Astronomy and Astrophysics 2001
Shodor > SUCCEED > Workshops > Archive > Astronomy and Astrophysics 2001

To start off, Dave gave a tour of the solar system. Among the things discussed were the composition of the planets, how far they might be from the Sun, and their sizes. He then got into a discussion about the various features on Mars and the controversy surrounding it. He also debunked the Hollywood story with the Asteroid Belt (in Armageddon) and told what they are composed of. Continuing on, Jupiter was discussed, the question "How many Jupiters would fit in the Sun?" was answered, and he discussed the moons of Jupiter, such as Europa and Io. After that, he discussed Saturn and its rings and then Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto.

After the tour, an interesting conversation about the speed of light popped up, and continued on into other topics about high-speed travel, including wormholes, black holes, dark energy, etc. Then Dave started discussing other galaxies. The last thing discussed before the break was the "Hubble Deep Field," which were photos taken from the Hubble Space Telescope that showed other galaxies in the darkest regions of space.

After the break, the students were given a challenge: measure the distance a tree is a away from the students without crossing the "river of lava", and imaginary boundary line. The goal was to get the right answer in the fastest way possible. The only tools given was a ruler and a rope. A few hints were given to assist them in their measurements. In the end, Brendan and Kyle were deemed the winners of the challenge. This project was similar to how you measure the distance from a star. Next, Dave introduced planispheres, which show what stars will be showing on a certain day.

Next the students worked on getting the x,y,z coordinates of certain constellations to model them in a graph later. The coordinates were plugged into Excel and then graphed in a program called GalaxSee. After that the students started a section on the lunar cycles, trying to arrange them on the floor, using the Shodor tool "LunaSee", and discussing lunar eclipses. With 10 minutes left to go, Dave showed the students the astronomer Messier's observations.