Humankind’s interest in the night sky goes back to our earliest history, when our stone-age forebears looked up in wonder at the starry mystery above them. Volunteers at LTO bring that ancient fascination to life today, giving members of their community an unforgettable experience of the night sky. On two or three nights a month, a Star Night volunteer helps at the observatory.
Volunteering at the Little Thompson Observatory
We are an all-volunteer community organization that encourages astronomy, science and math education. The observatory is funded by donations and built and operated completely by volunteers. Our visiting groups include schools K-12, community colleges, kids’ clubs like Scouting, and adult groups such as church groups and company parties.
A typical question: “Is this appropriate for a person who really knows little or nothing about astronomy, telescopes, observatories, etc?” Yes, absolutely! Many of our new volunteers have limited (or no) background in astronomy, which is why we created the LTO training program. You do not need any experience in astronomy to become an LTO volunteer – just enthusiasm and time to spend helping out with groups who come to visit the observatory.
The first step in our volunteer orientation and training is “Warm Room Training.” We teach you the history of the observatory and what you’ll need to help host groups in the warm room (the main LTO room with the constellation wall). The next step in our training program is to teach new volunteers how to operate the large telescopes at LTO.
All volunteers enjoy simply helping out on event nights, and their help is truly appreciated. Most enjoy the additional training that allows them to operate the telescopes. Additional training and the desire to do a little public speaking to small groups allows many to become “lead” volunteers.
After training, a lead volunteer gets to present whatever astronomical information they are comfortable with in a way that is appropriate for the audience. Presentations are informal and of whatever length you like. They frequently include a “Question and Answer” portion, and if you don’t know an answer, it’s fine! No one expects you to have a Ph.D. in astronomy. After the presentation the real fun begins. You’ll give your guests a guided tour of the night sky. There are many resources on the web to help you create a list of likely candidates. You’ll be as enriched by the experience as the LTO visitors you work with. Finally, lead volunteers may eventually gain access to the observatory for their own use during unscheduled hours.
Please provide the following information by completing the form below. All information provided is confidential.
Yes, I’m interested in volunteering at the LTO!
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