Monthly Archives: November 2018

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NASA Night Sky Notes for December 2018: Observe Apollo 8’s Lunar Milestones

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 December, 2018.

By David Prosper

December marks the 50th anniversary of NASA’s Apollo 8 mission, when humans first orbited the Moon in a triumph of human engineering. The mission may be most famous for “Earthrise,” the iconic photograph of Earth suspended over the rugged lunar surface. “Earthrise” inspired the imaginations of people around the world and remains one of the most famous photos ever taken. This month also brings a great potential display of the Geminids and a close approach by Comet 46P/Wirtanen.

You can take note of Apollo 8’s mission milestones while observing the Moon this month. Watch the nearly full Moon rise just before sunset on December 21, exactly 50 years after Apollo 8 launched; it will be near the bright orange star Aldebaran in Taurus. The following evenings watch it pass over the top of Orion and on through Gemini; on those days five decades earlier, astronauts Frank Borman, Jim Lovell, and Bill Anders sped towards the Moon in their fully crewed command module. Notice how the Moon rises later each evening, and how its phase wanes from full on Dec 22 to gibbous through the rest of the week. Can you imagine what phase Earth would appear as if you were standing on the Moon, looking back? The three brave astronauts spent 20 sleepless hours in orbit around the Moon, starting on Dec 24, 1968. During those ten orbits they became the first humans to see with their own eyes both the far side of the Moon and an Earthrise! The crew telecast a holiday message on December 25 to a record number of Earthbound viewers as they orbited over the lifeless lunar terrain; “Good night, good luck, a merry Christmas and God bless all of you – all of you on the good Earth.” 50 years later, spot the Moon on these holiday evenings as it travels through Cancer and Leo. Just two days later the astronauts splashed down into the Pacific Ocean after achieving all the mission’s test objectives, paving the way for another giant leap in space exploration the following year.

The Geminids, an excellent annual meteor shower, peaks the evening of December 13 through the morning of the 14th. They get their chance to truly shine after a waxing crescent Moon sets around 10:30 pm on the 13th. Expert Geminid observers can spot around 100 meteors per hour under ideal conditions. You’ll spot quite a few meteors by avoiding bad weather and light pollution if you can, and of course make sure to bundle up and take frequent warming breaks. The Geminids have an unusual origin compared to most meteor showers, which generally spring from icy comets. The tiny particles Earth passes through these evenings come from a strange “rock comet” named asteroid 3200 Phaethon. This dusty asteroid experiences faint outbursts of fine particles of rock instead of ice.

You can also look for comet 46P/Wirtanen while you’re out meteor watching. Its closest approach to Earth brings it within 7.1 million miles of us on December 16. That’s 30 times the average Earth-Moon distance! While passing near enough to rank as the 10th closest cometary approach in modern times, there is no danger of this object striking our planet. Cometary brightness is hard to predict, and while there is a chance comet 46P/Wirtanen may flare up to naked eye visibility, it will likely remain visible only via binoculars or telescopes. You’ll be able to see for yourself how much 46P/Wirtanen actually brightens. Some of the best nights to hunt for it will be December 15 and 16 as it passes between two prominent star clusters in Taurus: the Pleiades and the V-shaped Hyades. Happy hunting!

Catch up on all of NASA’s past, current, and future missions at

Caption: Earthrise, 1968. Note the phase of Earth as seen from the Moon. Nearside lunar observers see Earth go through a complete set of phases. However, only orbiting astronauts witness Earthrises; for stationary lunar observers, Earth barely moves at all. Why is that? Credit: Bill Anders/NASA

About The NASA Night Sky Network

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

Free Astronomy Magazine – November-December 2018 Issue Available For Reading And Download

Greetings, fellow astrophiles!

The most recent issue of Free Astronomy Magazine (November-December 2018) is available for your reading and downloading pleasure at (click the link to go directly to the issue).

Free Astronomy Magazine 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 2018

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

November-December 2018 –

For those who want to jump right to the PDF download (15 MB), Click here: November-December 2018

TACNY Junior Cafe Scientifique: “Mind, Body And Code: Two Students Talk Science”

Saturday – November 17, 2018, 9:30-11:00am

Please RSVP to

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

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Talk 1: “You Are What You Eat”

Speaker: Rachel Elman, Senior at Fayetteville Manlius Senior High School, and Student Researcher, Department of Biology, Syracuse University

Talk Overview: We’ve all been told that unhealthy food makes for an unhealthy consumer. Decades of research has shown that the United States “western diet”, full of high fats and sugars, is detrimental to our health. This consumption has been linked to the development of metabolic syndrome, a collection of cardiovascular risk factors that serve as a precursor to type two diabetes, a life threatening disease that impacts synthesis and release of insulin. But what if our western diet wasn’t just bad for the health of our bodies, but was bad for the health of the brain as well? See how a fellow student aimed to answer this question, and explore a line of research that seeks to understand the complicated effects of our food on our brain.

