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11•04•09 400 years of astronomy

November constellations North

• The starry sky: Go out to a dark place, beyond the city, and away from light pollution on a night where there is a new moon. Lay down on the ground and wait at least 20 minutes for your eyes to adjust. Then relax, and take in the whole sky. Look from horizon to horizon and take in as many stars as you can.

URSA MAJOR

THE BIG DIPPER URSA MINOR The Little Bear The Little Dipper The Hero

HERCULES

CEPHEUS t The King The Swan

CYGNUS

LYRA

The Lyre

The Northern Cross

CASSIOPEIA The King Markab

PEGASUS

The Winged Horse

Th

eM

ilky

Wa y

Compiled by Kate Ready

Astronomy minus math equals fun Jeremy Newman creates a love of astronomy in students by focusing on teaching concepts The need to understand the universe, and the astronomical events that affect their lives, is compelling for many high school students. According to Jeremy Newman, science teacher, it is for these reasons that “a lot of students that take [astronomy] are just really interested in it.” “I think [astronomy is] fun for kids because it’s stuff that they wonder about. It’s kind of an abstract concept of things that are far away, but are still present.” High school is the best place to generate interest in students who only take astronomy to fill their science credits, according to Newman, as well as a place for other students to follow their natural interest. “In college it involves a lot of math. Astronomy in high school… well I teach concepts,” Newman said. “I think it gives them the background [for college].” Basically, Astronomy minus math equals fun. In his class, students focus on concepts such as the size and scale of the solar system. Although it sounds simple, this is a hard idea for most people to truly grasp. “They think from here to Fort Collins, or France, is far,” Newman said. “In Mr. Newman’s class we learned that ‘far’ would mean lighyears instead of something like miles,” says past astronomy student Hayley Dunn ‘11. To help students understand the completely unknown and unimaginable, Newman uses a lot of models. He finds that models in which the kids are the base, exemplify how small one person really is compared to the universe the most effectively. “One of the examples of the interactive models that he used is that we will walk around the school and each

step we took was 1 au [astronomical unit], and that would show you proportionatly how far away the planets are from eachother. If we started at the back of the gym hallway, then went through the back of the 9000’s pod to the Pax Christi Church that would be an example of the distance from the sun to pluto,” Dunn said. To further relate astronomy to students, current events are incorporated into the curriculum. “… for example Thursday over fall break there was a meteor shower… [and] you can see scars on Jupiter,” Newman said. Astronomy classes learn about these events by reading and discussing articles, as well as applying the background they have already learned in astronomy to the articles. This helps students learn about what is happening in the universe around them, and how astronomy affects the earth, thus making a seemingly distant topic more relevant. Astronomy isn’t just a job to Newman, it is something he loves. “I get excited when I drag out my telescope and look at Jupiter,” he said. His natural interest also includes the history of science, which Newman includes in his classes, creating a balance of new and old in his method of teaching. Through history, students are able to see the immense progress sciences such as Astronomy have witnessed in the past 50 years. “We talk about how Galileo was as brilliant as he was with such horrible equipment,” said Newman, “how much smarter we are now, [and] what it was like to fly up in a space ship with less power than my cell phone.” Emma Kate Fittes

Stargazing tips Here are some tips to follow when you go out to a dark spot to enjoy the stars.

Tasco telescope $43.99

Galileo Refractor telescope $69.99

• Orion: Easily the brightest constellation in the sky, Orion is a breathtaking sight that should be seen by all. At this time of year Orion is in the East and can be seen better later in the night. The three stars that make up Orion’s belt are three of the brightest stars in the night sky.

• The Big Dipper and North Star: Polaris, the North Star, is the brightest single star in the sky. It is part of the Little Dipper, which is next to the Big Dipper. All of these can be found on the star map .

Telescopes

Tasco Refractor telescope $28.99

• A bright comet, with a long tail: For a long time ancient societies feared the comet because of how unpredictable it was, seeming to appear from nowhere and move wherever it chose. In order to see a comet, you must know ahead of time that it exists. There are several a year that can be seen, but it takes a little bit of research to see them.

The Eagle

AQUILA

The Great Square of Pegasus

The Dolphin

ARIES The Ram

Alpheratz

DELPHINUS

Pleiades Seven Sisters

ANDROMEDA The Princess Hamal

• The Milky Way: While you are out away from the city observing the starry sky, make sure you look for the Milky Way. This band of stars is often described as looking like a cloud or a river.

West

POLARIS North Star

PERSEUS

The Hero

East

DRACO The Dragon

AURIGA

TAURUS

The Chariector

GEMINI The Twins

Though we know a lot about the galaxy and the universe that surrounds it now, at one time people everywhere believed in a different reality, and it took a lot of convincing for anyone else to believe that the universe was not what they thought it was. People like Galileo only began the mass conversion to the common-day beliefs, and at one point his life was threatened for those beliefs we hold as common sense. Today, people all over the world, like Dr. Denn, teach and research the very topics that Galileo had his life threatened over. Galileo’s telescope was only a 30 times magnification, a large feat for the time, but viewing stars wouldn’t be much different than seeing them on Earth, only slightly bigger. Now the Hubble Space telescope can view images of stars and supernovas as clear as glass, even though they might be hundreds of thousands of miles away. “400 years is a long time,” Denn said, “and we’ve come a long way since then.” Maddie Jones

ORION

Galileo demonstrated his first telescope 400 years ago. The astounding new technology was able to show objects in the night sky like never before. Although the telescope provided only a slightly better view than the human eye, it was an amazing accomplishment for the time. Today, exactly 400 years later, technology allows us to view other galaxies thousands of miles away and throughout the far reaches of the universe. Dr. Grant Denn, a professor at Metro State, would go outside as a child and look at the stars at night and speculate about what else was out there, and what made up the constellations. Now, as an astro-physics professor, he teaches his students about the wonders of the universe and all of the technological advances society has made, as well as the mathematical equations involved in finding constellations and navigating around the Earth via star maps. “A lot of big things happen as technology gets better, we get to learn more and more. It helps us learn our place in the universe,” said Denn. “We used to think that the galaxy made up the entire universe and that the Earth was the center of that universe. Then we thought the sun was the center, then the Milky Way. Now we realize that we’re just one galaxy of many that make up the universe.”

