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Archive of Chat with Mona Kessel and Peggy Motes Celebrating Martin Luther King's Birthday

[ Andrea/Ames - 2 - 08:56:08 ]
Welcome to the chat room. If you have questions for Peggy regarding the activities or the "Follow The Drinking Gourd" video, please feel free to ask them. Mona will join use in about an hour and a half.

[ Peggy - 3 - 09:18:42 ]
Hello from Muncie, Indiana. Welcome to this Educator Workshop featuring the Muncie, Indiana Martin Luther King Day Program

[ jerry/RVCC - 5 - 10:23:17 ]
How did it go Peggy?

[ Mona/GSFC - 6 - 10:24:44 ]
Hello from Greenbelt, Maryland. Is the chat about to begin?

[ Andrea/Ames - 7 - 10:25:21 ]
Hi Mona - Welcome we are getting ready to begin.

[ Joe/Brentwood - 8 - 10:27:38 ]
We are here.

[ Andrea/Ames - 9 - 10:28:44 ]
Welcome Joe -- Mona is here to answer your questions.

[ Joe/Brentwood - 10 - 10:32:13 ]
Who first used celestial navigation?

[ Mona/GSFC - 11 - 10:33:43 ]
I am not sure who was the first but I believe people used it as the first means of steering at night. It was a popular method for early sailors.

[ Andrea/Ames - 12 - 10:34:41 ]
We welcome Mona Kessel - while her official title is astrophysicist she is actually a space-physicist. She studies the environment between the Sun and the Earth -- as opposed to astrophysicists who study the space beyond our local solar system.

[ Mark/InvernessCA - 13 - 10:34:47 ]
Hi Mona - I have always wondered about "point of reference" regarding celestial navigation. What do we use as our "from" point of reference to discover where stars are, how far away they are, etc. Is it the earth, the sun, or ??

[ Joe/Brentwood - 14 - 10:37:32 ]
Have you ever used a sextant? Are they still used?

[ Mona/GSFC - 15 - 10:37:55 ]
There are several coordinate systems, the most common is the right ascension, declination - and this does use the Earth as the center or from position.

[ Peggy - 16 - 10:38:11 ]
Hello everyone from Muncie, Indiana.

[ MrsClarksClass - 17 - 10:38:29 ]
Thank you for being here - our class has a few questions for Mona.

[ Andrea/Ames - 18 - 10:38:49 ]
Welcome Peggy.

[ MrsClarksClass - 19 - 10:39:27 ]
Hi Peggy - we did the wheel activity. Thanks you.

[ Peggy - 20 - 10:40:02 ]
The students in high school astronomy classes learn right ascension and declination here in the MCS Planetarium.

[ Mark/InvernessCA - 21 - 10:40:36 ]
How does the use of triangulation relate to coordinate systems in terms of measuring distance and deterimining location (or does it not apply here)?

[ MrsClarksClass - 22 - 10:41:13 ]
Our first question - how far is the Sun from Earth? Does it ever change?

[ Mona/GSFC - 23 - 10:41:28 ]
Discovering how far away stars are is fairly complicated. Different methods are using depending on how far away stars are - we find distance to the closer stars, learn something about them, and then bootstrap toward more distant stars. Distances to nearest stars can be determined accurately from parallax measurements.

[ Joe/Brentwood - 24 - 10:42:00 ]
Peggy - do you know how many different Underground RR routes there were?

[ Mona/GSFC - 25 - 10:42:14 ]
how far is the Sun from Earth? 93 million miles

[ Peggy - 26 - 10:42:48 ]
The wheel activity will show you the sunset position of the Big Dipper in each season. Remember the slaves were unable to attend school. So, methods were devised to teach celestial navigation using methods that did not require reading. Songs and activities like this wheel were often used. If you keep walking with Polaris in front of you, you are heading North. If you look up and Orion is in front of you, you are not going North.

