Teens study Mercury as art of Old Bridge physics program


OLD BRIDGE – Students in Joel Goodman’s honors physics classes at Old Bridge High School had a chance to witness and study a rare occurrence when Mercury, the closest planet to the sun, came between the earth and the sun on May 9.

Two of his students, Brian Freno and Seth Karten, both juniors, took a school telescope, aimed it at the sun, projected that image onto a piece of paper and tracked for almost eight hours to see Mercury crossing the sun, according to statement provided by the school district.

Through the project, Brian said the two were able to “confirm information science already tells you like the diameter of Mercury [and] the revolution period, which is the time it takes Mercury to circle the Sun.”

The students said they came up with approximately 87.1 days; science data says it is 88 days.

“That is less than one percent error,” Seth said. “That was amazing.”

Brian said he wants to study astrophysics in college.

“As long as I remember I’ve been interested in science,” he said. “My parents brought me to museums and gave me as many books on the subject since I liked to read about science.”

Seth, who plans to pursue a career in electrical engineering, said both his parents are chemists, who taught him to keep an open mind and explore news ways of thinking. This summer the 17-year-old will participate in an internship at Columbia Laboratory for Unconventional Science.