As part of some science editing we’re doing here at TFCB, I’ve been reading about galaxies. Spiral galaxies specifically. I’m fascinated, partly because we live in a spiral galaxy—the Milky Way. (The image above is a NASA image of the spiral galaxy known as NGC 7331.) Galaxies are clusters of stars, gas, and dust that collect in a couple of predictable patterns, one of which is spiral shaped.
I’m also fascinated by spiral galaxies because I tested an easy make-your-own-spiral-galaxy experiment from Ron Miller, one of TFCB’s science authors—and it worked!
I love to cook, so I know that instructions don’t always lead to where you think you’re going. It’s always thrilling when a recipe, a science experiment in its own right, turns out. My spiral galaxy experiment was thrilling too because it was right on the money. And it was fun!
Spiral Galaxy Experiment [note that everything happens really quickly in this experiment so be prepared to act, and to observe, quickly]
[Domenica’s spiral galaxy, left]
1. Fill a large mixing bowl with water.
2. Stir the water with a large spoon for a few seconds until you get good clockwise (or counterclockwise) motion going.
3. Stop stirring the water and immediately add a few drops of food coloring to the water, each one at a different distance from the center of the bowl.
4. Marvel as the arms of a spiral galaxy form in the water right before your very eyes!
[Note that, as the water in your bowl slows down, the spiral galaxy will disappear as the water becomes one solid color.]
Give this experiment a try. Play with different food coloring to see what you like best.
And don’t forget to check in next week for more from TFCB!
(Photos: NASA, top; Domenica, bottom)