[ Mona/GSFC - 27 - 10:43:02 ]
does it ever change? The Earth orbits the Sun in a nearly circular orbit, but it is not truly a circle and thus the distance does change during the orbit.

[ Peggy - 28 - 10:44:40 ]
There were many Underground Railroad Routes. The Teacher Guide that accompanies this program includes a map with several routes. Indiana was a highly travelled route. Many homes in our area were safe houses.

[ Mona/GSFC - 29 - 10:44:40 ]
From an earlier question, I have never used a sextant. There are now very sophisticated systems using e.g., the GPS (global positioning satellites) array so I doubt if many people still use sextants.

[ Joe/Brentwood - 30 - 10:44:55 ]
Do the astronauts use celestial navigation?

[ Mark/InvernessCA - 31 - 10:46:11 ]
I have a National Geographic star chart. From the Northern Hemisphere, it shows the position of the Big Dipper. Is the North Star part of the Big Dipper, and if so what it its astronomical name?

[ MrsClarksClass - 32 - 10:46:36 ]
Mona - We would like to know what causes sun spots.

[ Mona/GSFC - 33 - 10:47:57 ]
I don't know for sure, but I would think celestial navigation would be very useful to astronauts as they turn the space shuttle, for example. They would probably fix on a star and measure the degree of turn from that.

[ Peggy - 34 - 10:48:18 ]
TAhe position of the sun in the sky changes during the course of a year. So, in order to make the long trip north, people need to know when the seasons change. You can tell this by the position of the sun in the sky. That is why the words in the song are " When the sun comes back and the first quail calls. . . You know it is going to be winter and time to get ready to travel north and prepare for cold weather.

[ MrsClarksClass - 35 - 10:48:38 ]
Peggy - can you further describe a "safe house"?

[ Mona/GSFC - 36 - 10:49:53 ]
Is the North Star part of the Big Dipper, and if so what it its astronomical name? no, it is in the Little Dipper and called Polaris. (there are other names in some catalogues with an HD number or SAO number.)

[ Joe/Brentwood - 37 - 10:49:57 ]
My friend wants to know if studying physics is really hard?

[ Peggy - 38 - 10:50:25 ]
The North Star is not part of the Big Dipper. It is part of the Little Dipper. The North Star is also called Polaris. The two pointer stars in the Big Dipper point to the North Star Polaris. So, finding the Big Dipper and followng the pointer stars help you find Polaris, the North Star.

[ Mona/GSFC - 39 - 10:51:44 ]
We would like to know what causes sun spots. So would most solar physicists! IT is a cooler spot on the Sun's photosphere and there is associated magnetic activity but what causes all this is not clear.

[ Mark/InvernessCA - 40 - 10:51:50 ]
Peggy - my great grandfather fought in the Civil War. He mentions using the stars to navigate often in his letters. He also mentions that a number of men from the URR joined up with his company. Do you know if that was common?

[ Mona/GSFC - 41 - 10:53:11 ]
My friend wants to know if studying physics is really hard? Physics is one of the most difficult subjects, but if you like math and problem solving then it can be fun!

[ Peggy - 42 - 10:53:12 ]
A Safe House was a place where slaves could rest along their journey north on the Under Ground Railroad. Many Quaker ministers an church members had Safe House. Others who were not Quakers also helped. People had secret doors behind shelves or bookcases into little rooms where the slaves could rest up and hide until time to continue the Journey.

[ Mark/InvernessCA - 43 - 10:54:11 ]
What are the names of the two pointer stars in the Big Dipper? I'm asking because I'm never sure if I'm really finding and looking at Polaris.

[ Peggy - 44 - 10:55:01 ]
I'm not sure what you are referering to by the URR.

[ MrsClarksClass - 45 - 10:55:19 ]
For Mona and Peggy - Why are stars different colors?

[ Joe/Brentwood - 46 - 10:56:32 ]
Have you ever sent a probe to the Sun?

