Young astronomers study sun with care
STARGAZERS JOIN IN SUN EARTH DAYS 2011
YOUNG ASTRONOMERS at St. Cronan's in Bray looked at the sun recently, had plenty of fun, learned a lot and created some amazing drawings.
St. Cronan's Star Gazers were participating in Sun Earth Days 2011 with the help of local woman Deirdre Kelleghan, astronomer, artist and writer.
‘I am very proud of my astronomy group here in Bray,' said Deirdre. ‘ They are a great bunch of enthused children, parents and teachers who delight in learning a little bit of astronomy.'
A blue sky greeted Deirdre on the first in the series of days, when she delivered a short talk on the features we see when we observe the sun an a h-alpha telescope.
This was followed up by showing the boys a DVD supplied by NASA Goddard, ‘Journey to the Stars,' narrated by Whoopi Goldberg.
‘ The boys who answered my sun questions after the presentation received “Looking through the Solar Atmosphere” images,' explained Deirdre. ‘ We then went outside to have a look at the sun for real in my special solar telescope. We were very lucky to have a clear view of an Active Regions 1166, 1169, and 1172, on the solar disk and several prominences around the limb.'
The following day's activities include a solar drawing workshop, for which so many turned up that they had to use floor-space.
‘We took a close look at some of the magical images taken by the Solar Dynamics Observatory ( a NASA telescope out in space ) , ' explained De irdre , adding that the group managed to make a ‘ lovely colourful mess' in Mr. McGovern's classroom during the workshop, ‘ but the children created some astonishing drawings in the process.'
The best drawing will be honoured by being featured on the Solar Dynamics Observatory site, and a package of solar outreach materials from NASA Goddard will be presented to the winning child.
For Sun Earth Day 2011 on March 19, Deirdre took her solar telescope to the green at Sans Souci Wood to share the view of the Active Region 1175 on the solar disk.
Members of the Star Gazers turned up as well as some neighbours and parents who came along.
‘Earlier that morning I had observed the largest prominence I have ever seen on the western limb of the sun,' said Deirdre. ‘I shared that sketch with the children and adults that arrived to give them some idea of the awesome power of the sun that can be seen if you have the correct equipment.'
She concluded by warning that you must never ever look at the sun if you do not have totally safe equipment. ‘ The sun is dangerous; never take a chance looking at it by the eye or with an ordinary telescope. You will be bringing all the sun's light and heat into your eye and will be blinded for life.'
Deirdre Kelleghan with her enthusiastic young astronomers.