Astronomy: Summer Begins, and SCATS Ends

SCATS AstronomyIn week two of SCATS, students branched out beyond the solar system to discuss the life cycles of other stars, black holes, and other theoretical topics.

SCATS AstronomyOn Wednesday, the occurrence of the summer solstice gave classes an opportunity to revisit what they had learned about the sun’s motion. One student asked, “At the spring equinox, isn’t it true that you can balance an egg on its end?” This is a common astronomical misconception: the “equality” of an equinox is about hours of daylight and darkness. As for balance, the earth’s 23.5-degree tilt never changes and does not affect balancing an object.

To prove that egg-balancing is always possible, students tried their hands with a dozen raw eggs. To their credit, only one was broken (by instructor Ashley Murphy). Roughly 20 students successfully balanced an egg on one end — not only NOT on the spring equinox but actually a few hours before the official start of summer — no special alignment required!

The final topics of SCATS Astronomy included extraterrestrials, space travel, and rocketry. Students built paper-and-foam rockets powered by compressed air, and on Friday, as the finally-summer sun beat down, they finished class with a bang — or a “whoosh” — as their creations took flight.

SCATS Astronomy was a blast in more ways than one. Here’s wishing you clear skies for the rest of summer!

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