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A Starry First in Australia

May 2022

How fast is a star really moving? How hot or cold is a particular star? These are questions not every student has the ability to answer but at our College students have the opportunity to actively study a stellar spectrum and discover things about our changing universe in real time.

Wagga Wagga Christian College is the only school in Australia where students can actively study the spectral composition of stars. With the installation of the Astro Dome in 2021 and the opening of the ASEC (Astronomy and Science Education Centre) students from across the College have the opportunity to learn the skills of star gazing and investigating the surface of the Sun.

Shaun Bryder, Year 12 student, is excited to be one of the first students to have their interest in the Science fields piqued through this hands on experience: "I am excited by Science now that I am in my Senior years of education and have the opportunity to work in the field of Science in a practical way, not just reading about discoveries in textbooks. The ability to work first hand with a telescope and make my own discoveries about the sun's surface and the nature of stars has really broadened my interests. I am certainly considering a future in the science field."

Dr John Sewell, Head of Science at the College and long term star gazer, is thrilled that the resources are in place for students to gain hands on experience in the Science field. "Greater insight, a growth in interest in Science and an excitement for learning - these are some of the benefits flowing from the practical learning available through the ASEC Centre. For example, the students have the opportunity to discover prominences on the sun and sunspots - things that can't be seen with a regular telescope.

As an alternative to working through a textbook problem, classes will be able to collect raw data on the rotation and movement of stars enabling them to calculate the velocity of the stars."

As students acquire the skills needed to collect and interpret data through the use of the telescope and associated software, RSpec Explorer, they will be able to impart their knowledge to the younger members of the College. The College Open Day this year was evidence of this, as Shaun talked through his project and the use of the telescope with visiting families, allowing them to personally enjoy a close-up view of the Sun's surface.

Watch Shaun in action on Prime News or via the YouTube version (scan to 6 minutes; 45 seconds)



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