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Lets Explore the Heavens
  • Science
  • Senior
  • STEM

The LEH Astronomy Club launched in the autumn term 2019.

Regular participants include: Sasha (LVS), Josephine (LVS), Veronica (LVQ), Heidi (LIVS), Sophie (LIVS), Anjali (IIIM) Avni (UIVX) and Catherine (UIVX).

We met weekly after school in SF14 to complete the six sections of the National Schools’ Observatory (NSO) Bronze Certificate.

The NSO opens the door to the Universe through use of the world’s largest robotic telescope, the Liverpool Telescope (LT). Using this LEH can explore the Solar System or distant galaxies together with professional astronomers from around the globe.

The NSO and the LT are maintained by Liverpool John Moores University.  In using the NSO our students are able to further their knowledge of science and mathematics, while at the same time improving their computer literacy and communications skills, strengthening their critical thinking and experiencing the real-world application of science and technology.

In our first meeting we accessed the Liverpool Telescope image bank to search for asteroids - these are large rocks orbiting the Sun that are too small to be called planets. By using the specialised LTImage software, we examined two images taken a short time apart.  In this way we were able to spot asteroids moving across the sky, relative to the far away objects and stars that look fixed.

In Session 2 we designed and built a vehicle that would protect an Eggnaut from the perils of re-entry. The objective was to have our adventurer survive the fall without a crack. Unfortunately, only one of our Eggnauts successfully made the descent. This was a graphic illustration of the perils of manned (or egged) space flight!

For Session 3 we had to think about everything we need here on Earth to survive day to day.  We then designed Mars Bases that could allow people to live there for a long time. We realised that when humans go to Mars they will need somewhere protected to live where there is oxygen to breathe, food to eat, places to sleep and places to work.  We also thought that they would need somewhere comfortable to relax after a long day working – and something to help them explore the Martian surface when they venture outside.

The following week we investigated the Lunar surface by first completing large jigsaws showing various phases of the Moon (Moonsaics!). We then explored features on the surface by researching various astronomical terms (such as Terminator, Mare, Lacus, Vallis, Mon, Crater and Lunar rays) and locating examples of them on our Moonsaics.

The following week we investigated the Lunar surface by first completing large jigsaws showing various phases of the Moon (Moonsaics!). We then explored features on the surface by researching various astronomical terms (such as Terminator, Mare, Lacus, Vallis, Mon, Crater and Lunar rays) and locating examples of them on our Moonsaics.

For the final session we considered how good images help us understand the night sky.  We thought about how early scientists made their observations without computers, cameras or even electricity to help them.  Some of us recreated early astronomical work by drawing our observations and ideas and some of us used a modern approach by taking photographs.  We all wrote little descriptions of our pictures, and explained what we liked about them.

During all of these sessions we worked in teams and openly discussed our ideas and thoughts.  We also listened to music and ate astronaut food to get us in the mood:  the freeze dried strawberries were probably the best tasting, although the freeze dried ice cream was also quite edible!

We had a visit from a representative of the NSO in December, to see how we are getting on and we are pleased to report that the program is going extremely well.  We are now looking forward to getting on with the Silver Certificate.

Mr Brittain - Physics Teacher and STEM Co-ordinator