Big Telescopes

A global family of giant telescopes - on the ground and in space - provides an inspirational context for STEM learning. This collection of resources linked in to astronomy cover the following topics within the curriculum: telescopes, the electromagnetic spectrum, infra-red, redshift and Doppler shift, image processing, supernovae, Hubble’s Law, measuring distances in the Universe, H-R diagrams, galaxies and exoplanets.

Telescopes such as the Gaia Spacecraft, which was launched in December 2013, can be highly topical science news stories. Others, such as the European Extremely Large Telescope which will see “First Light” in 2022, are huge long-term international endeavours. The telescopes are complementary, operating at different wavelengths and with different fields of view.

In addition to the stunning images they produce, they offer three main contexts for teaching physics, chemistry, computing and even the biology of alien life:

• The science of astronomy, ranging from the movements of the night sky to the lifecycle of stars and the study of exoplanets.
• The technological challenges of giant telescopes and their instruments.
• The demands of their extreme locations including rocket launches and operating in space or on high-altitude mountaintops.

This collection of resources has been recommended by ESERO UK Space Ambassadors.

Resources

All about Telescopes

Produced by ESERO-UK, these short video clips look at a range of different telescopes and give advice and guidance on choosing a telescope for your school, as well as advice on how to make use of remote telescopes in school and also include an introduction to the Hubble Space Telescope. Presented by...

Space-based Astronomy Educator Guide

These resources from NASA look at why telescopes are put into space. Students build simple spectroscopes and telescopes to learn the answer to this question. This educator guide is divided into units of study that include science demonstrations, lesson plans and student sheets so that students may learn about Earth...

Atacama Large Millimetre/Submillimetre Array (ALMA)

From the European Southern Observatory, this video describes ALMA, the largest astronomical project currently being built.

ALMA is a state-of-the-art telescope to study light with wavelengths of about one millimetre, shining from some of the coldest objects in the Universe. It is a cooperation of the...

Very Large Telescope

From the European Southern Observatory (ESO), this video describes the construction and work of the Very Large Telescope (VLT). The VLT was made in Europe and will be erected on Cerro Paranal, a 2,640 metre high mountain in the Atacama desert in northern Chile. This video describes the VLT project and some of the...

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