Paper Plate Education
"Serving the Universe on a Paper
Activity: Comet Ikeya Zhang
Plate on right is courtesy of April Whitt.
Ikeya Zhang is briefly visible to the naked eye in April 2002. Here
are two paper plate activities to accompany this celestial event.
You can track the comet during this limited viewing window
on a modified version of the Platisphere.
First, make a Platisphere star chart for your
latitude. On the completed starfield plate mark the changing position
of Comet Ikeya Zhang near Cassiopeia as shown on the star
chart from Sky & Telescope
magazine. The comet will be visible in the evening sky for first few
days of April and in the morning sky thereafter, until it fades from view.
In the Dynamic Solar System
activity, you can model the movement of a comet as it rounds the sun before
heading back into the dark recesses of the solar system. Two samples
of comets are shown above--a simple version ("comit") and an
advanced version, which shows both a yellow dust tail and a blue ion tail.
To make a comet in the classroom, connect to this excellent comet
recipe by Dennis Schatz.