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The Webfooted Astronomer - January 2001

 

Hands-On Universe Project Seeking Volunteers

By Fred Quarnstrom

THE Hands-On Universe Project (HOU) is a novel and innovative astronomy education program supported by the National Science Foundation. HOU enables students to investigate the universe while applying tools and concepts from science, math, and technology. High school teachers and students are provided image processing tools, data in the form of CCD images, and the skills needed to conduct basic astronomy research. In analyzing this data, students throughout the United States, Sweden, Japan, Germany, France, Italy, Senegal, and Australia are given the opportunity to explore astronomical projects together.

HOU has experienced great success in past years. In 1994 two of our students provided some of the earliest supernovae data on record with their images of SN 1994I in the Whirlpool Galaxy. In 1998 two students discovered Kuiper Belt Object 1998FS144 through the Hands-On Universe Asteroid Search. HOU is working to establish one of the first global networks of robotic telescopes available to high schools. While this plan continues to go through its research and development phases, we are finding a strong need for new data and individuals who would be willing to work with teachers throughout the country to acquire this new data. This is where we need your help.

Members of amateur astronomy organizations not only have a wealth of experience and equipment, but also the common goal of sharing the wonder of our universe with others. HOU needs skilled amateur astronomers nationwide to work with classroom teachers to provide CCD images, observing tips, and other astronomical resources. In return, Hands-On Universe will make its image processing software available, and provide access to our large image archive and other Web resources.

Participating amateurs or professionals will be listed at our Web site, and contacted by teachers in their region for assistance. Any interested amateurs should sign up at http://hou.lbl.gov/research/amateur.html. In addition, if you know of any teachers in your region who may be interested in HOU training, please direct them to http://hou.lbl.gov/howtojoin.

Contact Dr. Carl Pennypacker at 510-486-7429, pennypacker@lbl.gov. See http://hou.lbl.gov for further details.

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