Friday, 29 May 2015

Carter Observatory Visit ...

As part of our term inquiry 'What's Out There?', our class visited the Carter Observatory in Wellington today.  What an amazing place.  It is a very interesting building, with two big domes on it that we could see amongst the trees as we walked from the bus.

We were warmly greeted by Ken, one of Carter's educators and an astronomer himself, and given some time to explore by ourselves.

There was wonder at every turn - real objects from the moon, information and photos of stars and planets, activities to try and games to play, stories to listen to and movies to watch.  There was so much to see, but not very long to do so.  Parents, it is well worth another visit if your child asks!

click on the photo to make it bigger
After our look around, Ken took us inside the Planetarium.  This is like a fancy movie theatre.  You lay back in the seats and look up at the domed ceiling.  The movie plays on the ceiling.  It is quite a weird feeling, but we all loved it.

The first movie we watched was called Tilt.  It was sourced from the Museum Victoria Melbourne Planetarium and is about the adventures of a sister and brother, Annie and Max, and a talking robot, Kelvin as they work to save the Earth when the seasons start to go crazy. Their journey takes them into space and around the planet as they discover the axis of the Earth and our orbit around the Sun directly impacts the way the world experiences seasons. 

We were not allowed to take photos inside the Planetarium.  These pics below are sourced from Carter Observatory's and the Museum of Victoria's websites.

After Tilt, Ken took us on a guided visual tour of the Wellington night sky.  We could see Venus and Jupiter, our moon and lots of different constellations (groups of stars).  We could also see the Milky Way - the gateway to our galaxy.  We were very excited when Ken zoomed in on the Scorpio constellation and showed us our star (the one we adopted). The scorpion is also known  as Te Matua a Maui meaning the fish hook of Maui.

We were amazed by the size of Cooke's Telescope and many of us wanted to see it in action.  It is to observe the night sky, so we couldn't look through it during the day.  It lives in a special room full of pulleys and platforms so the astronomers can move part of the roof and extend the telescope to look for particular things in the sky. 

To end our visit we had a workshop with Ken discussing the earth, sun and moon and then identified the different planets, their order and some of their facts.  We learnt a lot and it will be helpful for the remainder of our inquiry as we move into finding out more about the different planets.

What a wonderful, interesting visit.  Thank you to Carter Observatory for hosting us, to our wonderful parent helpers (Angelina, Sarah and Lisa) and to the friendly bus driver for getting us there and home safe and happy.  

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