A couple of words from our students

After Pascoe Vale Girls College have a viewing night, the girls are asked to write a report on the evening and I thought I would share some of them with you.

From Rebekah in year 9
“On Tuesday my dad and I went with a few other girls and their families to the telescope night. The conditions for star gazing were perfect, clear skies and nice temperature. We saw Saturn, Mars, the Wild Duck Cluster, Jewel Box Cluster, Alpha Centauri and Omega Centauri.
We also saw the International Space Station move across the sky from West to South in only a matter of minutes! How fast!
Thank you to Melbourne University for allowing us to use your telescope, and thank you to the science teachers for organising these great events.”

From Taniya also in year 9;
On the 11th September some of my classmates and I came back to school for a viewing night. It was warm and really dark that night. The purpose of the viewing night was to look at some of the planets and stars through the telescope that is on loan to us from the University of Melbourne.
Mrs O’Keefe was in charge of the telescope. It was so cool to see the telescope move by itself. The first thing we saw was Alpha Centauri, one of the pointers near the Southern Cross and also the closest star to Earth. Then we saw some of the planets – Saturn and Mars. The view in the telescope was so clear we actually saw the two rings of Saturn. After looking at the planets we saw the Wild Duck Cluster, we thought the stars were in the shape of a duck. We also saw the Jewel Box Cluster and Omega Centauri. While we were out looking at the telescope, we saw the International Space Station fly across the night sky.
After looking at the stars and the planets we went inside and had biscuits and coffee. My family and I really enjoyed the night. I would like to thank the students from Melbourne University and our science teachers. After all it was an awesome night.”

From Cansu studying Year 12 Physics
After attending these viewing nights, I’ve come to really enjoy Physics. Seeing the planets and different forms of stars that are out there with our own eyes, rather than just through the images that we are presented with on the internet is an unreal feeling. I know that if I had the opportunity to experience something like this earlier on, perhaps in year 7 or 8, I would’ve been a lot more interested in Physics, and Science in general. It really opens up your eyes to the beautiful world that is beyond, and I really encourage everyone to get out and see the beautiful sights for yourselves at one of the viewing nights.

It is wonderful to see the students having a great time, getting to see some amazing sights and developing a respect, if not love for Science and Astronomy in particular. Thank you to the girls for taking the time to write their reports. It is always lovely to read them.

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Moon

We have been busy!

It has been a while since I have posted anything, but don’t think that is because we haven’t been looking at the stars. On the contrary, we have been so busy looking at the stars and talking astronomy, I have been struggling to find time to let you know about it.

Lots to tell you, so just a brief overview of the last few weeks and some pretty pics along the way.

As I am writing this, Melbourne is suffering gale force winds and people are having trouble standing upright! Then we have the threat of rain and people have turned up to Uni this morning in shorts and summer dresses as the weather is unseasonably warm at the moment only to be found shivering as the temperature plummets. All in a typical Melbourne day, most locals would say. We have certainly seen a huge range of weather this term and not nearly so many clear nights as we had in Term 2. Yet we have persisted and when the nights were cloudy we explored some very interesting Astronomical ideas.

Pascoe Vale Girls group shot

The Year 11 and 12’s from Pascoe Vale Girls having a great night.

Pascoe Vale Girls College have continued their regular Tuesday night observing sessions and have regularly drawn a crowd. They do seem to have remarkable luck in picking the cloudless nights although there were a couple of nights at the beginning of the term where the clouds cleared up just after we said goodbye to the last student!

Tycho on the Moon

An image of the moon taken by Year 9 Pascoe Vale Girls student Charlie – Great Shot!

Charles La Trobe College have also maintained their regular fortnightly Astronomy meetings and while the skies have not been totally cooperative, we did manage to get a night or two in with the telescope and I must say Mark, Jess and Phil have become quite proficient with the telescope. We are now really keen to get the cameras going.

Suzanne Cory have also maintained their regular Thursday sessions, with the last one for this term tomorrow night. Not much luck with the weather in Werribee as we regularly watch the clouds roll in just as the sun is setting. We did get to show the Canadian Student Teachers Alpha Centauri very quickly when the clouds broke up a little, but then they stole the show.

Van der Graaf

Ahh the Van der Graaf. Zappy is a good description! Fun to be had at Suzanne Cory during Science Week.

This was also National Science Week, so there were lots of science demos set up and the students put on a three course meal for staff and parents which was delicious.

We also had our first student night at Footscray City College and those guys took to the telescope like a fish out of water! It was a lovely clear night and we were able to look at so many objects and the students did the alignment and searching for objects. They then taught Brad a thing or two as well.

I was also out at Northcote Secondary College with their Astronomy Group. Once again the Melbourne weather meant that we were ankle deep in water and therefore unable to get the telescope out. But Amateur Astronomer and school maintenance guy, Martin came along with a friend who asked some very tricky questions as we explored the Solar System. A very enjoyable night.

So what have we been doing during all this terrible weather? We have discussed the Solar System, Planets – how they are formed and the discovery of Exoplanets, Mars Curiosity Rover, Stars and Stellar Classification and we have been getting some interest in Cosmology, so I can see a talk or two coming up there. Many of these talks have been presented by the Astro students here at the University of Melbourne and the high school students love this aspect.

Pocket Solar System

Girls (and parents) engaged with Jenny’s talk and activity on the Solar System at Pascoe Vale Girls.

Moon

Another picture of the moon, because we just can’t get enough.

Lastly, we have signed up three new schools to the program! So welcome. More on that soon, but let’s just say I am going to be very busy delivering and installing telescopes over the coming weeks and I am looking forward to meeting the new teachers and students and seeing where they take us.

Next week I will up date you on the plans for next term. All very exciting.