We are very proud to announce that GalileoMobile is back on the road!
Our Constellation project enters its second phase this week, which means we are already visiting some of our network’s schools.
Our collaborators in Colombia have already started activities in schools since Monday November 2nd, and will visit schools in Bogota, Medellín, Antioquía and Pereira until November 14th.
On November 8th, two more parts of our Constellation light up as our teams travel to Peru, and to the Lumiar region in Brazil.
Of course, there is more to come: from the 23rd of November to the 14th of December we will be visiting schools in Chile and Argentina, from Chile Chico and Cariquíma to Cordoba, Mendoza and Salta. We couldn’t be more excited!
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GalileoMobile is a non-profit, itinerant, science-education initiative that brings astronomy closer to young people in areas with little or no access to outreach programmes. We perform astronomy-related activities in the schools and communities we visit, and encourage follow-up activities through teacher-training workshops and the donation of telescopes and other educational resources. Find out more from our blog, Facebook page, Twitter, Vimeo and YouTube.
Since its creation in 2008, GalileoMobile has embarked on five expeditions to a total of seven countries: Chile, Bolivia and Peru (2009), Bolivia (2012), India (2012), Uganda (2013), Brazil and Bolivia (2014), and Colombia (2014), as well as extended actions in Portugal, Nepal, the United States, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, and Guatemala. We have reached over 12,430 pupils and 1,300 teachers, and our efforts and activities have been shared with the public in over 40 conferences and 20 screenings and talks, including a TEDx talk. In 2014, GalileoMobile was an invited speaker at the 52nd COPUOS (Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space) meeting organised by the United Nations in Vienna.
GalileoMobile is an unprecedented initiative, promoting science knowledge through astronomy, raising awareness of cultural diversity, and spreading the message of “unity under one sky”.
With Constellation, GalileoMobile aims to establish a South American network of schools committed to the long-term organisation of astronomical outreach activities amongst their pupils and local communities.
We are aiming to transform the schools in the Constellation network into ‘science lighthouses’ in areas which have no access to alternative science-outreach programmes. These schools can then regularly involve students and the local community in astronomy-related activities and sky observations for years to come.
The project will involve twenty schools in six countries (Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru), directly reaching at least 100 teachers and 6,000 pupils. Thanks to the long-term sustainability of the project, even more pupils will benefit through events organised independently by the schools. The network can also be easily expanded to include more schools through future GalileoMobile expeditions.
Constellation will involve twenty schools in six countries (Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru).
Escuela Albergue Nuestra Señora del Valle
Los Gigantes, Argentina
Escuela EGB Provincial Nº 15
Los Antiguos, Argentina
Escuela Manuela Martinez de Tineo Ex Nº 867
Tolar Grande, Argentina
Escuela Nº 8-705
Colegio Estadual Carlos Maria Marchon
Escola Estadual Cora Coralina
Escola Indígena Francisco Meirelles
Grupo Escolar José Martins da Costa
São Pedro da Serra, Brazil
Escuela D-66 de Cariquima
Liceo Intercultural Bilingüe Ralco
Alto Bío Bío, Chile
Liceo Luisa Rabanal Palma
Chile Chico, Chile
Colegio Estrella del Sur
Colegio Julio Garavito Armero
Institución Educativa Escuela de la Palabra
Institución Educativa Nuestra Señora del Carmen
Comunidad El Vicundo
Unidad Educativa Municipal del Milenio Bicentenario
Unidad Educativa Rafael Larrea Andrade
CEP Isaac Newton
Escuela Kusi Kawsay
The teacher training provided by GalileoMobile combines a distance-training programme with teacher-training workshops, so that teachers are fully equipped to lead the educational activities to be carried-out at the schools during their participation in the Constellation programme.
The distance-training programme has been designed especially for Constellation by professional educators. A key aspect of the programme is its flexibility; each teacher’s training will be specifically tailored to suit their level of competence and degree of access to the internet. For this reason, an initial assessment of each teacher’s level of astronomical knowledge is required.
The teacher-training workshops, which will take place during the school visits, will allow the GalileoMobile team to identify and solve any problems which may have arisen during the distance-training phase, and help the teachers consolidate and expand on the topics covered.
Space Exploration is a four-month programme of astronomical outreach activities, to be carried-out at the schools under the supervision of the teachers. Through their participation, pupils will:
The activities are grouped into the following subjects: 1) the Sun and the Moon, 2) planets, 3) stars and constellations, and 4) galaxies and the Universe. In every school, pupils will be divided into four science teams — one for each subject covered — and the activities relevant to each subject will be carried-out.
The results from each experiment will be uploaded onto this website, to allow teams to compare with those working on the same subject in other Constellation network schools.
