Group Meetup

Group Meetup

It Rocked. I’m sleepy. Here’s a photo. Thank you so much for coming. You guys were wonderful for to meet.

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Astronomy Education in America

At least once a month (often more often), I get an email from someone saying they really wished they’d taken astronomy in high school. I more rarely get emails from students who “wish [their] school taught astronomy.” In today’s world of “No Child Left Behind” (which my pre-service teachers lovingly refer to as All Children Left Behind), it is time to ask How many students have the opportunity to take astronomy? And of those students, how many students take astronomy? and How many take it from someone who has actually studied astronomy themselves? These questions and more were answered by almost-Dr. Lawrence Krumenaker who will be defending his PhD in the next few months. In a very brief talk he ran through all the numbers, and...

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Making a Milky Way

Making a Milky Way

According to research presented by Eric Gawiser of Rutgers University, ancestors of Milky Way (MW) like galaxies appear to be Lyman Alpha emitting galaxies. These progenitors were about 1/10th the size of the MW, 1/20th the mass of the MW, and 1/40th the stellar mass of the MW (the rest of the mass is gas and dust – the stars are still forming). (image left of Lyman Alpha galaxy, credit: NASA, ESA, Caryl Gronwall/Penn State) This research used the CTIO 4-m telescope to image optical and find lyman alpha emitting blobs (that are red shifted to visual), Spitzer IR images, Magellan 6.5m telescope spectra to get distances (and thus time the light was emitted), and HST ACS to determine sizes using hi resolution images. These objects had already formed by 2...

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Blue Blobs – Splat on the sky

Blue Blobs – Splat on the sky

Duilia deMello of the Catholic University of America and NASA Goddard is presenting in the afternoon galaxies press conference. I’m in here reporting while Rebecca edits, and Phil and Fraser are listening to the NASA town hall meeting. In peering around the universe we tend to stumble across a lot of weird small stuff. Blobs of gas. Blobs of stars. Blobs. Ever find some mysterious blob on your kitchen counter? You know something splattered, but the question often is “What was that?” New Hubble images in combination with GALEX ultraviolet images, and archived Hubble data have allowed astronomers to determine that these blue blobs (example at right, dwarf galaxy Holmberg IX) are actually clusters of 20,000 stars – dwarf galaxies newly...

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NASA, Where are you going? And are you taking the shuttle?

NASA, Where are you going? And are you taking the shuttle?

All of us are in here at the same time listening to Michael Griffin give an address. He had mostly been glossing over the histories of NASA. Now he is digging into where things are going. The Shuttle? Done when ISS is built and Hubble is launched. Period. It’s just not safe. Other projects are all being revisited. This is bad. SIM is in jeopardy. If I hear him right, it’s toast. If his recommendations are adopted. The problem is, we can’t afford SIM and James Webb. He’s scolding us and flat out telling us everything else we want to do will suffer. There’s no money. He wants us to be more clear in the future with what we want. We want too many things. Our decadal surveys, which lay out our dreams and the missions needed to accomplish...

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