We welcome and encourage parents to actively participate in our classes. In the past, we've found that most parents take a strong interest in the course material, and that the presence of parents in the classroom helps to keep the children focused during the presentations - which can be a challenge, since the class meets at the end of the day. However, if seating space becomes an issue, we ask that parents yield the better seats to the children. If and when there is not adequate seating for both parents and children, parents can wait elsewhere in our house and converse - my wife enjoys the company.
During our outdoor observation sessions, we ask that parents attend their children. Because of the late hour, and the small delays while the telescope is repositioned to observe various objects, children tend to spontaneously find ways to entertain themselves. I don't mind a limited amount of play during the observing sessions, but without parental presence this can get out of hand, and I am too involved in setting up observations to be a good policeman.
Inevitably, you will need to miss a class. Some sections of the course are structured cumulatively, others are more independent. Depending on which sessions you miss, I will try to make arrangements with you to make up missed sessions - usually having you come early the next week. What we need to avoid is repetitive absences. Because some sections of the course depend on material presented in earlier sessions, missing too many classes will result in confusion and frustration for your children, or disruption for the rest of the class. IF you cannot attend on a given night but have a computer available, we can arrange for you to attend virtually through Skype. This cannot become a habit, but in a pinch it is better than missing the whole class.
Observations and Weather
Astronomical observation requires clear and transparent skies. We will attempt observations only if we have at least partly cloudy conditions, with less than about 25% of the sky covered in clouds. Otherwise, its just a frustrating experience. Even if clear, if the sky is hazy or we have ground fog, observation is largely impossible.
The most spectacular nights are typically in the Fall through early Spring, and usually on the coldest nights. Although the equipment will function just fine down to about 0 degrees F, I will not have children observing at temperatures below about 25F.
In the warmer months, insects can be a problem. Use of insect repellent is advised; however, the telescope's optics are highly sensitive to the aerosol propellants in most repellents. Insect repellent should be applied either before arriving for class, or indoors prior to going outside.
The course fee can be paid monthly, at the start of the month. If you wish to pay for multiple months at a time, this is fine also, but payments are not refundable - so if you decide to leave the course for whatever reason, a monthly payment limits your loss. In the event that the course extends beyond 9 months for the biweekly class (due to classes missed because of weather, illness, or business travel), you will not be charged for additional months. A small discount is offered for payments made in full within the first 2 months of the course.