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2015 Astronomy Workshop in Valdegovia

2015 Astronomy Workshop in Valdegovía

Who in the first year could possibly not be frightened or could claim to have learnt all of the first year off by heart? Instead enjoy yourself, start getting familiar with everything, start recognizing things and learning to observe, it is not very difficult. This year the general schedule will consist of two alternating Saturdays a month, half the sessions will be in doors (I don´t like the term theory) and the other half will be observations.

 It must be noted that the time of the observations will depend on the period of the year, at 8 during the  winter and at 11 during the summer whereas the theories sessions can be held when you want. Understandably there must be a certain amount of flexibility with the observations, since the sky is not always good.

OBSERVATIONS ( do not be frightened)

There are 10 session with each one lasting about 2 hours  during which we will examine the more or less 50 constellations  which can be easily seen in these parts.40 will be examined in detail whilst the rest will be observed in passing. We always look for very obscure places like Zaballa, but the place or places will be decided in due course.  We will discuss the figures and stories (especially greek mythology) associated with them as well as their curiosities and we will also mention the most well-known stars.

During one session (not the first one) we will look at the moon, its craters, its mountain ranges, its seas, its radiuses and any void of course. During another,  we will observe the  North Sky and the objects visible through a telescope which are:  the pair of galaxies M 81 and 82, the double galaxies  M 51 and M106 in the  ‘Hunting Dogs’, the galaxy M101, the M 52 cluster in Cassiopea and Herschel´s Garnet Star.

We are going to have two winter sessions and these are the objects we are going to see: Pleiades (the quadruple Alcyone), Hyade, M1  the Crab Nebula, the Great Orión Nebula ( the quadruple star ´ The Trapezium´), the cluster M35 in the constellation Gemini,  the M36, M37 and M38 clusters in the constellation Auriga, The Beehive Cluster, the M41 cluster in the  Canis Major constellation, and the Hind´s Crimson  Star. This year there are also new challenges: the Eskimo Nebula, the Rosette Nebula and the Christmas Tree Cluster.

There will be two spring sessions  and these are the objects we are going to see:  the Coma Berenices, the Leo Triplet, the elliptical galaxies M87 and  M49 the Virgo Cluster, the Black Eye Galaxy, the M3 globular cluster , the M83 Hydra Galaxy and the MH83 Hydra Cluster. Challenges posed include further galaxies in the constellations Leo and Coma Bernices  and the famous Sombrero Galaxy.

There will be two summer sessions and we will observe: The Double Star Albireo, the North American Nebula, the Ring Nebula, the M13 and M92 clusters in the constellation Hercules, M4 and the open clusters M6 and M7 in the constellation Scorpio, several clusters in the constellation Ophiucus, the globular cluster M22, and the Laguna and Omega Nebulas in the constellation Sagittarius, the Dumbell Nebula, the Wild Duck Cluster and as a challenge the Veil Nebula.

During the two Autumn sessions this is what we will see: the Gamma Andromedae and Gamma Arietis double stars, the variable ´Star of Wonder´ (Mira), the great galaxy Andromeda, the M15 globular cluster in the constellation Pegasus, the Triangulum Galaxy, the Double Clusters and M34 in the constellation Perseus, the M30 star cluster in the constellation Capricorn, and as challenges the Satellite Galaxies in the constellation Andromeda and the Nebula Helix.

Of course we are going to be seeing Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn and as a challenge we might look for Uranus which, I can warn you in advance, is not a very satisfying view.


I do not like calling these approximately 20 sessions which we will hold in the library theoretical because we will try and make them very visual, practical and interactive. 6 of them are necessary because they provide basic information and the other dozen can be chosen by you.


There will be two sessions where we will recreate a universe-earth-sun system to understand movements, ecliptics, the Celestial Equator, zodiacs, nodes, precession, and curiosities, as well as the binomial sidereal-solar year, leap years, the Lagrangian points, etc.  There will be some changes since last year, a small enigma.

THE SOLAR SYSTEM ( for this explanation we have been put in the school). Two sessions about curiosities of planets, satellites,  asteroids, Near Earth Objects,comets or where I shouldn´t go on holiday, Planet X and kryptonite, the quarters of inner planets, the retrogression of  Mars. Also what would a day and a year by like on the planets? , where could there be life: on the Kuiper Belt or the Oort cloud?, how to look for a meteorite? and other curiosities: the cosmographic mystery, the Titius-Bode Law and orbital resonances.......Phew!

OH MY SUN! This session will cover everything related to solstices, equinoxes, surprises, how the sun moves in different latitudes, the analemma, shadows and solar flares and whether they are dangerous, whether we should fear the nemesis and eclipses. We will also calculate the Earth´s radius in the same way as Eratosthenes, we will look at how the Northern and Southern lights work.

STARS: the tragic end of such a pleasant life- We will look at the birth, life and end of stars as well as supernovas, pulsars and black holes. We will examine the types of stars that exist and which ones like to go together. We will also study brown dwarfs,Wolf-Rayet stars, the mystery of Sirius and the  Dogon people, clusters,  nebulas and interesting stories. For masochists (astronomically speaking) we will study something about fusion in the sun and similarities and differences between this and fusion in a nuclear plant and in bombs(a very simple topic).

The program also includes  other topics you will be able to choose from:

-    Our galaxy and others: Quasars and are we going to crash into the Andromeda galaxy?

-    Our universe and others: The Big Bang, the age of the universe, its shape? Its size? And its future? Antimatter. Where is it? We will play with dimensions and we will digress to talk about time and angular momentum,etc.

-    Distances: we will get an idea of them; we will produce a parallax and a small spectrograph, which will give a 3D representation.

-    As to map out the sky: we will do it in a practically with a star to see to what extent we have been wrong.

-    Astronomic navigation: I am in the middle of the ocean and the GPS does not work.

-    The moon: How beautiful it is but how it gets in the way, how it moves, the time it takes from one new moon to the next, tides, the far side of the Moon, topics: are they false? Seas, radius of the moon, craters, can we make one of them.

-    We are playing with gravity. Orbits, will the International Space Station fall on us? Why does it float up there? Look at how difficult it is to get rid of anything here. Topics and curiosities, let`s bend the space-time continuum to see what will happen.

-    Magnetism: we will create a magnetic field. We will talk about magnets, old televisions, auroras,  why rubbing the pen lid on your jeans creates a magnetic which attracts paperclips?, levitation trains and the dynamo effect etc. What is a magnetar?

-    Astronomers in history, curious characters. There were also  little recognised astronomers.

-    Do you dare to learn a bit about special relativity? Here everything stretches and shrinks.

-    Some impossible theories and some not so much. Pythagoras, music and the universe, we will play with symmetry and a Möbius strip. Things about Star Trek and the 2001 film Space Odyssey, tricks with angular momentum, artificial gravity?

-    The dawn of Mythology. How did it begin? Use your imagination.

-    The telescope.  I want to buy myself one and I do not know which one. Types. How to set it up. Refraction or how to skewer the fish from outside of the water, a magic trick.  We will make a telescope without a tube. The diffraction of light: If Newton had had a  Marie biscuit he would not have said one or two silly things.

-     Archaeoastronomy or how people set up the old telescopes.

-    For the very brave: four small things about Quantum Physics.



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