Look to the Stars

NOTE: Okay Melanie, go ahead and deduct 10 percent for being late, but rather than giving me an incomplete please allow me to catch up on my Fall Blog Challenge posts.

Blog Challenge #4: What book has made the biggest impact on your life?

My MacBook of course. This is not just a computer. My 2007 15 inch MacBook Pro is more like my right arm. It’s a tool I use daily for work, fun, and to keep me connected. I’m afraid to think of all the hours I’ve spent tapping away at this keyboard, but I do know that I’m already on my 4th battery. I’m hoping this little workhorse will remain faithful through the end of this school year when I can finally afford to give it a well deserved rest. The new Lion OS looks pretty interesting.

Blog Challenge #5: Small Moments

Living in the greater Los Angeles area of Southern California you don’t get to see a lot of stars – of the astronomical type at least. So when I got to go along with our 6th grade up to Palomar Mountain for a week of Outdoor Education, I knew we were going to be in for treat.

The first night up at camp, after the evening campfire, the instructors took my group up to an open area and had everyone lie down on their back. “Wait five minutes for your eyes to adjust.” they directed us. After a few minutes, the number of visible dots in the sky went from hundreds to thousands. The cloud of the Milky Way galaxy stretched across the sky. It’s amazing what you can see when you get away from the light pollution of the city and go up where air is clear.



The pictures above give you a little idea of what we were able to see, but even a 30 second high ISO exposure doesn’t match what we saw our own eyes.

After our eyes adjusted, the instructor started pointing out planets, stars, and star clusters. I pulled out my StarWalk app on the iPad, put it in red “night vision” mode, and used it to help kids identify constellations. We even got to get a close up look at Jupiter and Saturn through the camp’s 12 inch telescope.

Just like our 7th Grade Catalina Island trip back in September, this was another one of those “Get Real” moments. I hope the kids were able to appreciate it as much as I did.

To see a few more pictures from our outdoor ed trip, visit my Flickr Photoset: Palomar Mt.

3 thoughts on “Look to the Stars”

  1. No points off when the teacher is behind too! 🙂

    Love your favorite “book”!

    What a magical moment you had with your 6th graders! I don’t think my kids have even seen such a site. Your photos are stunning. I downloaded the StarWalk app as well, but my kids never get to compare it to the real thing because there is too much light where we live. 🙁
    What I wouldn’t give for a photo of you looking at that app with your students all huddled around looking too! Thanks for sharing that!

  2. Melanie,
    Wish I would have got a picture of that too, but it WAS pretty dark out. One fun moment was when the instructor, who was having trouble locating a specific constellation, put down his paper star chart, looked to me and asked, “Mind if I take a look at that?” 🙂
    I understand the latest update for StarWalk also tracks the International Space Station and satellites too.

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