AAS 206th Meeting, 29 May - 2 June 2005
Session 2 Astronomy 101: something old, something new, something borrowed, something true
Poster, Monday, 9:20am-6:30pm, Tuesday, 10:00am-7:00pm, May 30, 2005, Ballroom A

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[2.07] A Cosmic Distance Ladder Project for Introductory Astronomy

R. F. Rees (Westfield State College)

I have created a six-part, semester long cosmic distance ladder project for the introductory astronomy courses at Westfield State College. Initially developed for an honors section of introductory astronomy, it has now been used in regular sections for two semesters. The project includes calibration of the size of the AU and parsec, parallax calibration of the main sequence, main sequence fitting of a star cluster, calibration of the Cepheid period-luminosity relation, calibration of the absolute magnitude of galaxies, and determination of the Hubble constant and age of the universe. Both real and simulated data are used, including several of the Project CLEA exercises produced at Gettysburg College. The average of the class results for each part is used as inputs for the next part, so the students encounter the same cumulative errors that face astronomers. Although designed around the particular needs and mechanics of the introductory astronomy classes for non-majors at WSC, this project could be adapted for use in courses at many different levels.

Support from the WSC Chairs’ Travel Fund is gratefully acknowledged.

The author(s) of this abstract have provided an email address for comments about the abstract: rrees@wsc.ma.edu

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Bulletin of the American Astronomical Society, 37 #2
© 2005. The American Astronomical Soceity.