The Space Exploration programme will therefore allow the pupils to learn how to collaborate within a team, organise and present their scientific findings, cross-reference their results with those obtained by other teams, and collaborate with peers from different countries.
GalileoMobile will visit the schools, spending two days in each. During the visits, we will organise teacher-training workshops, activities with the children, and public talks and sky observations involving the local community.
These expeditions play a very important role in Constellation, by a) allowing the GalileoMobile team to identify and solve any problems which may have arisen during the distance-training programme, b) helping to strengthen the bonds between the individual network schools, and c) providing the teachers and pupils with an opportunity to celebrate their achievements and share their work with the visiting GalileoMobile team and local community.
It is crucial that the progress made at the schools during Constellation is consolidated through continued science education activities. This will be achieved by:
Let’s take a closer look at the subjects explored in the Constellation activities!
Astronomy, the study of celestial objects such as the sun and moon, the planets, stars and galaxies, is one of the oldest sciences in the world. All these celestial objects span an enormous range of sizes and timescales, and yet they are all interrelated:
The planets of our solar system turn around the Sun, our closest star; the stars we see in the night sky, are suns of different sizes, in essence just like our own Sun, only much further away. All these stars, a few hundred billions, most with their own planets orbiting around them, make up our home galaxy, the Milky Way. And finally, just like there are billions of stars making up our galaxy, so there are also billions of galaxies in the Universe, all of different shapes and sizes (Figure 0.1).
In the following sections we briefly describe these different celestial objects, grouped in the four subject groups of the Constellation project.
Figure 0.1: On the left we see the Hubble Deep Field, an image taken with the Hubble Space Telescope. The image is just one 24-millionth (that’s 0.000…1 with 24 zeros) of the whole sky. Each of those little blobs is an entire galaxy, as can be seen in the middle frame when we zoom in. Each galaxy has billions of stars, most of which have their own planetary system. On the right is an artist’s impression of our Solar system, with the lines tracing the orbits of the planets also depicted. Credit: Hubble Deep Field Team & NASA
Our Sun is a star like the billions of stars we see in the night sky, which make up our home galaxy the Milky Way. The reason we see our Sun as being so much bigger than the other stars, is that we are much closer to it. The Sun together with its planets, one of which is our very own planet Earth, are called the Solar system.
Figure 1.1: A schematic illustration of the Earth’s orbit around the Sun, and the Moon’s orbit around the Earth. The moon’s orbit (in red) is slightly tilted compared to the orbit of the Earth around the Sun. (Not to scale) Illustration: Bob King
It appears that the sun moves around the sky, but it is in fact our planet which is spinning around its axis and this is what makes the sun appear to be moving across the sky. Apart from just spinning around itself, the Earth also turns around the Sun, and it takes ~365 days for it to carry out an entire turn. It is due to this turn around the sun that we experience the changing seasons.
But we are not alone in our long journeys around the Sun; we take with us our ever faithful satellite, the moon. The moon not only turns around the Sun with us, it also turns around Earth itself, and it completes a full turn in about 28 days. It doesn’t emit any light of its own, but reflects the light of the Sun. As can be seen in the video below (source: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center), depending on its position around the Earth (which is shown in the upper left corner of the video) and therefore on the amount of its surface which is illuminated by the Sun, the moon is in a different “lunar phase”. Solar eclipses are another phenomenon caused by the relative positions between the Sun, the Earth and the moon, and in particular, they occur when the moon is in between the Earth and the Sun. If the plane of the Moon’s orbit were perfectly aligned with the plane of the Earth’s rotation around the sun, there would be a solar eclipse every time the Moon completes a turn around the Earth, i.e. once a month! However due to the tilt of the moon’s orbit around the Earth (Figure 1.1), solar eclipses are more rare than that. The moon is thought to have formed in the early days of the life of the Solar system, perhaps from the debris of an epic collision between the Earth and another celestial object about the size of the planet Mars!1
Planets were given their name by the ancient Greeks, derived from the word “Planitis” (Πλανήτης) which means wanderer. The ancients thought that planets were wandering stars, since unlike the other stars in the night sky, they did not stay in one place, but changed their position from night to night.
We now know why that is: planets are in fact very different from the other stars we see in the night sky. They are celestial objects orbiting around our home star, the Sun, just like our own planet Earth does. In contrast, the other stars we see in the night sky are suns which are very far away, so far away, that even though they are moving around the galaxy, they appear to be stationary. In fact stars also change their position in the night sky, but over the span of thousands of years, so slowly that it is practically imperceivable to humans. Planets are relatively nearby, compared to the other stars, and we can thus perceive their progression through the sky.
