Teachers might want to defer plans for a field trip to the planetarium in favor of this new site. “Telescopes in Education,” from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), offers classroom access to the stars via the internet. The site works by allowing K-12 teachers and their pupils to control a telescope located at the Mount Wilson Observatory in Southern California. Images can be downloaded to a remote user of the telescope in five minutes or less, depending on the speed of the user’s modem. The images then can be stored in the user’s computer for later image processing and study. To participate in the program, schools must purchase a special astronomy-related software package and must be able to link to the site with a modem. Educational discounts are available to interested schools. Upon implementation of the program, teachers can make appointments with the observatory for their students to view stars, galaxies, and nebulae on any night of the week. NASA scientists hope the program will improve students’ knowledge of astronomy, mathematics, and astrophysics while at the same time strengthening their computer skills. Already, students have used the program to help revise the exact orbital location of Pluto and to rediscover a variable star. More than 100 school and educational groups have participated in the project thus far.

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