Summer SAVY 2017, Session 6/Day 3- Planetary Astronomy (Rising 6th/7th)
Today’s Planetary Astronomy topic was LIGHT! Light is pretty much the only information we get from the Universe so we have to understand how light and matter interact in order to understand the Universe and the objects within.
We discussed the different kinds of light (the electromagnetic spectrum) and then started looking at light through diffraction gratings (which are a bit like prisms in that they split the light into the various colors). We looked at a quartz lamp that changes color with temperature (and talked about graphing and blackbody curves). Then we looked at an incandescent light bulb and different filters – students especially enjoyed predicting what colors they would see through the filter! Absorption of light is a major part of observing astronomical objects so we had to discuss the kinds of “filters” of gases out there in space.
After lunch, we worked on how doppler shift can help astronomers determine how objects (like stars, planets, and galaxies) are moving! Students stretched their brains with the concept of redshift and blueshift as well as did some math to figure out how fast things move! Upon finishing that, I showed the students some spectroscopy I personally did on one of my favorite binary stars – RY Scuti!
Students also got a taste of the kinds of extrasolar planets found so far by looking at the Kepler Orrery (version IV with explanation and great links found at: https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap151205.html ). Then we started discussing one of the techniques of finding extrasolar planets – transits! Tomorrow we look at data on extrasolar planets!