by Josh Lake (faculty) –
My astronomy class recently took a field trip to Cambridge, MA, to visit the Harvard Center for Astrophysics (CfA). Several instruments process their data at the CfA, including the Chandra X-Ray space telescope and the Solar Dynamics Observatory, which monitors the Sun. Students walked among dozens of offices where professional astronomers analyzed data, collaborated on research, and produced new scientific findings.
This year, Pomfret students were treated to something new: a look at a MicroObservatory project, where stand-alone telescopes are placed in different parts of the world and allow members of the public to find objects and take pictures of them. The class observed the Sun through one of these telescopes in the control room on the roof overlooking Boston, then had their group picture taken by the scope. At the end, they learned from one of the imaging experts about how X-ray data can be combined with visible light, infrared, and other wavelengths to create complex and scientifically revealing images.
If you are interested in taking your own astronomy pictures for free using the internet and one of these telescopes, see the project website.