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Universe in the Classroom

Welcome to the Universe in the Classroom! This electronic educational newsletter is for teachers and other educators around the world who want to help students of all ages learn more about the wonders of the universe through astronomy. Read more about the Universe in the Classroom and find out about how you can help by writing an article or making a donation.

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Current Issue: Winter 2018

From Pinholes to Space Telescopes: Using the Galileoscope to Explore Light, Optics, and How Telescopes Work

by Brian Kruse (Astronomical Society of the Pacific)


While most people have a basic idea of how lenses work, they frequently don’t know how telescopes use lenses and mirrors together to organize light to form images of distant objects. Through a simple sequence of activities, learners of any age can explore the behavior of light through the use of a simple pinhole viewer and lenses of differing focal lengths. Exploring the properties of both light and lenses will help learners incrementally develop a more complete mental model of how light behaves, and how lenses work together in a simple refracting telescope.

In this edition of The Universe in the Classroom, explore an instructional sequence where learners investigate what pinhole viewers and giant telescopes have in common through using lenses to construct a basic model of a telescope.