Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Playing With Giant Telescopes

The observatory from a distance.
Today was my class's trip to Yerkes Observatory in Wisconsin, effectively making this into a trip within a trip. Is this tripception? No, since Leonardo DiCaprio isn't here to blow our minds and say "We need to go deeper."

Some of my classmates help move the telescope over.
What was mind-blowing, however, was that fact that we actually used the telescopes in the observatory (with some assistance). That itself is really cool, since these are almost relics from another age. One of the telescopes, a forty-inch diameter refracting telescope, was from the late 19th century, and is one of the largest refracting telescopes in the world. My class used that same telescope to look at Saturn and the Moon.

The telescope that we used today was so massive and old that we all had to grab handles attached to it to manually point the lens at something. It was fun to collaborate as a sort of team with the rest of my classmates on something that was a lot more interactive than pushing buttons on a computer. Also, other things that we got to do were: move the entire floor up and down, open and close the dome housing the telescope, and move the dome around.

A terrible photo of Saturn. It was terribly difficult to
focus the camera.
In addition to manipulating the equipment, we also used it to look at stuff. Like I said before, we looked at the Moon and Saturn using the giant telescope. Saturn wasn't merely a point of light; we could actually make out the rings and even one of its moons, Titan. It was fascinating that we could clearly see something several times farther from us than we are from the Sun. The Moon was equally entrancing, since it was almost full tonight. I managed to hold my camera up to the telescope to take a few photos.

The Moon in all its beauty. You can see some of its prominent features.
After getting a demo on the giant telescope, my class split up into smaller groups to use the other telescopes. My group ended up on the smaller twenty-four inch telescope, but I liked this one better than the other forty-inch behemoths (there were two). It was easier to control, and I found something weird on it! Even Ms. Ramseyer, one of my teachers, didn't know what it was. Maybe I'll name it after me...
The smaller telescope we used.
Anyways, this is only the first day of the trip-in-a-trip. We still have tomorrow and Thursday to collect data and play with...I mean, use the telescopes. But I'm having a great time here, and can't wait to get back to it tomorrow.

Tomorrow is another day.

1 comment:

  1. Jae-an, I felt you had a very thorough blog post with some interesting pictures here. I enjoyed the "Inception" quote. Sounds like you're having a great time on the field trip.