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Tag Archives: try this at home

Space Math [try it]

I came across this brilliant collection of math problems in a variety of practical settings in the context of space exploration and astronomy. It is a fantastic resource for teachers setting up realistic math problems. The site is called Space Math @ NASA. There is even a page with the problems sorted by NASA missions […]

distance to the Moon [try it]

How far is the Moon? You don’t have to look up the answer in a book. You can measure it yourself, and quite easily at that. You will need an accomplice however. For this, you will need some way to record the precise location of the Moon in the sky relative to the stars in […]

parallax [try it]

How do we know how far anything is? For nearby objects, we can pace off the distance, of course, but what about places we can’t walk to? How does your brain know that that door is 10 feet away without marking it off on a ruler? Suppose you are standing at point A (see figure) […]

solar differential rotation [try it]

The Sun is giant fluid ball of gas. It is not a solid body, and it does not behave like one. In particular, it rotates at different speeds at different latitudes. The website displays daily collections of solar images ranging from visible light photospheric images to magnetic maps to high-energy X-ray images of the […]

alien communication [try it]

Back in 1974, a message was beamed out from the Arecibo radio telescope towards the globular cluster M13. The hope is that it will be intercepted by some alien civilization that will then study it and learn some basic things about us. The full message, encoded as a string of two distinct patterns, is given […]

amateur X-ray astronomy [try it]

You don’t always need a telescope to do astronomy in your backyard. Data from all the great space-borne observatories (like Hubble, Chandra, Spitzer, etc.) are publicly available for people to peer through and analyze on their own. All you need is a computer and a functional internet connection. The only things stopping people is that, […]

exponential increase [try it]

Take a chess board and some rice. Put a grain of rice on the first square, Rook’s a1. Put two grains on the next one, Knight’s b1. Keep going down the row, doubling the grains at every square (4 on Bishop’s c1, 8 on King’s d1, etc), and continue the same way for row 2, […]

space is big [try it]

Astronomical numbers are difficult for human minds to grasp. And one of concepts I have had the most difficulty in conveying is that space is big. It is really really big. Even the solar system, which is quite minuscule compared to, say, the size of the Milky Way, is mindbogglingly big. And empty. There is […]

yasti yantra [Q&A]

Suhas of Poornaprajna PU College asks, what is the stick machine of Bhaskaracharya? I had no idea what it was until I looked it up online. There is a nice description in a report by S. Narvekar (Astronomical Instruments of Ancient India, IFToMM 2007) that describes a stick-like device that can be used to measure […]