Friday, January 18, 2019

Science Club: Upcoming Total Lunar Eclipse!

We had a busy session in our first meeting of Science Club for the new year!

  • read chapter 22 of Reg Down's The Midsummer Mouse: Midsummer Tales of Tiptoes Lightly and the Summer Queen, which is mysteriously titled "Little Sword and The-One-Who-Cannot-Be-Named"
  • discuss the fact that how did it all begin is one of the fundamental questions of humankind, and that all of our astronomy observations look at two ends of the time spectrum: the present and what we can learn about the past, specifically, the origins of the universe
  • give students time to write their lists of questions about outer space to their Science journals
  • look at our new 2019 Glow in the Dark Lunar Wall Calendar and read about moon dust questions which which scientists hope to learn more about during Sunday evening's total lunar eclipse
  • explain a total lunar eclipse and compare it to the total solar eclipse which we witnessed in Carbondale several years ago; create a model (bowl, mug, pencil sharpener) and look at the position of the Sun, Moon, and Earth; create a model and discuss how the Ancient Greeks used lunar eclipses to help them figure out the shape of the Earth (plate, Globe of the Continents sphere minus stand, overhead light)
  • discuss the Dark Side of the Moon and the recent Chinese spacecraft landing on Jan 2, 2019
  • discuss the troubles of understanding scale in outer space and the huge distances which are used in Astronomy, plan classroom project for understanding scale within our Solar System, look at pictures in The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Space and Space Exploration
  • discuss the name Ultima Thule and the New Horizons spacecraft photos of Ultima Thule taken on Jan 1, 2019

    New Horizons Will Fly Past the Most Distant Object We’ve Ever Visited
    Dec 22, 2018

    Ultima Thule
    from "New Horizons: NASA's Mission to Pluto and the Kuiper Belt"
    The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory webpage

    Watch Ultima Thule Spin Like a Propeller in This Awesome New Horizons Flyby Video
    Jan 17, 2019

  • discuss the formation of our Solar System billions of years ago, the age of Ultima Thule, and its shape (a contact binary)
  • use the Introduction to the Decimal System and the Multi-Base Bead Frame to review base-10 and explain binary (base-2) and hexadecimal (base-16) and the advantages and use of each in computer programming over the decades
  • teach the students (and have them understand) a binary joke!

It's pretty amazing to be learning about something that's happening NOW!

The New Horizons flyby of Ultima Thule on Jan 1... the Chinese landing on Jan 2... the total lunar eclipse this weekend.... What a great topic!

If you're interested in watching the total lunar eclipse here at SIU, here's the information about the viewing event: SIU 2019 astronomy observations kick off Sunday with total lunar eclipse. It begins at 9:30 pm on Sunday, Jan 20th at the Neckers Building. The night is expected to be clear, but cold. (My students can come in late or sleepy on Monday morning... it's totally ok.)

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