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Program 4: Night Flight to the Stars

Live: October 13, 1995 20:00-25:00 Eastern

This special 5-hour live event will explore the life cycle of the stars, looking at "baby pictures" of places in the sky where stars are forming, a middle-aged galaxy half as large as our own Milky Way, and a nebula formed as a star approaches death. In addition, the KAO will study the planet Saturn and its giant moon, Titan. Video uplinks are confirmed at: Liberty Science Center, New Jersey, where an entire middle school from Summit will be at an overnight "camp-in"; the Denver Museum of Natural History, which is staging a special evening event; the Adler Planetarium, Chicago; the Houston Museum of Natural Science, Texas and Fernbank Science Center, Atlanta. The Fargo, North Dakota school district will host an open house, bringing students, parents and teachers together at a regional high school, for an evening of astronomical activities including 2-way video and audio interaction with the KAO. Booneville, Mississippi, will also stage an evening event--live from a local football game, as well as the middle school--along with Kalani High School students in Hawaii.

In addition to live interaction with the researchers and others on the KAO, students in Chicago will control the airborne telescope remotely, over the Internet, in a demonstration of "telescience". Youngsters confined to bed in hospital will be linked to the KAO by videoconferencing technologies, demonstrating that electronic field trips are accessible to all. Live pictures transmitted over the Internet from an observatory will provide ground-based comparison images for some of the objects seen by the KAO in infrared.

Just after 22:00 hours Pacific (01:00 Eastern, 10/14/95) the KAO will land at NASA Ames, concluding the Live from the Stratosphere observing flights, and the first-ever interactive television project involving an aircraft in flight.

Student Learning Objectives

These activities prepare students to participate in the night time observing mission, and provide them with a framework to record data relating to the life cycle of the stars, the nature of galaxies, and Saturn during a rare cosmic event.

After completing these activities, students will be able to

  • predict the best places to look for infrared radiation in the star-forming regions M17 and W51
  • calculate the size and brightness of the Ring Nebula (M57)
  • interpret infrared radiation from Saturn and its moon, Titan
  • predict where to look for infrared radiation in the galaxy M33

Summary Just like activities 3A-3C, these activities are designed to accompany the real-time observing mission. Using these activity pages as part of a Mission Logbook, students can make predictions about what the KAO will observe and can record actual data as it's relayed from the airplane.

Activity 4A focuses on M17, a cloud where stars are being born. 4B presents the dilemma of studying an object that cannot be seen in visible light, another star-forming region, W51. Activity 4C studies the Ring Nebula, an spherical cloud of gas surrounding a dying star. Activity 4D is devoted to Saturn and its large moon, Titan. Activity 4E concludes the night looking at the spiral galaxy M33.

Making a Night of It!

On-line you will find some very practical suggestions from LFS Educator in the Stratosphere, April Whitt, about things you can do to make an evening "Star Party" or camp-in run more efficiently. Her tips run from the sublime--linking up with local astronomy enthusiasts--to the mundane: make sure you have signs, and tell participants where to eat, sleep and the location of the bathrooms. Because of the unusual nature of the night time observing flight, we hope schools, planetariums and science centers stage such events: we'd like to hear how they went, as part of your evaluation. You may also find useful suggestions in the Wrap-Up Activities (page 55-57). Perhaps this special event can become a kind of "Astronomy Expo", demonstrating your students' work to the wider community. But please check local listings to ensure you know if and/or when your local PBS station or broadcaster is carrying the programming live. Good luck!

online

Check our on-line resources for information about contacting amateur astronomical groups as collaborators for such events.

 
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