Observing


The Art of the Star Party


Posted By on Jun 23, 2007

Last night I attempted to give a star party for a group of about 50 girl scouts. It was a noble effort, but I have to admit that it devolved into learned old(ish) person speaking before a group of seated in rows youngish people. I’m generally opposed to this type of teaching, but I had run out of plans. Plan A: Lots of telescopes all pointed at different objects allowing people to go from scope to scope, and binoculars with...

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No Child Left Inside Plan


Posted By on May 27, 2007

Today, while in a meeting for the International Year of Astronomy, someone mentioned hearing someone state that we need a goal of no child left inside. Instead of just showing them imaged stars with robot telescopes across the Internet, we need to send them outside to look up. Instead of just giving them synthetic experiences in virtual realities, we need to send them outside to lookup. Instead of just bringing them real data that...

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Tonight, all across the world, guerilla astronomy will be waged on the public as amateur and professional astronomers inflict their hobby on individuals in random locations. Today is the 1st Annual International Sidewalk Astronomy Night. There is a nice article (written by yours truly with great editting by David Tytell) on the Sky and Telescope website. Check it out and get involved! Image by: Claudio Lopresti I’ll be at...

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A Few Caveats regarding Day Length


Posted By on Mar 20, 2007

I have to admit I have spring fever. I seem to have moved to a part of the country where the seasons actually follow the solstices and equinoxes, and politely divide themselves into 4 fairly equal parts. My crocuses are blooming, shorts are starting to appear on some of the more robust males on campus, the Canadian geese have paired off (which is actually very freaky), and tonight the Sun crosses the equinox at 7 minutes after...

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As I’ve mentioned before, press releases that don’t really contain science are one of my pet peeves. That said, one such press release came across my inbox this morning and made me giggle happily. The image was of the Crab Nebula (above left: credit: NAOJ); a nearby supernova remnant formed in 1054. The telescope in question was Subaru; an 8.2-m telescope in Hawaii operated by Japan’s National Institutes of Natural...

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In Search of Darkness


Posted By on Mar 8, 2007

Star light, star bright, first star I see tonight…First star? Hello? You’re supposed to come out now. Stars? Someone? Shine? Please? While I was a graduate student at the University of Texas in Austin I watched the Ring Nebula (M57) disappear. When I first arrived in 1996, this former stellar atmosphere was clearly visible in binoculars from the roof of the building I worked in (RLM). In 2000 I could no longer see it, but...

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