The following handouts are for use by astronomy clubs in making presentations to junior high schools, elementary schools and scout clubs regarding basic telescope and hand-magnifier optics. The presentations are built around kits assembled from 2 bags of low-cost miscellaneous lenses offered by Edmund Scientifics Online. From the 2 bags of surplus lenses, typically 4 Keplerian and 7 Galilean hand-held telescopes can be assembled. These "telescopes" are packaged in easy to assemble envelopes containing two lenses each and the handouts described below. The bulk surplus lenses can be purchased from:
Edmund Scientific Online. 2006. Bag of Lenses. Product No. 3082272. Count #20 per bag.
http://scientificsonline.com/ http://scientificsonline.com/product.asp?pn=3009445 (accessed 5/2006)
Following the handouts, links to online resources, such as astronomy activity guides, optics demonstration experiments setup worksheets, Java applets to simulate optics and astronomy experiments, and imaginative single demonstration experiments with to-build projects are provided. Options are provided for educators and scout masters who are seeking plans for mailing tube refractors to build as a class project.
Figure 1 - One kit envelope
Figure 2 - 11 kits from two bags of surplus lenses
Figure 3 - Presenters kit - all presenter materials ready for travel packing in a plastic file box (except yardsticks)
The Project Star Refractor kit at $50 U.S.D. for bulk purchase of 10 scopes is the lowest cost option. A single Project Star Refractor costs $9 U.S.D.
This author's version. Costs approx. $60-70. Instruction handout includes discussion of image projection math.
Emphasizes use of online astronomical images to explore basic CCD camera techniques and image scale-object math.
Looks at solar weather and its interaction with the Earth's magnetic fields to produce aurora.
Family oriented astronomy experiments for older children.
For a modest subscription ($5) includes plans for a planisphere and a classroom armillary sphere made from cardboard.
If you can find this out-of-print book at your local libraries, use it for advanced high-school classes. This book was written as a supplemental textbook for German high-schools. It contains numerous astronomy experiments that uses high school mathematics. See the NASA/ADS abstract for a further description. Classic experiments include measuring the distance to the Moon using photographs from cameras spaced about 30 kilometers apart, measuring the height of lunar mountains at the first lunar quarter, and finding the illuminated fraction of a bright planet like Venus or Jupiter.
Advanced math. Includes tables of solar system body charactertistics.
Although from a university program using equipment owned by a physics department, these simple and easy to follow optics experiment setup worksheets can be adapted for basic demonstrations using lenses. The experiment worksheets include demonstrating basic Keplerian and Galilean telescopes, reflection in mirrors, finding focal lengths of mirrors and lenses, ray tracing, and simulation of the human eye.
Although from a university program using equipment owned by a physics department, these simple and easy to follow optics experiment setups can be adapted for basic demonstrations. Shining a red Class III presentation laser through an emptying fishtank to demonstrate total internal reflection looks like a crowd pleaser regardless of age or knowledgebase. Other imaginitive demonstrations include (1) shining a laser into a diamond wedding ring and then clapping chalk dust around the ring to bring out the exiting light rays, and (2) ray tracing using clapped chalk dust instead of fog-in-a-can.
This chart of bright stars, although a large download, is useful for teaching the constellations. When printed on paper, one-side can be cut-off and the two ends taped together to form sky chart in the shape of a tube. This is useful for explaining how the constellations rise and set throughout the seasons.
A safe, cheap Sun viewer made out of a triangular FedEx box, aluminum foil and tape.
Detect the daily diurnal pattern of the Sun's interaction with the Earth's magnetic field.
Illustrates graphing the daily diurnal cycle of the magnetic field using the soda bottle magnetometer.
Using ordinary Class III red presentation lasers, some almunium foil and office binder clips to do the double slit interferometer experiment.
Make a Hartmann mask with a two point spot interferometer out of a piece of artist foamboard. Use a telescope to project interference patterns from a star. (This demonstration uses a two-hole mask. Another option is a four-hole apeture mask. For a quick presentation, the apeture mask can be simplified by just taping the two-hole mask to the apeture of the telescope.)
Convert a simple refractor to project an image of the Sun onto posterboard.
This site only is included here and is recommended if you have a group of advanced high-school students who want to build something. Site author gives plans for a 2 foot diameter, 8 foot tall white-light sun projector made entirely out of PVC plumbing pipe, a plastic planter box, and some projector screen material. Total materials are probably less than $100. Also a good project for astronomy clubs that frequently hold sun parties.
Includes Stellar Parallax, Eclipsing Binaries, Kelper Binary Star Orbits, Stellar Evolution HR Diagram.
Java simulator of the double slit experiment. As with the physical experiment, this simulator quickly shows how varying the interslit separation, the slit widths and the distance between the slits and the projection wall changes the interference pattern.
As the author notes, some of these Java applets have deprecated. Those that have not, listed above are excellent.
Edmund Scientific. 2001. Popular Optics. Edmund Pub. No. 30094-45. http://scientificsonline.com/
Watson, Fred. 2005. Stargazer: The Life and Times of the Telescope. De Capo Press. ISBN: 0306814323
Knap, Robert (Vanderbuilt Univ.) 2005. Measuring Angular Distances. Webpage for Astronomy 103, Spring, 2006.
Any original materials on this website to the extent that copyright is held by this author, including the handouts, are released to public domain. Astronomy clubs and educators are encouraged to freely replicate this site.
Prepared by: K. Fisher 5/2006 firstname.lastname@example.org