Six students completed the five week ‘Improvers’ Astronomy course conducted by Keighley Astronomical society at the Craven College, Skipton, on Wednesday 15th March 2017.
The students looked at the properties of stars at different stages of their evolution; how they form, what happens to them as they age, and what becomes of them when they die. They also explored the physical processes that sustain the energy output of stars during each stage of their evolution and drive the progression from one stage to the next, as well as the relationship between different stages of stellar evolution and the production of the chemical elements. This covered the basic concepts of hydrodynamics, thermodynamics, plasma physics, quantum physics and nuclear physics.
The course also looked at optical spectroscopy of Stars, quasars, and Galaxies. What the study of such light tell us about the composition of such points of light, but their movement and their evolution.
They explored the methods used in the detection and characterisation of exoplanets, and their physical properties. Hundreds of exoplanets have been found, creating one of the most exciting and fast moving research fields in astrophysics. The course focused on the transiting exoplanets because these are the only planets outside our own solar system with measured sizes. They looked at the methods used to determine the atmospheric properties of transiting exoplanets, to measure the planetary orbit’s alignment with the stellar spin.
They also studied the work of the giants of astronomy and mathematics such as Galileo Galilei, Tycho Brahe, Johannes Kepler, Sir Isaac Newton and Robert Einstein. They looked at the mathematical equations developed by such figures and carried out there own calculations.
Gill Robertson said, “It was a fantastic course. Inspiring and captivating. There was good use of power point presentations and DVD material. I learnt so much.
Ian Grant stated, “It was an extremely interesting course, and opened further doors to my future learning”.
Student Rosie Johnson said, “Paul is a fantastic tutor, and his ability to explain very complex subjects into laymen’s terms is incredible. I feel that I have learnt and retained so much”.
Keith Bowen remarked, “A good course, it was very informative, and I now know so much more about astronomy and space”