Views of the Sky

There has been a lot of photography going on as well and as the images come in, I will be sure to post them. There is also a new gallery of the images taken by students and teachers of the program including those taken by Bruce Drummond, teacher from Suzanne Cory HS, on his Canon 600D last week. The details are below.

Craig giving his talk on Pulsars to a captivated audience at Taylors Lakes College

Craig giving his talk on Pulsars to a captivated audience at Taylors Lakes College

Craig has become a regular visitor to Taylors Lakes SC and the next week saw another well received talk on Pulsars followed by some serious Q&A. I went along with Craig last week to catch up with the group and do some hands-on activities with them. The same faces were there and it is great to see this regular group of students and parents come along each week. They have obviously developed a real relationship with Craig and hold him in high-esteem, asking all sorts of questions about astronomy, astrophysics, relativity and the history and philosophy of science. It is fantastic to see this animated discussion being fostered so vibrantly and the group are taking full advantage of having a regular visit by an expert.

I went out to Charles La Trobe College a few Mondays ago to do some astronomy with the year 11 Physics class and any other interested students. In the afternoon, David, from Quantum Victoria, set up the telescope for some Solar observing. Unfortunately the clouds weren’t cooperating and they were making it very difficult to align the telescope, but we did manage to at least get a glimpse of the Sun and the huge Sunspots as the clouds parted just enough for the class to have a look. There were plenty of questions and discussion about the Sun and the telescope to fill in the cloudier times.

Checking the tablet to see what we will be looking at next at Charles La Trobe.

Checking the tablet to see what we will be looking at next at Charles La Trobe.

Later on that evening, we all reconvened and the cloud had passed and we were presented with a perfectly clear sky. The students had spent their time since school finished getting in the Astronomical mood by watching a Sci-Fi movie and eating fried chicken and were now going to be treated to a great night of observing! Armed with astronomy app-ed tablets, we found some stars to align with and then we were off! Saturn was a huge hit and this image taken by Year 9 student, Sarina, is the best I have seen on a smart phone so far. The Challenge is on!

Image of Saturn taken by Year 9 student, Sarina, from Charles La Trobe College

Image of Saturn taken by Year 9 student, Sarina, from Charles La Trobe College

The students had a great time looking up objects to view through the telescope and plenty more questions as well. They certainly proved themselves to be another knowledgable bunch of students.

Taking pictures of Saturn with smart phones at Charles La Trobe College

Taking pictures of Saturn with smart phones at Charles La Trobe College

Sunset over Suzanne Cory 3

Sunset over Suzanne Cory 3

The Tuesday night was also a clear night with a spectacular sunset, wonderfully captured by Bruce at Suzanne Cory HS. This night focused on taking some images with a Canon EOS 600D DSLR connected to the telescope and trying some different settings on the camera. You can see the spectacular image of Omega Centauri and the Great Orion Nebula. I have also posted these and more in a Gallery. The International Space Station also flew by that night which was a sight to see. Visible to the naked eye, we watched it climb above us in the SW sky for almost 5 minutes. Amazing to think there are people up there living in space. It did spark lots of discussion on living in space and Commander Hadfield who had just returned to Earth only days before. His videos have certainly been well watched and talked about. If you haven’t watched them yet, I suggest you start with this one, my personal favourite.

Saturn taken by Bruce Drummond with Cannon EOS 600D

Saturn taken by Bruce Drummond with Cannon EOS 600D

Omega Centauri taken by Bruce Drummond with Canon EOS 600D camera mounted on 12" SCT

Omega Centauri taken by Bruce Drummond with Canon EOS 600D camera mounted on 12″ SCT

Great Orion Nebula taken by Bruce Drummond with Canon EOS 300D camera mounted on 12" SCT

Great Orion Nebula taken by Bruce Drummond with Canon EOS 300D camera mounted on 12″ SCT

Not too far away, Pascoe Vale Girls were also looking at the skies. Tonight was special for the girls of the Rephract science club as they were hosting the evening. This meant that they put all their previous training and experience to work and aligned the telescope themselves and found objects for the Year 10 class to look at. I know their teachers were extremely proud of them for accomplishing this and it is wonderful to see the girls taking charge and being so proficient with the telescope. The year 10 class that attended the night have written their own report, so keep a lookout for their post coming up next. Talking with Vikram, the PhD student who attended that night, he was also very impressed with how the girls conducted herself.

Unfortunately, the rest of the week turned out cloudy and Tuesday night was the last of the good weather. We didn’t let that deter us though as we still visited Northcote HS and Footscray City College as well. We did some more training, had a Question and Answer session and watched some great Astro and Physics videos.

As I look out my window now and peruse the weather sites, this week is not at all promising for optical astronomy. Just as well it is exam season here in Melbourne and we are head down buried in books and exam papers. If you need a distraction, as I am sure you do, or something to brighten your day. Head to the new gallery, showcasing the latest images taken by the schools and join me next week when the weather is looking a little brighter.

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