TACNY Junior Cafe Scientifique: “Turtles, Tortoises and Terrapins: What Makes These Creatures So Amazing and Why They Need Our Help”

Saturday – January 19, 2019, 9:30-11:00am

Milton J Rubenstein Museum of Science & Technology – Syracuse, NY

Please RSVP to jrcafe@tacny.org

Speaker: James P. Gibbs, Ph.D., Distinguished Professor, State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry; Director, Roosevelt Wild Life Station; and Adjunct Scientist, Galapagos Conservancy

Talk Overview: Turtles are amazing creatures. They occur in many shapes and sizes, and occupy a variety of habitats (freshwater, deserts, and the ocean) around the world (except the Arctic and Antarctic). All are reptiles and members of the Testudines or turtles, tortoises, and terrapins. Their shell, a complicated and living structure of bones, living tissues and keratin like your fingernails, is what makes them distinct from other animals. And the shell has served them well! Turtles are one of the oldest groups of vertebrate animals in the world -dating back to the time of the dinosaurs, over 200 million years ago, and changing little since then. Not only that, but the protection shell enables turtles today to live for almost 200 years in some species. These animals do important things in the environment, eating plants, insects and even jellyfish, shaping the world around them in some cases. But they are also among the most imperiled groups of animals on the planet — about half of the 320 species of turtles today are endangered in some form. The biggest problems and habitat loss, road mortality, poaching and the illegal pet trade. During this TACNY Jr. Café Scientifique, we will learn about these magnificent creatures in detail, examine some turtle specimens together, and learn about two exciting efforts to help turtles – one in the Galapagos with Giant Tortoises and one in the Amazon with Yellow-spotted River Turtles.

BiographyJames Gibbs is currently Distinguished Professor at the State University of New York’s College of Environmental Science and Forestry (SUNY-ESF) in Syracuse, New York and Adjunct Scientist with the Galapagos Conservancy. He teaches courses each year in conservation biology and herpetology (the study of reptiles and amphibians). James lives and works in urban Syracuse but travels the world studying and saving turtles and other endangered species. He spends a lot of time in the Galapagos Islands where he helps lead a project to restore the giant tortoise population there and in Brazil helping giant river turtles recover in the Amazon.

TACNY Junior Cafe Scientifique

TACNY Junior Cafe Scientifique, a program for middle-school students founded in 2005, features discussions about topics in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics in an informal atmosphere and seeks to encourage students to consider careers in these areas. Students must be accompanied by an adult and can explore the MOST at no cost after the event.

Technology Alliance of Central New York

Founded in 1903 as the Technology Club of Syracuse, the nonprofit Technology Alliance of Central New York’s mission is to facilitate community awareness, appreciation, and education of technology; and to collaborate with like-minded organizations across Central New York.

For more information about TACNY, visit www.tacny.org.

Bob Piekiel Hosts Observing Sessions At Baltimore Woods (And More!) – 2019 Observing Schedule

This event list will be added to as the year progresses. Check back often!

I’m pleased to have obtained the official schedule for Bob Piekiel’s growing observing and lecture programs for the 2019 season. For those who have not had the pleasure of hearing one of his lectures, attending one of his observing sessions, or reading one of his many books on scope optics (or loading the CD containing the massive Celestron: The Early Years), Bob Piekiel is not only an excellent guide but likely the most knowledgeable equipment and operation guru in Central New York.

Notes On Baltimore Woods Sessions:

The Baltimore Woods events calendar is updated monthly. As such, I’ve no direct links to the sessions below. Therefore, as the event date nears, see the official Calendar Page for more information and any updates on the event.

Also…

* Registration for these events are required. Low registration may cause programs to be canceled.
* $5 for members, $15/family; $8 for nonmembers, $25/family.
* To Register By Email: info@baltimorewoods.org
* To Register By Phone: (315) 673-1350

Baltimore Woods:

* January 20 (Sun.), 9:00 p.m. – 12:30 a.m. (Jan 21st)

Total Lunar eclipse (!!) Plus winter skies, which show some of the brightest examples of nebulae and star clusters visible from the Northern Hemisphere. Stay up late and skip work / school for this one!

* February 1 (Fri.)/2 (Sat. weather alternate), 7:00 – 9:00 p.m.

Winter skies at their finest. The area surrounding the constellation of Orion has some of the brightest clusters and nebulae visible in the northern hemisphere. This moonless night will give us the best views of these gems!

