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Stars: Above and Beyond

People often confuse astronomy and astrology. Astronomy focuses on the science behind celestial objects and phenomena. As a byproduct, astronomy incorporates other sciences, such as physics and chemistry, to explain how the universe functions. For example, some stars create energy through the proton-proton cycle, where a star fuses hydrogen into helium and emits radioactive rays. Students learn about various aspects of our cosmos at Oakland Tech’s astronomy club. Some topics covered include the classification and the human perception of stars.

Astronomy has developed explanations for how we perceive stars. You may have noticed, for instance, that there are no visible green stars in the sky. An article from Livescience explains, “A green star is radiating right in the center of the visible light spectrum, which means it is emitting some light in all the possible colors.” Since green is in the central region of the visible spectrum, green stars are not visible to us. As a result, we see white stars because white is the amalgamation of all the colors. The color of the stars can also serve as a temperature indicator for us to distinguish between them.

Astronomers have created diagrams to categorize stars based on their color and temperature. Specifically, the astronomers Einar Hertzsprung and Henry Russell invented the Hertzsprung-Russell (HR) diagram when they noticed a decline in some stars’ luminosity. Harvard University states on a website about the HR diagram, “From the location of a star on the graph, the luminosity, spectral type, color, temperature, mass, chemical composition, age, and evolutionary history are known.” Color, luminosity, and mass are all important factors to consider when learning how astronomers classify stars. The luminosity informs us how much energy the star is giving off, which can help us figure out if it is in the dying stage with additional knowledge like the mass and size of the star. The Main Sequence is a decreasing line on the HR diagram that shows the stars that aren’t at their dying stage and are still following the proton-proton cycle.

The newly formed astronomy club’s true purpose is to inform students about astronomy. The presidents of the astronomy club are stellar students with a wide range of knowledge in the sciences. One of the first meetings included a lesson on the difference between astronomy and astrology. This meeting involved a fun activity where everyone introduced themselves through their zodiac sign. Another memorable meeting would be the constellation lesson. Students learned about the different constellations and played a game about them. Recently, the astronomy club has decided to pair up with Ms. Pollack.  The statistics and physics teacher will open up a discussion and enhance our knowledge about stars. 

Astronomy now holds a great deal of information about the diversity of different objects in space. Billions of stars exist in a variety of sizes, colors, and masses. The astronomy club informs us of incredible, out-of-this-world facts about our cosmos. The Oakland Tech astronomy club is also holding a star-themed fundraising event on February 7. Find posters around school to learn more about it!

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