If you have trouble viewing this email, read the online version.


Education Newsletter

CSIRO Astronomy and Space Science


31 January 2011



Welcome to the first edition of the CSIRO Astronomy and Space Science Education Newsletter for 2011. In this issue you'll find:

If you have any questions about CSIRO's astronomy education and outreach activities, please don't hesitate to contact me.

Robert Hollow
Education Officer
CSIRO Astronomy and Space Science

Astrophysics for Physics Teachers Workshop

This one-day workshop is aimed at teachers of HSC Physics and covers material in The Cosmic Engine core topic and the Astrophysics option. It is on Friday 25 March at CASS Headquarters at Marsfield, Sydney. Sessions include background theory, current research and practical activities. Presenters from CASS and AAO include astronomers and experienced astronomy educators. Participants also receive a range of classroom resources and software. Cost is $110. For more information and to register visit the workshop page.

Back to top

Astronomy from the Ground Up!

Come and spend three stimulating and rewarding days learning new approaches to astronomy teaching at the iconic Parkes Observatory. Astronomy from the Ground Up! is our annual teacher workshop for all science teachers on 20 - 22 May 2011. It targets the content and skills of junior Science syllabi from around Australia whilst also providing depth and enrichment for teachers of senior physics. Teachers tour the radio telescope, meet professional astronomers and have lectures on different aspects of astronomy including some of the latest discoveries.

CSIRO's Parkes 64-m radio telescope. Photo: David McClenaghan, CSIRO.

Emphasis is placed on practical and hands-on activities to take back and use in the classroom. You will also explore the wonderful dark night skies with optical telescopes. Participants receive an extensive range of resources. The workshop also fulfils the requirements of the international Galileo Teacher Training Program (external link).

Back to top

Space Open Day, Sunday 20 March
Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex

NASA has dubbed 2011 the Year of the Solar System. This year five new missions will be leaving the Earth for destinations across our solar system, while after many years of travel, several spacecraft arrive at other celestial bodies.

To coincide with the arrival of NASA's MESSENGER mission - to become the first spacecraft to enter orbit around the planet Mercury - the Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex (CDSCC) will be holding its very popular Space Open Day. The Canberra Complex is run by CSIRO as part of NASA's Deep Space Network providing vital two-way contact between Earth and over 40 robotic missions exploring the Solar System and beyond.

The Space Open Day is an opportunity for the public to take bus and walking tours for a close up look at the space tracking station. Visitors are fully guided by CDSCC staff and stops during the onsite tours will allow time for Q&A, close up looks each of the antennas and plenty of great photo opportunities (bring your cameras!). Four antenna 'dishes' dominate the Complex including the largest antenna in the southern hemisphere - Deep Space Station 43 - at 70 metres in diameter and 22 storeys high, and Deep Space Station 46 which received and relayed the first TV images of Neil Armstrong walking on the Moon.

With the arrival of the MESSENGER spacecraft at Mercury, there will be special talks and screenings of the latest pictures as they arrive, plus presentations on current discoveries at Mars and Saturn. Displays in the Visitor Centre look at the past, present and future of space exploration and there will be films and activities for the kids.

Entry to the Space Open Day is FREE and there is no need to book. Further information is on our website or call 02 6201 7880.

Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex
- Discovery Drive, Tidbinbilla ACT We are located 35kms southwest of Canberra. Approx. 45 minute drive. From the north, come via the Cotter and Paddys River Rds. From the south via Tuggeranong, Point Hutt Crossing and Tidbinbilla Rd.

Back to top

CASS Astrophysics Session at STAV/AIP VCE Physics Teachers' Conference

CASS Education Officer Rob Hollow will be presenting Session A2, Effective Teaching for VCE Astronomy & Astrophysics, 10.05 - 11.05 am at the STAV/AIP VCE Physics Teachers' Conference at Monash University on Friday 18 February. There are more astronomy-related workshop sessions from other presenters and participants

For more details visit the STAV Conference page.

