I had Bruce and Kelly, the astronomers, on Tuesday. We made star wheels to show us how the stars move across the sky at different times of the night year round. We talked about how the position of the earth’s orbit around the sun affected what we could see in the night sky.

We did a demonstration to see why the sky looked different at different times of the night and different times of the year. We made a circle around the table and put a water bottle representing the sun in the middle, and we were the earth. When we turned toward the table (and the sun) it was daytime, and when we turned away from the sun it was nighttime. In the nighttime position we could all see different things around the room. Then we traveled around the table like we were turning to a different time of the year. When we turned away from the sun (nighttime) then we saw different things then we saw the first time.

We also made bottle rockets out of clay, straws and a plastic water bottle. My rocket shot from one end of the room to the other. It was fun making them and seeing how far they would shoot.

On Wednesday we went outside with telescopes to look at the stars and different planets. We saw Venus, Mars and Saturn. When I looked at Saturn through the telescope I saw the rings around it and I thought that was really cool.

On Thursday we had Bruce and Kelly show us the different kinds of telescopes and lenses and how to remember one from another. A Refractor telescope has two lenses. We learned that a concave lens gets thinner in the middle like it’s caving in, and a convex lens gets thinner on the outside edge. A Reflector telescope uses a curved mirror.

Then we made a pocket solar system. I still have it in my cabin. It’s interesting that Mercury, Venus, Earth and Mars are all in a little clump close to the the sun and all the other planets are spread out around the solar system.

On Thursday night we went outside with telescopes just like we did on Wednesday. I saw Jupiter. You could see two little lines going around it. Courtesy NASA/CasiniI also saw two of Jupiter’s little moons. Then I went over to another telescope and saw Mizar and Alcor. Mizar was blue, Alcor was yellow and bigger and I could see both of them even without the telescope. At one point in the night I saw a golden shooting star that made a half circle in the night sky.

It was really fun and interesting learning about the stars and I also liked looking through the telescopes and seeing stars and planets. I glad I came to camp this week to learn about astronomy.

(Editors Note: On Friday Maddy joined me and about 20 others for a late-night observing session. Maddy outlasted most of the others, including her parents, rumored to have fallen asleep on the mattresses provided for the meteor observers. We kept finding interesting things through the eyepiece including several galaxies, clusters and nebulae. Keep looking up Maddy! You’re destined for greatness!)

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30 Responses to “My Astronomy Week at Medomak Camp – by Maddy Weiss, age 9”

  1. NewEnglandBob

    Terrific article, Maddy!

  2. Bruce

    Nice article Maddy! Do you use a telescope at home or in school?

  3. P. Michael Hutchins

    I’m glad you got to go to the camp, too, Maddy!

    It’s wonderful to see people get excited about learning things!

    I recommend that you and your parents keep your eyes out for people who are excited about what they do, and grab every opportunity to go do it with them.

    There’s no greater joy in life than learning about stuff..
    ..well, unless it’s making things based on what you’ve learned.

    Astronomy is sure a great place for that, but there’s lotsa others, too. I, for instance, love rocks and how they formed (Mineralogy and Geology) – and polishing them (Lapidary), gardening and growing houseplants (Botany, Biology) – and, believe it or not, Math – and computers.

    There’s cool stuff in every direction!

  4. Nitin

    Awesome! Maybe someday you’ll build real rockets :-)

  5. Virginia

    Great article, Maddy. It sounds like you really learned alot! Thank you for the link to the bottle rocket. I’m going to make one myself!

  6. BrianD

    Great article. Keep looking up, Maddy!

  7. Virginia

    Nice job Bruce and Kelly!

  8. GaryW

    Wonderful article Maddy! My interest in science and astronomy started when I was just your age! Keep looking up! Sounds like you had a wonderful time!

  9. marsha

    Maddy, very interesting article. I love all your observations about color and patterns and your general enthusiasm for learning new things. My husband and I love learning about astronomy and your article is causing me to learn more. Thanks!

  10. Peter JB Teague

    Hi, Maddy-
    It sounds like you’re having a great time looking at the stars, planets, and other objects in the sky!

    I’m an amateur astronomer but I actually work in Connecticut at the building where the Hubble Space Telescope was made! We make lots of BIG lenses and mirrors here, although my job as an Engineer is making sure our laboratories and “cleanrooms” are super clean so the optics can be made without spots or defects.

    Keep looking up and you will always be learning something new! ;-)

    Clear skies!
    +Peter+

  11. Sarah Rolph

    What a nice story! I enjoyed reading this.

    I remember the first time I saw Saturn through a telescope. It was very exciting!

