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Program 1: Science in the Stratosphere

September 19, 1995, 11:00-11:30 Eastern

Designed primarily as a teacher resource tape and not necessarily to be screened in its entirety with students: an introduction to the KAO, airborne astronomy and the electromagnetic spectrum. Documentary sequences show life and work aboard the KAO. Graphics demonstrate the value of flying a telescope above most of Earth's atmosphere. A review of some significant KAO discoveries, including the rings of Uranus. Distance Learning educator Patty Miller demonstrates hands-on activities found in this Teacher's Guide, and encourages on-line collaboration in a "Star Census" to create a national light pollution map. An introduction to other on-line resources which are part of Live From the Stratosphere and how to access them: Field Journals, and Researcher Q&A. Teachers and students describe their use of the Internet during Live from Antarctica, the previous Passport to Knowledge project.

This section of the Teacher's Guide provides 3 sets of Activities as an introduction to the project:

  • Beyond the Visible exploring the electromagnetic spectrum
  • Seeing Stars demonstrating how the atmosphere affects astronomy, and
  • Charting the Skies introducing celestial coordinates and finding objects in the heavens

Beyond the Visible

Student Learning Objectives

After completing these activities, students will be able to:

  • Name the different kinds of electromagnetic radiation and explain how they are related
  • Describe the kinds of electromagnetic radiation which reach the earth's surface and those which are absorbed in the upper atmosphere
  • Predict which colors are the most effective absorbers of light and which colors will be "brightest" at infrared wavelengths

Summary Activity 1A shows the spectrum and the absorption of some kinds of radiation by the earth's atmosphere. Activity 1B uses a diffraction grating to explore visible light. In Activity 1C, students experiment with the temperatures of differently colored absorbing materials. Activity 1D encourages students to turn heat into visible patterns.

Seeing Stars

Student Learning Objectives

After completing these activities, students will be able to:

  • Calculate the number of stars that can be seen in their local night sky

Summary Please use discretion about suggesting night-time activities based upon local circumstances. Activity 1E studies the optical qualities of Earth's atmosphere. Activity 1F looks at how light pollution prevents us seeing stars.

Charting the Sky

Student Learning Objectives

After completing these activities, students will be able to:

Locate the objects scheduled for observation by the KAO using the system of coordinates used by astronomers.

Locate some bright stars and objects in the night sky, weather permitting

Summary This section uses a star chart and horizon mask which can first be introduced in the classroom and then used outside. Activity 1G introduces the astronomer's coordinate systems. Activity 1H modifies the star chart to demonstrate spatial relationships within our Milky Way Galaxy, and provides a mask which shows what the KAO can observe at specific hours during the missions.



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