Every Picture Tells a Story – Solar observation activity

Solar observation activity.  Credits: GalileoMobile / Megha Bhatt

Solar observation activity. Credits: GalileoMobile / Megha Bhatt

By María Dasí Espuig

When a day was sunny we included a solar observation activity. We projected the image of the Sun on a piece of white paper, using the telescope. On a day when no sunspots are seen, the projected image just looks like a circle of light. During our two weeks in India, however, a huge group of sunspots developed on the Sun. On the circle of light we could see the group of sunspots as dark blobs. We even managed to see the details of the sunspots’ structure! Although I am a solar physicist, I had never done solar projection before since I usually work with satellite images … sad to say because, oh I will remember this day. I never thought it would be so exciting! No need of special equipment or instruments. Just a simple telescope and a piece of white paper and there it was! This activity also had an impact on the children, who were learning about sunspots for the first time and did not expect to see anything on the projected image of the Sun. I was showered with questions during the activity and was delighted to see their interest.

(This tiny story is part of the “Khagol Rath: GalileoMobile in India” photo-book that depicts GalileoMobile’s expedition to India back in 2012. You can download the book here.)

Every Picture Tells a Story: Our very own Galileo Galilei

Galileo Galilei Design concept. Credits: GalileoMobile / El Birque Animaciones

Galileo Galilei concept design. Credits: GalileoMobile / El Birque Animaciones

By Jorge Rivero González

When we were planning our first documentary movie - Bajo un Mismo Cielo – we decided that we wanted to open it with an animated short film aimed at showing the importance that astronomy had on ancient civilizations around the world as well as being appealing to children around the world. In addition, as the International Year of Astronomy 2009 commemorated the 400th anniversary of the birth of modern astronomy, we wanted to highlight the action that made it possible: the pointing of a telescope to the sky for the first time by Galileo Galilei in 1609.

The animated short film combines both classical and stop-motion techniques in order to discriminate between the scenes from the tour around astronomy on ancient civilizations and from Galileo’s studio, respectively.

One of the most difficult decisions that we faced was the design of Galileo itself. Here you can see one of the latest Galileo’s concept design. We tried to go further away from the image most people had from him, which probably comes from one of his famous portraits, and try to get a more cartoonish approach so we could connect better with children.

You can now watch the Short History of Ancient Astronomy animated short film here.

Every Picture Tells a Story: A magic moment

A magic moment. Credits: GalileoMobile / María Dasí Espuig

A magic moment. Credits: GalileoMobile / María Dasí Espuig

By Sandra Benítez Herrera

My favourite moment at the schools is the end of the introductory talk. This is the moment when I know magic is going to happen.

The students remain silent, expectant, while the GalileoMobile members distribute coloured pieces of paper: blue, yellow, green … Every kid receives one. But what for? Their serious faces seem to ask. “Everybody has a piece of paper? Good, then we are going to built our own telescope!” A quick rumour raises through the room, “are these people crazy? We know it is not possible to do that!” “Just fold the paper in a cylinder shape and look at the screen through it!”. The kids, obediently, though a bit skeptically, follow the instructions. “Hold it firm! Don’t let it go!”

The music begins. A few stars and nebulae slowly start flying around in the screen. Everybody in the room, including the teachers, are looking at them through their small, colourful little telescopes. “We are at the Orion Nebula now, look at those dark clouds! Stars are being born there!” A general “oh” runs across the room as a huge nebula travels directly to us and we pass through it like a fast rocket. Children laughter. I look around for a moment. Some of the kids open their mouths in a constant, silent exclamation. Others nervously jump in their chairs as different astronomical objects “approach” them. They all look so excited and happy. They are literally flying through the universe, there, in the same classroom they attend everyday. Magic.

“And know we are leaving our Galaxy! Say goodbye to the Milky Way!” All kids wave goodbye as we leave our home behind and enter a huge space filled with thousand of other worlds, and so we fly for another couple of minutes among them. Galaxies of all colours: spirals with their beautiful arms clearly defined, huge bright ellipticals, “we are passing by our closest neighbour Andromeda!”

The music reaching its maximum, uniting every of us in this cosmic journey, which now comes to its end as we directly fly towards a huge elliptical galaxy in the middle of a big cluster. “Oh, oh, here it comes!” All children repeat laughing “Oh, oh, it is coming!”. The video stops just as we are about to be devoured by this cosmic monster.  Explosion of voices and joy, what a cool trip! A shy little girl that asks, “can we do it again?”.

(You can recreate this magic moment by building your own telescope with a piece of paper and then clicking here.)