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Summer SAVY 2017, Session 6/Day 4- Planetary Astronomy (Rising 6th/7th)

Day 4

Planetary Astronomy students looked at actual extrasolar planet data today!  We first talked about the main techniques for finding planets around other stars (NASA website “5 Ways to Find a Planet” or The Planetary Society “How to Search for Exoplanets”) and then we went to the computer lab to actually look at extrasolar planet data.  The website we used today was exoplanets.org which has a great set of plotting tools and a relatively easy interface.  Students did some serious graphical analysis and designed (and answered) their own research questions!  It was so cool to see the questions they came up with!
If you’re interested in a more thorough but less user-friendly interface, check out the NASA Exoplanet Archive (they compiled some basic exoplanet statistics here).

Once the students were done with their research, they could then look at a couple of interesting websites, Planet Hunters or Starchitect.

Toward the end of the day, we looked at the Periodic Table of Exoplanets and you can also link to the Habitable Exoplanet Catalog from there.  We also discussed a couple of space propulsion methods like Project Orion (explanation and video) and solar sails.  We look forward to tomorrow’s activities!  We’ll be talking about the Aug 21 solar eclipse for sure!

Dr. G



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