The Morehead State University Space Science Center recently held its first Summer Astronomy and Space Science Camp for high school students.
Jointly sponsored with University of Kentucky's Robinson Scholars Program, the camp offered 20 sophomores experiences in astronomy, optical and radio telescopy, nano satellite construction, microprocessors, robotics and the physics, chemistry, algebra, trigonometry and calculus underlying these fields.
With the help of former Stanford University astronomer Bob Twiggs, who invented the CubeSat, a small satellite designed for inner space orbit, the students learned to wire and solder circuit boards, then built their own "walkbots," microprocessors and small instrument clusters.
They practiced location and tracking skills with optical and radio telescopes. This included using solar filters to study the sun for flares, storms, spots and other phenomenon.
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At night, under the direction of Dr. Tonino Carnevali and Dr. Thomas Panutti, they also viewed Saturn and its moon Titan, binary stars, various galaxies, novae, nebulae, pulsars, quasars, and red, white and blue stars.
They learned how to use an IBT Radio Telescope and how to make their own from a satellite TV home dish, a microprocessor and a laptop computer.
The highlight of the week was a session with the 21-meter Radio Telescope and Satellite Tracking Antennae. At its hilltop facility just above the main campus, Morehead also has a smaller radio telescope and imaging and data processing instruments.
The group will return four weekends during the school year, where they will send their instrument clusters 22 miles into "near space" via balloon.