Thank you, Neil Armstrong

Thank you, Neil Armstrong

When I heard Neil Armstrong had died, my first reaction was to stop walking and reread the text, curse once, and realize I had no more words. He is a hero who lived an amazing life, a long life, and will remain an inspiration as so many past heros have remained. Its *sucks* that we lost his input on our future, but we don’t live forever and he didn’t linger in suffering has so many people do. As I walked on, I did find myself pissed off by one thing: We are sooooo close to getting back to the Moon. The Google Lunar X-Prize will get rovers walking, roving, or (in my fantasy world) dancing a happy robot dance across the surface of the moon in the not too distant future. (1 or 2 years I’m guessing). Humans won’t be too far behind once the...

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Come here & hear Steve Squyres at SIUE?

Come here & hear Steve Squyres at SIUE?

If you’re like me, you’ve been following NASA’s desperate attempt to free Spirit, and the ongoing roving of the rugged little Opportunity. These two rovers, with Captain Jack like habits of not dying, are in part the creation of Steven Squyres. Next week, on Wednesday night, Squyres will be giving a talk here at SIUE. Come give him a listen? Here are the details: Steven Squyres “Roving Mars: Spirit, Opportunity and the Exploration of the Red Planet” Wednesday, February 17, 7:30 p.m. Meridian Ballroom, Morris University Center Sponsored by the Shaw Memorial Fund Steve Squyres is the man responsible for taking us to the Red Planet and igniting a new firestorm of interest in space exploration. “Spirit and Opportunity” have...

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A week to look up: LCROSS Impact and White House Star Party

A week to look up: LCROSS Impact and White House Star Party

As a 1 year long event, IYA2009 has worked hard to provide a steady stream of events. That said, some weeks are more interesting than others, and this week is shaping up to be one of those more interesting weeks. On October 7, Mr and Mrs Obama will host a star party at the US White House, and on the night of October 8/morning of October 9, the LCROSS mission will impact the Moon. White House Star Party There aren’t a lot of details, but here’s what I know. According to the White House Press Secratary, “the President and First Lady will host an event at the White House for middle-school students to highlight the President’s commitment to science, engineering and math education as the foundation of this nation’s global technological...

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Galileoscope: A dream of 1 Telescope Per Child

Galileoscope: A dream of 1 Telescope Per Child

I know a set of men who had a dream. They wanted to see every child in the world have access to a high-quality low-cost telescope. They wanted something that would show the rings of Saturn, survive a tumble down the stairs, and just keep revealing the sky night after night after night. This is a good dream; a dream inspired by the one laptop per child project. It is a dream that could be a reality, but it needs help. These men need you to dream with them and help their dream become a reality. The Concept is Born The Galileoscope project was launched about the time everyone realized the 2009 International Year of Astronomy idea was about to become a UN endorsed reality. Lead by Doug Arion, Rick Fienberg, and Steve Pompea, the Galileoscope telescope team gave...

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You must have Power to Stop Discrimination

You must have Power to Stop Discrimination

This is a piece on gender inequity and sexual discrimination (not sexual harassment, which is a different and emotionally more devastating thing). I´m writing this at this time not because of any one thing that´s happened, but because of a culmination of things. Sometimes it just seems like a topic is in the air, building momentum, and this topic has finally found a voice in me. This post had three different triggers. The first was a bad moment I had last semester, when I found out a student in my Physics for Engineers class was making sexually harassing comments on a regular basis. The second trigger came from confronting numbers and statistics on women in physics and astronomy for a pair of talks at Dragon*Con. And the third trigger was this little gem posted...

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BAA/AAVSO Day 2: Women & Men

Earlier today I was talking with Rebecca Turner, another alumni of Slacker Astronomy and a staff member of the AAVSO. She and I are about the same age and often have our hair dyed the same random shades of red (I’ve let myself go to a boring auburn this semester). Looking around the room of predominately gray-haired men, I asked her (because she has this info), “Um, how many women are here?” 11 out of the 93 attendees are women. “Um, are we the youngest?” I asked. Initial answer was yes. Final answer was there is one other woman here who is our age, and then there is a significant gap of perhaps as much as 10 years or more between the three of us and everyone else. Now, I know there are young people who do astronomy. I get lots of...

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