Skip to main content

December 3-5

Embracing the Future: Astronomy Teaching and Public Engagement

ASP2020: A Virtual Conference

ASP2020: A Virtual Conference
Preliminary Schedule

Click here for the Schedule-at-a-Glance
Library Labs, a Community College Approach to Astronomy Labs
For ASTRO 101 Thread: topic 2: Astronomy Labs Online.

An 'on-line' Astronomy Lab syllabus developed for the University of New Mexico -Taos is presented which makes use of a library 'Loaner' system and student construction of a basic refractor telescope.

UNM-Taos has some favorable circumstances which facilitate our program - dark skies, small classes (~15) and a 'library' of donated and purchased equipment available to our students. (mainly 8" dobsonians and 12x60 binoculars)

The semester was broken into four nominally 4 week long modules : Visual (naked eye) astronomy, astronomy using a 42mm student-built refractor (more below), binocular astronomy and finally astronomy using library telescopes.

The presentation will concentrate on the second module, describing the fabrication of a 42mm F4 refractor using commercially available items. This telescope , which the students built for themselves and which they are allowed to keep, is comparable in terms of aperture and magnification to the telescopes used by Galileo to do the work of 'Sidereus Nuncius'.

Students were given a bag of parts (total cost about $23 per student) and instruction on how to build and use the 'scope, which was theirs to retain afterwards. The parts cost was covered by a Lab fee. The learning objectives for this activity were:
• Learn how a refractor telescope worked,
o Measuring the focal length of the telescope
o Observing the magnifications achieved with two different eyepieces
o Comparing experimental estimates of Field of view with calculations.
• Making observations of the moon,
• Making observations of the Jovian moons
• Reflect on the achievements of Galileo.
• In addition in order to introduce the students to some basic DSO observations required in Modules 3 & 4, they were asked to try to observe M31, Mizar/Alcor, M45, & M13.

If time permits, the visual, binocular and telescope observation modules will be outlined.
Conference Strand: Online K-16 Teaching & Learning