View Full Version here: : Good Astronomy experiments for yr 10 student

19-12-2010, 04:27 PM
Hi everyone:hi:,

Every year in science we are made to do a student research project and seeing that I love astronomy so much I have decided to do an astronomical experiment next year,yes I am thinking in advance but I want it to be good and also if I need the proper equipment to get it in advance.

So i have been thinking on all the different experiments I could do which relate to astronomy.Just to clarify the equipment I do have is an 130mm reflector and eyepieces and a pair of 10X50 binos.So i am limited on equipment.

1.Maybe I could do something to so with variable stars.like make a light curve.But I don't know how to relate this to an experiment because the experiment has to have an aim,hypotheses and a conclusion.(any suggestions)Ps-i have previously made observations of the eclipsing binary beta lyrae and have produced a light curve, showing the rise and fall of its brightness.A star with a low period is best, under a month is good.

2.Minor planet identification like making a sketch of a star field over 2 or 3 days and noticing its movement.

3.Now this an interesting one but i don't have the equipment for it or the expertise to understand and build it.what it is is a small radio telescope home made and then hooked up to a receiver.I'll have to research up on this.Though i don't have a receiver,but maybe i can borrow one.With the radio telescope i could maybe detect the Doppler shift of the iss which would be an awesome feat for me.

That's pretty much all i have come up with, any suggestions would be very much appreciated.
thanks in advance

19-12-2010, 05:33 PM

This is a suggestion for a variable star which has a periodic light curve.
Your aim would be to determine its period and confirm the historical behaviour of the light curve. A short period variable would be required due to your time constraints. Your hypothesis is that the light curve is in fact periodic as shown by past data and this will be demonstrated from your research data. Who knows, the star might show different behaviour to the norm. This is one reason why these stars continue to be observed. The procedure would include your method of locating and observing the star and the optical equipment used, the way data is logged and representation of the data. The conclusion would be to confirm or refute the historical observations of the period behaviour of the star in question. You would discuss in simple mathematical terms the degree to which your results agree or vary from past measurements.

Regards, Rob

19-12-2010, 06:55 PM

20-12-2010, 07:52 AM
Thanks guys,

Any other suggestions.

I was thinking maybe i could do something with double star separation and pa.I could estimate them and see if it matches up with historical records.
What do you think?

Cheers Orestis :thumbsup:

23-12-2010, 02:18 PM
How about searching the AAVSO site, they usually have some good information and tutorials which would give you a good start!

OR....you could research comets, you can even make your own!
One comet C/2009 P1 Garradd will be brightening next year, is expected to reach mag 6 around September and would be good to follow, the techniques are slightly different to variable stars.

23-12-2010, 03:29 PM
For an experiment - observe a range of Planets and Minor Planets - observe Prograde and Retrograde motion, document it then discuss the results in terms of the objects movement in the solar system and their relationship to the Sun and earth/observer.


23-12-2010, 08:18 PM
How about something to do with sun spots. e.g. clusters, or the speed with which they traverse (determine the sun's speed of rotation?), maybe at different latitudes of the sun, etc (I'm thinking friendly daylight hours; observations made over a reasonable time frame, etc.)

Or, keeping it simple, what about Eratostenes' classic experiment, measuring the length of a stick's shadow at different latitudes at noon on the same day to estimate the diameter of the earth. An oldie but a goodie.

I don't suppose there any easy and accessible astronomical objects that can use the Earth's movement to establish parallax effects??

Good luck, anyway.


02-01-2011, 12:33 PM
Here's one you or anyone can do - Measuring the Sidereal Day (day using stars as opposed to a Mean Solar day of 24 hours). The Sidereal Day is only 23 hours, 56 minutes and 4 seconds.

You need a tall building, preferrably with a straight vertical edge and a star (or group of stars) that passes behind the building or object. You will also need to use the same location to observe the star from as it passes behind the building. Obviously a good digital watch that shows HH:MM:SS is a good bet for timing the disappearance.

Over a few weeks or months, go out on as many nights that you can and note the time in Hours Minutes and Seconds that the chosen star(s) disappears from view behind the building. Do your best adopt the same pose when you observe the star. Record your times.

Plot your times on a graph with days along one axis and times along the other. What you will note is that the star appears to disappear a few minutes earlier than the previous night. This is because the Sidereal Day is shorter than our 24 hour day by a few minutes. Draw the best line through the points on the graph to work out the Mean Sidereal day. You will get slightly different results to friends, but you should all be in the same ball park of a few minutes shorter than the Mean Solar Day.

All the best!

02-01-2011, 05:27 PM
I don't know if this might help:

Cheers -