It has been a very busy couple of weeks and it will continue to be so as we head further into the third term and out of the winter nights. We also have a couple of new schools to add to our list and we welcome them on board. Rest assured you will be hearing more about the new schools very soon.
A couple of weeks ago we were out at Suzanne Cory HS for their first Year 10 evening. It was a quiet evening attendance wise, but it meant we got to see all the usual suspects (Saturn, Mars, C80, C94) before the cloud cover obscured our vision. We then headed inside for some warmth and a chat about the planets in our Solar System.
Last week, as is the tradition every Tuesday night now at Pascoe Vale Girls College, we had a beautiful clear night and ran the Year 8 CAL class through the telescope paces. The Moon was up as was Saturn and we took an opportunity to try and take some very amateurish photos with a smart phone.The trouble here, regardless of the quality of the camera, seems to be the orientation of the camera, making it very difficult to take an image. In saying that, we are still getting some very impressive photos of the moon and you can’t deny that is Saturn.
Thanks to Stephanie Bernard, University of Melbourne undergraduate student for taking and supplying the photos. We were also joined by 2nd Year VCA student, Xanthe, who is very keen on helping the students do some Astrophotography.
*WARNING* You are NOT going to get a high quality photo with this method, but the students are learning a LOT about astrophotography and they get to take home a momento or two. And there is a lot of excitement about that. Imagine what it will be like when they start taking real photos!!!
Monday night I was out at Charles La Trobe College using the Quantum Victoria telescope. The night was pretty cloudy, but the moon was up and almost full, so conditions were adequate for our telescope. A quick lesson for the Year 11 Physics students on putting together a telescope and then we were outside in the courtyard. Given the cloud cover, the moon and Saturn were pretty much it for the night and the alignment was going to be pretty rough and the stars were non-existent. The students were pretty confident with their directions and before we knew it, we had run through the alignment process and were pointing in the general direction of the moon.
Sarah Arrowsmith (the honorary Physics student) took some shots of the guys with the telescope and then I snapped away with my Cannon IXUS 80S at the moon. A quick view of Saturn while the clouds broke up was a treat for the students and the Assistant Principal. Another great night and before we knew it, the night was over. Back next week to do it all again.
Then last night, being Tuesday again, we were back at Pascoe Vale Girls College with another Year 8 CAL class, lots of parents and siblings too. The girls learnt that it was a waxing gibbous moon last night and we could see 85% of the moon. It also meant that we couldn’t see much else as the moon was so bright! We also tried something new for the first time last night for TiS anyway. We managed to resolve the binary star system of Alpha Centauri. We used a higher power objective (9mm) and the moon filter. We found that without the filter, it was just too bright and too hard for your eyes to separate. You could definitely see that the star was an odd shape, but with the filter, both stars were clearly separated. We also took lots of pictures which I will post at a later date on the Student site.
Don’t worry though, the week isn’t over and we still have two more nights this week and then Shepparton next week for a whole day and night of Astronomy – can’t wait!