FNWI --- IMAPP Department of Astrophysics
Radboud University > Faculty of Science > Department of Astrophysics

Hands on demonstrations

3D star-signs

Three scale models of the star-signs “Orion”, “Big Dipper” and “Swan” have been made to show that stars within a star-sign often have no physical connection and are completely unrelated. It is only from our view point in space that the stars align such that we tent to see a figure in them. This can be demonstrated by looking through the “view hole” on the front of the shoe box and then afterwards see the stars location in space.

The distances between the stars are all on scale! So the relative distance between two stars is the same for the real deal. Note that the white fluorescent line resembles the location of Earth, in other words this is 0 light years which increases towards the back end of the shoe box.

TIP: before trying to recognise the star-sign open and close the shoe box quickly to “activate” the fluorescent paint and get the best effect.

NCLE decipher challenge

Since the NCLE is in orbit it needs to transfer its data back to Earth somehow. This demonstration makes people aware on how this is done. What you need are the following things:

The NCLE binary chain is a simple string with rather a lot of laminated numbers attached to it. These numbers represent a “binary” message from the NCLE which people can read using a decipher card. Like a normal receiver from the message, people have to start at the earliest transmitted number and colour the representing square on the decipher card depending on the number they read. Whenever they encounter a one, they should colour the cell. They should leave the cell blank in case of a zero. In this way our 1D binary string is converted into a 2D image.

In the case for the 4Daagse we arranged the numbers so that, when coloured correctly, the decipher card should show an image of a helicopter. This to refer to Marc's effort to full fill the wish of the Nijmeegse band “Hubschrauber” to send one of their songs into space. In principle any image can be recreated as long as the order of the ones and zeros is changed properly and the size of the decipher cards are adapted accordingly. This might be wise to do, since the current image is rather big and it takes a long time to reconstruct it. This might be a reason for why not a lot of people took part in this demonstration during the 4Daagse. Though, when used on different occasions it might be easier for participants because of a lack of wind making the individual laminated numbers easier readable.

If you want to change this demo: please contact Marc or Hamid about it to ask for permission before proceeding! This due to the political situation with the Chinese.