Back to top

CASS/VSSEC/Scienceworks Teacher Workshop for VCE Astrophysics and Astronomy

CASS, in collaboration with the Victorian Space Science Education Centre (VSSEC) and Scienceworks is running a one-day workshop on Thursday 28 April at Scienceworks, Spotswood, for Victorian physics teachers on teaching the VCE Astronomy and Astrophysics units. The workshop includes a session in the Melbourne Planetarium at Sciencworks.

Details and bookings will soon be available on the VSSEC wesbite.

Back to top

School Visits at Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex

The Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex (CDSCC) is a part of NASA’s Deep Space Network (DSN) and is managed in Australia by CSIRO Astronomy and Space Science (CASS). The Complex has an excellent visitor education centre which is open to the public 7 days a week, 9am to 5pm and entry is free. The Visitor Centre runs fully-guided education programs for students (K-12). A typical 90-minute program covers the history and role of CDSCC in space exploration, looks at the robotic spacecraft missions that are exploring the Solar System and beyond, and helps students and educators learn how they can make their own discoveries.

Bookings are essential as the popular education programs fill fast. Programs run Mon-Fri, from 9am to 4.30pm, with last booking at 3pm (other times by special arrangement).

Contact: Glen Nagle or Candy Bailey on (02) 6201 7828/7968 (bh).

Back to top


All of the data gathered in the last three years of PULSE@Parkes observations is now freely available online for analysis using our new online module.

The module includes an interactive tutorial and guides students through the data analysis needed to determine the dispersion measure of a selected pulsar. This is then used to estimate the distance to the pulsar and locate it on a projection of the Galaxy. There are opportunities for student investigations and further exploration. The module operates through most web browsers and does not require any special software to be installed.

Don't forget, you can follow along with any observing session via our twitter feed; PULSEatParkes and can now view a live data feed and webcam views from Parkes during an observing session.

Our next observing sessions are 11.00am - 1pm AEDT on Monday 7 and Wednesday 16 February. Dates for observing sessions for April - September 2011 will be announced shortly.

Back to top

50th Anniversary of Parkes Radio Telescope

The CSIRO Parkes Observatory is celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Parkes radio telescope by giving members of the public a rare opportunity to tour the Dish. On the weekend of the 8th and 9th of October 2011, the Parkes Observatory will host an open weekend, offering guided tours up and through the famous radio telescope. The open days showcase the achievements of the Observatory as a world-leading astronomical telescope as well as its roles in supporting some of the most significant space missions in history.

In addition to telescope tours there will be regular talks by astronomers on a range of astronomy related topics, Q & A sessions with astronomy and engineering experts, a look behind the scenes of the Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder (ASKAP), and many other fun family activities.

On the Saturday evening (8th October), CSIRO in conjunction with the Macquarie Philharmonia, and Parkes Under the Stars Inc, will present 'Opera at the Dish - From Bellini to Broadway - an enchanting evening of opera and musical theatre’, to help celebrate the 50th anniversary of the telescope.

For further details visit the Parkes radio telescope website.

Back to top

Discover the SKA

Vastly more sensitive than the world’s best existing radio-telescopes, the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) will be one of the largest and most ambitious international science projects ever devised. It will help us answer fundamental questions about the evolution of the Universe.

The SKA itself will be over fifty times more sensitive than the world’s largest existing radio telescopes. It will be able to see back to the birth of the Universe and the emergence of the first stars and galaxies.

The SKA project will need many engineers, IT specialists, astronomers and technologists over its estimated fifty-year life. It will lead to the development of industries and research opportunities that we have not yet even considered.

In support of the Australia and New Zealand Square Kilometre Array (anzSKA) bid to host the SKA, the Department of Innovation, Industry, Science and Research (DIISR) invites teachers, schools and their communities to participate in Discover SKA – a festival of 500 events across Australia and New Zealand between 1 April and 30 June 2011.

