Using the Web

Go to the Astronomy Picture of the Day (APOD) website (, do a search on “molecular clouds,” and pick out a few images. Were these pictures obtained from space or on the ground, and at what wavelengths? With which telescopes? What wavelengths do the colors in the images represent? Are they “real” or “false-color” images? Explain your answers.
Space infrared telescopes:

Go to NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope website ( Click on “News” and find a recent story about star formation. What did Spitzer observe? What wavelengths do the colors in the picture represent? How does this “false color” help astronomers to analyze these images? Why is it better to study star formation in the infrared than in the visual part of the spectrum?
Go to the website for ESA’s Herschel Space Observatory (, which has a 3.5-meter primary mirror and is located at Lagrangian point L2. Compare this telescope with Spitzer, which has a 0.85-meter primary mirror. How much more light-gathering power does Herschel have than Spitzer? Why do astronomers put infrared telescopes in space? What is new from Herschel?
Infrared astronomy:

The Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) surveyed the entire sky in four infrared wavelength bands between January 2010 and February 2011. Why do astronomers want to see the whole sky in the infrared? Go to the WISE website ( An all-sky map and catalog was released in March 2012 (see Figure 15.5). What types of objects were detected with this mission? Have many new brown dwarfs been detected?
The Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) is a 2.5-meter telescope on a modified Boeing 747 aircraft. Go to the SOFIA website ( Why would astronomers put an infrared telescope on an airplane? What has been detected with this telescope?
Go to the website for Stardust@Home (, a Citizen Science project that asks Internet users to use a virtual microscope to analyze digital scans of particles collected by the Stardust mission in 2006. The goal is to identify tiny interstellar dust grains. Follow the four steps under “Get Started” (you need to create a log-in account) and help search for stardust. Click on “News.” What has been learned from this project? Remember to save the images for your homework, if required.
Do a Google (or other) news search for a story about brown dwarfs. Is this story from an observatory? A NASA mission? A press release? What is new, and why is it interesting?

Submit to Gradebook:

First Name:
Last Name:
Your Email Address:
Your Professor's Email Address: