Wednesday, September 06, 2006

The Sun & Shadows (& Golden Orb Spiders)

We started a new class today at an observatory. It is a 9 month astronomy class and today's topic was the sun & shadows. We did several things:
  • We went outside 3 different times to see what was happening our shadows. The children each got a partner to trace their shadow and they were amazed as their shadow moved & shrank. We're going to have to do this same thing for an entire day.
  • We got to look at the sun through both a sunspotter (picture below) where we saw a sun spot and through a large solarscope (housed in the building pictured futher below). I found the solarscope very neat as we saw both the sun spot we'd seen earlier and we could see solar flares (on a tv screen)!!! Very cool!
  • The kids went in a dark room and saw what makes day & night by using a globe and a flashlight.
  • They made a bracelet with some special beads that change color when in UV light. We're going to see what happens on a cloudy day!
  • We also saw LOTS of Golden Orb Spiders. We even saw one feeding! Unfortunately, my photos didn't turn out, but I found the picture above at: They were large - some of them almost as large as my hand! The teacher told us that they aren't poisonous, and I hope they're still there in October so I can get a picture.

(This is the sunspotter - you can see what the sun looks like on the white surface. It was surprising how fast it moved & you had to adjust the sunspotter.)

(This is the building that houses the solarscope. The roof of the building opens up just like the large telescopes.)
Some books about the sun we've enjoyed recently:
  • What Makes Day & Night by Branley - has a couple of neat experiments
  • The Sun by Branley

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