Liverpool Public Library Hosts A Course From futurelearn.com This January – In The Night Sky: Orion

Greetings fellow astrophiles!

For those too thin-skinned to brave a night of observing during one of Bob Piekiel’s wintertime Baltimore Woods sessions (that may include me as well if it gets as bad as last year), I am pleased to report that there will be at least one golden opportunity for you to don your astronomy thinking cap this coming January, courtesy of the Liverpool Public Library (LPL).

The LPL is running a lecture series featuring a four-session course from The Open University and futurelearn.com entitled In The Night Sky: Orion. I leave you to the course description below from the futurelearn.com website to learn more about the course.

2014dec16_orion

As for the logistics, there are (reportedly) 13 openings still available for the LPL session that will include session one on January 6th and session four on January 27th (with sessions two and three left to you at your favorite internet connection). If interested, you can sign up for the free course at ny.evanced.info/liverpool/lib/eventsignup.asp?ID=11963. I’ll post updates as I have them, else hope to see some familiar faces (or hear some familiar voices) at the first session!

NOTE: The registration is Liverpool-centric. That is, people living in Liverpool have priority in registering (so if they hit their max with Liverpool locals, you (assuming you’re not a Liverpool resident) might not get into the LPL-hosted sessions. But you can still register for the course!).

From The futurelearn.com Website

In The Night Sky: Orion

Explore the night sky, discover how stars formed and find out about exoplanets, all through the constellation of Orion.

About The Course

From the basics of astronomy and stargazing, to the science behind the birth of a star, this four week course will change the way you see the night sky. You’ll examine one of the most famous constellations, Orion, who the Ancient Greeks believed was a huntsman placed among the stars by Zeus himself.

Starting with its famous nebula where new stars and planets are being formed, you’ll take a look at the seven brightest stars that make up this constellation, including the supergiants Rigel and Betelgeuse, using high-quality images from telescopes such as the Hubble Space Telescope.

You will also investigate the Pleiades, often known as the Seven Sisters, a star cluster bright enough to be seen around the world with the naked eye. You’ll observe with your own eyes and share your observations with other learners.

You’ll find out about exoplanets, planets that orbit other stars just as we orbit the Sun and may hold the secrets to life outside of the solar system. Finally you’ll think about the Milky Way, the galaxy of which our solar system is but one small part, and consider the history of the universe from the Big Bang to the present.

From The Liverpool Public Library Event Page

Event Type: Adult Programs

Date: 1/6/2015, 1/27/2015
Start Time: 6:30 PM
End Time: 8:30 PM

Description: Introducing—Orion!

Researcher Monica Grady (namesake of Asteroid 4731 Monicagrady) will present the universe through the lens of one of the most famous constellations. Take a look at the seven brightest stars in Orion, including the supergiants Rigel and Betelgeuse, using high-quality images from outer space telescopes. Also observe the Pleiades, and learn about far-away exoplanets. Finally, think about the Milky Way, and consider the history of the universe.

We will meet at the library twice, on the first and last Tuesdays of the course, to share insights and questions about the stars. Damian G. Allis, a professor at Syracuse University and NASA Solar System Ambassador, will lecture and take questions at both meetings.

Go to https://www.futurelearn.com/courses/orion for the course description and to sign up for the online class. The course runs online for four weeks (January 5-30). You may enroll for free.

For Teens ages 15 and up and adults. No prior experience is required. You don’t need a telescope, but a pair of binoculars will be useful.

Location: Sargent Meeting Room
Presenter: Laurel Sharp
Status: Openings (13)

And, as you register at futurelearn.com, do remember to also register with LPL for the event at ny.evanced.info/liverpool/lib/eventsignup.asp?ID=11963.

TACNY Junior Cafe Scientifique: “Totally Hip: The Science and Engineering of Joint Replacements”

Saturday – December 20, 9:30-11:00am

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


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Do you know anyone who has a hip or knee replacement? Have you ever wondered what these devices look like? How they are designed? What kinds of materials they are made of? How surgeons implant them in patients? How they work? And how long they last? Well, your questions will be answered in this hands on presentation featuring virtual hip replacement surgery, actual implants and more! Come learn about the world of biomaterials and medic

NASA News Digest: Space Science For 27 October – 5 December 2014

Greetings fellow astrophiles,

The NASA News service provides up-to-date announcements of NASA policy, news events, and space science. A recent selection of space science articles are provided below, including direct links to the full announcements. Those interested in receiving these news announcements directly from NASA can subscribe to their service by sending an email to:

hqnews-request@newsletters.nasa.gov?subject=subscribe

NASA’S Chandra Observatory Identifies Impact of Cosmic Chaos on Star Birth

RELEASE 14-296 (Click here for the full article) – 27 October 2014

2014dec14_14_296The same phenomenon that causes a bumpy airplane ride, turbulence, may be the solution to a long-standing mystery about stars’ birth, or the absence of it, according to a new study using data from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory.

