the telescope? In the case of the Pedaling Astronomer Project, it was the bike that ultimately defined the mission, and we have River City Cycling of Shreveport/Bossier City, Louisiana, to thank for the Surly Big. River City Cycling not only provided the perfect bike, but it first allowed Gary to test a full range of models and styles to ensure that, when he set out on his long journey, he was indeed pedaling a bike that not only fit him perfectly, but that was perfectly suited to the project's unique task, as well.
And then they dedicated more than a month to training Gary in the finer aspects of bicycle assembly, adjustment and maintenance to ensure that he was prepared to prevent foreseeable mechanical issues and to correct all unforeseen challenges.
The River City Cycling team is knowledgeable, hyper competent and engagingly friendly. Wherever the Pedaling Astronomer Project leads, River City Cycling will remain Gary's bike-shop home.
To the question, "What came first, the bike or the telescope?" the answer is actually, "The telescope mount" -- as in, Sky-Watcher USA's remarkably portable Star Adventurer micro-mount, which Gary reviewed for Astronomy Technology Today long before he had the idea of mounting a telescope on a bicycle. Telescope mounts are traditionally much heavier than the scopes they carry, especially those of the German-equatorial design that relies on counterweights. But the Star Adventurer is about half the weight of the telescope and solar accessories used in the project.
When Gary displayed the Surly Big in its original astro-lab configuration in New York at NEAF 2016, the Sky-Watcher USA team's immediate reaction was, "Whatever you need, let us know. We're on board." And they followed up in a big way. The Sky-Watcher USA team is now personally involved in managing the day-to-day logistics of the project's outreach efforts.
Charlie Bates Solar Astronomy Project
When it comes to astronomy outreach, in whatever form, we know of no other continuing program that reaches more school-age kids globally than the Charlie Bates Solar Astronomy Project. Indeed, it was the remarkable example set by Stephen Ramsden, the tireless principal behind CBSAP, that originally inspired the Pedaling Astronomer Project. CBSAP is also the source of the solar glasses Gary distributes to all he encounters during his travels.
The Pedaling Astronomer Project leverages increasing public awareness of the August 21, 2017, solar eclipse to inspire those who've never experienced the universe as seen through quality telescopes to want to learn more. Doing that requires sharing the most breathtaking views of the Sun available from ultra-portable astro gear and there is no more portable and versatile solar-viewing solution than DayStar's eyepiece-style Quark Ha filters. The Quark, supplied by DayStar for the duration of the project, allows Gary to share solar views by day, and then also use the same compact telescope in the more traditional role of sharing night-sky views of highlight celestial objects.
The Surly Big is long, strong, stable and able. Indeed, it's the perfect solution to the challenges of bike journeys spanning tens of thousands of miles carrying extraordinary loads. Surly Bikes not only designed the remarkable Big, it keeps Gary supplied with the components required to keep the bike performing at its peak. When you pedal as many miles as Gary, it's great to know a team as knowledgeable as Surly's has your back, none of which is surprising. After all, they are dedicated cyclists themselves.