Observing, training and Exoplanets

Last week saw a range of weather and a range of activities for the Telescopes in Schools program.

Young Astronomers as Taylor's Lakes

Young Astronomers as Taylor’s Lakes

The crowd at Taylors Lakes with a great night of viewing

The crowd at Taylors Lakes with a great night of viewing

Monday was a dreary and miserable day in Melbourne, so at 3pm we had pretty much resigned ourselves to an evening of talking about telescopes and all things astronomy – which is never a bad thing. But as I headed out to Taylors Lakes SC later that evening, the skies cleared and it became evident that this was going to be a great night of observing! While the telescope was being set up, Astro Students, Steph and Craig took the group up on the mound and taught them about the Orion Constellation. After we set up the telescope, the demands kept coming as to where we should point the telescope. In the end we saw the Moon, Jupiter, Saturn, the Great Orion Nebula and Alpha Centauri. A busy night indeed.

Getting for the telescope to do it's thing at Footscray City College

Getting for the telescope to do it’s thing at Footscray City College

Tuesday was a lovely day, so it stands to reason that the evening would be overcast and we were lucky if we were to catch a glimpse of the Moon through the clouds. We soldiered on though and at Footscray City College a large group had an introduction to the program and the telescope and got to watch how the telescope moves but the clouds were very persistent and we were unable to do any observing. The group then headed inside to hear a talk from Dr Alan Duffy on Exoplanets, a similar talk he gave at the BMW Edge last Friday. With help from Astro Student, Brad, many, many questions were answered on a large range of astronomy topics.

Alan talking to an entralled crowd at Footscray City College

Alan talking to an entralled crowd at Footscray City College

I unfortunately missed Alan’s talk once again as I headed out to see how the Yr 11 and 12 girls at Pascoe Vale Girls College were doing on their first training night. Under difficult conditions, they had attempted to do an alignment with not much success, but full points for trying. They did get to look at the Moon though and the girls are really keen to really get to know how to use the telescope competently. Astro Student, Daniel, spoke about his Quasars research  and I went through the alignment process with some of the girls inside and discussed some of the finer points of looking at stars. Here is Tenisha’s report from the night;

Outside training at Pascoe Vale Girls College

Outside training at Pascoe Vale Girls College

On the 23rd of April, Pascoe Vale Girls College had our first student viewing night of the year. With hope and anticipation for a successful viewing, the students gathered into the dark yard, but sadly we were met by a very cloudy night sky. Nonetheless we took the opportunity to take a shot at controlling the telescope. Under careful surveillance and instruction from the teachers, we got a chance to set up and align the telescope. It was a little difficult to find stars to align it with, only catching a small glimpse of one and then realising it was hidden behind the clouds before we get a good chance to check it was aligned. Luckily for us, the moon was a little more visible, so we at least got the chance to have a good look at it after such a long time. Overall, the night might not have made the top 5 of our viewing nights, but it was a great learning experience with the telescope itself and how to control it.

Inside traning at Pascoe Vale Girls College

Inside traning at Pascoe Vale Girls College

Tenisha Fernando – Pascoe Vale Girls College, Year 12 Physics Student

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