A 5 evening introduction to the night sky. Using 3D graphics, and the real night sky, we explore what is happening above our heads at night. From the Moon, stars, planets, comets, meteors and satellites we explore them all. Each evening will be completed with viewings through the observatory telescopes, weather permitting.
A week by week outline follows.
History of Astronomy
A brief history of Astronomy.
A principally western view that follows some of the more significant threads that took us from an Earth centred model of the universe to a model with no centre at all. The story is also about how we became enlightened about our place in the universe. The slow realization we have no special place in the universe, and that the physical laws that describe the world about us also apply to the greater cosmos.
We end the evening orbiting a black hole. A symbol of how we have been able to transcend our intuitive understanding of the world, to understand some of the more extreme environments in the universe.
We explore the rhythms of the sky.
From a day, to a year, we look at their formal definition, and how they determine what we see in the night sky.
We also develop a model of the Solar System to aid us in finding the planets at night.
The Solar System
We take a contemporary 3D tour of the Solar System.
We explore one theory as to how the Solar System may have been formed. From Mercury too Neptune, we visit Pluto, Kuiper belt objects and comets, and wonder if an asteroid will visit us tomorrow?
We start with the Sun, the most familiar star.
We explore what defines a star, and how they shine. How does a star form, and how does it come to an end? White dwarfs, neutron stars and black holes will feature in this lecture.
We explore the principles of how a telescope functions.
The first half of the evening is dedicated to telescopes, how they work and what to look for in a good telescope. To conclude the course, weather permitting, we will take some observatory telescopes outside and observe the night sky.