The Classroom Astronomer Newsletter #34 - August 15, 2022
Sky Lessons--Baby Moons and Mercury in the Twilight, The Bull's Two Red Eyes; RAP Sheet--Benefits & Motivations to Attendees of Science Cafés; Creation, Uses, Collections of Astro Sonifications
Cover Photo - Two Red Eyes for a Bull
In This Issue:
Cover Photo - Two Red Eyes for a Bull
Welcome to Issue 34!
Sky Lessons -
- Very Young Moons and Tiny Planet
- No Bull Here, Just Mars and a Red Star
The RAP Sheet -
- Science Cafés: Exploring Adults’ Motivation to Learn Science in a Community Space
- Sonification and Sound Design for Astronomy Research, Education and Public Engagement.
The Galactic Times #30 Highlights
Welcome to The Classroom Astronomer Newsletter-Inbox Magazine #34 !
While the Table of Contents may seem short, the articles are long. These two RAP Sheet reviews are more than just abstract summaries. They are considerably longer excerpts. One is on Science Cafés and, while not explicitly astronomy education, Science Cafés do a lot of astronomy talks in informal venue situations and thus should be of interest to all educators who do any public outreach, as presenters or as hosts. The other is on sonification of astronomy data and concepts and, at the end of the discussion on uses and history of sonification, you’ll find a decent collection of links to archives of sonifications and tools to make them as well.
A couple of first-month-of-school observational tasks round out the issue.
Yours truly is taking a bit of a vacation. First one since, well, before Issue #1, over 16 months ago. It won’t be a complete vacay. There are possibly two conferences I might attend—there are still uncertainties there, even this close! Sheesh—and I might sit back and just do some writing on books, but overall I need to turn the laptop off a while. The Galactic Times and The Classroom Astronomer each are usually over 3000 words a piece and that’s a lot of monthly writing. We’ll pick when, for most, school is back in session, in September, about a month from now.
Enjoy while I rest my eyes and fingers. !
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Publisher -- Dr. Larry Krumenaker
Very Young Moons and Tiny Planet
If you start school in August, here is an interesting first assignment. School is anew so how about seeing the Moon anew? NOT a New Moon but the thinnest Moon afterwards. Also, seeing what is for some the rarest of the planets a student may see, Mercury. It is not the best apparition of the year for Northern Hemispherians but it is what we have.
If your West horizon is really clear to the ground, and it is clear about 30 minutes after sunset on the 28th, you can see the 1-day-old thin crescent Moon slightly north of west, and 10-degrees to the right, of very bright Mercury! The planet is fading from its brightest for THIS apparition but still fairly bright.
If both are too difficult tonight, try tomorrow, the 29th, when the 2-day-old Moon is directly above the planet and you can drop a line to the horizon to find it. Binoculars can help both nights.
On the 30th, a line from the now-fatter and easier to find crescent Moon through the star Spica (the star in the upper left corner in the chart above) will also reach the horizon right where Mercury is.
This is all a good exercise in early evening observing and Moon phase observation and also introducing sky measurement (how many finger widths is the Moon from Mercury and in what direction? Plot and record and find out how many degrees wide is your finger later.
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No Bull Here…Just Mars and a Red Star
Normally, when it comes to red stars, you hear of the bright star in the summer constellation of Scorpius, Antares, being compared to Mars. ‘Antares’ usually translates as “Rival of Mars,” you know, as in Anti-Ares (Ares is the Greek name for Mars).
Mars is nowhere near Antares right now to compare the two but it IS near another red star, Aldebaran. But how good a comparison are they? Here is an exercise you can do if your kids can stay up late in September (if your school starts then) as in midnight-ish or get up early before dawn. You are looking for the V-shaped face of Taurus that is rising in the East, or has long since risen and is high up if you observe near dawn,. Only this time it has TWO red stars. Aldebaran blazes on the eastern half of the V, glaring in its charge towards Orion, while Mars mimics it on the western half. When? On the 8-9th of September. (See the Cover Photo for the view in the East at about 1AM on the 8th.)
Here is what you, the teacher, should know. Mars will be the brighter, about magnitude -0.3. Aldebaran is +0.9, slightly more than a magnitude fainter. Antares, by the way, is two-tenths of a mag fainter than Aldebaran. The real challenge is color. The assignment: “Which is redder?” Aldebaran is spectral type K5, more orangey-red than red. Mars’ summer rival is an M1 star, definitely a red giant. If Antares is more a match for Mars, hence the name, Mars should be redder. Is it? Kids, go check.