Summer SAVY 2018: Session 5, Day 1 – Stellar Astronomy (Rising 5th/6th)
We had a mind blowing day in astronomy today! The students are so excited to learn and ask all of their questions about astronomy!
We started out the day with introductions of each other – it’s great to learn what people have in common and to learn about something new. After discussing what topics we will likely cover in Stellar Astronomy (they are so excited for star death and black holes!), we talked a bit about what one might see in the sky tonight. Two things I recommend: 1) for Space Station and satellite info as well as location-specific star charts, try Heaven’s Above; 2) for star charts and “time travel” in the sky, I really like Stellarium. It’s a computer program and now they also have apps for Apple and Android.
Students were very excited to start learning about stars themselves and really enjoyed our Orion image and learning about the different star names and then about the colors of stars. We started examining a data table about stellar classification (found on Wikipedia). In order to fully understand our data table, we started talking about the symbols one can see (we sidetracked a bit to astronomical symbols). The symbol used for temperature wasn’t Fahrenheit or Celsius, scientists use Kelvin!
Perhaps the most mind-blowing topic of today was scientific notation! As the numbers in astronomy are generally huge, we have to use a different way to write them or it’s just too cumbersome. For instance, the Sun’s mass is 2 nonillion kilograms. We practiced and did a little bit of arithmetic with the exponents.
At the end of our day, we talked about some basic stellar evolution and learned some new vocabulary. We’ll be talking more thoroughly about many of the topics learned today as the week passes.
Now that we know these things, we can really start looking at and understanding stellar data and graphs!
Some Pictures From Our Day