We describe the development of a new laboratory exercise for undergraduate introductory astronomy courses. Students begin by estimating the intensity of the extragalactic background light using a simple Newtonian cosmological model that agrees with recent measurements to within a factor of two. They then use the 0.5m Towson University telescope to image a dark patch of sky such as the Hubble Deep Field near or during new Moon, and compare the intensity actually observed with that predicted. This comparison leads to a new appreciation of foreground contributions such as light pollution, airglow, zodiacal light, starlight and others. Students pick up important skills in uncertainty analysis and astronomical unit conversion. But the most valuable aspect of the exercise in our view is that it enables students to draw a direct connection between the evidence of their own eyes and the age of the Universe.
American Astronomical Society Meeting Abstracts #231
- Pub Date:
- January 2018