How to Identify the Elements in a Star

The Basics

  1. A spectroscope is an instrument that splits light into different wavelengths.
  2. Each gas produces a different spectrum when you look at its light.
  3. Spectroscopes can be easily used, as many are handheld.

What to Do with This Information?

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A man using a spectroscope.

To Use the Spectroscope

  1. Find a light to look at. Try and make sure it is a pure white.
  2. Look through the spectroscope, and move your eyes slightly to the right to see the spectrum.
  3. Record how the spectrum appeared, and see which element's spectrum it matches up with.

How this is Helpful to Astronomers

The Sky is No Longer the Limit

Scientists used to wonder what stars are made of. Now, we know! By using spectroscopes, scientists can identify what gases the spectrums in stars belong to. For example, we now know that stars contain hydrogen and helium.

The Spectrum of Xenon

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This flyer was created by Dalia Epstein and Maia Margate.