Professor Wiesner’s Astronomy class will also be offered next semester. (Photo credit: Thrillist.com)
Dr. Matthew Wiesner, physics professor in the college of science set up a small red Astro scan telescope on the campus quad on November 8th. His astronomy class soon joined him, for a special star viewing party. The strange thing is that this viewing occurred in the middle of the day, with the sun high in the sky.
According to Professor Wiesner, he brought his class out to examine and explore the brightest star in our sky: the sun.
“The sun is a main sequence star and is 4.6 billion years old.” Wiesner explained to his class.
The actual viewing of the sun was not done directly through the telescope, but by using the telescope to project an image of the sun onto a piece of paper that the students could observe.
“We’re producing real images with a convex lens.” Professor Wiesner said to his students, explaining how the reflecting telescope produced the image.
Before the students began their own observations with the solar projections, Professor Wiesner offered safety tips for solar viewing.
“Never look directly at the sun. Certainly, never through a telescope.” Professor Wiesner warned, explaining that doing so would result in instant and permanent damage to the eyes.
Once students began viewing, Wiesner explained the concept of sun spots, pointing out pin sized black specks on the solar projection, before explaining that each of those spots was about the size of the earth.
Professor Wiesner also used a series of filters and pieces of optics on the projection to demonstrate the concept of solar spectrum: using the light absorption of the sun to determine its composition.
This was not the first viewing party of the semester, as Professor Wiesner held a nighttime observation on October 18th. Both viewing experiences went towards showing that no matter the time of day, if the weather’s clear, there’s always astronomy.
Professor Wiesner will also be offering his PHYS 1106 Astronomy course during the spring 2022 semester.