* March 1 (Fri.)/2 (Sat. weather alternate), 5:30 – 9:00 p.m.

Note the early start time. This is our best chance to see the elusive planet Mercury, which will be visible low in the west at sunset. After it gets dark, we’ll still have great views of the winter skies.

* April 12 (Fri.)/13 (Sat. weather alternate), 7:00 – 9:30 p.m.

Come have a look at the 1st-quarter moon, and after it begins to set, a farewell to the deep-sky objects of winter and hello to spring skies.

Green Lakes:

Awaiting 2019 scheduling.

Chittenango Falls:

Awaiting 2019 scheduling.

Marcellus Library:

Awaiting 2019 scheduling.

Clark Reservation:

Awaiting 2019 scheduling.

NASA Night Sky Notes for January 2019: January’s Evening Eclipse And Morning Conjunctions

Poster’s Note: One of the many under-appreciated aspects of NASA is the extent to which it publishes quality science content for children and Ph.D.’s alike. Your tax dollars help promote science! The following article was provided for reprinting by the Night Sky Network in January, 2019.

By David Prosper

Observers in the Americas are treated to an evening total lunar eclipse this month. Early risers can spot some striking morning conjunctions between Venus, Jupiter, and the Moon late in January.

A total lunar eclipse will occur on January 20th and be visible from start to finish for observers located in North and South America. This eclipse might be a treat for folks with early bedtimes; western observers can even watch the whole event before midnight. Lunar eclipses takes several hours to complete and are at their most impressive during total eclipse, or totality, when the Moon is completely enveloped by the umbra, the darkest part of Earth’s shadow. During totality the color of the Moon can change to a bright orange or red thanks to the sunlight bending through the Earth’s atmosphere – the same reason we see pink sunsets. The eclipse begins at 10:34 pm Eastern Standard Time, with totality beginning at 11:41 pm. The total eclipse lasts for slightly over an hour, ending at 12:43 am. The eclipse finishes when the Moon fully emerges from Earth’s shadow by 1:51 am. Convert these times to your own time zone to plan your own eclipse watching; for example, observers under Pacific Standard Time will see the eclipse start at 7:34 pm and end by 10:51 pm.

Lunar eclipses offer observers a unique opportunity to judge how much the Moon’s glare can interfere with stargazing. On eclipse night the Moon will be in Cancer, a constellation made up of dim stars. How many stars you can see near the full Moon before or after the eclipse? How many stars can you see during the total eclipse? The difference may surprise you. During these observations, you may spot a fuzzy cloud of stars relatively close to the Moon; this is known as the “Beehive Cluster,” M44, or Praesepe. It’s an open cluster of stars thought to be about 600 million year old and a little under 600 light years distant. Praesepe looks fantastic through binoculars.

Mars is visible in the evening and sets before midnight. It is still bright but has faded considerably since its closest approach to Earth last summer. Watch the red planet travel through the constellation Pisces throughout January.

Venus makes notable early morning appearances beside both Jupiter and the Moon later this month; make sure to get up about an hour before sunrise for the best views of these events. First, Venus and Jupiter approach each other during the third full week of January. Watch their conjunction on the 22nd, when the planets appear to pass just under 2 ½ degrees of each other. The next week, observe Venus in a close conjunction with a crescent Moon the morning of the 31st. For many observers their closest pass – just over half a degree apart, or less than a thumb’s width held at arm’s length – will occur after sunrise. Since Venus and the Moon are so bright you may st1ill be able to spot them, even after sunrise. Have you ever seen Venus in the daytime?

If you have missed Saturn this winter, watch for the ringed planet’s return by the end of the month, when it rises right before sunrise in Sagittarius. See if you can spot it after observing Venus’ conjunctions!

You can catch up on all of NASA’s current and future missions at nasa.gov

Have you ever wondered how eclipses occur? You can model the Earth-Moon system using just a couple of small balls and a measuring stick to find out! The “yardstick eclipse” model shown here is set up to demonstrate a lunar eclipse. The “Earth” ball (front, right) casts its shadow on the smaller “Moon” ball (rear, left). You can also simulate a solar eclipse just by flipping this model around. You can even use the Sun as your light source! Find more details on this simple eclipse model at bit.ly/yardstickeclipse

About The NASA Night Sky Network

The Night Sky Network program supports astronomy clubs across the USA dedicated to astronomy outreach. Visit nightsky.jpl.nasa.gov to find local clubs, events, and more!