Friday, July 10, 2009

McDonald Teacher Workshop, Day 1.5

I'm out at McDonald Observatory again for our summer teacher workshop on white dwarfs and the age of the Milky Way galaxy. This is my fourth year of participating in the workshops (look in the blog archive for June or July of previous years to see entries from those visits).

This year we have 19 teachers, a larger group than in the past. They come from as far away as Minnesota and New York, and seem quite excited to be here. The weather is great, so we spent several hours last night looking through small telescopes, eyepiece observing through the 36-inch diameter professional telescope, and taking images with the 30-inch professional telescope. Saturn was just gorgeous, and we had many "Oh, wow!"s and "Holy &%^$*#!" comments looking at the Whirlpool Galaxy.

I've been very busy here the first couple of days; in addition to being the resident scientists for the teachers, I gave a talk on my research for the observatory employees and summer undergraduate research students. So, my voice is mostly shot. As I type this, the teachers are playing with the colors of light using colored light bulbs; it's a simple experiment, but always one of the favorites (picture above).

Tonight we are giving the teachers a science experiment to perform based on the pictures they take with the 30" telescope. The weather is looking great, so here's hoping the telescopes keep working!

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