Free Astronomy Magazine – November-December 2019 Issue Available For Reading And Download

Greetings, fellow astrophiles!

The most recent issue of Free Astronomy Magazine (November-December 2019) is available for your reading and downloading pleasure at www.astropublishing.com (click the link to go directly to the issue).

As editor-in-chief Michele Ferrara alludes to early in his “flexible concept” article on page 38, there’s been quite the transition into the study of exoplanets and the potentials for habitability as a way to more credibly have the discussion about alien life. His article on page 22 is worth the read for those who think it’s not a question of “if” but of “how often?”

Free Astronomy Magazine (website, facebook) was featured as the first of a series of articles on great free online content for amateur astronomers (see A Universe Of Free Resources Part 1) and we’ll be keeping track of future publications under the Online Resources category on the CNYO website.

You can find previous Free Astronomy Magazine issues by checking out our Free Astronomy Magazine Category (or look under the Education link in our menu).

For those wanting a quick look at what the issue has to offer, the Table of Contents is reproduced below.


November-December 2019

The web browser-readable version of the issue can be found here:

November-December 2019 – www.astropublishing.com/6FAM2019/

For those who want to jump right to the PDF download (20 MB), Click here:

November-December 2019

NASA Night Sky Notes: The Messenger Crosses The Sun – Mercury Transit 2019

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 November, 2019.

By David Prosper

Did you know that there are two other objects in our skies that have phases like the Moon? They’re the inner planets, found between Earth and the Sun: Mercury and Venus. You can see their phases if you observe them through a telescope. Like our Moon, you can’t see the planets in their “new” phase, unless they are lined up perfectly between us Earthlings and the Sun. In the case of the Moon, this alignment results in a solar eclipse; in the case of Mercury and Venus, this results in a transit, where the small disc of the planet travels across the face of the Sun. Skywatchers are in for a treat this month, as Mercury transits the Sun the morning of November 11!

You may have seen the transit of Venus in 2012; you may have even watched it through eclipse glasses! However, this time you’ll need a solar telescope to see anything, since eclipse glasses will only reveal the Sun’s blank face. Why is that? Mercury is the smallest planet in our solar system, and closer to the Sun (and further away from Earth) during its transit than Venus was in its 2012 transit. This makes Mercury’s disc too small to see without the extra power of a telescope. Make absolutely certain that you view the transit via a telescope equipped with a safe solar filter or projection setup. Do NOT combine binoculars with your eclipse glasses; this will instantly burn a hole through the glasses – and your eyes! While most people don’t have solar telescopes handy, many astronomy clubs do! Look for clubs hosting Mercury transit observing events near you at bit.ly/findnsn (USA) or at bit.ly/awbtransit (worldwide).

What a fun opportunity to see another planet during the day! This transit is expected to last over five hours. Folks on the East Coast will be able to watch the entre transit, weather permitting, from approximately 7:35 am EST until around approximately 1:04 pm EST. Folks located in the middle of North America to the west coast will see the transit already in progress at sunrise. The transit takes hours, so if your weather is cloudy, don’t despair; there will be plenty of time for skies to clear! You can find timing details and charts via eclipse guru Fred Espenak’s website: bit.ly/mercurytransit2019

Mercury’s orbit is small and swift, and so its position in our skies quickly changes; that’s why it was named after the fleet-footed messenger god of Roman mythology. In fact, if you have a clear view of the eastern horizon, you’ll be able to catch Mercury again this month! Look for it before dawn during the last week of November, just above the eastern horizon and below red Mars. Wake up early the morning of November 24th to see Mars, the Moon, and Mercury form a loose triangle right before sunrise.

Discover more about Mercury and the rest of our solar system at nasa.gov

Photo of the May 9, 2016 transit of Mercury. Mercury is the small dot on the center right. Note how tiny it is, even compared to the small sunspot on the center left. Credit: Dave Huntz
This photo from the same 2016 transit event shows Mercury a bit larger, as it should; it was taken at a higher magnification through a large 16 inch telescope! Credit: J. A. Blackwell

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!

TACNY Junior Cafe Scientifique: “Things That Go Bump In The Lab”

Saturday – October 19, 2019, 9:30 – 11:00 am

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

Please RSVP to jrcafe@tacny.org

Speaker: Neal Abrams, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Chemistry, SUNY-ESF; and Miriam Gillett-Kunnath, Ph.D., Research Assistant Professor of Chemistry, Syracuse University

Talk Overview: Ready to summon some science? Join the TACNY Jr. Café on October 19th to see the magical chemistry behind glowing pumpkins, magical genies, luminescent liquids, time telling potions, and mysterious fog. Dr. Neal Abrams from SUNY ESF and Dr. Miriam Gillett-Kunnath from Syracuse University will present a series of interactive magical Halloween chemistry demonstrations that will be sure to delight young and old alike.

Biography: Neal Abrams is an associate professor of chemistry at the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (ESF). He obtained his bachelor’s degree in chemistry and certification in teaching from Ithaca College and completed his doctorate at Penn State. At ESF, he instructs courses in general chemistry and renewable energy. He also leads research programs in the areas of renewable energy and methods for teaching science. He is also the faculty advisor for the ESF chemistry club. Abrams enjoys working with students and educators in the community. As part of this commitment, he leads renewable energy workshops for teachers, instructs a series of courses on solar panel installation, and guest lectures in classrooms across Syracuse and CNY as part of the ESF in the High School program. He is currently the Education Chair for the CNY Section of the American Chemical Society.

Miriam Gillett-Kunnath is a research assistant professor of chemistry at Syracuse University (SU). She obtained her bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Le Moyne College and completed her doctorate and post-doctorate at Syracuse University and Notre Dame University, respectively. At SU, she assists in mentoring and teaching research while helping with the management of the Chemistry SC-XRD and PXRD lab. Gillett-Kunnath, along with her husband Bobby Kunnath, works with local high school students to connect them with research in the STEM disciplines.  Her passion towards building a local STEM Ecosystem has led her to learn from, volunteer, and work with SU-chemistry outreach, ACS-CNY, STA-NYS, TACNY and the MOST.  [Outreach Motto: “If I have seen further it is only by standing on the shoulders of giants.”-Isaac Newton]

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.