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September 2001 TOPS Newsletter

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TOPS Star Party - Sat September 15, 2001

  • Potluck. Bring your own dishes, silverware, and soda/juice/water. (Remember, you have to drive to the restroom.)
  • Catch up on what's new, hug old friends, and meet new ones.
  • Get updates on Deep Impact, possible grants, IFA Open House, etc.
  • Exchange tips and ideas about presenting workshops, implementing lessons in your classrooms, student activities, and opportunities for student community service projects.
  • Observing fun. See Messier objects, binary stars, nebulae, various constellations. (We've ordered clear weather.)
Please RSVP as soon as possible to Mary Ann Kadooka at her new email address, kadooka@ifa.hawaii.edu, with the following information:
  • Number of people in your group (so we can bring chairs for you)
  • Type of food you plan to bring
  • Number and type of telescopes you can bring
For TOPS 2001 teachers who cannot attend, we will send videotapes of the meeting portion of the evening as soon as we can get the tapes copied.

Directions To Dillingham Field & Observing site Rules.

IfA Open House - Sat October 6, 2001; 10:00-4:00

You, your friends, and your family are cordially invited to the Institute for Astronomy Open House (2680 Woodlawn Drive, Honolulu, next to the Manoa Public Library and Manoa Marketplace). We need several TOPS teachers and students to volunteer to help with the activities. Please contact Mary if you can help.

  • TOPS display table. We need a volunteer to help Bev.
  • Comet making. We need volunteers to pick up ice, shave ice, and supervise the activity.
  • Mirror grinding. We need volunteers to assist in supervising the activity.
  • Cratering (using Deep Impact materials). We need volunteers to help with supplies and setup and to supervise the activity.
  • Hawaiian Astronomical Society table.
  • Viewing of sunspots and Venus.
  • Bottle rockets.
  • Tours of labs and shop.
  • Planetarium show.
  • Talks on topics of current astronomical interest, including one by Bev on the TOPS Hawaiian archaeoastronomy research project at Cape Kumukahi.

Student Volunteers Needed

Students, do you have school requirements for community service? TOPS is in need of volunteer assistance, and we would love to work with you. These are the areas where we need help:

  • Taking inventory, sorting, and re-packing all of the TOPS materials and equipment.
  • Helping us establish a TOPS online contact database of all schools and teacher contacts for advertising TOPS. We will set up a Web page that lists all the school names and phone numbers and Web addresses where known. We need research, both on Web sites and by telephoning, to collect names, phone numbers, and email addresses of all the potential science teacher, math teacher, principal, and counselor contacts at each school. We will add this to our Web site as we get the information, so that there is no duplication of effort.
  • Helping us organize and put captions on a massive photo database from 1999 and 2000 so that we can cut CD-ROMs.
  • Testing and giving us feedback on some additional hands-on activities for TOPS, under development in a new IfA program.

AAVSO Projects and Meetings

The fall meeting of the AAVSO will be held in Somerville, MA, Nov. 1-4. We would like to encourage our TOPS students and teachers to attend this meeting. We encourage you to make variable star observations of your own for presentation at the meeting.

If this is too soon, however, the 91st AAVSO spring meeting will be held June 30-July 6, on the Big Island immediately after the TOPS 2002 workshop. We are strongly encouraging TOPS (current and past) teachers to make presentations at these meetings. Information about the spring meeting is available at http://www.aavso.org/meetings/spring02.stm.

If you need support on observing variable stars, we will shortly be adding a section to the TOPS Web site to help with the observing. Also, the AAVSO has two new AAVSO newsletters that will be useful to TOPS members who are doing some variable star research for the fall or spring meeting. You can download these newsletters from http://www.aavso.org/publications/publications-online.stm:

  • Eyepiece Views - Aimed at visual observers, with topics ranging from backgrounds on variable stars (types of variables, new research) to those targets in need of observation.

  • CCD Views - Topics range from observing techniques to observing campaigns.

Karen has arranged to buy AAVSO finder chart CD-ROMs for teachers so that you can encourage your students to start observing projects. Students, if you are particularly interested in starting an observing project, contact Bev, and we will arrange to get you a CD-ROM.

