AAS 197, January 2001
Session 86. Innovations in Teaching Astronomy I
Joint Display, Wednesday, January 10, 2001, 9:30am-7:00pm, Exhibit Hall

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[86.21] The Multiwavelength Milky Way Project

B. A. Brown (NRC,NASA/GSFC), D. Leisawitz (NASA/GSFC), P. T. Boyd (UMBC,NASA/GSFC), S. W. Digel (USRA,NASA/GSFC), J. Friedlander (RITSS,NASA/GSFC), R. L. Kessel (NASA/GSFC), A. P. Smale (USRA,NASA/GSFC)

We describe an ongoing effort to communicate what is known about the Milky Way, and how our understanding of the Galaxy has advanced in recent decades with observations across the electromagnetic spectrum. Our aim is to help students, educators, and the general public understand the structure of the Milky Way, and our location within it.

Inspired by the warm reception to our Multiwavelength Milky Way poster (26,000 copies distributed; requested by people in over 50 countries) we created several related products and a new version of the poster. The updated poster contains ten Galactic plane maps and a legend that points out prominent features and objects. The Multiwavelength Milky Way web site at http://adc.gsfc.nasa.gov/mw provides an image browsing capability, links to data files and journal articles, lesson plans and suggested activities for teachers, and a poster order form. We created a slide set comprised of multiwavelength all-sky maps and a ``Multiwavelength Milky Way'' image corresponding to the poster.

The Galactic plane maps featured on the poster raise questions in the minds of many non-astronomers: ``Where are we in this picture?'' and ``How do we know what we know?'' To help answer these questions we developed a realistic three-dimensional model of the Milky Way and used state-of-the-art animation techniques to create a 28-minute video called The Milky Way's Invisible Light. The viewer is taken on a tour of the Galaxy that ends at the Sun's location, from which the 3-D model is shown to resemble the Galactic plane surveys depicted on the Multiwavelength Milky Way poster. The video can be ordered on the web at http://space.gsfc.nasa.gov/astro/education/mw_film or from the ASP catalog.

The Multiwavelength Milky Way project is sponsored by the Astrophysics Data Facility at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center.

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