Several factors make observational astronomy difficult for pre-college students and teachers: (1) school happens during the day and observing is normally a night-time activity; (2) not many schools have teachers comfortable with astronomy equipment; (3) the scourge of light pollution has hidden the stars from many students living in or near cities; (4) there is a general lack of access to expertise when needed. Electronic access to computer-controlled telescopes equipped with digital cameras can solve some these difficulties by enabling students and their teachers to access internet-controllable telescopes, and consult more readily with experts. We report on a happy convergence of technical solutions to internet-control of telescopes by Software Bisque (www.bisque.com), the opening of New Mexico Skies guest observatory (www.nmskies.com) and outreach by the Youth Astronomy Committee of the Astronomical League. Recognizing the opportunity, we jointly proposed to the Institute for Connecting Science Research to the Classroom, to conduct a pilot program allowing high school students to access a CCD-equipped, accurately pointing and tracking telescope, controllable over the web, with a user-friendly sky-map browser tool. As we have demonstrated with Australian and Eurasian student participants, that suitably placed telescopes worldwide can make observing from the classroom/home in daylight feasible. In this and a related poster, we report on a three month pilot project conducted Feb-May 2002, including user interest and statistics, lessons learned, and ideas on how to enhance student participation in the research process. We thank the Institute for Connecting Science Research to the Classroom for a grant to the University of Denver in partial support of this effort.
American Astronomical Society Meeting Abstracts #200
- Pub Date:
- May 2002