Education - Blue Mountains Observatory

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The Blue mountains observatory  "camp" is a new way for gifted high school children interested in Astronomy or an interesting way of introducing them to research Astronomy. Not unlike a science camp, the observatory allow a comprehensive hands on workshop during their stay with a difference. A number of school children along with their teacher will stay in the comfort of our cottage while performing a series of scheduled programs and tasks.

The length of the stay will be approximately 5 days.

The programs for children will include:
day 1: Settling in and orientation of our facility. We wll then visit the nearest town centre for lunch.
night 1 : Dinner. Guided astro observing if weather permit. Basic astronomy.

day 2: lunch. Followed with Introduciton to Astronomical instruments. The telescope, mount system and computer control software.
Introduction to Minor planets, astrometry, photometry and Photometric Software (Canopus)
Night2: Dinner. Step by step procedure in obtaining astro images and basic image processing. How to obtain twilight flat fields, Dark frames and Bias.

day 3:lunch. Recapping day 2 program and introduction to Photometric reduction of previous nights data using Canopus.
Perform an astrometrical measurement of the processed asteroid frames.
Night 3: Dinner. another night of observation in the early evening objects and continue on with image acquisition for the rest of the night.

day 4: lunch. Photometric redcution of previous nights data . Resting day.
Night 4: Dinner followed with 1 hour of observations before more imaging. Different method of imaging will be introduced tonight and basic introduction to variable star, supernovae imaging.

day 5: lunch and head back to Sydney.

This itinerary will be revised from time to time to suit different time of the year especially during winter time when Evening starts quite early. During poor weather condtion, the program will be limited to introduction to astronomical instruments and image processing from our vast database.
we also have facility in the west that we can access remotely. if weather in the mountain is poor, we can utilise their facility. Most likely there will be time when weather is clear then the usual scheduling will resume.

The objectives of this camp:

1. It is to provide children who are keen to learn about the exciting world of research astronomy
2. Those who wonder if Astronomy is the career for them to pursuit
3. An opportunity for them to contribute in a constructive, productive, fun and educational way towards the safe guarding our planet from the multitude of Asteroids that cross our orbits in regularity.
4. Encouraging team effort while making the world of astronomy fun.
5. Placing their names out there in the world of professional astronomy by publishing peer reviewed paper from the product of their effort while staying at the BMO camp.

Astronomy is a science that is not very popular in Australia. Perhaps it is considered too difficult to pursuit or so much to learn in high school. However, a lot of work needs to be done when it comes to minor planet work and its proximity to our home planet make the threat of wayward asteroid very dangerous. Case in point was the total annihilation of the dinasours 65 million years ago. The same thing can happen now too.

We are trying to bridge the gap between the university under graduate courses with high school programs and we believe there is a room for this area of studies. This will benefit the university by increasing the inflow of students enrolling into degree of Astronomy and it will benefit students by sparking an interest in their developing minds.

We will endeavour to continuing an educational link to the those students that have completed the course/camp with us. If so desired, they will be welcomed to continue with the research work that is carried out at BMO as student astronomer.

 
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