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Smiley Labs

Four radio astronomy labs are available for remote use of the 4.6 meter radio telescope. Lab 1 is an introduction to radio emission from space. This lab is a good one for your first set of observations.  The second lab uses the 4.6 meter radio telescope to observe the Doppler Effect. The third lab uses the 4.6 meter radio telescope to map a celestial radio source, like the Sun, at radio wavelengths.  The fourth lab explores radio waves from the Milky Way. Please read our page about SGRA and the National Education Standards


Lab 1. What’s Between the Stars?

Summary: Students are familiar with the visible night sky. The goal of this module is to expand their vision of the night sky. The introduction to the lab includes a description of visible images of the center of the Milky Way Galaxy, or the Orion Nebula. The students will download the images from the SGRA website. The observations, using the PARI 4.6-m radio telescope, will consist of mapping 21-cm emission from either the center of the Milky Way or Orion. Results will be a comparison of the visible and radio maps, and a discussion of the difference.

This lab helps meet the following N.C. Competency Goals (2004):

  • Physical Science Goal 3: The learner will analyze energy and its conservation.
    Objective 3.04: Investigate and analyze the transfer of energy by waves: electromagnetic waves (radiation).
  • Physics Goal 7: The learner will develop an understanding of wave motion and the wave nature of sound and light. Objective 7.02: Describe the behavior of waves in various media.


Lab 2. Doppler Effect

Summary: The frequency of radio waves emitted by a moving changes. If the object is moving towards us, then the frequency becomes higher. If it is moving away, then the frequency is lowered and we say the object is redshifted. The goal of this module is to have the students observe the Doppler Effect. The students will measure the 1420 MHz frequency (21-cm wavelength) shift for several objects.

This lab helps meet the following N.C. Competency Goals (2004):

  • Earth/Environmental Science Goal 6: The learner will acquire an understanding of the earth in the solar system and its position in the universe.
    Objective 6.04: Assess the spectra generated by stars and our sun as indicators of motion and composition (Doppler effect.)
  • Physical Science Goal 3: The learner will analyze energy and its conservation.
    Objective 3.04: Investigate and analyze the transfer of energy by waves. electromagnetic waves (radiation).
  • Physics Goal 7: The learner will develop an understanding of wave motion and the wave nature of sound and light.
    Objective 7.05: Analyze the frequency and wavelength of sound produced
    by a moving source (the Doppler Effect).

Lab 3. Mapping Radio Sources

Summary: The goal of this module is to develop mapping and graphing skills, which are important in scientific inquiry. After an introduction on the concept of contour maps, students will set out to observe a radio source (e.g. Orion Nebula). They will sample the brightness of the source at regular spatial intervals over the area of the object. Without the use of a computer, the students will work together plotting the intensities by hand, developing a contour map. Results and discussion center on the contour map that was produced and how well it represents the actual object.

This lab helps meet the following N.C. Competency Goals (2004):

  • Earth/Environmental Science Goal 6: The learner will acquire an understanding of the earth in the solar system and its position in the universe.
    Objective 6.05: Evaluate astronomers’ use of various technologies to
    extend their senses: Radio telescopes
  • Physical Science Goal 3: The learner will analyze energy and its conservation.
    Objective 3.04: Investigate and analyze the transfer of energy by waves, electromagnetic waves (radiation).

Lab 4. Radio Waves from the Galaxy

Summary: We can see evidence for the dust in the galaxy because the Milky Way in the sky is patchy and has gaps in it caused by the dust obscuring our view. We wish to try to prove that the Milky Way also contains gas as well. Students will use Smiley to prove the Milky Way Galaxy emits radio waves from hydrogen gas. Students will point Smiley to different parts of the sky to begin exploring the structure of the Milky Way Galaxy.

This lab helps meet the following N.C. Competency Goals (2004):

Middle Grades 6 – 8:
  • 1.01 Identify and create questions and hypotheses that can be answered through scientific investigations.
  • 1.02 Develop appropriate experimental procedures for:
    • Given questions.
    • Student generated questions.
  • 1.03 Apply safety procedures in the laboratory and in field studies:
    • Recognize potential hazards.
    • Manipulate materials and equipment.
    • Conduct appropriate procedures.
  • 1.05 Analyze evidence to:
    • Explain observations.
    • Make inferences and predictions.
    • Develop the relationship between evidence and explanation.
  • 1.08 Use oral and written language to:<
    • Communicate findings.
    • Defend conclusions of scientific investigations.
  • 1.09 Use technologies and information systems to:
    • Research.
    • Gather and analyze data.
    • Visualize data.
    • Disseminate findings to others.
  • 5.05 Describe the setting of the solar system in the universe including:
    • Galaxy.
    • Size.
    • The uniqueness of Earth.

High School Physical and Earth/Environmental Sciences

  • 3.04 Investigate and analyze the transfer of energy by waves:
    • General characteristics of waves: amplitude, frequency, period, wavelength, velocity of propagation.
    • Mechanical waves.
    • Sound waves.
    • Electromagnetic waves (radiation).
  • 6.05 Evaluate astronomers' use of various technologies to extend their senses:
    • Optical telescopes.
    • Cameras.
    • Radio telescopes.
    • Spectroscope.


 

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