Session One: What is astronomy?|
- Students working as a group will develop a personal list of words,
which they believe are relevant to the subject. The process allows pupils to:
- Derive independently what a sensible definition for the subject of
astronomy might be.
- Query the instructor about the subject matter in which they are most
interested as they go about deriving this definition.
- Develop a sense of group dynamics.
- Instructor led discussion about four major subgroups, which currently drive the
spectrum of astronomical interest. They are composition, evolution, movements,
- Gravity and magnetism
- What are they?
- How do they operate?
Session Two: Popular Misconceptions
- Many of us hold convictions that we innately believe are true, but which
are, in reality, false. Popular misconceptions will be confronted in this
problem area. Explanations will be provided which will lead participants to
an understanding of what is true.
- Harvard University
- Administer science misconception test developed by Harvard astronomers.
- Introductory clip of misconceptions video, A Private Universe, developed
by Harvard will be shown.
- Relationships that will be stressed in misconceptions discussion.
- Stars and constellations
Session Three: Earth and Moon
- The Earth and Moon provide a contrast in evolution and processes that lead to
a better understanding of how astronomers understand the local environment of
our solar system.
- Atmosphere and its circulation
- Interior structure
- The Dynamic Earth: Plate Tectonics
- Magnetic fields as they relate to the Earth
- Appearance to the eye
- Chronology of major lunar events
- Impact of volcanism and cratering as revealed by surface features
- How does the moon change?
- Alternate exercise: Survival. Students determine which six survival items from
a listing of 15 would be most necessary to the survival of astronauts stranded
on the moon following a nuclear accident.
Session Four: The Solar System
- Basic observational parameters of the solar system
- Two major classifications of planets: Jovians vs. Terrestrials
- Mars in detai
- Basic information
- Mars’ lore
- Evidence for water, volcanism, and wind
- Jupiter in detail
- Basic information
- Atmospheric circulation and heat transfer
- The Great Red Spot
- Galilean satellites are a test for solar system evolution.
- The ring system of Saturn
- Basic information
- Distribution of ring particles
- What keeps the rings together
- Alternate exercise: Invasion of the Sarbra People. Students interpret basic
parameters of the solar system given to them in tabular form to discover
whether an alien race called the Sarbras will invade the Earth.
Session Five: The Message of Starlight
- Measuring the distances to nearby stars
- Absolute vs. apparent magnitude
- Understanding stellar spectra
- Nature of light
- Wave or particle
- Atoms and energy
- Kirchhoff’s three laws of spectroscopy demonstrated
- Emission spectra and the Bohr Atom
- Classification of stars from absorption spectra. Participants will learn how
to classify stars in a rudimentary manner.
- Video: The Meaning of Starlight
The Evolution of Stars
- Hertzsprung-Russell diagram reviewed
- Mass vs. luminosity
- Main Sequence-hydrogen burning
- Red Giants-huge with low surface brightnesses
- White Dwarfs-small with high surface brightnesses
- Birth of stars
- Giants: evolving internal structure
- Stellar Death
- White dwarfs
- Neutron stars
- Black holes
Evening Star Watches
- To show the beauty and diversity of the heavens, and to provide the
necessary instruction for students to begin navigating the heavens
on their own. This includes:
- The use of star maps and Planispheres
- The use of a software package called The Sky for planning
- The evening star tours will also be used as a vehicle for spontaneous
discussions about the various components of the universe and its evolution.
- Observing sessions will be conducted on all nights that are clear.
They will consist of a mix of naked eye, binocular, and telescopic viewing.
- The telescope which will be used for making observations is an automated 8-inch,
F/6.3 Meade LX-200 Schmidt-Cassegrainian reflector.