Solar Observing at Taylors Lakes

So you would think that after all that observing in Shepparton and then for the Eclipse, I would have headed straight home to catch up on some sleep. Absolutely not! I left Footscray City College under the excellent directions passed on by Brad and headed out to Taylors Lakes Secondary College to do some Solar observing with the Year 7 Science students. The day continued to be clear and the only thing we really had to worry about was where to set up the telescope so WE could get some shelter from the Sun. The telescope outside the Science block created much interest as students went to and from classes and loitered around at recess.

Telescope set up in Science Block

Telescope set up in Science Block

Once the telescope had been set up and aligned with the Sun, many of the nearby Science classes came to have a look. We used the 40mm eyepiece with the Solar filter and were able to see the entire Sun including a large number of Sunspots.

Year 7 girls taking photos of the Sun

Year 7 girls taking photos of the Sun

The first Year 7 class came along and everyone got the chance to have a look at the Sun and ponder the fact that these Sunspots can be larger than the Earth itself. Once everyone had a look, we attached a Canon 400D DSLR camera to the telescope and some of the students stayed behind to take ‘some’ images of the Sun.

As the camera does not have live view, we had to do a bit of a trial and error to get the focus and the position just right. To focus we had to take an image, turn the focus one way, take another image, then compare the images and adjust accordingly. To move the image of the Sun the students quickly realised that the direction on the telescope handset did not correlate with the direction of the image and in true ‘digital age’ style, they adapted beautifully and were taking sensational images in no time!

Upper half image of the Sun on 14/11/2012

Upper half image of the Sun on 14/11/2012

Lower half of the Sun on 14/11/2012

Lower half of the Sun on 14/11/2012

Lunchtime came and a couple of students came back for another look. By now I had taken the camera off, but thought it was a good time to do some observing and recording ‘Galileo Style’. So I gave these students the log book with a large circle on it and asked them to draw in the sunspots. You have to admit, they did a sensational job and I love the detail they used, the relative sizes of the spots and the way they were arranged. Great job girls!

Year 9 girls with their drawing of the sunspots on the sun

Year 9 girls with their drawing of the sunspots on the sun

Galileo style record of the sunspots

Galileo style record of the sunspots

After lunch, another Year 7 Science Class and lots more Solar observing.

In all the students ended up taking over 60 photos of the Sun as each of them had a try at moving the telescope to get the optimum image. They have then used these images and done some research on the Sun and presented their findings in some wonderful presentations. Below are a few of the finished assignments. Thank you for sharing them with us.

The Sun – Erin and MadeleineĀ 

Helen’s Assignment

Amanda and Bianca’s Assignment

Jack and Corey’s Assignment

But some more to think about though;

How many sunspots did you see?

Can you take a few of the images of the Sun and stitch them together to get a whole image?

What did you notice about the sunspots? Were there any patterns?

Do you think the sunspots change or move? How could we use the telescope to find out?

What makes the sunspots?

This link to NASA may help you out with some of my questions. And this one from the Solar Week site.

I look forward to perhaps answering these questions with you and some of the other schools next year!

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One comment on “Solar Observing at Taylors Lakes

  1. Pingback: 2013 in review | Telescopes in Schools

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