Mirror Mirror

March 17

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Mirror mirror

You might look in the mirror in the morning to brush your hair or check if you have breakfast on your face but mirrors have so many more interesting uses. 


Most telescopes use mirrors to gather up light that is too dim for our eyes to see and focus it. This means that we can see far off stars and galaxies from Earth, galaxies are so far away that it takes millions of years for the light to reach us. Our local observatory in Bayfordbury (near Hertford) is a little-known gem. They have several telescopes and run public open evenings most months but they book up fast. Keep an eye on herts.ac.uk/bayfordbury for upcoming events. My favourite telescope however is the Hubble Space Telescope. Space telescopes are actually in space so they aren’t affected by clouds or the atmosphere. This makes them a bit tricky to visit for an open evening though! Hubblesite.org has pictures and videos that it has sent back to Earth for us to see. If you are really interested in how scientists work together to solve very tricky problems, look up COSTAR. This was the solution when Hubble couldn’t ‘see’ properly, they made it some very clever glasses!

Up periscope!

If you would rather spy on your family than the stars, here’s a periscope that you can make easily at home. Periscope are used to see around corners or over things without being spotted, you may have seen them on submarines. You will need: cardboard (an old cereal box is fine), scissors, glue or sellotape, two 5cm square mirrors (from Hobbycraft or online) and the template which you can find on www.fabscience.co.uk/for-kids. Simply print out the template and stick it to cardboard (or print it straight onto card if you have some). Cut it out, stick the tabs and you have a periscope shape! All that’s missing are the mirrors which you can pop in each end. Now you are ready to start spying! If you want to decorate it, it’s best to do that while the card is still flat. Have fun!

As always, kids should be supervised and please check suitability of websites as content may have changed. 

Emma Ranade spends most of her time exploding things and experimenting at Fab Science birthday parties, holiday clubs and school workshops. www.fabscience.co.uk 07799 624777


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