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November 2011

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The Open Source Physics Project is supported by NSF DUE-0442581.

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From Ptolemy to Einstein: Using Computer Simulations in Astronomy

American Association of Physics Teachers Event
Jul 28, 2012 - Aug 01, 2012 in Philadelphia, PA

Leaders: Mario Belloni, Wolfgang Christian, and Todd Timberlake

One of the most popular courses in physics is astronomy.  However, the topics taught require visualizations that are not familiar to the typical students in these courses.  To address this issue, we have created a set of flexible resources for the teaching of introductory astronomy based on two- and three-dimensional simulations.  These simulations are created with Easy Java Simulations (EJS) which is a free and open source tool for creating Java simulations.  Because EJS allows teachers to easily change simulations, existing simulations can be customized to the type of astronomy course one is teaching.  In this workshop, we will describe how to use and modify astronomy simulations such as the celestial sphere, Ptolemaic and Copernican models, Keplerian orbits including eclipses, galactic collisions, and orbits about black holes.   All of these materials will be distributed on the OSP Collection on the ComPADRE digital library.

For users logged into ComPADRE, the workshop materials can be found at:
and for users that have not logged into the Open Source Physics collection on ComPADRE:

The OSP Network:
Open Source Physics - Tracker - EJS Modeling
Physlet Physics
Physlet Quantum Physics