Shop Windows to the Universe

Dig into Montana Before History: 11K Years of Hunter-Gatherers in the Rockies and Plains by D. H. MacDonald, Ph.D. See our online store book collection.

   Image courtesy of Orlagh Creevey

From: Orlagh Creevey
Observatorio del Teide, Spain, July 26, 2010

Team Observing for Two Weeks

Hi to all from the IAC80 telescope on the island of Tenerife, hidden away on the Canary Islands. Last month, one of my friends, Katrien, was here and she told you a little about observing stars that pulsate. We are also observing pulsating stars but for 14 nights! That’s a lot of nights, so we divided the work among three of us. Angela (pictured above, on the right) was observing at the beginning, then Elena (in the middle) spent the last week up here. I (on the left) spent only about four nights here, but I was “on call” for the 14 nights from the town of La Laguna, which is about 1 hour away.

We are measuring stellar pulsations for a group of 12 stars in a cluster. This means that all of the stars were born at a similar time and they are all part of the same family. In fact, we already know the age of the cluster: about 500 million years! Our observations are being measured through different filters. Think about when you see a rainbow, the light splits into many colors. Well, we are measuring the light of the pulsating stars through blue and green filters. This helps us form a picture of what the pulsation looks like on the surface of the star. The Kepler satellite observes in white light (all of the colors of the rainbow together), so the surface information is not available. Kepler does provide the pulsation periods of all of the stars, and this is crucial information to help us analyze our observations.

Our observing run is finishing tomorrow 27 July 2010, and then we will merge our data with observations from other telescopes around the world. It will be very exciting to see all of the results together. Wishing you clear skies!

Postcards from the Observatory

You might also be interested in:

Traveling Nitrogen Classroom Activity Kit

Check out our online store - minerals, fossils, books, activities, jewelry, and household items!...more

Watching stars pulsate from Tenerife

I am Katrien, a Belgian astronomer. I have been working in several European countries and I am currently based in Paris, France. My research is very exciting as I study stars that pulsate! This means...more

Rainbows

Rainbows appear in the sky when there is bright sunlight and rain. Sunlight is known as visible or white light and is actually a mixture of colors. Rainbows result from the refraction and reflection of...more

Penguin Colonies

This is Ross Island, a volcanic island embedded in the Ross Ice Shelf, Antarctica. Adelie penguins are found all around Antarctica, but we will be filming the documentary at the breeding colonies shown...more

View from our home

This is a view of the Adelie penguin breeding colony at Cape Royds in Antarctica. In the foreground you see Shackleton’s hut. Sir Ernest Shackleton and his team of explorers tried and failed to cross the...more

Time to Raise the Chicks

We are at Cape Royds, Ross Island, Antarctica, a penguin breeding colony of several thousand Adelie penguins. This female is 8 years old and has been a successful breeder in the past. She was first seen...more

Ice, Fire, and Penguins

Cape Royds penguin breeding colony is in the shadow of Mt Erebus, one of three volcanoes on Ross Island and the only active one. Antarctica Explorer James Clark Ross named two of the volcanoes after his...more

Proud Parents

At long last the moment we have been waiting for, the first Adelie chick of the season. We have been scanning nest sites for broken egg shells, evidence that a chick has hatched. On Dec 12, 2006 we sighted...more

Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part by the National Science Foundation and NASA, our Founding Partners (the American Geophysical Union and American Geosciences Institute) as well as through Institutional, Contributing, and Affiliate Partners, individual memberships and generous donors. Thank you for your support! NASA AGU AGI NSF