Research Experience for Teachers (RET)

TOPS staff member Mary Kadooka and TOPS teacher Tom Chun are participating in IfA's RET program this summer. Mary describes the experience:

Are you curious about what astronomers actually do during observing runs at the telescopes at Mauna Kea from 6 PM to 6 AM the next morning? In the RET program, you prepare, plan, and find out. What is done with the images taken with CCD cameras? How is the data processed? How is astronomy software used? Besides getting answers to these questions, you learn to use UNIX and astronomy software, critical components of astronomy research. How should all the data be organized systemically? Is there any end to all the variables that need to be considered as you conduct research? Challenging and stimulating, the RET program demands focus, hard work, and persistence and rewards you with gratifying success. You are forced to think! Apply for the RET Program next summer. It will be an unforgettable, inspiring, and awesome experience for your brain and emotions.

New hands-on Activity Development

Karen has been awarded a new EPO grant from the Space Telescope Science Institute to develop curriculum materials utilizing content from 5 HST proposals at the IfA and Goddard. The science projects and PIs are:
  • Masses and Luminosities of Population II Stars - J. Heasley - spectroscopy

  • Boron Constraints on Slow Mising in Low Mass Stars - A. Boesgaard - spectroscopy (origin of elements activity)

  • Solar UV Radiation and the Origin of Life on Earth - S. Heap (GFSC) -- Atmospheric spectroscopy (graphic visualization)

  • Understanding High-Redshift and Starburst Galaxies: A UV Spectroscopic Survey of B-Stars in the Small Magellanic Cloud - R. Kudritzki - spectroscopy (interactive computer software - to learn about star properties)

  • Fundamental Properties of L-type Brown Dwarfs - E. Martin - Modelling (travelling power point materials)

TOPS 2002 Workshop - June 10-28, 2002

Information on the program will be available on the TOPS Web site by October 5. Past TOPS participants will be receiving brochures by early October to help us spread the word. If you know of people who would like to receive brochures, please send names and mailing addresses to Bev. Application Deadline, Tuesday 1/15/02

News for TOPS 2001 Participants

  • Student Grades - UH mistakenly entered the grades for the 2001 workshop students as CR/NC, when in fact, they should have been letter grades. Campus will be sending Karen change of grade forms to correct the problem, so please be patient. There are still one or two students with incompletes, so please get your report into Karen as soon as possible.

  • Student Activities - Students, please let us know about your follow-up TOPS activities. Pictures are always welcome! So far we have received the following reports:

    Vanessa Adams
  • She plans to make presentations to her science class, the science club, and other science and math classes.
  • Nicholas Bradley
  • He has made presentations at Mid-Pac and a Hawaiian Astronomical Society meeting and plans two more presentations at the Kaimuki Public Library in Nov & Apr
  • He is participating in the IfA Open House
  • He is currently working on a Science Fair project on CCD photometry under the direction of Gerbs Bauer.
  • Dara Ching
  • She is speaking to elem school students in Pearl City
  • She has established an astronomy club at Pearl City High School with her dad, Steve Ching;
  • She is organizing star parties at Pearl City High School;
  • She will be a speaker and help with star parties on Lanai with Steve Ching and Scot Ewen.
  • Keli Ching
  • She is sharing TOPS experiences with younger students, including a freshman science class. During that class's unit on astronomy, Keli, Kristin McCrone, and Laura Fabrey will help with night observing.
  • As an Environmental Club officer, Keli would like to incorporate astronomy into some of the club activities, perhaps planning star parties and a trip to Bishop Museum.
  • Camille Coates
  • She wants to teach everything she learned at TOPS to her AP biology class & re-start a school astronomy club.
  • Robin Dawson
  • She is distributing a letter report to all science classes at Iolani.
  • Laura Fabrey
  • She is planning presentations in her honors physics class and after school hours in the library.
  • Laua'e Gouveia
  • He is making a PowerPoint presentation on variable stars to his school. The presentation will include hands-on activities to determine an accurate magnitude of a variable star and to calculate the Julian day and time.
  • He is also doing variable star research and plans to attend the fall AAVSO meeting in Massachusetts.
  • Mona Layan
  • She will run the astronomy branch of the school's science club, including running star parties, and she will give a presentation before the entire student body.
  • Mona is also working on a year-long variable star project with Janet and Mike Mattei, and Jim Bedient.
  • Darene Matsuoka
  • She will present a slide show at a St. Andrew's Priory assembly, make a presentation to the physics class,
  • She will also create a TOPS bulletin board for the school.
  • Kristin McCrone
  • She will give a TOPS report to several classes at Mililani High School, along with Laura Fabrey and Keli Ching.
  • Kristin Schiereck
  • Is speaking at various meetings at Iolani, including the Astronomy Club.
  • Teacher Follow-up Activities - We will be creating a place on the TOPS Web site to list the follow-up activities and classroom implementation that teachers are doing during the Fall '01 and Spring '02 semesters. Please send us reports on what you are doing and comments to share with other teachers, so we can get some networking going and help provide support. So far, we have the following activities:

