Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Variable Star workshop on KIC 8462852 at VSSEC

A big shout out to the Victorian Space Science Education Centre and Telescopes in Schools program who hosted me yesterday running a variable star workshop with students and science teachers. The staff were magnificent and the centre is a real credit to all involved.

The Mars Science Mission experience is second to none and has to be seen to be believed. My workshop involved an introduction to variable star astronomy including a worksheet exercise of basic Visual Observation Photometry, culminating with the class comparing their "visual" observation with a highly precise VPhot measurement straight from one of's Telescopes.

Result: The class determined that KIC 08462852 was at its long term photometric brightness of 11.87 and provided another 32 data points to the AAVSO's long term study of the star. The target is subject of Dr Tabitha Boyajian et al's Paper KIC 8462852 - Where's the Flux (WTF) a Planet Hunter target from the Kepler Mission that exhibited some strange and difficult to explain behaviours.

In a week where Australia's STEM Future was front and centre, it was great to be out and about doing something about it.

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