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Comment: Who needs the 'scope? (Score 1) 377

by Bucko (#31098620) Attached to: What Objects To Focus On For School Astronomy?

Sorry I saw this so late.
Over 30 years ago I taught Astronomy to college freshmen. Thought I did a decent enough job, but if I had to do it over again...

First of all, please make sure that the students actually know the basics. My gut says most won't know that which way is North or South, or that the Sun rises in the east and sets in the west.

Have them watch the Moon enough to know that it moves nightly to the east, relative to the stars, and have them watch the stars enough to know that they move to the west nightly, relative to the Sun. These in and of themselves are not a trivial observations.

Have them locate planets. Mars is well placed in the evening sky. Have them learn to read a star chart to see the bright object that isn't shown. That implies they can indeed identify more that "the big dipper".

The Pleiades are high in the sky now. It starts a great lesson in star clusters and stellar nurseries.

The pretty stuff - M42 in Orion (for the early evening now) and M13 in Herc. later in the year are classics, and a good place to start.

Later in the spring, Venus is a great naked eye object, and little improved by a telescope. But at least you can show them it's a crescent. Mercury is something to look for mid-April in the evening sky. It's not improved at all with a telescope!

Saturn is the best object in a small telescope. It doesn't get high in the sky during the early evening until later in the spring, but it won't be too bad in the east. Jupiter and it's moons are in the morning sky. But late next fall it'll be your best object.

You will have a devil of a time with deep-sky objects. Because the pictures that even amateurs can get with CCD cameras are so good, the naked eye can't compete. They will either not see them or be disappointed.

% APL is a natural extension of assembler language programming; ...and is best for educational purposes. -- A. Perlis

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