    Steve Ching
  • helped start an astronomy club at Pearl City High School
  • Kathy Chock
  • Developed a module and presented "The Hawaiian Moon" to 84 students (grades 4-7), eight students (grades 8-12), and 20 teachers on July 11. This was held at Kilauea Military Camp, part of Future Flight Hawaii, a space science residential program.
  • Put in a proposal to do a workshop on Mars, with the latest NASA findings and hands-on activities and resources to take back to the classroom, at the HaSTA (Hawaii Science Teachers Association) Fall Conference.
  • Scheduled three teacher workshops at Windward Community College during the school year. Each one will focus on different TOPS concepts/content, be integrated with a planetarium show, and include standards-based learning and hands-on activities.
  • Working with a fourth-grade teacher at Kamehameha, Judy Cramer, to implement a seven-session astronomy unit. My focus will be on observing the sky: constellations and movements of the sun, moon, and stars. Historical and cultural connections will be made.
  • Presenting a workshop twice at Astronaut Ellison Onizuka Day, including remote sensing, spectroscopy, NASA's missions, and hands-on activities.
  • Tom Chun
  • He isdeveloping a full astronomy course and working with Lauae and Aina on semester-long variable star photometry projects.
  • Scot Ewen
    Steve Ching
  • They are making a presentation on Lanai.
  • Victor Kim
  • Three-dimensional Mars contouring (at 1 degree intervals)
  • Trigonometric parallax and distances to the sun and moon for pre- algebra classes)
  • More development on Astronomical Universal Tai Chi
  • Clyde Kobashigawa
    Kathy Chock
  • They have plans to go to Molokai for teacher/student outreach.
  • Cheryl Shintani She is making a presentation at Onizuka Day.
  • Workshop Photos - We are working on getting a CD-ROM of all the digital pictures taken at TOPS '01 out to the TOPS '01 participants by the end of September.

  • Onizuka Day in Hilo - Art Kimura is part of the planning committee for the second annual Astronaut Ellison Onizuka Science Day to be held January 26, 2002, at UH Hilo. The day will include about 20 workshops (each one repeated twice), a display area, and opening and closing assemblies. Art anticipates about 500 participants, including parents. The program is a free event to honor the legacy of Ellison and share science with the community. The program is geared to students in grades 5-12. If any teachers would like to facilitate a workshop(s) and/or put up a display, please let Bev know. For workshops, we need a title, brief description, type of classroom setting, appropriate for what grade levels, and any equipment (AV) needed. For displays, we need a general description of the display and needs (tables, chairs, electricity). The deadline was the first week of September, but we can still schedule workshops and displays if you let us know SOON.

    Science Highlights

    • Deep Space 1 Borrelly Encounter - The Deep Space 1 mission was a technology test mission designed to test 12 advanced technologies in deep space. It was launched on 10/24/1998 aboard a Delta 7326-9.5 Med-Lite Rocket from Cape Canaveral. In addition to successfully testing the new technologies, including solar electric propulsion, it also had a successful flyby of the asteroid Braille. In September 1999, it began an extended mission and had a successful flyby of asteroid 1992 KD in July 1999. It is currently scheduled to fly by comet 19P/Borrelly in late September of this year. This flyby will give us invaluable close-up pictures of the nucleus, which will help in the planning for the Deep Impact mission.

