Sunday, May 8, 2011

History of the Telescope

This past Friday, Alex Smith explained the importance of the telescope on astronomy, and our perception of the universe. Galileo's use of the telescope to look at the moons of Jupiter and the phases of Venus helped to shift from a geocentric model to a heliocentric one. He next went on to explain how Edwin Hubble discovered a whole slew of other galaxies, each one of which contained billions of stars, further expanding the limits of the universe. Alex continued to describe the development of the telescope explaining the value of sending telescopes into space and the extreme galaxies on the outer edge of the universe that have been observed with the Hubble Space Telescope. Finally, he closed with comments on the abilities of the current and next generation of telescopes such as the James Webb Space Telescope to be able to detect planets that potentially harbor life.

After the lecture, Brandon Horn gave a tour of the galaxy and solar system on our 3D wall, while Christine Simpson gave a tour of the dome that houses our telescope on the roof. At the same time, Duane Lee and Jeff Andrews gave a discussion of the astronomy picture of the day in the main lecture hall.

Thanks to all the volunteers and the 100 people who attended Alex's lecture.


Saturday, May 7, 2011

Solstices and Equinoxes

Last night, a group of 15 elementary, home-school students and their parents visited the observatory for a discussion on how our Earth travels through the solar system and how we perceive these motions. Lia Corrales, Ian Allen and Cameron Hummels led an interactive activity which taught the kids about how the seasons, equinoxes, solstices, days and years are simply the results of how the earth rotates and orbits around the Sun. Ultimately, these topics related back to the students' lesson plan about Incan and Peruvian astronomy and how these people's used the equinox and solstice for the agricultural calendar. The students were very intelligent and had great questions on a variety of topics. Thanks to all of the participants!