Figure 2.1: Schematic representation of the Solar system (the sizes are to scale but the distances are not.) Credit: “Planets2013” by WP – Planets2008.jpg. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons
Figure 2.2: The planets of our solar system shown scaled between them for comparison. Earth is the little blue-green one in the second row from the front, on the left. Credit: “Size planets comparison” by Lsmpascal – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons
Planets do not emit their own light, unlike stars, and instead they reflect the light of the Sun, as does the Moon. There are 8 planets in our solar system (Figure 2.1) (from closest to furthest to the Sun): Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune. They all have very different sizes, as can be seen in Figure 2.2. Our planet, Earth, is a relatively small planet compared to the gaseous giants Jupiter and Saturn.
As we already mentioned, the stars we see in the night sky are other suns in our galaxy. In the past 20 years we have gone from knowing about the existence of just the planets in our Solar System, to knowing about the existence of over 1800 other worlds around other stars. And that’s only the stars which are close enough to be studied by our telescopes today! We now think that most stars have planets orbiting them, just like our own Sun does.2
Like we mentioned in the previous sections, there are billions of stars like our own Sun in our galaxy. Stars are born in dense clouds of hydrogen and helium gas, which collapse due to the force of gravity. When the gas becomes very dense, it also becomes very hot, and begins to glow, much like a rod of iron glows red when heated.
Figure 3.1: Stars of different sizes. Our star, the Sun, is the little dot on the top left. Source: StargazingTonight
Stars come in many different sizes, as depicted in Figure 3.1, and our Sun is actually quite a small star compared to those found in the Galaxy. You can also see a video of the incredibly different sized stars found in the Universe in the link below:
Stars, are born, live out their lives, and one day eventually run out of fuel and die. Depending on their size, some stars die in impressive explosive deaths, called supernova, while others die silently, slowly fading away until they no longer shine. Throughout their lifetime stars consume hydrogen and helium in their cores, and produce heavier elements. These are released in their host galaxies when, the stars which are large enough, undergo violent supernova explosions at the end of their lives. These heavier elements are then mixed in other gas clouds which create new stars, as well as the planets orbiting them. This second hand material is what also made up our own Solar system, our Sun and planet Earth, and eventually us. Everything we are made up of was once cooked up in the core of a large, dense star, so it is fair to say that we are all indeed made of stardust!
From the beginning of human history people have recorded the patterns made by stars in the sky. These patterns are called constellations. Each civilisation throughout history has identified its own constellations, and the earliest recordings of constellations are believed to date back some 17 300 years3, in a cave system in the south of France.
Although a group of stars can make up a constellation, that does not necessarily mean that those stars are close together in space. In general they only appear to be close together in the sky due to perspective, i.e. our two-dimensional view of objects positioned in three dimensional space (see an example in Figure 3.2.)
The ancient Greeks described over half of the 88 constellations which are recognised by the International Astronomical Union, and a number of constellations were later added by European astronomers who “discovered” new constellations on their travels to the southern hemisphere3.
Figure 3.2: Top row: The Orion constellation on the sky (lines drawn) and on the right an artist’s rendition of Orion’s constellation. Bottom row: The constellation is made up of stars which are not necessarily close to each other in space, they just appear that way when seen in two dimensions. Credit: Top left: “OrionCC” by Till Credner. Top right: “Urania’s Mirror – Orion” by Sidney Hall (via John Dolby). Bottom: Don Dixon
Figure 4.1: On the left we see a typical spiral galaxy, and on the right a typical Elliptical galaxy. In the images we also see other distant galaxies. Credit: (Left) European Space Agency & NASA (Right) J. Blakeslee (Washington State University)
As there are billions of stars in our galaxy, so there are also billions of galaxies in the Universe. Galaxies are made up of stars, gas and dust, and the poorly understood dark matter, a form of matter which does not emit electromagnetic waves (i.e. light – hence the name “dark” matter). In the left of Figure 0.1, a picture taken by the Hubble Space Telescope, we see a tiny patch of sky, just a millionth of the entire celestial sphere, in which are contained a few thousands of galaxies of different sizes and shapes. Imagine then how many galaxies there are in the entire Universe!
There are two main families of galaxies: disk-like spirals and ellipticals shown on the left and right of Figure 4.1 respectively. They have different shapes and sizes, because they were formed in different ways, and various events shaped their final appearance. In fact, galaxies interact a lot with one another, and these often violent interactions shape what they look like today (Figure 4.2).
Figure 4.2: Interacting galaxies: On the left we see two disc-like spiral galaxies merging together, and on the right we see a giant spiral galaxy in the process of swallowing up a smaller galaxy. Credit: NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)
Our home galaxy, the Milky Way, belongs to the family of spiral galaxies, with the shape of a thin disk (right of Figure 4.3). When we look at the night sky and see the Milky Way stretching across the sky, what we are looking at is our galaxy as seen from the inside (left of Figure 4.3).
