Astronomy Class

Mr. Kurt Voss, Instructor
University of New Mexico & Zuni High School

Mr. Voss at Barringer Meteor Crater in Arizona


Mr. Voss has been teaching astronomy at Zuni High School for three years and at the local University of New Mexico/Zuni Branch for two years.  Zuni is an ideal place for skywatching.  It has a dry desert climate, sits at a high altitude and has very little light pollution.  Students in the astronomy classes learned about the history of astronomy and the people who were instrumental in its development, such as Ptolemy, Copernicus, Galileo, Kepler, and Newton.

We (the local librarian was also in the class) also learned about the basics such as the electromagnetic spectrum, spectroscopy, the Doppler effect, types of telescopes,  how information from space is received and interpreted, the life and death of stafs, constellations, etc.  All these, along with a lot of other things, tie in to learning about what makes up our solar system, the universe and how it all works.

Students also get a chance to take apart a couple of telescopes and clean and calibrate them.  The best part of the class is being able to view space objects.  The class uses three types of telescopes, a Mead 4" refractor and 8" and 12" Newtonian Dobsonian mounted reflectors.  There is nothing as spectacular as seeing Saturn, rings and all, and seeing Jupiter and its moonss "in person."  We also observed two astronomical events.  We observed the total lunar eclipse on August 28, 2007 and the comet P17 Holmes.

For students enrolled in the class at the high school, a trip to the Very Large Array (VLA) near Socorro, NM is part of the course.  For those of you who don't know, the VLA is an astronomical radio observatory (the world's best).  There are a total of 27 radio antennas at the VLA.  The highlight of the trip was to go up into the dish of an antenna.  It is an incredible experience.

Very Large Array



Getting the telescopes ready.

Mr. Voss giving instructions for going up
the antenna.
Jupiter and its moons.

Lunar Eclipse, August 28, 2007

*Images courtesy of William Becker, Rob Kyker, and Cordelia Hooee*

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