Welcome Thomastown

This term we welcome a new school to the TiS family, Thomastown Secondary College. After a very quick delivery with the Year 9 STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) classes looking on and helping out, we were out only a few nights later, telescope on show for the school’s Open Day.

Astrophysics Master’s student, Nicole, came along to learn how to use the telescope and answer the curlier questions. Nicole actually found herself talking more to the Year 12 students about studying at University and careers than Astrophysics, but hey, that’s one of the many reasons she and all her fabulous colleagues come along!

Nicole and Anthony running through the alignment process.

Nicole and Anthony running through the alignment process.

We set up in daylight and undercover as it had threatened to rain all day and the forecast for the evening was not positive. So we amused ourselves practicing the alignment process and showing future potential students and families what the telescope can do.

As luck would have it (and this time in a good way) the rain stayed away and the clouds broke up, so we quickly moved the scope out from the verandah and managed to look at some stars and even the Orion nebula before the clouds passed over. Finally looking through the telescope and seeing the stars certainly got the staff and students very excited.

It was an absolute pleasure meeting Jacinta and Nicole, especially when they brought along a beautiful telescope and the knowledge of how to use and look after it. My peers who I had tried to convince into coming to the Open Day, which was the grand reveal of the telescope, and didn’t, definitely missed out on a great and fun-filled experience. I’m looking forward to being able to teach them how to use it. I hope to continue being part of the team working with the telescope and would love to be part of anything and everything involving it in the future.

Katherine lining up the finderscope at Thomastown SC

Katherine lining up the finderscope at Thomastown SC

Katherine Chea, Year 12 at Thomastown Secondary College

The other week I went out to Thomastown to train some of the teachers and meet some of the students. The weather in Melbourne has been incredibly stable lately and we had crystal clear skies for our first real session at Thomastown. This report was written by a couple of senior students and pretty much says it all;

The Thomastown crowd on their first viewing night.

The Thomastown crowd on their first viewing night.

On the 8th of May Thomastown Secondary College had an astronomy night. On the night, school staff, students and their family members gazed at the stars and planets with the use of a telescope supplied by Melbourne University. We were assisted by the program coordinator, Jacinta, who demonstrated how the telescope should be controlled. The night sky was very clear and many stars and planets were visible with just our eyes. After first aligning the telescope to accurately move to coordinates of stars, we began taking turns looking at the moon and its craters. The moon’s craters appeared surprisingly clear and many of the staff and students took pictures of them through the telescope. As the night continued we had hot chocolate and continued looking at other planets such as Saturn and Mars. Saturn was unanimously decided to be the most interesting planet by the students because of its rings while Mars was considered lack-lustre as it was small and its glare prevented a clear view. All in all, the night was a success as all of the participants had a great time as they learned how the telescope worked and had a view of the moon and planets clearly with their own eyes. We can’t wait for the next astronomy night, which will probably be even better. 

Smart phone image of the Moon taken through the telescope by Erim.

Smart phone image of the Moon taken through the telescope by Erim.

Spiro and Erim –  Thomastown Secondary College

Thanks to all of the students who contributed to the post and for having such a great time.


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