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Paper: Library Labs, a Community College Approach to Astronomy Labs
Volume: 531, ASP2020: Embracing the Future: Astronomy Teaching and Public Engagement
Page: 210
Authors: Nicholls, C.
Abstract: An ‘on-line' Astronomy Lab syllabus developed for the University of New Mexico -Taos is presented which makes use of a library ‘Loaner' system and student construction of a basic refractor telescope. UNM-Taos has some favorable circumstances which facilitate our program—dark skies, small classes (∼15) and a ‘library' of donated and purchased equipment available to our students. (mainly 8-inch Dobsonians and 12×60 binoculars) The semester was broken into four nominally 4 week long modules : Visual (naked eye) astronomy, astronomy using a 42 mm student-built refractor (more below), binocular astronomy and finally astronomy using library telescopes. The presentation will concentrate on the second module, describing the fabrication of a 42 mm F4 refractor using commercially available items. This telescope , which the students built for themselves and which they are allowed to keep, is comparable in terms of aperture and magnification to the telescopes used by Galileo to do the work of ‘Sidereus Nuncius.' Students were given a bag of parts (total cost about $23 per student) and instruction on how to build and use the 'scope, which was theirs to retain afterwards. The parts cost was covered by a Lab fee. The learning objectives for this activity were:
  1. learn how a refractor telescope works,
  2. measure the focal length of the telescope,
  3. observe the magnifications achieved with two different eyepieces,
  4. compare experimental estimates of field of view with calculations,
  5. make observations of the moon,
  6. make observations of the Jovian moons, and
  7. reflect on the achievements of Galileo.
In order to introduce the students to some basic deep-sky observations required in Modules 3 and 4, they were asked to try to observe M31, Mizar/Alcor, M45, and M13. If time permits, the visual, binocular and telescope observation modules will be outlined.
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