From the southern hemisphere the sky is that bit more interesting, as from there we can see the centre of our Milky Way galaxy (the bright region in the Milky Way as seen on the left of Figure 4.3).
Figure 4.3: Left: The Milky Way as seen from Earth. We can see the dusty, bright disc running along the sky. Right: An artist’s conception of the Milky Way with the position of the Sun marked on it. Credit: Left: Justin Ng – National Geographic. Right: NASA/JPL-Caltech/R. Hurt
It’s thought that the Universe began 13.8 billion years ago, in what is known as the Big Bang. Shortly after the Big Bang the Universe was very hot with the same density everywhere, with just tiny ripples in this density (think of very calm water, with small ripples on its surface). These ripples created a slight accumulation of matter in some places, and from then on it was gravity’s job to do the rest. Wherever there was slightly more matter, the force of gravity accumulated even more matter in those regions, and this soon became a runaway process, with more and more material accumulating together in “clumps”. In these dense regions with lots of matter and gas, stars formed and these were the “seeds” of what are today the galaxies that we see in the night sky with our telescopes. Galaxies also gather together due to their gravitational pull, in what are known as groups and clusters of galaxies. Our own Milky Way is found in what is known as “the Local Group” which contains more than 50 galaxies, and the Local Group itself is found in the Virgo Supercluster. Those are just a few more lines you could add to your address next time you write it down: Earth, the Solar System, Milky Way, Local Group, Virgo Supercluster, The Universe.
Our wonderful Constellation team is made up of both GalileoMobile members and collaborators to the project. Some of our team members are located in South America; they represent a direct point of contact for the schools and make up our local network. Meet them all here!
Ana P. Mikler Celis
Argelander-Institut für Astronomie (Germany)
CEA Saclay (France)
Institut d’Astrophysique de Paris (France)
Observatório Nacional (Brazil)
CEA Saclay (France)
Fabio del Sordo
Yale University (USA) / NORDITA (Sweden)
Laboratoire d’Astrophysique de Marseille (France)
Formerly Università di Padova (Italy)
Jorge Rivero González
European Physical Society (France)
Kizzy Alves Resende
Instituto de Astronomia, Geofísica e Ciências Atmosféricas - IAG/USP (Brazil)
Ludmila Bolina Costa
Instituto de Astronomia, Geofísica e Ciências Atmosféricas - IAG/USP (Brazil)
Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics (Germany)
María Dasí Espuig
Imperial College London (United Kingdom)
Georgia State University (USA) / Université Joseph Fourier (France)
SIM, CENTRA/FEUP, FCUP (Portugal)
CEA Saclay / IAP (France)
Gymnase du Bugnon / LMH-EPFL (Switzerland)
Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics (Germany)
Núcleo de Astrofísica Teórica at Universidade Cruzeiro do Sul (Brazil)
Instituto de Astronomía Teórica y Experimental (Argentina)
Instituto de Astronomía Teórica y Experimental (Argentina)
Observatório do Valongo, Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro (Brazil)
Maria do Carmo Barcellos
Campinas State University (Brazil)
Patrícia Figueiró Spinelli
Museu de Astronomia e Ciências Afins (Brazil)
Instituto de Física, Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro (Brazil)
Universidad de la Serena (Chile) / Observatorio Nacional (Brazil)
Aida del Pilar Becerra Becerra
Carlos Augusto Molina
Planetario de Medellín (Colombia)
Edison Ramirez Gutierrez
ISAAC – Innovación Social Aplicada a las Artes y las Ciencias (Colombia)
Universidad Sergio Arboleda, UECCI (Colombia)
Universidad de Los Andes (Colombia)
Cristóbal Cobo Rafael Arizaga
Director of the Quitsato project
University of Pittsburgh (USA)
Escuela Politécnica Nacional (Ecuador) / Universidade de São Paulo (Brazil)
Ana María Milla
Planetarium Cusco (Peru)
Scientific Director of Planetarium Cusco / Peruvian representative at the Liga Iberoamericana de Astronomía
Constellation Proposal (PDF)
Official 2015 proposal for the Constellation project.
Guide of the Space Explorer (PDF)
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GalileoMobile is a purely non-profit initiative. With your contribution you will help us in future expeditions.
You can make donations by regular wire transfer to the account of our partners the Universe Awareness (UNAWE) foundation. This option permits official invoices to be sent for tax refund.
Bank: ABN AMRO, Stationsweg, Postbus 66, 2300 AB, Leiden, The Netherlands
Account number: 616734948
If an invoice for the donations is desired please write to our email contact (firstname.lastname@example.org).