ASP2021: A Virtual Conference
11:00 AM - 11:50 AM: Concurrent Session 2D: 11:00 am PST (2:00 pm EST) - Oral Presentations
An Artistic Astro 101 Lab and Project Using Hubble Images
Conference Strand: Teaching Introductory Astronomy – What are We Doing Now?
Julia Kamenetzky, Westminster College
Abstract of Session/Presentation: Many introductory astronomy students are surprised to learn that the images from the Hubble Space Telescope don't simply appear fully formed straight out of the telescope. In addition to the careful calibration and precision required, students also underestimate the artistry and creativity that goes into these beautiful, iconic images. Here I share an hour-long in-class lab exercise that walks students through the use of the free online JS9-4L image processor to create a representative color image of the Lagoon Nebula. In the accompanying out-of-class project, students choose from a number of data sets of FITS images from Hubble, create their own representative color image, and write a research paper about their chosen object and their imaging process. I will share the curriculum that I use to introduce these topics, the lab and project instructions, and samples of student images and responses. This interdisciplinary curriculum emphasizes quantitative reasoning, solidifies student understanding of light, spectra, and imaging, introduces new astronomical objects (e.g. colliding galaxies or planetary nebulae), teaches students about the artistry of astronomical imaging, promotes student agency, and enhances research and writing skills.