Under the motto of the Science Year 2023, “Our Universe”, there was an opportunity at the Waldbröl Comprehensive School on 07 September 2023 to send radio signals on a journey to the moon and back. The project, known as “MoonBounce – A Journey to the Moon and Back”, was carried out in collaboration with the renowned Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn (MPIfR). Prof. Dr. Oliver Schwarz’s team of professors at the University of Siegen had designed didactic accompanying material to help with the preparation and follow-up of the experiment. This enabled the school courses to dive deeper into the world of “radio astronomy”.
From a small parabolic antenna in the schoolyard, signals were sent specifically to the moon and reflected there. They were then picked up by the Effelsberg radio telescope and transmitted back to Waldbröl via the Internet. This allowed the students to follow and evaluate the experiment in real time, enabling them to understand the concept of the finite speed of light and the associated Doppler effect, a cornerstone of physics and astronomy. Together with the team from the University of Siegen, they were able to determine the distance to the Moon and the speed at which it is currently moving away from us. A small gimmick was sending and receiving Morse-coded messages over the long distance to the moon and back.
In addition to several courses from secondary school level 1 and some interested upper school students from the comprehensive school, an astronomy course from the neighboring Hollenberg Gymnasium was also able to participate in the project. This illustrates the cooperation between the schools of the network and the enthusiasm of the students for the world of astronomy and radio astronomy.
Photos: Andreas Dohm and Günter Dombrowski. Text: Günter Dombrowski