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Bringing the Universe to Classrooms
Around the World!

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Seeing Beyond the Stars

Recently, a student of Mrs. Runyon’s 8th-grade science spent this past Christmas holiday traveling around the state of Texas with a stop at the famed McDonald Observatory. This astronomical observatory is located near the unincorporated community of Fort Davis in Jeff Davis County western Texas, United States, where the stars are so brilliant one almost feels like falling up into them! Why are stars so much more brilliant in those western skies than they are to us on the east coast? And how can we see beyond them?

Mrs. Runyon's 8th-grade science students research possible deep-sky targets to image through Insight Observatory's Astronomical Telescopes for Educational Outreach (ATEO) remote telescopes in the computer lab at Plymouth South Middle School. Photo credit: Karen Runyon.
Mrs. Runyon's 8th-grade science students research possible deep-sky targets to image through Insight Observatory's Astronomical Telescopes for Educational Outreach (ATEO) remote telescopes in the computer lab at Plymouth South Middle School. Photo credit: Karen Runyon.

Grade 8 students in Mrs. Runyon’s science class at Plymouth South Middle School, Plymouth, Massachusetts discussed these and other questions before embarking on a journey through space via Insight Observatory's Astronomical Telescopes for Educational Outreach (ATEO) remote telescope network. Students selected deep-sky Messier objects to research, hunting for objects that both inspired them, as well as were visible in the January skies of the northern and southern hemispheres.

ust a few sample images were taken by 8th-grade science students at Plymouth South Middle School, Plymouth, MA. M78 and M45 imaged on Insight Observatory's 16" f/3.7 astrograph reflector (ATEO-1) in New Mexico, USA and M42, and M43 imaged on the 12.5" f/9 Ritchey-Chretien (ATEO-3) located in the Rio Hurtado Valley, Chile.
Just a few sample images were taken by 8th-grade science students at Plymouth South Middle School, Plymouth, MA. M78 and M45 imaged on Insight Observatory's 16" f/3.7 astrograph reflector (ATEO-1) in New Mexico, USA and M42, and M43 imaged on the 12.5" f/9 Ritchey-Chretien (ATEO-3) located in the Rio Hurtado Valley, Chile. 

Working in groups, the students presented and taught each other about these objects, and decided which ones to select for imaging using Insight Observatory's Educational Image Request (EIR) form. After the deep-sky image requests were uploaded to the telescope queues, acquired and processed, the students compared their images with those taken from the Hubble Space Telescope. They discussed the differences between the image qualities gathered from the ATEO remote telescopes and Hubble, both in location and structure.

Mrs. Runyon's 8th-grade students compare images of deep-sky objects such as nebulae, galaxies and star clusters taken with Insight Observatory's ATEO remote telescopes and the Hubble Space Telescope. Photo Credits: Karen Runyon.
Mrs. Runyon's 8th-grade students compare images of deep-sky objects such as nebulae, galaxies and star clusters taken with Insight Observatory's ATEO remote telescopes and the Hubble Space Telescope. Photo credits: Karen Runyon.

Insight Observatory would like to thank Mrs. Runyon and her 8th-grade science students for participating with its "Bringing the Universe to the Classroom" program. If you are an educator and interested in accessing Insight Observatory's ATEO remote telescope network for a classroom project, please Contact Us.

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