Biography: Throughout her high school career, Rachel has worked as a student researcher in a neurobiology laboratory at Syracuse University. This SU lab’s research interests focus on the neural mechanisms of learning and memory, while her own research has centered on the cognitive effects of a “western” high fat diet through investigating synthesis of brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) in the rat brain and body. Rachel entered her project into the Central New York science and engineering fair this past year and won the grand prize. Her more recent research focuses on BDNF function in female rats with variations of the val/met polymorphism of the BDNF gene. In her spare time, Rachel enjoys reading, travel with her family, and participating in special Olympics unified sports and volunteering in her school’s special education department.

Talk 2: “Cracking the Code of AI”

Speaker: Maximilian Du, Junior at Fayetteville-Manlius High school, and Student AI Researcher and Developer

Talk Overview: It seems that computers are now something that we can’t live without. From the smartphones in our pockets to the supercomputers that drive us ever closer to curing cancer, they have become more and more important in our daily lives. Unfortunately, because of their abundance, we often forget how incredibly complicated they really are. A lot goes into every “Ok Google”, every self-driving car’s turn, and every recommended video on YouTube, but as different as these tasks sound, they all have a singular driving force: Artificial Intelligence. Come learn about this concept that used to only belong on the pages of science fiction books and see what an aspiring AI researcher is doing to help expand this powerful tool to uncharted domains.

Biography: Always interested in science, Max has a home chemistry lab and electronics workbench, and enjoys tinkering around and fixing whatever is broken. Throughout his high school years, he has not only been fascinated with electrical engineering and chemistry, but also with artificial intelligence and its application towards real-life problems. Last year, Max designed a novel and non-invasive infant monitor that monitors breathing sounds from a baby using Recurrent Neural Networks, a form of artificial intelligence, to monitor for SIDS, or Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. He entered this project into the CNYSEF this past March and won the grand prize along with two other contestants, and competed in Intel ISEF, winning two special awards. In his free time, Max enjoys playing tennis, gardening, and most of all, figuring out what fascinating and often profound thing he should do next for fun.

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

NEXT – Technology, Manufacturing and Biotech Event – 15 November 2018

Greetings, fellow astrophiles!

This in from the TACNY email list.

NEXT – Technology, Manufacturing and Biotech

“Now in its fifth year, the NEXT conference focuses on innovation in technology, manufacturing, and biotech. The event brings together fast-track companies, managers, researchers, medical professionals, investors, and entrepreneurs to meet and learn from each other and from global thought leaders and industry experts. The dynamic full-day program boasts two world-class keynotes, as well as interactive educational workshops in three concurrent tracks. A Technology Showcase features breakthrough science from university and industry research teams and displays from businesses developing cutting-edge products, giving attendees a unique first-hand look at NEXT generation opportunities, tools, and discoveries.”

15 November 2018
Holiday Inn Syracuse-Liverpool, Liverpool, NY


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, visit

Sweet Science Series – Environmental Data: New Mediums For Visualization

Thursday, 8 November 2018, 6:00 – 7:30 p.m.; Refreshments at 5:30 p.m.

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

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As a consequence of inexpensive sensors, ubiquitous tracking devices, and abundant digital storage, the cities and buildings we live in have never been more monitored or recorded. Various government entities and private interests have created a tremendous database of recorded energy use, climactic conditions, and even social interaction. Despite the data’s availability, it remains comprehensively inaccessible. How can new emerging mixed reality (MR) technologies- including digital projection, virtual reality (VR), and augmented reality (AR) – relate data back to its physical and spatial conditions and transform data into engaging information? This presentation will describe a range of projects that model quantified data within buildings and cities as immersive or interactive environments. The presentation will include a VR demonstration and conclude with speculation on how this process might be used in the future to inform healthy, intelligent and resilient built environments.

People interested in learning more about data visualization are invited to attend the free Sweet Science Series presentation on Thursday, November 8th, from 6:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. in the Space Gallery meeting room at the Museum of Science & Technology in Syracuse’s Armory Square. Admission is free and open to the public. Light snacks will be served at 5:30pm. Walk-ins are welcome, but we ask that people RSVP by clicking here by November 6th, 2018.


Amber Bartosh is a LEED-accredited architect and interior designer who has designed and managed award-winning projects in the United States, China, Kuwait, and the U.A.E. She received her B.A. in Art and Architecture from Rice University and her M.Arch from the Southern California Institute of Architecture (SCI-Arc). Amber is currently an Assistant Professor at Syracuse University School of Architecture, a Syracuse Center of Excellence Faculty Fellow, and co-director of the Interactive Design and Visualization Lab (IDVL).

Her work focuses on the sustainability and resilience of emergent materials and tools for architectural application through physical prototyping, advanced visualization technologies, and hybrid reality simulations.

TACNY John Edson Sweet Lecture Series

TACNY John Edson Sweet Lectures, a program founded in 1913, is now called the Sweet Science Series and features discussions about topics in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics in an informal atmosphere for adults of all levels of technical understanding. A minimum of six free and open to the public presentations are held each year.

About The MOST

The Milton J. Rubenstein Museum of Science & Technology (MOST) is a hands-on science and technology museum for all ages. The MOST hosts numerous STEM education programs and community outreach events annually and is home to 35,000 square feet of interactive exhibits, Silverman Planetarium, and Bristol IMAX® Omnitheater – the only domed IMAX theater in New York State. The MOST’s vision is to be a preeminent science and technology center, inspiring all generations through hands-on education and entertainment.

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