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Inquiry 3: How Can I Learn More About Telescopes?

Scientific and technological advances have caused telescopes to change significantly over the years. However, it is still unclear exactly what the earliest telescope was like since there is still some confusion about who the inventor of the instrument was. Research Galileo Galilei, Johannes Kepler, Hans Lippershey, or James Metius and share what you discover by presenting it to your class. Then have your class decide who, if anyone, should be given credit for inventing the telescope and why.

Design an instrument that summarizes your findings and asks others (parents, friends, other teachers and students) whom they think the first person to use a telescope was. In addition, discuss if it is important to give credit at all. Is it important to know who the first person was to use a telescope or is the invention itself the issue?

Current Issues - At a cost of two billion dollars the Hubble telescope is the most expensive scientific instrument ever built. Built jointly by NASA and the European Space Agency, it was designed to allow astronomers to look at the universe in new and different ways. However, there have been some problems with the telescope. Research the problems scientists have had with this telescope and how scientists and astronauts fixed these problems.

Writing - The Hubble space telescope just had a tune-up. Just like your car, the giant telescope that orbits Earth needs a checkup every year or two. The Hubble telescope uses instruments called gyroscopes to point it at stars and galaxies and to keep it in place while a picture is taken. It has six gyroscopes, and needs at least three working perfectly in order to point itself correctly. Recently four of the six gyroscopes broke, and had to be repaired.

Research how the astronauts fixed this problem and prepare a "repair journal" that includes what they would do daily during a space mission to prepare and repair the telescope. John Grunsfeld, an astronaut on the space shuttle mission to Hubble kept a repair journal. Read his journal on the Internet.

Working in Space - One of the difficult things about working in space is doing work with gloved hands and spacesuits. During the recent Hubble telescope repair mission, astronauts had difficulty with the seemingly simple task of using a screwdriver to remove or tighten a screw. Design a task for a partner to do while wearing gloves. For example, you could use gardener's gloves or work gloves to simulate the gloves astronauts use and then try to put a nut on a bolt, use a screwdriver to put a screw into a block of wood, or some other job that they may have to do. Write a paragraph in your science notebook describing what you experienced while doing this activity.

Make a Telescope - To do this you will need lenses, tape, scissors, cardboard tubes of varying diameters, and flat pieces of cardboard that may be cut to be the "lens holders." Experiment with the lenses and the two cardboard tubes of different diameters. Put the tubes together so that one of the tubes can move back and forth inside of the other one and devise a way to attach the lenses at opposite ends of the tube. Share your telescope with your class.



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