It's full of stars/Teacher Notes

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1 Teacher's Notes

1.1 Session 1

The title of this first session is from the last words of the movie '2001: A Space Odyssey'. Its main aim is to introduce students to practical astronomy (hopefully they will get to do some) and to teach them how to use telescopes safely and correctly. This is the shortest of the “lectures”, as it is designed to leave some time for students to practically use scopes within the confines of a laboratory, or hopefully outside looking at stars. The basic flow is as follows:

  • The story of Hans Lippershey and how and why Galileo is incorrectly remembered as its inventor.
- http://space.about.com/cs/basics/a/spacefaq12.htm
- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hans_Lippershey
  • A brief introduction to the mechanism of two lenses
– You can get smaller groups playing with pairs of lenses or get them to look down the barrel of a large reflecting telescope such as a Meade lx200
  • Warn students to be careful
– video from Australia showing damage from a science experiment gone wrong: http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/badastronomy/2010/04/29/dramatic-video-of-nasa-balloon-accident-that-destroys-payload
  • Question – What sort of things can you see using a telescope?
  • Video – Some images taken using telescopes
– specifically most taken with the Hubble. These sorts of images you can never seen using a small scope in a light polluted city.
  • Reasons why they can’t be seen...
- Too feint, too small, too much light pollution, not a big enough scope, eyes not sensitive enough, need to use a camera and a long exposure. (Heinrich Olbers is visible in the bottom of the screen for this question, he comes up in session 4 – however his paradox can be mentioned now if you like – this is the first of many cross over points between the sessions.)
  • Star trails picture taken over around a 2hr exposure (from the size of the trails – full circle = 24hrs) Foreground image and star trails are NOT taken at the same time with same exposure – this has been edited. Note the “pole star” doesn’t appear to move (much)
  • Zoom in – naked eye astronomy task
- Find Polaris using the pointers. Hit the big W of Cassiopeia and you have gone too far. Note the “pole star” is not actually that bright, and due to precession of the Earth’s Axis it will not always be on the pole.
  • Introduction to Right Ascension and Declination
- http://astro.unl.edu/classaction/animations/coordsmotion/radecdemo.html
  • Video - Introduction to software that maps the sky – Microsoft virtual telescope (free), Distant suns (iPhone app – not free) and various other programs.
  • Time spent with telescopes, hopefully outside

Useful cloudy weather applications