Introducing the Rotato!


In this resource children will explore in a practical and real time way how the different properties of objects affect their reflectivity, and how we can infer some of their properties just by looking at a graph of the brightness called a LIGHTCURVE.

This is a technique used a lot in the study of asteroids, and comets. We use the fact that objects rotate to measure different parts of the object, and try to match shape models to the curve. While it is hard to be sure when studying something small a very long way away (!), the more observations we obtain the more we can constrain the physical properties of the object.

We use a rotating turntable to spin objects like potatoes to explore how objects in space might look when we measure them with telescopes from Earth.

While we have a presentation and video you can use, it is MUCH more fun as a hands-on experiment. We have put together some kits - turntable, torch, webcam, and objects - for you to borrow to try it! Just add a windows computer (low spec is fine!) and download Michael Poelzl's great software from and you are ready to experiment. These first two kits have been funded by the Faulkes Telescope Project .

If you want to put together your own kit, we have a KIT LIST.

Instructions and resources are available to download here

If you would like to borrow a kit then please contact