Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Cool Astronomy Stuff

Well, it's that time of year again. My seniors have gone, but I still have juniors in my physics classes. We're spending the rest of our time (almost two weeks) learning a bit about the cosmos. This will culminate in an astronomy webquest (I blogged about it last year). Students will use Windows PhotoSotry to create a multimedia presentations where they investigate some aspect of modern astronomy.

I'm re-blogging this because I've discovered a couple cool new resources for teaching astronomy. Well, one is an old on, but it now works on my Intel based MacBook.

The newest version of Stellarium works great on my MacBook. Older versions weren't supported. Stellarium is a free program that will turn you computer into an interactive planetarium. It's lots of fun. When I was checking it out today I saw that Saturn will be right next to the moon tonight, I'll have to break out the binoculars and see if I can find it. This is a cross platform program and runs on Windows, MacOSX, and Linux.

The other resource I found is the website for the Hayden Planetarium. The site includes the typical schedules of programs offered, but it includes some really cool animations. The animations include things like colliding galaxies or the raging storm of Jupiter's Red Eye. They also have something called the Digital Universe Atlas. The Digital Atlas is a three dimensional map of the universe. You need to download a free piece of software in order to use the data. I've only just scratched the surface of this, but it looks like it could be incredibly useful.

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