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We're discovering planets - the key competences courses

Under our project we are planning first of all to conduct innovative, additional classes with pupils, connected with conducting research projects. A period of project realisation is October 2014 – May 2015.

                One of the most important instruments in the project is e-learning platform based on moodle, dedicated to pupils of secondary and post-secondary schools. Under the platform the informatics instruments will be applied, that enables conducting astrophysics researches (observation by scientific method) and research projects. For the first time in Poland polish pupils will have a chance to co-operate with international organizations such as NASA in USA as well as ESA (European Space Agency), ESO (European Southern Observatory) or The Mars Society TMS.

Within the project 4 specialized programs will be formed. They will be connected with topics such fireballs and occultation events based on knowledge of natural science (mathematics, physics, astronomy) and technical science (computer science, optics) and are essential to conduct innovative, additional classes with pupils and to support services of new equipment and e-learining platform based on modle. Working out of this 4 programs will be a base for all other  further actions provided in the project.

            1. „Occultation events”

Four selected observatories (Swiecie, Unislaw, Gniewkowo, Radziejow) are located more or less at the same longitude (18deg24min( ± 1min)E), averagely 30 kilometers apart, and comprise the base for the simultaneous observations of the same asteroid occultation. In case of such transient events the most important is good cooperation and proper planning. Before the moment of the occultation students will identify field with the star which is scheduled to be eclipsed by a passing asteroid. It is mandatory to learn how to use star charts. Then, students will mount a CCD camera equipped with the video time inserter on the telescope and will check if inserter puts the timestamp onto each video frame correctly.

The final recording should starts even 20 minutes before expected moment of the first contact because there is possibility of a new asteroid satellite detection. For the same reason, it is worth to extend the observations to 20  minutes from the moment of the last contact. The data collected from observatories will be analyzed frame by frame to find the most accuracy moments of contacts, and then including the observers positions, the size of the asteroid will be determined.

            2. “Fireballs”

Another four Observatories (Gostycyn, Jablonowo, Dobrzyn, Znin) will be equipped with new cameras using fish-eye lenses to reject the brightest meteors from the almost whole sky. Typical spacing among the selected fireball stations was considered to be about 100 km. Their work will be highly automatic, so students contribution will be limited to select the most spectacular meteors recordings. Every fireball will be classified (as 'sporadic' or member of the meteor shower). Then, the main features as speed, brightness, duration time, covered distance, deceleration, trail, observed explosions will be determined. Recordings at different locations will help to calculate a more complete trail of each fireball. From such multiple-station meteor and fireball observations, they orbits in the Solar System can be obtained to extend the small bodies database.

3. Planetary transits and variable stars

The high-class CCD cameras with the newest LRGB filter sets from Baader will be mounted on telescopes at two Observatories (Inowroclaw, Kruszwica). Students will be able to observe the small amplitude ( ≈ 0 . 02 mag) brightness changes connected with planetary transits or with eclipses in the binary systems. Students will apply the standard frame processing (reduction on bias, dark frame, and flat field) and astrometric calibration before the light curve analyse. Detection of the variations in the timing of a transits or eclipses should be the main aim of their work. Additionally, small and middle class telescopes are excellent instruments for observations of the cataclysmic stars during their the biggest activity phases because they reach their maximum brightness unexpectedly.

    4. Sun

The last four Observatories (Zlawies Wielka, Rypin, Golub-Dobrzyn, Brodnica, Zlawies Wielka) will take the opportunity to observe the Sun near the maximum of its recent cycle. The Lunt Solar Wedge will be mounted to refractor telescopes instead of the standard objective filters to deflect about 95% of the light. The amount of sunspots and groups of sunspots will be determined by students to obtain the daily Wolf's number and then, they will be able to rate the recent solar activity.

 Next 30 of those teachers together with the pupils will carry on research projects with substantive supervision of a specialist. Within our project we intend to create 30 research groups, which we called “Astroteam”. Each of “Astroteam” will contains 10 pupils and will take part in innovative additional classes and realize a research projects on natural science (mathematics, physics, astronomy) and technical science (computer science, optics).

 Teachers will have qualifications to conduct such classes not only with project’s participants but also in future with pupils that do not take part in this project. Therefore educational offer of schools will be extended and more adjusted to requirements of local labour market.

 

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