Galaxy clusters are the largest objects in the universe, held together by gravity. These behemoths contain hundreds or thousands of individual galaxies that are immersed in gas with temperatures of millions of degrees.

This hot gas, which is the heftiest component of the galaxy clusters aside from unseen dark matter, glows brightly in X-ray light detected by Chandra. Over time, the gas in the centers of these clusters should cool enough that stars form at prodigious rates. However, this is not what astronomers have observed in many galaxy clusters.

An interactive image, podcast, and video about these findings are available at: chandra.si.edu
For more Chandra images, multimedia and related materials, visit: www.nasa.gov/chandra

NASA Rocket Experiment Finds the Universe Brighter Than We Thought

RELEASE 14-310 (Click here for the full article) – 6 November 2014

2014dec14_14_310A NASA sounding rocket experiment has detected a surprising surplus of infrared light in the dark space between galaxies, a diffuse cosmic glow as bright as all known galaxies combined. The glow is thought to be from orphaned stars flung out of galaxies.

The findings redefine what scientists think of as galaxies. Galaxies may not have a set boundary of stars, but instead stretch out to great distances, forming a vast, interconnected sea of stars.

Observations from the Cosmic Infrared Background Experiment, or CIBER, are helping settle a debate on whether this background infrared light in the universe, previously detected by NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope, comes from these streams of stripped stars too distant to be seen individually, or alternatively from the first galaxies to form in the universe.

For more information on NASA’s sounding rocket experiments, visit:
www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/sounding-rockets/
For more information about CIBER, visit: ciber.caltech.edu/rocket.html

Mars Spacecraft Reveal Comet Flyby Effects on Martian Atmosphere

RELEASE 14-311 (Click here for the full article) – 7 November 2014

2014dec14_14_311Two NASA and one European spacecraft that obtained the first up-close observations of a comet flyby of Mars on Oct. 19, have gathered new information about the basic properties of the comet’s nucleus and directly detected the effects on the Martian atmosphere.

Data from observations carried out by NASA’s Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) mission, NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO), and a radar instrument on the European Space Agency’s (ESA’s) Mars Express spacecraft have revealed that debris from the comet added a temporary and very strong layer of ions to the ionosphere, the electrically charged layer high above Mars. In these observations, scientists were able to make a direct connection from the input of debris from a specific meteor shower to the formation of this kind of transient layer in response; that is a first on any planet, including Earth.

For more information about NASA’s Mars missions, visit: www.nasa.gov/mars

NASA’s New Orion Spacecraft Completes First Spaceflight Test

RELEASE 14-325 (Click here for the full article) – 5 December 2014

2014dec14_14_325NASA marked a major milestone Friday on its journey to Mars as the Orion spacecraft completed its first voyage to space, traveling farther than any spacecraft designed for astronauts has been in more than 40 years.

“Today’s flight test of Orion is a huge step for NASA and a really critical part of our work to pioneer deep space on our Journey to Mars,” said NASA Administrator Charles Bolden. “The teams did a tremendous job putting Orion through its paces in the real environment it will endure as we push the boundary of human exploration in the coming years.”

For more information about Orion, its flight test and the Journey to Mars, visit: www.nasa.gov/orion and go.nasa.gov/1pVQu0S

NASA’s Fermi Space Telescope Reveals New Source of Gamma Rays

RELEASE 14-326 (Click here for the full article) – 8 December 2014

2014dec14_14_326Observations by NASA’s Curiosity Rover indicate Mars’ Mount Sharp was built by sediments deposited in a large lake bed over tens of millions of years.

This interpretation of Curiosity’s finds in Gale Crater suggests ancient Mars maintained a climate that could have produced long-lasting lakes at many locations on the Red Planet.

“If our hypothesis for Mount Sharp holds up, it challenges the notion that warm and wet conditions were transient, local, or only underground on Mars,” said Ashwin Vasavada, Curiosity deputy project scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena. “A more radical explanation is that Mars’ ancient, thicker atmosphere raised temperatures above freezing globally, but so far we don’t know how the atmosphere did that.”

For more information about Curiosity, visit: www.nasa.gov/msl and mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/

Follow the mission on Facebook and Twitter at: facebook.com/marscuriosity and twitter.com/marscuriosity