2002 - PJAS Astronomy Award Winners

Grades 7-8:

Factors Affecting Crater Formation on the Moon's Surface
Lindsay DeCarlo (St. Joseph School)

Project Description:

My project was "Factors Affecting Crater Formation on the Moon's Surface." It was thought that the largest, heaviest object, dropped from the highest height, would form the largest crater. Also, it was thought that the best results would come out in play sand because the play sand is a lighter and less compact material, thus making it easier to make craters in. To test these hypotheses, a wooden base was labeled at 61 cm, 122 cm, and 183 cm. Three balls of 2.5, 5.1, and 7.6 cm diameter were used. The balls were of three different types: styrofoam, wood, and rubber. Each ball was then dropped from the different heights, and the results were recorded. In each test the 7.6 cm ball had the largest result, and the largest result came from the 7.6 cm diameter rubber ball dropped from the 183 cm height, into play sand. In conclusion, the hypothesis was proven right in that when the 7.6 cm rubber ball was dropped from the 183 cm platform into play sand, it made the largest crater in width, depth, and volume that could be obtained through testing.

The Sun: Turning and Burning
E.J. Morascyzk (John F. Kennedy MS)

Project Description:

The project I did at PJAS was to determine if and how fast the Sun rotates. I did this project by observing pictures of the Sun from a computer website, and tracking the sunspots' movement. After I printed out pictures for the whole month of November, I marked each sunspot with color and number. After that I did many calculations of different things such as movement per day, averages of many calculations, etc. Lastly I made a spreadsheet using all of my calculations. I found out many things like the Sun does rotate, the Sun rotates at different speeds at different places, and that sunspots come in different shapes, sizes and types. These results proved my hypothesis correct that the Sun rotates and that it rotates at different speeds.

Grades 9-12:

Comparative Analysis of Telescope Astronomy and Naked Eye Observations
Eric Durback (Bethlehem Catholic HS)

Project Description:

Can a telescope be used to more accurately measure and make a visual record of a star's variability than the naked eye? Also, does variable star Zeta Geminorum have a consistent period of brightness variation? Another item I wished to determine was the existence and significance of any differences and similarities between this star and Delta Cephei, another Cepheid variable star which I studied last year. The materials I used were my telescope, digital camera, and personal computer. My procedure, in short, was first to find and take three pictures of the surrounding sky around the star. Then to use the stars surrounding Zeta Geminorum and previous pictures of Zeta Geminorum to determine the brightness of that particular night's reading. I then determined from my data the period (10.25 days), brightness range (3.6-4.2), and distance (1397 light years). I concluded a minimal difference in error percentage, but other important advantages to the project when using the telescope.

An Analysis of the Energy Spectrum of Cosmic Rays
Vlad Grigorescu (Allderdice HS)

Project Description:

I conducted my experiment on determining which material absorbs the greatest number of cosmic rays. I used a regular Geiger-Mueller counter to conduct my experiment. I tested lead, steel, Plexiglas, water, a regular jacket, and air. I covered the counter with samples of various thicknesses of these materials and counted the number of cosmic rays that passed through them. For air, I measured the number of cosmic rays at three different altitudes. I hypothesized that lead would absorb the most, while air would absorb the least. My hypothesis was supported. I found that it would take approximately 27 km of air, but only about 0.75 cm of lead, to cut the number of cosmic rays in half. My investigation has real-world applications because cosmic rays have an effect on countless factors in our lives, from computers to power outages to cancer. It is important to understand how to best protect ourselves from such rays.