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Monthly Star Gazing Guide

Orbax, Production Specialist for Physics Education Content, Department of Physics, University of Guelph

Greetings everyone! Orbax here. For those of you who don’t know me, I’ve been a member of the Department of Physics at the University of Guelph as an instructor for over 13 years now, and most recently as a production specialist in physics education content. Just like you, I love physics and I love teaching physics. I remember when I was young laying in my parents’ bed and poring through a book my father had from his university class on astronomy. I had very little understanding of what I was looking at in those pictures but I knew that the fantastic images in front of me showed a universe that laid just beyond the clouds, one that captured my imagination and that sent me down a path to becoming a physicist.

Since then my career has taken me to many places but I have never lost the fascination I’ve always held for outer space. I feel there are few things more galvanizing to scientists and interesting to the population as a whole than space exploration. As such, I’ve started a video series of monthly ‘Star Gazing Guides’. Very much in the tradition of the old Jack Horkheimer: Star Gazer series (does anyone else remember those?), we take a look around the night sky for upcoming events of interest. The videos are very much aimed at the general population with little or no astronomy experience, but as a physics teacher, I try to use a portion of the video to slyly backdoor some actual physics education content. We talk about wavelengths of light, rotational axes, basic planetary interactions, and try to explain things like the solstice or an eclipse.

I’ve been lucky enough to work with an incredible research team composed of Dr. Glynis Perrett of St. John's-Kilmarnock School and Karim Jaffer of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada Montreal Centre.

I’ve been loving creating these videos and I hope they can be useful as a resource or simply as something to get students excited about space. I would love to try and incorporate concepts or phenomena that would be of use in the classroom or of interest to your students so please don’t hesitate to send an email with ideas!

Until next time, have a science-tastic day!

Videos so far:
  • February 2022, where I explain how to find the North Star from the Big Dipper.
  • January 2022, includes an in-depth description of the James Webb Space Telescope.
  • December 2021, which includes an explanation of the solstice.
  • November 2021, where I explain lunar eclipses.
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