The Hunter

• Though Galileo is almost universally known by his first name, he was born Galileo in Galilei on February 15, 1564 in Pisa, a town of northern Italy. • As a student he was noted for his seeming inability to accept statements from his teachers that were based upon the authority of ancient writers who offered no evidence for their conclusions. • Known by his classmates for his skeptical attitude, he was nicknamed “The Wrangler.” • Galileo quit college at the University of Pisa. • Galileo is known as the father of the Scientific Revolution. • Galileo adapted the telescope and invented the thermometer. • He discovered four of Jupiter’s satellites and was the first to detect sunspots. He published his views in a book titled “The Starry Messenger”(1610). • He held the theory that the moon was full of mountains and valleys. • In his introduction to The Starry Messenger, Galileo stated that the Earth was not the center of the entire cosmos. • His work became the basis for the theories of the next generation of scientists like Sir Isaac Newton. • He was put on house arrest during the Inquisition because of his theories that the Sun was the center of the universe, not the Earth. • Galileo died a blind man in 1642.

The field of astronomy has evolved continuously for the past 400 years, and continues to be important to many lives

Aldebaran

“In the question of science, the authority of a thousand is not worth the humble reasoning of a single individual.” -Galileo

We’ve come a long way

The Bull

Fast Galileo facts

These are some of the best sights that one can see in the night sky and how you can view them

Between eight and nine p.m., during any part of November, bring this map out to a dark place to look at the stars and spot constellations.

The Big Bear

Galileo Galilei was one of the pioneers in the field of astronomy. He took controversial stances and ultimately pushed the field of astronomy to places it had never been before. 400 years later the echo of his work can still be seen in the professional field, and the studies of astronomy students.

14-15 Starry sights

soundtrack: “Starstruck” by Lady Gaga

• Plan to go out stargazing on a clear night away from pollution, fog, and clouds. • Make sure you go somewhere far from any artificial light. Light pollution is the arch enemy of the casual stargazer. • Allow at least 20 minutes for your eyes to adjust to the dark. • Make sure not to turn on any flashlights because it will ruin the way your eyes absorb the night lights. • For beginner star gazers you can start by using binoculars if you want to see the stars a little closer than you can with the naked eye. • When you get more into gazing you can get a basic Galileo 600x50mm Refractor telescope. It is only $69.99 and rotates 360 degrees unlike most amateur telescopes. You can order the telescope on the left at www.opticsplanet.net

Compiled by Lauren Scheirman

Art by: Zach Anderson

South

Stargazing students

Last night students in astronomy spent from 4 to 9 p.m. observing the sky, and looking at the stars. Every semester the astronomy classes have a star party where they can experience seeing the stars with their own eyes. “It’s good for the students to see the real thing, diagrams and pictures just aren’t the same as seeing the stars in person,” said astronomy teacher Jeremy Newman. The night is optional for the students but highly recommended. Newman suggests his students make it a fun experience by going to dinner, then grabbing some coffee, and going to look at the sky. “It wasn’t like class it was more of a social gathering that you go with your friends to, but still learn,” said Danny Mead ‘09.

The invitation is extended further than just the students in astronomy, it is open to anyone who would like to go. “People come with their friends, middle school students, parents come and even alumni,” said Newman. Newman has had many middle schoolers come for the star party and then end up interested in astronomy and take it when they get to high school. Rock Canyon does not have the technology to see well into outer space, so Newman’s friend Andy Caldwell, a teacher at Douglas County High School and who previously worked at the Museum of Nature and Science in the planetarium department, brings telescopes so the students can experience seeing the stars closer.

Caldwell loves teaching kids and watching their reactions when they see something new. “I always have loved astronomy, “said Caldwell. “I really got into it because of Star Trek.” When something interesting is in the sky like Jupiter’s bars , there are always lines at the telescopes. “It’s nice because you get to see it instead of finding it online,” said astronomy student Kelly King ‘12. This year they are hoping the weather will let them be outside late enough to see Orion, and see Jupiter and it’s moons. “It’s not uncommon to see people looking up the whole time for shooting stars, because it’s the first time they will see one,” said Newman. Lauren Scheirman

• The moon: The best part about the moon, is the many ways to view it. A full moon is as beautiful as a crescent moon, and the moon at any waning or waxing stage. Another beautiful sight is a lunar eclipse. The occurrence of these can always be predicted and can be found on the internet.

• Other planets: If you know where to look, Mercury, Venus, Mars, and Jupiter can all be seen with the naked eye. Source: “50 Best Sights

in Astronomy and how to see them” compiled by Maddie Jones and Alex Rowe

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T A U R U S O R IO N Jeremy Newman creates a love of astronomy in students by focusing on teaching concepts 11•04•09 400 years of astronomy...

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