Homeschool Astronomy: Stars, Light, Optics

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Wednesday November 9

9:30 AM  –  11:00 AM


Ten Wednesdays, 9:30 to 11:00am
Nov. 9, 16, 30; Dec. 7, 14, 21; Jan. 4, 11, 18, 25

Required for enrollment: a parent or guardian’s functioning e-mail address

Each student will learn to use and take home a Project STAR refracting telescope kit, a Project STAR plastic spectrometer, and a notebook with information sheets.

Outline, subject to shifts from week to week as we explore topics
Each session will also include time under the Planetarium dome, finding stars, constellations and planets in the current and near future night skies.

Session 1: Light rays travel in straight lines, except when refracted. Silhouettes, dark sides, shadows. Refraction in liquids and glass. Sunrise and sunset colors, “blood moon”
Session 2: Images without lenses: Pinhole images. Image size vs. brightness and resolution. Under the Planetarium sky: how star colors indicate temperature.
Session 3: Images with lenses: Focal length. Image from concave mirror
Session 4: Lens as magnifier
Session 5: Add an eyepiece lens to make a telescope
Session 6: Prism colors. Chromatic aberration in lenses. Introduction to waves
Session 7: Diffraction grating: what it does and how. Spectra from an old CD. Wave aspect of light. Polarization
Session 8: More on light waves and how different wavelengths are diffracted. Spectrometer: measuring wavelength
Session 9: Spectra of gases: what they look like and how atoms produce them; wavelength and energy
Session 10: Frequency and phase demonstrated in mini laser show

Instructors: Steve Fentress, Planetarium Director; Paul Krupinski, Strasenburgh Planetarium star show presenter and proprietor of Mr. K’s Mobile Dome Planetarium

For more information, e-mail