Greetings, Earthlings. For the first time in human history, The Academy has an astronomy club. Many of the students keep coming back, week after week, for an hour every Tuesday. When asked, “Why do you keep coming back?” one student answered, “For snacks!!” Other students say, “I keep coming back to learn new things about the universe and to talk with friends,” and “I keep coming back to learn more about space and the stars.” We hope that all members live long and prosper.
We do many cool things. Once we went up to the roof of the building to do some observing at night. We saw the moon rising behind a crane in the east (we do live downtown, after all). We also saw many people through their living room windows watching TV. It was almost all we could see because there is too much light pollution downtown to see much in the sky. We are thinking about a couple of things: going to an observatory outside of the city as well as bringing some telescopes to the beaches to observe over the lake.
We recently had a guest, Cathy McWatters, give a workshop on making cosmic ray detectors. Muons are particles that are constantly streaming through our bodies from space, left over from Big Bang radiation. Using dry ice, flashlights, Ferrero Rocher chocolate boxes, isopropyl alcohol, cotton pads, black paper and tape, we were able to see this radiation in a mini-white storm of swirls. One just went through my head. There goes one through your head. Don’t worry, you’ll get used to it.
“One of the coolest things I have learned in the club is that there is too much knowledge about space to learn,” says one student. “I have a telescope and I do my own observing to learn outside of school. Something I find really interesting is that space is bent, not flat, and that any object that has mass bends space.” “I never knew about most constellations, but being in the club, I learned about the zodiac, Orion, Ursa Major and Minor and Cephus,” notes another student. Students in the club think that astronomy is important because many things used to rely on it, like navigation and astrology (a person’s zodiac sign).