Archive for the ‘astronomy’ Tag

A video about this Sunday’s Solar Eclipse…   Leave a comment

This youtube video is from the Morrison Planetarium / California Academy of Sciences.  It is a great overview of what happens during an eclipse and how to watch one safely.

Check it out:

Astronomy Day – this Saturday!   Leave a comment

If you are in San Francisco, please join Astrono-me! Productions at the California Academy of Sciences to celebrate Astronomy Day, this Saturday 28 April 2012. There will be astronomy activities around the museum all day, and I will be there in the afternoon (around 3) creating pocket solar system models that you can take home with you.  Please stop by!

Astronomy Day started in Northern California in 1973.  It’s a chance for people to get to know the astronomy resources in their community.  It happens every year between mid April and mid May on the Saturday closest to the new moon.  This is so the sidewalk astronomers who set up telescopes for the general public won’t have to deal with the bright full moon blocking the fainter objects from their telescopes.  Most cities have many events going on, so check out what might be going on locally for you.

GLOBE at night   Leave a comment

Have you heard about citizen science?  It’s the term for when non-professional, scientifically interested people do real scientific research. One of my favorite citizen science projects is GLOBE at night, because you don’t need any special equipment to collect important data:

April is the last chance to participate this year, specifically April 11-20, 2012. A citizen, say, you, measures the sky brightness in your local area. (If you are in San Francisco, your latitude is roughly 38 and longitude is -122.) Looking at an easy to find constellation, in this case Leo the Lion, you report back which stars you can see.  They will give you instructions on determining  your longitude and latitude, as well as how to find the constellation.  It’s that easy! When you report your data, you can compare it to thousands of others around the world.  And when you do it, you are sharing information about a growing problem – light pollution.

Light pollution is when the lights of our cities and structures shine up into the sky rather than down on the ground where we need them.  And it isn’t just a problem for seeing the stars, it affects our energy consumption (which connects to a whole host of other problems), it can injure wildlife and possibly impact health. By participating in this study, you are shining the light of awareness on this problem – and that doesn’t create more light pollution!

Check it out, and comment if you like.  We always love to hear from you.

Annie Jump Cannon   Leave a comment

As you may know, International Women’s day is March 8th and today I am writing about one of my favorite early female astronomers, Annie Jump Cannon.  Born in 1863, She became deaf as a child and received a physics degree in 1884. She had a difficult time getting telescope time, as you might imagine!  She was able to find work on 1894 as a teacher’s assistant at Wellesley, and was able to learn about photography and, more importantly, spectroscopy there. In 1896, she was hired by Edward Pickering to assist with a star catalogue. Here’s where the going gets good.

She took two, partial incomplete competing systems and created a third stellar classification system – the one we still use today, more than 100 years later.  She backed up her observations with complete spectra for more than 230,000 stars – more than any astronomer, male or female, before or since. Her listing of stars in the order of O, B, A, F, G, K, M has inspired interesting mnemonics for millions of astronomy students.  Her career lasted for over four decades, during which women astronomers gained more ground. Below is a partial list of her accomplishments from Wikipedia.  Truly an amazing life!

Awards and honors


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