McGuire College, Shepparton

Last week was a huge week for me and it is going to take a few posts to fill you in on it all!

Spoiler alert! We did cover the partial eclipse in Melbourne, but a LOT more about that in the next post.

Sun halo

I caught this halo around the Sun made by that little bright dot in the filter!

Today I want to talk to you about my day out in Shepparton at McGuire College. I was up there the day before the eclipse. We had great skies, the Sun was really warm and the whispy clouds were producing some great effects. The little bright spot in the circle is the Sun through the filter and that circular line in the clouds – a Sunbow! Very nice.

Solar Observing

Students taking some video of the Sun

The Year 10 Chemistry class came over to do some solar viewing in the afternoon and it wasn’t long before a few of the students took over the telescope, the video camera and my computer to get a closeup look at some Sunspots. It freed me up to grab the camera and take this shot!

Tonight’s session was for the senior students, including Yr 11 student Dylan who convinced Rob to get onto the program in the first place. We were also going to concentrate on photography with the Photography teacher, Kylie Doddrell, and Yr 11 photography student, Alex, keen to take some pictures. I sent Kylie home with Jerry Lodriguss’ webpage to do some reading on Astrophotography. It was bound to keep her busy. Rob and his family were super gracious and took me into their home and fed me and entertained me between school finishing and the night-time observing session.


Rob, Alex and Kylie working up their astrophotography skills

After 20 month old Lachie regaled me with his many talents and dance moves, we headed back to school to set up for the evening. Kylie fronted up just before 8pm with a few more cameras and a newfound hobby. A couple of hours on the web and she was now ‘hooked’. Astrophotography here we come!

47 Tucanae

47 Tucanae Globular Cluster courtesy of Alex Claney, Year 11 student of McGuire College

We had a great mix of students, teachers, parents and even a past student came along for the night. As we waited patiently for the stars to come out, we spent a bit of time on the iPad planning what we might look at tonight and which stars to align with. The students were really enthusiastic, knowledgeable and more than keen to have a go at the telescope. We looked at Mars, Uranus and Neptune, then 47 Tucanae Globular Cluster. It was then we connected the DSLR and the photographers took over. They had a ball working through all the settings on the camera to get the right shot. While out of focus, this is undoubtably an image of the globular cluster and a great first effort from Year 11 Photography student, Alex Claney. Well done and we look forward to seeing heaps more of your work! (you don’t need to wait too long though, there will be more in the next post…)

While the photographers were hard at work, the rest of us escaped inside to the warmth where we had a look at some very cool videos and talked all things space. The videos are below if you are interested in having a look for yourselves.

Star Size Comparison

The Power of the Sun

Hubble eXtreme Deep Field

Size of the Universe

A sensational night and they were all ready to go for the eclipse the next morning, which was good, as they were expecting the local newspaper to drop by at 8am – no pressure…

A couple of news items and reminders:

STAVCON is on next week – still time to register, plenty of Astronomy on the program as well, come and say Hi.

Introduction to Astronomy – Coursera Online starts next week on the 27th Nov. Let me know if you are interested.

A note about the discovery Higgs Boson I referred to in my last post about Brian Cox. Dr Shane has a great interview on the  University of Melbourne podcast, Upclose that talks about this being a Higgs-like particle. What’s the difference? Does it matter? Listening to the podcast is a must.

Telescopes in Schools is going to be featured on 3RRR Einstein A Go Go show this Sunday at 11am! 102.7 FM. Listen in if you can to fellow teachers, students and parents as they discuss the past year and the program. Don’t worry, if you can’t get to the radio, I will post the podcast next week. If you didn’t already know, our own Dr Shane hosts this science program every Sunday between 11am-12noon.

If you ever thought you weren’t or couldn’t do real science on our telescopes, this should convince you otherwise! An explosion was spotted on Jupiter by Amateur Astronomers using a 12″ LX200 Meade telescope! Read more here.

Lastly, Google has just released a new site, basically Google Universe! Navigate your way around 100,000 stars and then some. Fantastic resource for everyone!

Lots more very soon…

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