    • Deep Impact Mission - The fall observing campaign for the Deep Impact mission has begun, lead by Karen Meech. We have already completed successful observations during a run in August using the UH 2.2m telescope on Mauna Kea, the 3.6m Telescopio Nazionale Galileo at La Palma in Tenerife, and the Cerro Tololo Interamerican 4m telescope in Chile. Karen will be leading a team that will be observing from Mauna Kea (Sept. 11-26), Tenerife (Sept. 15-16), Israel (Sept. 17-21), and Kitt Peak in Arizona (Sept. 11-26) to obtain more brightness information about the comet. RET teacher Tom Chun was present during the August Mauna Kea observations. The goal of these observations is to measure the rotation period to an accuracy of about 13 seconds, so that we can predict targeting of the impactor on the bigger side of the comet in July 2005 (i.e., knowing its rotational phase at that time to about 20%).

    • Solar System Formation - Press release from the American Astronomical Society 9/6/01: Scientists may have to give the Sun a little more credit. Exotic isotopes present in the early Solar System-which scientists have long-assumed were sprinkled there by a powerful, nearby star explosion-may have instead been forged locally by our Sun during the colossal solar-flare tantrums of its baby years. The isotopes-special forms of atomic nuclei, such as aluminum-26, calcium-41, and beryllium-10-can form in the X-ray solar flares of young stars in the Orion Nebula, which behave just like our Sun would have at such an early age. The finding, based on observations by the Chandra X-ray Observatory, has broad implications for the formation of our own Solar System.

    • Karen Elected to ASP Board - Press release from the American Astronomical Society 9/5/01: The Astronomical Society of the Pacific (ASP), one of the world's oldest and largest astronomy organizations, is proud to announce the election of comet hunter and author David H. Levy, University of Hawaii planetary astronomer Karen J. Meech, and former Sky & Telescope Editor-in-Chief Leif J. Robinson to its Board of Directors. The new Board members began serving their three-year terms on September 1, 2001. Full text of the press release

    • Janet Mattei Asteroid - Minor Planet #11695 has been named in honor of Janet Mattei, in recognition of her work with variable stars.

    • Faulkes Telescope - IFA astronomer Jim Heasley reports on the progress of the Faulkes Telescope installation: Last week we achieved an important milestone in the Faulkes Telescope Project when the Board of Regents approved the Operating & Site Development agreement for the project and the lease for the telescope site. Next week we hope to get approval from the Land Board for our Conservation District Use Application. Once that is in place, we will be able to break ground for construction.

    Hands-on Activities and New Curriculum Materials

    The Midwest Regional Education Lab (McRel) has been developing excellent curriculum materials related to astronomy. We encourage TOPS teachers to try them in the classroom.
    • There are ready-to-download materials available for NASA's fifth mission, Genesis, which will collect samples of the solar wind. This set of modules will be especially valuable to our chemistry teachers interested in elements and their origins, as well as physics teachers. Download materials from http://www.genesismission.org/educate/scimodule/moduleoverview.html.

    • McRel is also developing an excellent set of Deep Impact materials dealing with mission optimization and decision making. These will be ready in late September. Karen will bring a sample of this package to the star party on 9/15.

    TOPS Alumni Happenings

    • Derek Minakami -- (TOPS 2000) attended Houston Space Camp. Also, an article in Sunday's (9/9) Star-Bulletin Mauka-Makai section about motivating students to nurture a thirst for knowledge contained an interview with Derek and a photo.

    • Clyde Kobashigawa -- (TOPS 2000 and 2001) also attended the summer TOPS reunion. Clyde's name was inadvertently left off the list in the last newsletter.

    • Kurt Woolslayer -- (TOPS 1999, 2000, 2001) is pursuing an advanced degree at Frostburg State University and will be presenting the program at the Cumberland Astronomy Club this month.

    Contact Information


  • Last Updated on September 14, 2001

    This page has been visited times since July 2001.

    Karen Meech, Institute for Astronomy, University of Hawaii
    meech@ifa.hawaii.edu