July 15, 2013

Make a Telescope to Glimpse ... Beyond the Solar System

By Mary Kay Carson 

My newest book, Beyond the Solar System, just came out this month. I'm happy (and relieved) to report that it's getting decent reviews. The starred review in Booklist says it is "notable for its unusually clear explanations of complex topics" which warms my heart and calms my nerves! In truth, I struggled at times with the challenge of writing about dark matter, red shift, relativity, dark energy, and other astronomical discoveries for young people. Huzzah (whew)!

A replica of Newton's refracting telescope.
To celebrate the book and the dog-day doldrums of late, I'm posting the crowning activity of the book, "Make a Reflecting Telescope." This isn't Galileo's spyglass-like light-bending refracting telescope. A reflecting telescope captures starlight with a concave mirror, bouncing it from the back of the instrument and then up toward the eyepiece. Isaac Newton's invention of the first refracting telescope on 1668 opened up a new window on the heavens.

The "Make a Reflecting Telescope" activity takes some time, patience, and a number of materials. But using a homemade telescope to explore the summertime night sky is something no kid will forget. I know I won't! 



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