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 ]
[ 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
[ 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
[ 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
[ 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
[ 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
[ 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
[ 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
[ 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
[ 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
[ 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
[ 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 ]
[ 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
[ 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
[ 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.