Distances in Astronomy

In this activity, participants (Key Stage 4 and beyond) are able to experience the cosmic distance ladder.

The science of astronomy deals with distances and numbers that can be difficult to imagine. In this workshop groups will carry out distance measurements using their own body. Using the length of their arms and the distance between their eyes, students will make some simple parallax measurements of the distances of stars, which will be represented by balloons.

Participants will then climb the next step on the distance ladder by developing methods, similar to the distance modulus in astronomy, to measure the distance to balloons that are further away.

Finally, they will discover what the colour of the balloon, or the redshift of a star, can say about how far away it is.

The workshop can be extended to include computer labs, used in the measurement of distances to other star clusters in our galaxy, or to measure redshift and distances to other galaxies.

Participants at astronomy workshop