Monday, July 17, 2006

Your tax dollars at work

I've spent the last 4 days out near Fort Davis, TX at the McDonald Observatory. It's a workshop for teachers (8th grade-college). We've been studying white dwarfs and the age of the galaxy. Basically, the idea is that you can date the galaxy by looking at these tiny, dense, and dim stars. That's a very, very, very basic description of what we've been talking about.

We've spent hours and hours outside at night, gazing at the stars with various telescopes, binoculars, and even our eyes!

M51, Whirlpool Galaxy (our group took these images with the 0.8m telescope.

We've been focusing on open clusters of stars, although we've taken some pretty cool images of some fun things. I'll post more pictures later. To quote my favorite movie, this is the most fun!


Oliver Dale said...

Very cool! Although you can't strictly date the age of the universe using cooling trends with WDs; you can only provide an upper limit.

Great pictures :)

Kate said...

I know! And I love how it's all just a clue to how much we still don't know and want to know. And the older the WD, the dimmer it is and the harder to find...

Grant-Will-Rant said...

Those truly are some awesome pictures. I'm impressed.