Discover SKA aims to raise awareness and understanding of the SKA project, and is coordinated by Questacon (The National Science and Technology Centre) and the New Zealand Fonterra Science Roadshow.

It provides teachers and schools an opportunity to share in the growing excitement around the SKA and join with our nation’s science, government, industry and education leaders in highlighting the significance and benefits of the SKA project to the students of today, who will be the leaders of tomorrow.

There are a variety of ways you can get your students, class, year level, school or community involved in Discover SKA from simple classroom lessons to whole-school events. It is up to you and the resources available to you. The SKA will lead to advances in information technology, renewable energy, manufacturing and other areas, providing a wealth of topic areas to explore. Suggestions for involvement include:

  • Complete lessons or investigations from the Window to the Universe teaching resource
  • Invite a guest speaker or host a scientist-in-residence. Assistance with sourcing guest speakers is available if required.
  • Plan an excursion to a Planetarium or Observatory in your local area, coupled with a class discussion about the SKA.
  • Link with a local amateur astronomy society and hold a stargazing evening for students and parents.
  • Participate in astronomy-based teacher professional development sessions such as those hosted by CASS.
  • Hold a renewable energy challenge and explore different forms of renewable energy (linking to potential power sources for the SKA)
  • Hold a school movie night and show radio astronomy-based movies such as The Dish or Contact, and invite a guest speaker to introduce the evening and speak about the SKA.
  • Encourage students to attend Discover SKA events in your area.

The www.ska.edu.au website has a wealth of information about the SKA, including the Windows to the Universe educational resource for teaching years 9-10 available for free download.

The website will be updated shortly with updated and new information materials and resources, along with an event calendar and registration form.

For more information or to register your interest in participating, contact:
Annie Harris, Discover SKA Project Coordinator
Ph 02 6270 2875 or aharris@questacon.edu.au

Back to top

Gemini Schools Astronomy Contest

In 2011, students in Australia have a chance to use an hour of observing time on one of the world's largest optical telescopes, the 8-metre Gemini South telescope in the Andes Mountains of Chile.

How? By picking an object in the Southern sky and writing a winning explanation of why it would be interesting to digitally photograph.

The Glowing Eye nebula winning image for the 2009 contest.

The contest is open to any Australian students in Years 5-12, as well as inter-school groups and clubs of students, provided each entry has a clearly designated submitting school and teacher. Entries may be written individually or in groups, but must be submitted by a teacher.

Entries must be received by Friday 13 May 2011.
For more details visit the contest website.

Back to top

GLOBE at Night

GLOBE at Night is an annual citizen-science campaign that encourages people all over the world to record the brightness of their night sky. For two weeks in late February/early March, when the Moon is not out during the early evening and the constellation of Orion can be seen by everyone everywhere, children and adults match the appearance of Orion with 7 star maps of progressively fainter stars found on the website. They then submit their measurements (e.g., which star map they chose) on-line with their date, time and location.

This year there are two opportunities for Australian observers to get involved.

  • Campaign #1 (for both hemispheres): Feb. 21-March 6 (using Orion).
  • Campaign #2 (for the Southern Hemisphere): March 24- April 6 (using Crux or Leo).

For more details including a handy Teachers Pack, interactive online tools and more visit the GLOBE at Night website.

Back to top

Your Subscription

You can update or delete your newsletter subscription details at any time by contacting robert.hollow@csiro.au

Please be assured that you will only receive CASS Education E-Newsletter and your email address won't be used for any other purpose.

Back to top



Some of the new ASKAP antennas.

Quick Links

CSIRO Australia Telescope National Facility website
Australia Telescope Outreach and Education website
Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex
CASS Teacher Workshops
CSIRO Education



Aerial view of the Canberra depp Space Communication Complex.

[Copyright Notice] [Privacy Policy]
This newsletter is published by Robert Hollow, Education Officer
CSIRO Astronomy and Space Science

Phone: +61 2 9372 4247 - Email: robert.hollow@csiro.au