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- Zach T.
Astrophysics Teacher Resources
Find Astrophysics educational ideas and activities
Students are introduced to the space environment. This lesson plan covers the major differences between the environment on Earth and that of outer space and the engineering challenges that arise because of these discrepancies. In order to prepare students for the upcoming lessons on the human body, this lesson plan has students has the students draw pictures of themselves as astronauts on a spacecraft.
Learners construct a scale model of the solar system in a long hallway or playing field. They discuss the fact that most of the solar system is empty space, and that outer planets are much farther apart than inner planets. They also talk about how long it takes to travel through the solar system.
Students work with a real optical spectrum of a gamma ray burst afterglow taken at the Keck Observatory. They measure the shifts of spectral lines, deduce the velocity of the astronomical object, and then use Hubble's Law to get its distance. These activities reinforce basic physics concepts (light, the electromagnetic spectrum) and chemistry concepts (spectral lines, spectroscopy).
In this periodic functions worksheet, students use given data of the speed of a star and find the best fit periodic function that follows the trend in data. They determine the amplitude, offset phase and the formula for the angle. They also predict the velocity of the star on a given date.
In this dying star worksheet, students read about the Spitzer Space Telescope that detected the dying star-Messier-57. Students solve 6 problems including determining the total power produced by the dying star, they find the total mass of the dust grains in the dying star and they determine the percentage the mass lost by the star when it was a planetary nebula.
In this black hole worksheet, students read about how images fade to black when they reach an event horizon of a black hole. Students solve 3 problems about black holes using a given equation for luminosity. They find the time it takes for light to fall to half its luminosity when falling into a black hole and they determine how long it takes for a star being swallowed by a black hole to disappear.
For this solar flares worksheet, students observe a sequence of figures of a solar flare observed in 2003 from the Ramaty High Energy Solar Spectroscopic Imager satellite. Students solve 6 problems including finding the scale of each image, determining the time elapsed between images, finding the distance the plasma blob traveled and determining the speed of the plasma blob.
In this speed of a galaxy learning exercise, students use a given equation for the speed of an object and they use the spectral lines for Hydrogen Alpha and Beta from the Seyfert galaxy to answer 6 questions. They determine the observed wavelengths, the rest wavelengths, the velocities of the wavelengths and if the galaxy is moving towards or away from the Milky Way Galaxy.