    Have fun with astronomy. I guess you will be building your own telescope before long! Maybe you will discover a new comet or something!

    Thanks for sharing your experience.

  12. Bruce Berger

    Thanks for all the great comments everyone.

  13. Bernie

    Hi Maddy,

    You seem really interested in astronomy- I’m glad that you enjoyed Bruce and Kelly’s activities in Maine last week! They are both great amateur astronomers.

    I teach astronomy to fourth-graders in my town, and wish you were in one of my classes! Keep being curious about astronomy and the rest of the world- and remember that a person who is interested in a lot of things is also an interesting person!

  14. Ken L

    Hi Maddy,
    You write well, and it sounds like you had a great week at a pretty special camp. It was fun to read about what you did, and I hope you get to do lots more science and astronomy! The world needs smart, interested people like you!
    –Ken

  15. Scott

    That’s a nice article, Maddy! Science can be fun, can’t it?

  16. Michael Shaffer

    I’m glad to hear your passion for astronomy and other scientific disciplines. I’ve enjoyed astronomy since I was very young and guided by my father. I was awestruck by the Sun, moon, planets, and other stars! That feeling of awe has never faded. There’s always something new to learn and always something you’ll be able to share with new people. Because of your blog entry, I made a pocket solar system for the first time tonight!

  17. Marco Minozzo

    Great article, Maddy !!!!

    Keep up your Astronomy’s interest and learn a lot of about the beautiful sky.

    Greetings of Brazilian Astronomers

  18. Marco Minozzo

    Great article, Maddy!

    Keep your Astronomy’s interest and learn a lot of about the beautiful sky.

    Cheers
    The Brazilian Astronomers

  19. Xin

    Hi! Maddy,

    It is a nice article and we are expecting your next one!

  20. Fenny

    Enjoyed your writing very much, Maddy. I believe you explain better than Bruce does. You article reminded me of the first time I looked at the moon through a telescope with Bruce’s help.I am sure you will soon explore a different world you’ve never seen before

  21. Cartier Ramalho

    Nice, Maddy. Congratulations!

  22. Zhang Di

    I visited the observatory in 2007, Bruce showed us how to watch the sky and stars by telescope which is terrific and exciting.

    Maddy’s article is great , the detail and good expression brought me back to the wonderful experience . Hope Maddy can continue to enjoy the great time to play
    with the telescope, sky, stars, moon, etc.

    and Thanks for our great friend Bruce to make all those happen.

  23. Zhang Di

    I visited the observatory in 2007, Bruce showed us how to watch the sky and stars by telescope which is terrific and exciting.

    Maddy’s article is great , the detail and good expression brought me back to the wonderful experience . Hope Maddy can continue to enjoy the great time to play
    with the telescope, sky, stars, moon, etc.

    also Thanks for our great friend Bruce to make all those happen.

  24. Andy

    What a great read. Brings me back to when I was 9 and full of wonder about the sky. Keep looking up Maddy – there’s so much to learn and discover!

  25. Mike

    Sounds like you had a good experience up there in Maine. Bruce is a good teacher. Hopefully you will continue to look up and all around you. There is beauty in the night that so many don’t get to see and you are so fortunate to have had your eyes and mind opened up to it. Enjoy the views and think about making your own telescope some day. That is very fun to do.

  26. Bruce Berger

    Hi Maddy! Hope you’re reading this!

    I just wanted you to know how popular this article has become. Although most of the comments are from people in the Boston area, I notice that some people from Brazil and China are now enjoying your article.

    This weblog has become so popular that I think it would be a great activity to do whenever I help people learn more about the night sky.

    Bruce

  27. Neil

    Excellent article, Maddy! I hope you continue to enjoy astronomy for many years to come.

    …Neil

  28. Ty Wait

    Thank you for taking the time to write start a blog, Maddy. It was fun reading it.

    I’ve been interested in astronomy since I was a little boy about your age. I had a small telescope and loved to learn about objects in the sky. I also loved reading books about the stars and science fiction stories about traveling to the stars, and I still do. The universe is an amazing place, and you’re part of it. Keep exploring your larger “home”. We still have so much to learn about it!

    I also want to thank you for mentioning building a pocket solar system. I followed the link in your article and I’ll make one this weekend. It’s a great way to learn, as well as to show others, how large our planetary “neighborhood” is.

    Stay curious, and I wish you many, many nights of dark skies!

    -Ty

  29. Joe Bergeron

    Hello Maddy. It’s always great to see a kid who is interested in astronomy and in science in general. I hope I get to do some stargazing with you sometime.

  30. Maddy Weiss

    Thank you sooo much for all the wonderful comments. I am truly inspired by astronomy. Thank you again.

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