Textbook, Curriculum Map, Recent Depth Studies and RTSRE.
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January 2018

Welcome to 2018! As per usual, we are updating and tinkering and promoting and mentoring.... the usual steam is coming out of the various OSS portals. We have a few cool things to present at the start of this year!
OSS Textbook
Textbooks are expensive. Even the cheap ones are expensive. However, there is one that is not, and that is the OpenStax Astronomy textbook. It has been written by a collaboration of many astronomy educators, led by notable figures in the field, Andrew Fraknoi, David Morrison and Sidney C. Wolff. It is aimed at the very large introductory astronomy university course market in the USA. It is 1200 pages long. It is high quality but probably not something you want to hand out to your Year 10 students if you don't want to overwhelm them (although I'd certainly provide it to your astronomy keen students!).

Our Solar Siblings hasn't had a textbook. We've relied mainly on the activities and the provided curriculum resources. But as the Openstax book is published with a Creative Commons Attribution License, we are free to remix and reuse the textbook as we see fit! And this we have. 
The relevant sections of the OpenStax textbook have been reorganised to flow well with the projects in Our Solar Siblings. This, by definition, makes it a wonderful (if detailed) background text for Year 10 level astronomy and for extended depth studies and projects in Year 11 & 12 as well as the International Baccaleureate. It certainly is great as background reading for the teacher!

The PDF of the textbook is available for distribution from the OSS website and also in the curriculum material distribution. And from this link
We are actively exploring options for hardcopy book versions which will be available for purchase on the OSS website.
Curriculum Mapping for Year 10
Now that the Australian Curriculum dust has settled a little bit, we have presented the explicit connections of the OSS Curriculum Materials to the requirements of the Australian Curriculum. 

This document is available on the website and also in the distributed curriculum materials. (and also here)
Three Student Research Projects from the IB
Recently marked  were three student research projects taken as "Extended Essays" within the International Baccaleureate in 2017. The returned marks were very high (although who got what mark isn't something we should be distributing on the mailing list!). The short abstracts and results are below:
An investigation of identifying Candidate Binary Open clusters for future study.

This investigation is intended to identify the top ten candidates for binary open cluster for future study.
The Dias Catalog excel sheet which contains around 2000 clusters and python were used to determine the binary open cluster candidates. This has been done by matching the clusters in pairs based on their characteristics such as age, distance to earth and their separation distance. The top ten candidates had been picked up according to their separation distance and their color images have been found from Aladin Lite which is a website containing the images celestial objects. In order to make sure the data in DiasCatalog is reliable, PsyoChrone was used to estimate their features such as age and distance through their J, K and H color index diagram which was based on the Two Micron All-Sky Survey and their m1 and m2 diagram which was based on the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer. These all lead to help me determine the following top ten binary open clusters candidates:
  • Kronberger 52 and Kronberger 68
  • NGC 3324 and NGC 3294
  • NGC 6840 and NGC 6843
  • Sigma Orionis and Trapezium
  • Hogg 20 and Hogg 21
  • Alessi 8 and Johansson 1
  • NGC 6169 and NGC 6178
  • Ruprecht 50 and Ruprecht 153
  • FSR 0977 and FSR 0979
  • Ruprecht 50 and Ruprecht 153
Determining the distance to NGC 1261 by analysis of
RR Lyrae variable stars

The method of analysing RR Lyrae variable stars has proven to yield highly accurate period-luminosity relations,
especially with the use of the near-infrared i and z filters from the SDSS filter set. This is helpful in that accurate measurements of magnitude can be determined of particular stars, which can therefore be used to determine their distance. In this investigation, the distance to the globular cluster NGC 1261 is calculated with the use of DAOPHOT photometry of 23 RR Lyrae variable stars with images specifically taken from the 1 meter telescope at the Siding Springs Observatory in New South Wales, Australia, at irregular intervals over a time period of 61 days. By attempting least squares fitting of the gathered magnitudes and epriod with the theoretical period-luminosity relationships as given in the C. Caceres and M. Catelan 2008 paper, a distance of 16.444 +/- 1.213 kpc has been calculated. Since this is the first use of real data with the given relationships, the scatter was found to be much larger than expected from the theoretical distribution. This data will go on further to help develop out understanding of RR Lyrae stars and their magnitude ranges and periods for future investigations on the understanding of our galaxy. 
Determining the distance to galaxy M31 by re-observing Hubble’s first variable star, M31-V1

This investigation is a modern investigation into Sir Edwin Hubble’s first discovered Cepheid variable in M31, M31-V1, which allowed for the discovery of the size of the universe.
Interestingly, limited work has been done since 1925 when first observed by Hubble. The aim of this investigation is to re-observe this variable star and provide a more modern result for the period of this star. The software used provided the apparent magnitude and the period of the star allowing for the calculation of the star’s distance to earth to take place. The period of this star was calculated to be (31.4301±0.03182) days according to the images taken with the green filter. This period was chosen over the other 2 period’s calculated using Peranso due to having more data points used to find it. The distance was calculated twice with one considering the effects of interstellar reddening and the extinction of light to show the effects of errors. The distance was calculated to be (807114±37170) parsecs. 
Donating makes you feel good
Even $5 a month is very helpful! More is exponentially more helpful ;)
RTSRE & iNATS Conference
Again this year (2018) after a very successful inaugural conference in San Diego in June 2017, the Robotic Telescopes, Student Research and Education Conference (RTSRE) is being held again. This time on the Big Island of Hawai'i from July 23 to July 27th, 2018. It is being co-located with another astronomy education conference workshop, the 'international Astronomy Teaching Summit' or iNATS for short.

If you are interested, please navigate to the RTSRE website and sign up for the newsletter... or better yet, register to go! It will certainly be a key conference in astronomy education and inquiry-based learning in 2018. And.... Hawaii ..... 
Big Island, Hilo, Hawai'i
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