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 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!
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.
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.
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.