Thirty-five GCSE Astronomy students were excited to attend a presentation by Andy Newsam, Professor of Astronomy Education and Engagement at the Astrophysics Research Institute, Liverpool John Moores University.
The Astrophysics Research Institute is one of the world’s leading authorities in the field and Professor Newsam shared some of his extensive research with Mr Barrett’s class, all of whom are studying the optional GCSE as an extra-curricular activity after school and in their free time.
“What makes Astronomy unique is that we can’t change things, we can only observe them. So you have to learn to understand what you see,” he said. Observatories are traditionally on islands or rocky outcrops at the top of mountains because the wind, which can affect the straight path of light from a star and make it twinkle, tends to swirl around the base of a round object. This means there is a clearer view from a high point, he explained.
Students, ranging in age from 13 to 16, learnt that the colours of stars is an indication of their size and where they are in their lifecycle; new stars are hot and blue, while old stars are cooler and red. The class also had the opportunity to ask questions after the presentation, with a particular focus on black holes and a specific request for a definition of energy.
Aaron Barrett, Head of Science, said: “We were very fortunate to have a visitor of Andy’s calibre. He was the perfect combination of being an outstanding presenter whilst also being at the cutting edge in his field. I hope he will be able to visit us again as the students were captivated.”