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Astronomy Experiments at Home

 
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Beyond Observing: here are some experiments that you can do at home  "with or without children".

 

Make A Comet At Home (with adult supervision!)

 

Recipes using common household items and dry ice:

http://www.noao.edu/education/crecipe.html
http://www.griffithobservatory.org/school/resources.html


Recipe for an edible version:
http://solarsystem.nasa.gov/educ/docs/Make_A_Comet.pdf

 

During holidays and summer there are live demonstrations of comet-making in the Leonard Nimoy Event Horizon at Griffith Observatory.

 

Meteorite Impacts

 

When you visited Griffith Observatory did you get to simulate an impact at the meteorite display? Here’s your chance to recreate it live (but on a much smaller scale).

 

You will need the following:

 

A box at least a foot square (a disposable aluminum roasting pan works well) and several inches deep (deeper box means less mess)

 

 

Enough sand to fill the box about one-half inch deep
Enough  flour to add a one-quarter inch layer on top of the sand

 

 

Enough cocoa powder to sift a fine layer over the flour (no, this is not a recipe for something edible)

 

 

Some meteorites (you can simulate with any solid round-ish items from 1/4” to 1” in diameter, like river rocks from a home improvement store or your back yard)

 

 

Optional, but preferable - Rigid tubing (cardboard, PVC, etc.) cut to a variety of lengths from 2 foot to 5 feet to simulate different trajectories and velocities of your meteorites

 

 

Definitely not optional - patience to experiment with a variety of surfaces, meteorites, tubes and note paper to track your results; maybe a still or video camera once you get the hang of it.

 

 

Assemble the first four items into your “surface.”  Hold the lower end of the tube close to the “surface,” then drop the “meteorite” through the tube.

 

You should see the following features of your “craters”: white “ejecta” radiating out from the crater and a ridge raised around the edge of the crater.


Compare and contrast different lengths of tubes with different angles and different size and weight meteorites.

For More Great Activities Visit NASA’s Web Site

NASA Activities for Students
NASA Activities for Educators

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