Sky Prizes 2009
Teaching PrizesFor Teachers, Instructors & Astronomers
400 hours of telescope time for teaching astronomy
The Prizes:2009 is the International Year of Astronomy, celebrating 400 years since Galileo first pointed his telescope at the moon. To commemorate the event MyTelescope.com is launching our Sky Prize contests in which the first offering is a teaching prize. MyTelescope.com will be providing 400 hours of telescope time (4 prizes of 100 hours each) for hands on astronomy teaching purposes. Three prizes will be awarded for submitted teaching project ideas; the winners to be selected by a peer review process. One prize will be awarded by random draw from amongst all those who enter the contest; no project submission is needed. The contest is open to teachers and astronomers from around the world.
How will students use the Telescopes?The winning entrants will receive a classroom account with credits for 100 hours of observing time which can be used by their students or for live classroom instruction. Instructors will have control over how much time is transferred to each student account. Students are to use their telescope time to gather images and data for the project; this could be done as homework or, if timezones allow, during a lab.
What equipment will the students have to work with and where is the equipment located?To date we have been operating with 10-inch Schmidt Cassegrains from our development site in New Brunswick, Canada. However we are in the process of moving our equipment and expect to be operational this year from our recently acquired clear dark sky site in south west New Mexico, USA. The winning submissions will have access to all our operational equipment at both sites. Our 10 inch Schmidt Cassegrains are equipped with filter wheels containing r,g,b,ir-block,neutral density and clear glass filters as well as opaque and blank positions. The cameras are Star-light Express HX916s which have an electronic shutter and a resolution of 1300x1030. The systems have a field of view of approximately 7x10 ArcMinutes. Software features include: bias, dark and flat field image corrections; levels, atmospheric extinction, white balance, gamma, color stretch and gain controls. All telescopes have a spotting camera for a live wide field sky view. See our video section for actual telescope sessions.
Who qualifies?The general criteria is that you must be able to demonstrate that you will be teaching astronomy through a learning institution during the 2010 calendar year. If you do not have a teaching role but you are a professional astronomer or someone actively involved with astronomy, you can still submit your project idea by collaborating with a teacher or instructor who would both submit the project to the contest and implement it if it is selected (note that the teacher should be the one to submit the project). Such collaboration should be mentioned in the project description.
What types of projects can be submitted?Projects should be designed for one of three levels or age of student: junior high school (ages 12 to 14), high school (ages 15 to 18), or university / college (ages 18 and up). One prize will be awarded for each level. Student participation should be an important component in all projects, however the project ideas are really up to you. To assist you in quickly learning what you will have to work with, we will post videos on the videos page that cover the many features you and your students will have at your disposal. Note that projects do not have to use all the capabilities of the provided equipment and software; for example, it is fine for a monochrome imaging project not to make use of the color filters. So if there is any astronomy teaching project that you always wanted to do but just did not have access to telescope time for student participation, this may be the opportunity.
How will project submissions be evaluated?The good news is this will be a peer review process so the top project submissions will have genuine bragging rights! We are planning to ask each person who submits a project to review and rank a number (perhaps 5) of other projects and then combine these rankings to select the top project in each of the three levels. Details on exactly how the peer review process is to work will be posted here when they are finalized.
How to submit your project idea?To submit your project idea for the contest, you must first register (or if you have already registered, log in). Then re-visit this page and follow the link to the contest entry form.
Who qualifies?The main criteria is you must be able to demonstrate that you will be teaching science or astronomy within a learning institution during the 2010 calendar year. To enter your class or group simply register for the Teaching Sky-Prize but do not fill out the section where you describe your astronomy teaching project. Of course you can come back at any time and complete that section should you wish to submit an idea before the deadline.
In order to satisfy to Canadian law, it should be stated that (1) there is no fee for entering the contest: anyone can register and enter, free of charge; and (2) that if the winner of the draw is a resident of Canada, the person will be required to answer a "skill testing question". The question will be a math question of the form "(A * B + C) / D - E" and will need to be answered by the individual on their own and without a calculating device (paper and pencil is OK :-)) within a 10 minute period.
How to enter for the random draw?To enter the random draw contest, you must first register (or if you have already registered, log in). Then re-visit this page and follow the link to the contest entry form.