A well attended Family Astronomy Club met on the 8th October for the first session of the new academic year. The subject matter was “Discovery” to tie in with World Space Week which ran from the 5th to the 11th of October this year.
Miss Ellender welcomed an enthusiastic group to the new year for the club and introduced World Space Week and the topic of Discovery. Starting with Britain’s biggest news in human spaceflight, the very first official British astronaut Major Tim Peake. Miss Ellender gave an insight into Major Tim’s mission and his training leading up to it. Whilst Major Tim is not the first British born astronaut the others before him have either had to change citizenship before being allowed to fly or have been funded by industry. Major
Tim is the first British citizen astronaut to be sent to space by the UK Space Agency. One of the many responsibilities Major Tim will have on his mission is to ensure that a quantity of Rocket seeds are safely brought back to Earth.
Miss Ellender explained the “Rocket Science” experiment that The Long Eaton School have enrolled to help with. The experiment involves growing two batches of Rocket seeds. One batch has been left on Earth, the other will have been on the International Space Station for six months. The aim of the experiment is to see if seeds that have spent a long period in the harsh environment of space grow differently to how they would do here on Earth. This will be an important aspect of any future manned missions to other planets or prolonged space flights where food will have to be grown away from Earth.
Miss Harrington then took over proceedings to tell attendees about other famous discoverers and discoveries. Of course in the news right now is the NASA mission “New Horizons”. New Horizons has recently made a very close flyby of Pluto the dwarf planet sending back remarkably fine detailed images of the surface. Findings show that the surface has been a lot more recently active than was first thought. There will be a lot more to learn as data is still being streamed back to Earth. Next came news on the ESA mission Rosetta which continues to send back data from Comet 67p.
The biggest news recently has been that of the confirmation from NASA that salty water flows on Mars at certain times of the Martian year. This led nicely to the activity for the evening which was the egg drop challenge. Attendees had to design and build, out of recycled materials, a lander capable of protecting an egg falling from the first floor. All had a fun time and all but one egg survived the drop.
Miss Ellender also had chance to share with the group some photographs of the recent Lunar eclipse taken by some of our students.
The next meeting for the Family Astronomy Club is on November the 19th and will be on the topic of A Guide to the Night Sky. If the weather allows it is hoped to go outside and see some of the constellations pointed out and perhaps a look through one of the telescopes too. For more information see Miss Ellender or Miss Harrington and keep an eye on the blog.