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Interstellar and Intergalactic Distances
— Using a Film Clip from Cosmic Voyage
Subject: Science & Technology — Interstellar & Intergalactic Distances;
Ages: 10+; Middle and High School;
Length: Film Clip: approximately 12 minutes or a shorter clip of approximately five minutes will also work; Lesson: One 50 minute class period.
Excerpts from the Snippet Lesson Plan
Learner Outcomes/Objectives: Students will get a feeling for the relative sizes and distances of stars and of galaxies and of the vastness of space as compared to the small world of planet Earth.
Rationale: Cosmic Voyage describes in a very attractive way the huge distances of deep space. Students usually know that stars are in galaxies and that there are huge numbers of galaxies in the universe. However it is usually not so easy to convey a feeling of the relative scales and distance of stars and galaxies: whereas galaxies densely populate the universe, stars are very far away from each other within a galaxy.
Description of the Film Clips: Viewers are taken on a journey through the distances of space changing magnification of one scene by a factor of ten at each step. . . .
The "Cosmic Voyage" taken in the film contains "landmarks" to enable the viewer to keep in mind the scale of things in the universe in terms of powers of ten. The journey has two major thresholds: first, the point at which stars begin to be seen in groups, at 1015 meters, and second, when the same thing happens with galaxies, several powers of ten later, at 1023 meters.
There is a fundamental difference between these two scales: the distances between stars are huge with respect to their sizes. . . .
The complete Snippet Lesson Plan provides additional helpful background on Interstellar and Intergalactic distances. Links to websites providing stunning photographs of colliding galaxies are also included.
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Interstellar and Intergalactic distances are truly astonishing in their magnitude.
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