Monday, May 22, 2006

Stargazers in the Hauwse!

I just got back from our annual 3rd Grade stargazing party. This year mother nature provided us with great views of Jupiter and Saturn and a tiny Mars, which is nearly across the solar system from us. We had 2 of the school telescopes and our librarian brought her reflector from home.

Our school is very fortunate to have use of a fantastic 8" Schmidt-Cassegrain Celestron reflector. Some kind soul donated to the high school several years ago, and since they don't teach any astronomy they were kind enough to lend it to me. It is always the star attraction of our star parties. It features setting circles (which I do not know how to use) and a clock drive for tracking stars with the earth's rotation. An astronomy professor at a local university was kind enough to set it up so that the only thing I need to do is make sure a certain axis it rotates on is pointed due north. Any drifting of the object in view is easily corrected.

I am constantly amazed at how many adults have never seen a planet through a telescope. About half of those who attend seem to comment that this was their first time actually seeing Jupiter/Saturn or what have you.


Mister Teacher said...

Wow, that's really cool! We too are studying the solar system as the school year draws to a close, but we don't have any telescopes nor any nights free on which to use them.
So instead, we're relegated to reading from the science book, drawing posters, and making jokes about Uranus...

Mike in Texas said...

You could always make yourself a portable planetarium with visquine (sp?)and line it with pictures of the planets. You can also print off constellation patterns off the internet, tape them to the sides and punch holes where the stars go.

I can explain how to make the planetarium.