29 Sep 2009

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Space and Geography

– ...in Geography we have a good chat about the Big Bang and space when we introduce our unit of work on Plate Tectonics and volcanoes. I’d love to have a look at Iain’s telescope one day and see the planets a bit more close up and I love the idea of the 2m thingy
-M. Green

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Space and the Philosophy of Religion

We’re about to study cosmological arguments for the existence of God in A-level and GCSE Philosophy of Religion.

This includes evaluating cosmic Red Shift and Background Radiation alongside philosophical arguments for a First Cause to discuss whether belief in a supreme being is coherent with the scientific method.

At A level we go more deeply into the philosophical foundations of the scientific method, and touch on the anthropic principle and multiverse theory.

It intrigues many of our students that NASA persists in referring to the Big Bang as a hypothesis (because most of them have been conditioned to regard it as proven fact), and it also stretches their minds to discover that the levels of mass, density and gravity needed to make the model work are almost as irrational as any creation myth!

-J. Bailey

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28 Sep 2009

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GCSE Astronomy Class

The number of students taking Mr Pert's GCSE Astronomy after school class on Tuesdays has increased from about ten in 2007 to a astronomical twenty one pupils this year, beating last years record of seventeen!

This year's course will run one hour a week for two years, instead of the previous two hours a week for one year, and will follow a new curriculum.

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25 Sep 2009

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Attack of the Space Junk

News-breaking story

According to inside sources, we humans are being 'scrutinised and studied' by 'intelligences greater than mankind's'. The aliens are so intelligent they have apparently not only worked out how to make teapots fly, but discovered that painting them red makes their fleet a spectacular sight as it travels through space!

Jon Yardley and his kidnapped scientist team were so fascinated by what they were shown, they felt they had to alert the rest of mankind. With great difficulty and danger to themselves they are somehow managing to obtain copies of the aliens' records at Teapots from Space and are secretly sending the videos to Earth using a special code as yet undeciphered by the aliens .

If you want to get a clue of what these tea-drinking aliens are uncovering about the human race and space you can watch this growing series of Videos on YouTube as they are deciphered back into Earth-speak (If you can't view in school due to the firewall settings, come back and try the above link at home!)

The first episode of 'Teapots from Space' is all about space junk, a seriously dastardly problem (watch out for that oil can!):

"How much space junk is there and how did it get into space?
Watch the space teapots and teapot abducted astronomers
talk about space junk and space telescopes."

For those who prefer to listen on your ipods, Edward Gomez has cleverly put the program into podcast form, which can be found by searching itunes for 'TeaPots from Space'.

Teapots from Space follows the visits of the Space Teapots.
These curious aliens borrow astronomers and other scientists
from Earth to find out more about mankind, their
technological advances and preference for cake or biscuits.

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Faulkes Telescope Thu 17 September, 2009 11:30 UTC

First viewing by class 7p3 : Error extraordinaire...wrong co-ordinates!

Taken from FT's public images, the declination co-ordinates (equivalent to lines of latitude) were off by about a degree or so, and when the size of the image is only 4 arc mins (....so much smaller) we missed our targets completely! :-(

So, I wonder what's in these images:

Unfortunately, we went by a set of co-ordinates on the website that had been wrongly input by a degree or so. Not much when you are close to the object, but in the sky it's a whole different area of sky!

On top of the co-ordinates being wrong for the objects we looked at, the fire alarm went off in the middle of the half hour observation window, so this was one of those 'put it down to experience' moments.

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23 Sep 2009

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Some Uplands archive astronomy photos

GCSE students working outside

Eclipse T-shirt

Eclipse 29.3.06

Using binoculars to project image

Telescope used to project image

Using Solar filter

Saturn taken by a student at Herstmonceaux
with mobile phone through the telescope.

Solar filter

The moon from Herstmonceax

Projected image of the sun showing sunspots

Photograph of circumpolar stars

GCSE coursework, mapping the moon
by Louise Gray

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22 Sep 2009

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We are hoping to get one of these digital planetariums for loaning out to students:

Meade My Sky

Just Point and Shoot - The easiest way to explore the night sky

The new Meade mySKY is a revolutionary way to explore our universe. Not a telescope, mySKY instead is a fun, interactive, hand-held, point-shoot-and-identify multimedia travel guide to our universe that will guide you through the night sky better than if you had your own private astronomer standing next to you. This hand-held electronic guide to the heavens locates, identifies, and describes 30,000 celestial objects in the night sky – every object visible to your unaided eye, as well as many thousands you’ll need a separate telescope to see. (Know many astronomers who can locate and identify 30,000 celestial objects on their own?) Featuring a full-colour LCD screen and the added ability to control a Meade computerized telescope, the Meade mySKY is clearly unlike anything else on the market.
mySKY is the ultimate in simplicity to use. No knowledge of the night sky is needed. Just turn it on and mySKY does the rest. It incorporates full GPS Auto Alignment using a 12-channel GPS receiver which aligns itself on the sky without any input from you.

Point it at a celestial object and pull the trigger to identify planets, stars, nebulas, galaxies, constellations, and more – over 30,000 objects. Or select an object to locate from the 30,000 in its memory and mySky will lead you right to it. mySKY even takes you on guided tours of the best objects visible in your sky to your unaided eye – tours that are tailored to your time, date, and location.
Fun, huh?

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Long Exposure Photography

These two pictures were taken by Amy, while a GSCE Astronomy student in Yr 10. She kept the camera very still (on a tripod) and kept the shutter open for a long time.

The length of the sidereal day was calculated using these photos. Knowing the length of the exposure, and measuring the angle through which the stars have moved (actually how much the Earth has rotated), gave a value for the sidereal day. It should be 23 hours 56 minutes. The main uncertainty in this experiment is measuring the angle correctly.

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21 Sep 2009

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The Meade 4504 Newtonian telescope

This is one of our telescopes, used by the GCSE Astronomy class, and on open evening. We are hoping to make it more available to other students. We are thinking about whether or not there would be interest in loaning it out on the same basis as the MySky...

This is the Meade 114mm F8 reflector designated either 114-DH4 or 4504. It's NOT the short-tube version but a straight Newtonian. It It uses a 494 Autostar controller for full goto capabilities.

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Astronomical Telescope f70070 - for loan

Last summer Uplands received an astronomical telescope to be used by students of the school. We have decided the best way for as many students as possible to take advantage of this equipment is to loan it out to folks who are interested on a first come first served basis.

Hopefully GCSE Astronomy students will be the first in line, but it would be great to see other students interested in taking a closer look at the stars...

If you are interested, please see either Mr Pert (often to be found in Lab 8) for further details

Small print:
Product Name:telescope
Product Model:F70070
Focal length:700mm,f/10
Hybrid diagonal:90o
Metal tripod with slow motion control rod for easy vertical micro adjust ment.
Most height:125cm
Standard 1.25″accessories include:
Eye piece:SR4mm,H12.5mm,H20mm 3X barlow lens,1.5X Erector

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