Last night we took a trip to the University of New Hampshire’s observatory to meet the astronomy staff and check out their 14 inch telescope.
After being introduced to Jim, John, and Dom, our guides for the evening, we went inside the observatory to hear all about it.
The kids were excited to see images in space that had been captured by the telescope, and Dom showed us how they can track bodies in space, and how the telescope is calibrated with a motor to follow the earth’s rotation. The adults were arguably more excited than the kids, it’s not every day you get to pick the brains of three astrophysicists!
Once we were all up to speed and the sky was sufficiently dark, the telescope was pointed at Jupiter and we were each able to peer at it. We could see the dark red spot, as well as four of the moons! Dom showed us that adding color filters to the scope allowed us to see different things. With a blue filter we got a good glimpse of the cloud belts stretching across Jupiter’s surface.
Once everybody had a chance to see, some of the kids were antsy and John took them outside to observe the night sky and point out constellations.
This is my very dark photo of Jupiter! It is the brightest thing in the sky, we learned. Can you see the tiny dot in my terrible phone picture?
As far as educational experiences go, this one has it all. Going on an outing when it’s dark, getting a hands-on taste of a very big and very exciting topic, and also-FREE! The staff at UNH was awesome and they host these event every first and third Saturday of every month. Visit their website to start planning your trip!