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Ad Astra

Join My Astronomy Class!

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Hello Folks!

I love astronomy, and I'm very lucky! I get paid for the hobby we all love so much! ;) I teach introductory astronomy at both the high school and at the college "101" level. As such, I teach some 120-150 beginners astronomy every semester! ;)

My course is observational in nature - and everyone is expected to go out in the dark at least once a week and observe! Sometimes this means just pencil and paper activities, sketching and learning constellations, other times it will mean using a binocular or a basic telescope and observing, sketching and recording what you see.

I have a packet of 12 labs and activities attached here that you can download, print out and try yourselves. All activities are suitable for anyone from Cub Scouts to Old Farts - they truly are introductory in nature and everyone should find them easy to follow.

They are also suitable for parents who want home school lessons, Dads (and Moms!) who want something astronomical and fun to do with their kids, Scout Leaders, Astronomy Outreach materials for clubs, and yes -- teachers who want to convince their students that "Science is a Verb!" :)

Any one who is a teacher, a Scout Leader, or a club Outreach Leader is more than welcome to contact me. I can help you with your efforts to promote and improve astro-education at any level!

Looking forward to the Dark!!!

Dr. Daniel Barth

Associate Prof. / Astronomy & Physics

Mt. San Jacinto College

San Jacinto, CA - USA

Spring 2011 Labs.zip

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Thanks very much Daniel - just what I've been looking for to give my 11 year old a start! Much appreciated. Wishing you clear skies.

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Thanks very much just what i need :)

Edited by MarkSix

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Daniel,

Thank you so much for this package. You are a genius of the highest order! I know exactly the little people who need this!!

Edited by Beulah

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I'm glad folks are enjoying these!

I'll be anxious to hear how you do when you have tried a few of them out in the dark!

Dan

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Thank you very much, My children have just started taking and interest in astronomy this will be a lovely way of including them more constructively.

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I teach science at the grade 7.8 and 9 level and these are simply brilliant! You can be sure these will be used and a very special thank you from a teacher situated in the isolated north (where resources are scarec).

Isabelle :)

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My course is observational in nature - and everyone is expected to go out in the dark at least once a week and observe!

Good job you don't teach in the NW of England then, as I'm starting to forget what dark, clear skies look like! :)

Edited by pook

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I teach science at the grade 7.8 and 9 level and these are simply brilliant! You can be sure these will be used and a very special thank you from a teacher situated in the isolated north (where resources are scarec).

Isabelle :)

Isabelle,

Let me know if I can be of any assistance to you!

DB

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This is cool :). Will download and lookie at, need all the help I can get ;). Got to ask tho, you said that you tell your students to go outside at least once a week, what if it's cloudy all week? ;). Only messing

Dazz

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This is cool ;). Will download and lookie at, need all the help I can get ;). Got to ask tho, you said that you tell your students to go outside at least once a week, what if it's cloudy all week? :). Only messing

Dazz

That's when I tell them "Use the Force, young Jedi!" :)

Seriously, the total number of lab points due at end of the semester always has a 'weather factor'. I offer lots of labs, they get to choose the ones that interest them, as long as they do one a week.

Dan

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Thanks for this, printed them off for a friend's kids and they're enjoying them.

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Many thanks - some great ideas here and I will be building them into my self learning programme!!

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Glad to see that people are enjoying these activities. If there is interest - I will just keep posting things up as I have them.

We are studying Saturn and its moons now, planning some observations of the Moons of Saturn for later in the spring. The CGEM-1100 is just the thing for bagging them, we'll see how many of the largest 8 we can capture and document. ;)

This can also work nicely into a study of Kepler's Laws of planetary motion! :)

Dan

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Dan,

What telescopes are your students using? I am just trying to get a feel for what is achievable with my own Tasco toy :)

As an aside, I had my youngest doing paper 1 last night - if she sends it to you, does she get credit ? ;)

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Glad to see that people are enjoying these activities. If there is interest - I will just keep posting things up as I have them.

Dan

Yes please. When it is next clear, we will commence. Although the little ones have been observing for nearly two years, the "labs" will provide much needed structure.

Edited by Beulah

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Dan,

What telescopes are your students using? I am just trying to get a feel for what is achievable with my own Tasco toy :)

As an aside, I had my youngest doing paper 1 last night - if she sends it to you, does she get credit ? :)

Hello Richard,

The workhorse scope for my program is the 6" dobsonian f/8 telescope - about $300 US delivered from Orion Telescopes in the States. Similar deals available in your area, I'm sure. The scope should have a solid base, large diameter bearings with tension (Orion uses springs for this - it improves the design dramatically!), a rugged metal tube, and a decent focuser that doesn't slop around too much. Such scopes usually come with a 25 & 10mm eyepieces for 48 and 120x - add a 2x barlow, 32mm eyepiece, a moon filter and a good planisphere to complete the essential kit and bring the cost to about $500. I have 12 such scopes in service at three campuses serving about 250 students per year, and some of these scopes are in their 12th year of service and still work wonderfully. Very rugged and reliable! ;)

I've attached a small photo of some of our kit out in our stadium where we usually observe. As you can see it is built into a small box canyon where we are screened from light and wind somewhat! ;)

Even with such large classes, I rarely have more than 80 kids out at any one lab. I also don't try to have them all do exactly the same thing at the same time. Some will be doing visual observations & sketching, some work with binos (we have 24 pr. or 7x50's), some with the telescopes. It is not unusual to see a group of 5-8 teens working around a single scope, sharing the eyepiece and making sketches and observations. Parents come too (3-5 per lab night, anyway) and help keep order and decorum intact! :)

We do have other scopes, but these are the ones that everyone learns on and does most of their work on. If you are thinking of getting a scope for a youngster, you can start very creditably with the 6" dob and a star map and add the other accessories for birthdays and holidays later. Only add complexity as competence improves! ;)

I would love to see your daughter's efforts! As for getting credit for your child's work, ask their science teacher. I would bet that if you took in a printout of the lab sheet, and spoke to them about it - your youngster might indeed get some science credit for her good work. As a teacher myself, I must say that I love it when parents and kids show some inititive! ;)

If it is of any help to you, when you chat with her teacher, drop my name and mention that you got the stuff from your friend who is a "famous American Astronomy Professor" --- that'll get 'em!!! :)

Dan

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Edited by Ad Astra

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