[ Mark/InvernessCA - 47 - 10:56:53 ]
Sorry Peggy, Underground Railroad.

[ Mona/GSFC - 48 - 10:58:31 ]
What are the names of the two pointer stars in the Big Dipper? The Big Dipper is also called Ursa Majoris (Big Bear) and the stars are given greek letters corresponding to their brightnesses. The brightest is Alpha Ursa Majoris UMa.

[ Peggy - 49 - 10:59:45 ]
Merak and Dubhe are the pointer stars in the Big Dipper.

[ Jennifer - 50 - 10:59:57 ]
Hi I just joined with my class.

[ Mona/GSFC - 51 - 11:00:04 ]
Why are stars different colors? They have different temperatures and their surfaces emit like black bodies. For example if you look at a wood burning fire it can be orange-yellow, or blue (hotter).

[ Peggy - 52 - 11:01:05 ]
One reason Sstars are different colors is because of the temperature of the star. Very hot stars are a different color than cooler stars.

[ Jennifer - 53 - 11:01:52 ]
We have studied the Underground Railroad. We want to know if other songs were used like the one in the video?

[ Mona/GSFC - 54 - 11:02:09 ]
Have you ever sent a probe to the Sun? The satellite called Ulysses is presently orbiting the Sun, going over the poles and making measurements. There are other satellites which are near Earth which monitor the Sun constantly. There are also ground-based solar telescopes.

[ MrsClarksClass - 55 - 11:02:29 ]
Why are the stars different sizes?

[ Mark/InvernessCA - 56 - 11:03:39 ]
Mona - so, let me know if am I correct: Apha Ursa Majoris UMa is also known as Dubhe, and the second brightest (beta) star is Merak? I'm looking at the Greek letters next to these names and comparing them to the brightness (and Greek letters) of other Big Dipper stars.

[ Peggy - 57 - 11:03:43 ]
Many people joined the efforts of the Underground Railroad including soldiers. There is a child's book, THE DRINKING GOURD, by F.N. Munjo tht tells about the work of the Underground Railroad and also includes the words to the song.

[ Joe/Brentwood - 58 - 11:03:46 ]
I have to go to my next class - my last question is there a South star like the North star?

[ Mona/GSFC - 59 - 11:04:42 ]
Why are the stars different sizes? Stars are in hydrostatic equilibrium, so that their internal pressure balances gravity. Pressure is influenced by temperature and internal nuclear fusion reactions, and gravity is determined by mass.

[ MrsClarksClass - 60 - 11:06:30 ]
We would like to know if stars change color or size?

[ Jennifer - 61 - 11:06:52 ]
Did the slaves use stories too?

[ Mona/GSFC - 62 - 11:06:53 ]
is there a South star like the North star? No, there is not similar star in the southern sky. However, because the Earth precesses about its axis Polaris will not always be the north star and someday there could be a south star.

[ Peggy - 63 - 11:06:55 ]
I do not know of other songs. I know that there were many people helping the slaves escape as early as thirty years before the Civil War. If you find an Anti-Slavery almanac in your Public Library, you may be able to find the words to other songs.

[ Mona/GSFC - 64 - 11:07:55 ]
We would like to know if stars change color or size? yes, as they exhaust their nuclear fuel supply they undergo changes in their color and size.

[ Peggy - 65 - 11:08:04 ]
Actually, one of the stars in Draco the Dragon, was once the North Star.

[ Joe/Brentwood - 66 - 11:09:14 ]
Thank you -- my friend may come in next period.

[ Jennifer - 67 - 11:10:32 ]
Did you ever see Martin Luther King? (Mona or Peggy)

[ Mona/GSFC - 68 - 11:12:30 ]
I have only seen Martin Luther King on TV. He was very inspiring even through that medium.

[ Peggy - 69 - 11:12:41 ]
In about 3000BC Thuban was the North Star. In about 10,000BC Vego was the North Star. In about 1000BC the orange star, Kochab, in the Little Dipper was the Pole Star.

