Suzanne Cory High School

The next instalment of our featured schools is Suzanne Cory High School in Melbourne’s western suburb of Werribee and named after the renowned Australian geneticist and current and first female elected president of the Australian Academy of Science, Professor Suzanne Cory. An amazing advocate of science and an inspiring female mentor for the school named in her honour.

TiS have been visiting Suzanne Cory HS for 2 1/2 years now as they were one of the very first schools to receive their telescope. We have had some amazing nights at the school this term and some exciting images to share. Even when it’s cloudy over Melbourne, there seems to be this gap over Werribee – I need to have a good chat with a meteorologist one day…

I will let Sophia describe the Suzanne Cory HS experience;
As the skies darken quickly as we enter the winter months, students are given the chance to survey the stars. Every Week A, Thursday, the school hosts a telescope program in which planets and stars can be seen through the telescope that Melbourne University has generously lent us. Learn the constellations in the night sky, navigate around the cosmos, and understand the wonder of the things that were always simply just above us. From the rings of Saturn, to the stripes of Jupiter, tiny specks in the night sky will no longer seem as insignificant as you once thought.
On the 29th of May, we attended the second night of the Telescopes in Schools program. The program was an opportunity to look thought the telescope and see planets and stars with our own eyes. As we tackled the cold, we learned information about the planets of the solar system and the stars that we see in the sky. Some of the planets we had a look at included Jupiter, Saturn and Mars, and we also got to view the brightest star in the night sky, Sirius. We even got to take photos of the planets through the telescope to keep for ourselves! There were teachers and astronomers who were able to answer and discuss any of our questions or queries. Overall, the program was a great chance to meet new people, discover interesting facts about space and have fun!
Sophia Pacheco and Tara Co   Suzanne Cory HS

We have also been taking some photos, I hope you enjoy them and they do come with a few surprises!

First up, you always get a lovely sunset over Werribee.

The Werribee sunset is always a joy to watch. Credit: Jacinta den Besten

The Werribee sunset is always a joy to watch. Credit: Jacinta den Besten

When the sun has set, the school looks gorgeous all lit up, if only the light pollution wasn’t a factor.

The View of Suzanne Cory HS at night. Credit: Bruce Drummond

The View of Suzanne Cory HS at night. Credit: Bruce Drummond

Then the moon rises. I am calling it a Tiger Moon – not sure if it’s a thing, but it might catch on. I took this through the Canon EOS 700D without a tripod. This was the most steady one…

Tiger Moon (is that a thing?) rising over Werribee. Credit: Jacinta den Besten

Tiger Moon (is that a thing?) rising over Werribee. Credit: Jacinta den Besten

The students are starting to learn how to use the telescope.

Sophia driving the telescope at Suzanne Cory HS. Credit: Bruce Drummond

Sophia driving the telescope at Suzanne Cory HS. Credit: Bruce Drummond

One of the teachers managed some great images through her phone of Saturn and Jupiter.

Image of Saturn taken with iPhone through the telescope. Credit Amanda Green

Image of Saturn taken with iPhone through the telescope. Credit Amanda Green

While looking at Jupiter we saw an occultation of not one, but two of Jupiter’s moons! That is what we discovered when we had a look at Jupiter on Celestia to figure out what we were looking at! That is Io AND Europa coming out from behind Jupiter together, Ganymeade is on the bottom and Callisto at the top. Have since discovered the App Jupiter Guide which shows the positions of the moons and Great Red Spot!

Image of Jupiter and 4! Galilean Moons (look closely) taken by iPhone through the telescope. Credit: Amanda Green

Image of Jupiter and 4! Galilean Moons (look closely) taken by iPhone through the telescope. Credit: Amanda Green

Pascoe Vale Update

I thought my next series of posts would focus on some of the schools to give you an update on some of the things each school has been doing. Everyone is different – exploring different astronomical objects, having a different focus or just a different approach. I hope you enjoy them.

First up is Pascoe Vale Girls College

The Rephract Group designed their own badge with the telescope as their symbol. They made me an honorary member of which I am honoured to be a part of.

The Rephract Group designed their own badge with the telescope as their symbol. They made me an honorary member of which I am honoured to be a part of.

Many of the girls in the Rephract Group (science club) last year were completing year 12. Almost all went on to study in a STEM field and Mahdooshi is even studying Astronomy at Monash. A fantastic achievement by all the girls and we a so pleased to see you move into the fields of Science and Technology.

So this means that this year we have a new group of girls learning the ropes on the telescope. The telescope also has a new home, a special room built to store the telescope and equipment just a few meters from the observing sight and a clear view into the new Physics lab, so the students are inspired on a daily basis.

Pascoe Vale Girls College telescope tucked up in bed for the night.

Pascoe Vale Girls College telescope tucked up in bed for the night.

The group still meets regularly every second Tuesday night and when they can’t use the telescope to view the sky or take photos, they are practicing their alignment process with the guidance from Gaby who is now in Year 9 and last night they signed up to this blog. So this post is dedicated to all the new followers from Pascoe Vale Girls College.

Second viewing night of the year and unfortunately it was a cloudy one. We weren’t able to see any stars or planets but that didn’t stop us from teaching our new members how to use the telescope. The Rephract members started off by demonstrating how to use the telescope and then allowing the new members to take a shot at it. Many of the new members have begun to learn the basics of the telescope, meaning the Rephract Team is making progress. With constant quizzes and lots of practice the new members were able to understand how to setup the telescope. The Rephract Team of Pascoe Vale Girls is making progress in teaching other students to use the telescope as well as to earn their telescope license.

Saumaya Fernando, Gabby Iocco and Samantha Pintarich; Rephract team; Pascoe Vale Girls College.

The girls from Pascoe Vale Girls College Rephract Group learning how to use the telescope on a cloudy night.

The girls from Pascoe Vale Girls College Rephract Group learning how to use the telescope on a cloudy night.

On the 10th of June 2014, ten girls attended the Telescope Viewing Night. Throughout this occasion, various students aligned the telescope, to view numerous planets and star clusters. Girls were able to take pictures of planets such as Jupiter and the moon, as sharp detailed images. Initially, we viewed a hazy Jupiter which was low on the horizon. We also saw three of Jupiter’s moons. To continue, we observed the moon and its craters and managed to capture fantastic photos. We attempted to view Mars and its tiny robots; however clouds disabled us to do so. Saturn was assessed afterwards, with amazingly vivid rings. As we geeks say, Jupiter loved Saturn so much, it put a ring on it! Lastly, we had a quick glance at the Jewel Box deep sky star cluster. Overall it was a productive and thrilling night, most worthy of attending (although the team of students were very very cold).

Maryam El-Ali (Year 10) took this image of the Moon with her phone through the telescope.

Maryam El-Ali (Year 10) took this image of the Moon with her phone through the telescope.

By Maryam El-Ali (Year 10) and Olivia White (Year 9)

Olivia White at the telescope helm during an amazingly clear Winter night.

Olivia White at the telescope helm during an amazingly clear Winter night.