Look at that Comet Trail!
On Wednesday 9th December 2015, Professor Monica Grady came into do a workshop on the composition of comets, which subsequently led to a discussion on the origin of meteors. Professor Grady went on to make a comet out of dry ice, mud, and sugar. (She also explained why she had to drive with the window open, on the way to WP whilst with the dry ice!).
When the comet was made, the students then modelled the comet trail by blowing on it. The trail created modelled the origin of the meteors, which are fragments of dust that burn through the Earth's atmosphere. As the Earth rotates around The Sun, and moves through the comet’s orbit, the meteors are seen. For example the meteors of The Orionids, come from the trail of Haley’s comet, they can be seen in October and the Leonids are from the comet Tempel-Tuttle, they can be seen in November.
After the Comet demonstration, the students carried out the flame test on different metallic salts, observing the coloured flames though spectroscopes/diffraction grating glasses to see the spectra of each metal. This links directly to the project title “Shooting Stars on Camera: Colour, Composition and Contrast”, where The Elite Scientists will use a special computer programme to analyse the pictures of meteors taken through a diffraction grating, called a Star Analyser.
The Royal Society were in filming the whole workshop, as William Perkin has been chosen to be a case studies to encourage other schools to apply for the Royal Society grant. Current case studies can be observed here: https://royalsociety.org/grants-schemes-awards/grants/partnership-grants/.