[ Kevin/Brentwood - 70 - 11:13:53 ]
How long ago did the North Star change?

[ Mark/InvernessCA - 71 - 11:14:01 ]
Peggy - Do you know, once the slaves had survived their trip into the North and Canada, how they were able to make a living? Who was there to give them jobs, provide housing, and to make sure they weren't discriminated against?

[ Peggy - 72 - 11:14:01 ]
I have never met Dr. King. I do know someone who lived in Selma, Alabama as a little girl when aDr. King was there.

[ MrsClarksClass - 73 - 11:16:20 ]
We are still wondering if stars change color or size? Thank you.

[ Mark/InvernessCA - 74 - 11:16:26 ]
Mona - because of the earth's distance from the sun, we have the right temperatures to exist. How does the planet Mercury exist so close to the sun? Is it because of the metal Mercury, its weight and volatility?

[ Peggy - 75 - 11:16:48 ]
I know that many slaves lived in Canada and worked as free people. Many traveled back down through the south to help others escape. Some went to school in Canada. Some slaves went West and worked as cowboys. Some slaves married native Americans and had nice families.

[ Jennifer - 76 - 11:18:22 ]
I have read several of Dr. Kings letters and speaches.

[ Mona/GSFC - 77 - 11:18:54 ]
How long ago did the North Star change? The Earth's precession takes 23,000 years so in 23,000 years Polaris will again be the North Star, but in the interim other stars will be "north" as the pole sweeps out a circle on the sky. Polaris will gradually drift away from north as it drifted toward north over the course of a few thousand years.

[ Peggy - 78 - 11:19:33 ]
Stars can change their size. I believe that Antares, the super red giant fluctuates in size.

[ Kevin/Brentwood - 79 - 11:19:48 ]
Mona do you like working for NASA?

[ Mona/GSFC - 80 - 11:21:01 ]
We are still wondering if stars change color or size? I thought I answered that previously. they do change as they use up their nuclear fuel.

[ Peggy - 81 - 11:21:19 ]
I believe that Polaris will be its closest to true North in about 2095.

[ Mark/InvernessCA - 82 - 11:21:31 ]
Peggy and Mona - how do you think the slaves found their way when it was cloudy and they couldn't see the stars? Did they guess, ask local advice, follow rivers, or stay put until the skies cleared?

[ MrsClarksClass - 83 - 11:22:55 ]
Thank you for your answers. We are getting ready to leave. Sorry we missed your fist answer. (We were talking.)

[ Mona/GSFC - 84 - 11:23:15 ]
How does the planet Mercury exist so close to the sun? Is it because of the metal Mercury, its weight and volatility? Mercury can not support life as we know it. It's a rocky planet and rocks won't melt, the composition will not contain a lot of metal.

[ Peggy - 85 - 11:23:15 ]
The names of the stars in the Big Dipper are; Dubhe, Merak, Phachd, Megrez, Alioth, Mizar and Benetnasch.

[ Peggy - 86 - 11:24:18 ]
On days when it was raining or cloudy, they often rested and waited. Sometimes they would spend many days at a Safe House.

[ Mark/InvernessCA - 87 - 11:25:39 ]
Thanks for those names, Peggy. So, if one of the stars in Draco used to be the North Star, might it have been Thuban, Rastaban, or ABELL 2218? These are great names! Where do they come from?

[ Mona/GSFC - 88 - 11:25:58 ]
Since I am not an astronomer, I have had some assistance in answering questions from Dr. Dave Leisawitz. You have asked some very good questions.

[ Andrea/Ames - 89 - 11:26:31 ]
Thanks to everyone for your questions and answers today. I invite Mona or Peggy to answer one more question or provide some closing words.

[ Peggy - 90 - 11:27:22 ]
Many names of stars are old ancient names coming from Babylon, Greece, and North Africa. Many stars were named 5,000 years ago.

