Talk about challenging! Our students traveled to Eatonville and the foothills of Mt. Rainier to visit the Starry Hill Observatory, a private observatory run as a non-profit by two wonderful teachers, Tom and Gracie. The observatory is equipped with several telescopes, equipment for astro-photography, and a planetarium. The highlight of our trip was the highly interactive planetarium show emceed and created by our host Tom. He grabbed the students attention with an amazing sense of story and challenge. He set up situations and questions to challenge their thinking, and was rewarded with complete engagement and the joy of scientific thought. Wow! We learned what a telescope really was. Tom nearly convinced the students that the sun went around the earth, before finally guiding to a deeper understanding of seasons and sunrise and sunset. And we were challenged with a high school level physics lab on gravity and orbits.
In the observatory, students practiced using software to orient the telescope. They learned how to maneuver the turret tower. Tom explained how the telescope and camera create clear images of the galaxies and nebula. Although we couldn't take our own photos, we went through all the steps, learning a lot.
Some Seabury Students also attended Tacoma Astronomical Society's public nights and a student night at Pierce College's Planetarium. T-AS provided some great experiences about the Doppler Effect, gravity, and spectroscopy.
There are continuing opportunities with the T-AS student program. The next student event is November 18th. Check out T-AS' website for public nights.