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Have you ever wondered how astronomers discover planets orbiting stars outside our solar system? This activity takes you through the steps astronomers use when they study extrasolar planet transits.
Galaxies are huge collections of stars, gas and dust held together by gravity. Our Galaxy, the Milky Way, is known as a spiral galaxy as it has spiral arms that wind their way around the center of the galaxy (or bulge). The first galaxies were identiﬁed as far back as the 17th Century by Charles Messier. Messier compiled a list of 110 star clusters and spiral nebulae which he discovered while searching the sky for comets. It wasn't until the early 20th century however that these nebulae were in fact spiral galaxies.
In this activity we will be using a specially written web application called the Impact Calculator. This has been written by the Faulkes Telescope team. You will need to have Flash Player 9 (or higher) installed for it to run in your web browser (you will be directed to download the necessary plugin, if it is not installed).
The Sun moves across the sky at a constant rate because of the rotation of the Earth. By measuring how fast the Sun moves you can work out how big the Sun appears in the sky. All you need are some household items and about 20 minutes on a sunny day.
Asteroids, also known as Minor Planets or Planetoids, are a class of astronomical object generally used to describe a diverse group of small bodies that drift around the Solar System in orbit around the Sun. A near-Earth object (NEO) is a Solar System object whose orbit brings it into close proximity with the Earth.
Charles Messier lived in Paris in the 18th century. He wanted to become famous by discovering comets. When he looked through his telescope he often re-discovered objects which were already known and were not comets. So he didn't waste time, each time he found an object that did not move in the sky he catalogued it.
Cut out the name cards for objects in the Solar System and hand them out to the students. Ask the students to try and describe the object given at the top of the card, but without using the 3 words underneath. (This game is based upon the popular board game, Taboo, and has been amended from the association for astronomy education website where more astronomy resources can be found - http://www.aae.org.uk/ )
Have you ever wondered what happens to the different stars in the night sky as they get older? This activity lets you explore the life-cycle of stars.