[ Mark/InvernessCA - 91 - 11:28:36 ]
Peggy re: names - They do sound like names from ancient Mesopotamia and Egypt. Thank you for these answers.

[ Jennifer - 92 - 11:28:41 ]
Thank you - I will watch the video and do the activities.

[ Mona/GSFC - 93 - 11:28:44 ]
Thanks for the good questions. I wish you all good luck with your future studies.

[ Peggy - 94 - 11:28:53 ]
Thank you for participating. I'm sorry that I was not here at the beginning of this program. We are having a technical problem with the phone lines here. You all had some very good questions. I'm glad I was able to participate.

[ Andrea/Ames - 95 - 11:29:36 ]
Thanks for joining us Mona - and thank Dave for us as well!

[ Mark/InvernessCA - 96 - 11:30:38 ]
Thanks to all for great answers and questions.

[ Peggy - 97 - 11:30:40 ]
Astronomy is relly interesting. Visit your local planetarium to learn more about the constellations.

[ Andrea/Ames - 98 - 11:32:37 ]
Thank you Peggy for inspiring this day of activity. This event would not have been possible without you! I hope that your community celebration on Martin Luther King Day is a huge success! I applaud your work.

[ Peggy - 99 - 11:33:17 ]
Check out the books I mentioned at your local public library. You will be able to learn more about the Underground Railroad and astronomy.

[ Kevin/Brentwood - 100 - 11:33:34 ]
Bye everyone.

[ Peggy - 101 - 11:36:44 ]
Jeannette Winter aslo has written a book, FOLLOW THE DRINKING GOURD. The video includes some of the pictures from her book.

[ Peggy - 102 - 11:43:17 ]
The Word Search activity at this site will include many words related to the Underground Railroad.

[ Peggy - 103 - 11:47:37 ]
When you complete the activity related to the Comparison of the Size of the Stars, tape together several sheets of large paper. I used paper that we have for Bulletin Boards. You will need a circle with a 12 and 1/2 foot diameter for the Red Super Giant Betelgeuse. Just tape together several strips of that paper. Then trace a circle with a 12 and 1/2 foot diameter. If our Sun is 1/2 inch in diameter, Betelgeuse will be about 12 and 1/2 feet in diameter.

[ Peggy - 104 - 11:53:22 ]
By using the map activity included here, you will be able to trace one of the routes of the Underground Railroad from the south all the way north to Canada.

[ Peggy - 105 - 12:00:17 ]
The graph will give you a two dimensional view of the location of the sun during each of the seasons. This will actually take one year to do. You can use data and determine the information. You can do this as a class activity for one year, mark the change, and see the difference.

[ Dawn/ShawneeStateUnv - 106 - 12:18:27 ]
Where there any safe houses located in southern Ohio? If so, how many and exactly where.

[ Robin - 107 - 12:18:32 ]
Our instructional media class at Shawnee State just viewed "follow the drinking gourd". We enjoyed it very much.

[ Dottie106320 - 108 - 12:21:39 ]
I go to Shawnee State in Portsmouth, Ohio I have never sent messages like this before. I am excited about learning more about this.

[ Suzie - 109 - 12:25:39 ]
The history of the underground railroad is fasinating.

[ Dottie106320 - 110 - 12:27:02 ]
I enjoyed the video,"follow the drinking gourd," Did they make contact with people along the Ohio River in Portsmouth, Ohio?

[ Peggy/MuncieIndiana - 111 - 12:51:21 ]
I know there were safe houses in Ohio. The well known author of young adult fiction, Virginia Hamilton, is from the Yellow Springs, Ohio area. Her ancestors came north on the Underground Railroad. They settled in Ohio.

[ Peggy/MuncieIndiana - 112 - 12:53:35 ]
I believe that the Oberlin College Library , located in Ohio, has many Anti-Slavery Almanacs and other books from that era. You might check out those resources at your library.


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