Re: Star Study
Robert Losee (rlosee@UNLINFO.UNL.EDU)
Tue, 11 Aug 1998 11:19:26 -0500
> I am putting together a presentation on Star Study for Wood Badge C-19-98.
> Does anyone have any material, ideas, etc. they would be willing to share
> with me?
I've never done it for Wood Badge but I'm an amateur astronomer with my own
Celestron telescope, lens, etc.. My first advice is to realize you don't need
this stuff. I earned my Astronomy MB as a youth by plotting Jupiter's moons
with a cheap pair of binoculars I'd put in the window of my dad's car, then
rolled the window up to secure them. That way they didn't jiggle and I could
see and draw the moon's positions. They'll be the tiny stars that line neatly
up on either side of the planet. There are four you can see, as Galileo did,
which is why they are the Galilean satellites. Your cheap binocs are better
than his telescope. As a scout I used 7x35, but now have 7x50's which is a
Get Astronomy, or Sky & Telescope magazine. They'll have a plot of the
satellites positions. Sky & Tel does it on with a 3"x11" plot with a pair of
lines down the middle (for Jupiter) and lines circling it for the satellite
positions. Realize that they're probably plotted for a telescope view which
can be upside down and backwards (both at once, it takes extra lens to make it
look like the eye would see it, and extra lens absorb more light, and this is
bad). So if you see three tiny stars lined up in a row on the right the plot
may show three lines on the left. This would be the satellites and you may
find the forth is in front or behind Jupiter). The inner moons Io & Europa are
pretty quick, orbiting in 2 and 3 days respectively so it's not uncommon to
see them appear and disappear into Jupiter.
>From the plot you can figure out which one is Europa and realize that many
scientist now believe this moon has the best chance of active life forms in
the Solar System (besides our planet of course)! In fact they've extended the
Galileo mission to photograph this moon extensively for the two more years,
all in preparation for future missions. It seems very likely that there is
significant tidal heating of the moon which in turn means much of the interior
may be liquid. It seems like a cross between under ice Antarctic lakes with
deep sea vents both of which we now realize have teaming life on Earth. So to
investigate this moon they're eventually planning to land an unmanned
submarine on it that will melt through the ice and go looking . I find this
incredibly interesting that for these missions the best people the rocket
scientist may have to talk to are naval sonar men.
Well to do all this you must find Jupiter and constellations around it. So I'm
assuming you'll be teaching the most important thing, how to read sky maps,
and use pairs of stars to draw lines to find other stars such as Polaris from
the Big Dipper's bowl stars, or draw arcs to stars such as the Big Dipper's
handle stars drawing an arc to Archturus in Bootes the hunter.
When you find Cassiopeia see if you can find the eta star.
| This little dot here.
It's a third magnitude binary star. The larger yellow companion is almost an
exact match to our sun. This star is 19.4 light years away so this is what our
sun looks like at 19.4 ly. If you traveled out into space about 66 ly our sun
would about a dim as most people could see. Most stars you are looking at are
significantly further away (Betelgeuse in Orion for instance is about 500 ly
away). If you could see it's orange companion with binocs or a telescope (I
haven't tried either so I'm not sure) then you could tell scouts the yellow
one like our sun will burn for 10 billion years, but the orange one will last
100 billion years.
Turn the binocs south (if your course is soon) and look around between the
Scorpions stinger (do you have a Scorpion patrol?) and the "Teapot" of
Sagittarius. You'll be looking at the galaxy's center and be able to see a
number of balls of stars known formally as star clusters. Have your scouters
look at the Milky Way and notice how you can see this area is bright and
bulges just like the center should while it thins out toward the Big Dipper
area since you're looking through the outer edge and into intergalactic space.
If you're out more in the fall see if you can find the hazy patch of the
Andromeda Galaxy, the farthest thing the unaided human eye can see.
And be sure to tell the mythology. I can't do one of these without telling an
Indian myth about Big Dipper. Only in this case it's three Indians chasing the
^ * *
| * *
The bowl of the dipper is the bear who emerges each spring from his cave (in
the spring this is low in the northeastern sky) and climbs all summer long. He
is chased by three Indians, the second one (with the arrow) carries a little
pot on his back which if you have good vision you can see (especially if you
use averted vision and don't look right at it). By the autumn, when the bear
gets low again in the northwestern sky, the leading Indian shots the bear with
his arrow. The bear's blood then flows onto the land which is of course why
the trees change to red and orange. The bear then hides in its cave in the
winter (when it is very low in the northern sky) and reemerges in the spring
to start it all over again.
I hope this helps. Astronomy can make quit an impact. Our C-2-96 Wood Badge
course had on it's first weekend the comet Hyekataki (sp?) steaming directly
overhead. It was one of the most amazing sights I've seen observing and became
our course's logo, and a comet is the tail of our Beaver Totem. One of the
participants brought little comets on flags with our patrol patches in the
center of the comet's head. The original is on our Beaver Patrol flag, but he
made me my own, which I treasure. I hope you are so lucky.
YiS, Bob Losee, SM T25 Lincoln NE
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City