Physical Astronomy is a new way of teaching astronomy that emphasizes the human body and its relationship to other moving objects in space. The goal is to bring geometric and scientific awareness to a child’s everyday sky observations. Kids learn easily visible sky motions at a “kid’s eye level.”
The Sun does not move… we move
One of the first steps in Physical Astronomy is to forget you ever heard the words “Sunset” or “Sunrise.” These words (while rife with history, beautiful in their own right, and descriptive) are scientifically wrong. These words obscure the truth of our trip around the Sun. We are on the Earth, the Earth is spinning; the Sun appears to be moving, but it is us moving. Click here to continue reading…
Ptolemaeus, Alphonsus, and Arzachel… the names of three massive, interlocking craters on the Moon. These three craters tell the story of the ancient Moon’s creation and evolution. It’s a story of violent bombardments and oceans of lava. We can use light and shadows to reveal the shapes and deep history of these features.
Most people think of astronomy a science of light. But, light creates shadows when it hits things. Those features that lie in the shadows, the dark parts and seemingly just-in-the-way-of-the-light parts, are just as important as those that shine brightly. These dark shadows form most of the mass of all galaxies, house stellar nurseries, reveal old lava rivers on the Moon, and create curious plays of light and dark. These can play tricks on our eyes and make patterns appear.
A “Life Star” is a visible star that could host life. This is a name I came up with in February 2017 (around the time of the TRAPPIST announcement) to describe visible stars with confirmed planets orbiting in the habitable zone. “Life Star” is easier to say and explain. I hope it catches on!Click here to continue reading…
…no matter how long it has been traveling through space, ends its journey in your eye. The light hits your retina and is transformed into thought. As long as you let that star light stream into your view, the star itself lands in you and settles its motion.
When I was 17 years old I went on a weekend retreat run by the Christian Brothers near Melbourne, Australia. It was a weekend of spiritual teaching, introspection and reflection.
Saturday night, one of the other boys at the retreat surprised me. As we stood outside under the stars, he spoke in that matter-of-fact way typical of Australians.
UPDATE: We now sell an astronomy gift called the Sun Tracker that teaches you the same Basic Astronomy Lesson that the Ground Hog does! You can learn all about the apparent movements of the Sun and the analemma.
Let’s do some Physical Astronomy. The experience will help you to understand the movement of the earth and sun through the seasons. You will build a scientific instrument that is also a fun garden decoration and you will be able to track the Groundhog’s Shadow all Spring!
An amazing thing is about to happen! A Star in a Star will be born.
EDIT (Nov. 19, 2021): It turns out that the underlying observation data had a timing flaw that makes it “unlikely” that the new star will be born in 2022. See this Wikipedia page about the new Star for more information.