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Bringing the Universe to Your Classroom!

Monday, June 30, 2014

Insight Observatory Installs New Telescope for School Observatory

Insight Observatory was recently contracted by the Sacred Heart School located in Kingston, Massachusetts, to search out, find and install a suitable new telescope with a mounting system for their Sacred Heart Observatory located on a hill in the back of the school's campus. The 10' observatory dome was originally built on a structure back in 1999 that originally housed a 12" telescope. The observatory has been without a telescope since 2004 due to several technical issues with the instrument that could not be overcome. 

Sacred Heart Observatory, Kingston, MA
Sacred Heart Observatory, Kingston, MA
The observatory has since undergone renovations this past spring as part of Sacred Heart's STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math) initiative. Part of these renovations included selecting a new instrument that would be an integral part of the astronomy curriculum and astronomy club that will be offered at the school in the fall of 2014. After visiting the observatory and meeting with the institution's Director of Advancement along with school's astronomy teacher, taking various measurements and discussing the requirements of the functionality of the telescope for the curriculum, Insight Observatory's staff set out to research equipment that would suit the astronomy program's needs.

C11 OTA Mounted on a Losmandy G11 Equatorial Mount
C11 OTA Mounted on a Losmandy G11
Equatorial Mount

The result was a Celestron Schmidt-Cassegrain 11" (C11) Telescope Optical Tube Assembly (OTA) to be mounted on a Losmandy G11 Equatorial Mount. This setup would allow users to enjoy good visual observing experiences as well as allowing the opportunity of getting involved with the imaging of deep sky objects and planets. This advanced mounting system is equipped with a "Go To" system that allows an observer to slew the telescope to objects stored in its database. This "Go To" system can either be controlled with a hand-pad (included with the mount) or from software on a computer connected to the mounts console. If desired, the system can be connected and accessed remotely via the Internet as a remote robotic telescope. Phase one of the installation has been successfully implemented (physical assembly and mounting to the observatory's custom-made pier) and phase two (polar alignment with true north) will commence within the upcoming weeks.
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Monday, June 2, 2014

Messier 45 - The Pleiades Open Star Cluster

In astronomy, the Pleiades, or Seven Sisters (Messier 45 or M45), is an open star cluster holding center matured hot B-sort stars spotted in the fall constellation of Taurus. It is among the closest star groups to Earth and is the group most clear to the bare eye in the night sky. The heavenly substance has a few implications in distinctive societies and conventions.

This past school year, 6th-grade students at the Plymouth Community Intermediate School imaged objects in the Winter Milky Way utilizing remote robotic telescopes for astronomy education located in New Mexico, Spain, and Australia. Kevin D. and Jenna F. imaged this fine deep-sky object remotely from New Mexico using a 106mm wide-field telescope.

M45 - The "Pleiades" Imaged by Kevin D. and Jenna F. from the Plymouth Community Intermediate School

The group is commanded by hot blue and greatly radiant stars that have shaped inside the last 100 million years. Clean that structures a weak reflection nebulosity around the brightest stars was thought from the beginning to be left over from the arrangement of the group (thus the interchange name Maia Nebula after the star Maia), yet is currently known to be a pointless dust cloud in the interstellar medium, through which the stars are as of now passing. Machine reenactments have indicated that the Pleiades was most likely structured from a minimized design that took after the Orion Nebula. Astronomers evaluate that the bunch will make due for about an alternate 250 million years, after which it will scatter because of gravitational communications with its galactic neighborhood.

Galileo Galilei was the first astronomer to view the Pleiades through a telescope. He in this manner uncovered that the group holds numerous stars excessively lower to be seen with the stripped eye. He distributed his perceptions, including a portrayal of the Pleiades indicating 36 stars, in his treatise Sidereus Nuncius in March 1610.

The Pleiades have long been known to be a physically related gathering of stars instead of any chance arrangement. The Reverend John Michell ascertained in 1767 that the likelihood of a chance arrangement of such a large number of brilliant stars was just 1 in 500,000, thus rightly deduced that the Pleiades and numerous different groups of stars must be physically related. At the point when studies were first made of the stars' fitting movements, it was observed that they are all moving in the same course over the sky, at the same rate, further showing that they were connected.

Charles Messier measured the position of the group and included it as M45 in his inventory of comet-like items, distributed in 1771. Alongside the Orion Nebula and the Praesepe group, Messier's consideration of the Pleiades has been noted as inquisitive, as the majority of Messier's items were much fainter and all the more effortlessly confounded with comets—something that appears to be barely feasible for the Pleiades.
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Sunday, June 1, 2014

A Visit to Frombork and Copernicus

We may still not know where Jimmy Hoffa is buried, but even more surprising is the fact that only in the past decade has the definitive resting place of the great astronomer Nicholaus Copernicus been determined. To view his final resting place we must visit the small town of Frombork which sits next to the Baltic Sea in the north of Poland, a place where Copernicus resided from 1497 to 1543 and was buried in Frombork Cathedral after his death. 

Frombork Planetarium
Frombork Planetarium

Because Copernicus' will state that his funeral is modest, his grave was not marked in any way, and for a long time, his burial place was thought to be near the altar of St Bartholomew in Frombork Cathedral. Over the centuries many have looked for Copernicus tomb - even Napoleon ordered such a search in 1807. Eventually in 2004 scientists from various fields organized a search and tests ultimately led to the discovery of the remains of Copernicus at the altar of St Cross in Frombork Cathedral.

In 2010 a ceremonial reburial of Copernicus took place, and today you can visit his tomb beneath a beautiful monument dedicated to the late astronomer.

When you are finished paying your respects, head on over to the planetarium just a dozen steps from the cathedral and enjoy the show, knowing that one of the great minds of science is not too far away.
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