Author Archives: Damian Allis

NASA Night Sky Notes: Become A Citizen Scientist With NASA!

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 May, 2020.

By David Prosper

Ever want to mix in some science with your stargazing, but not sure where to start? NASA hosts a galaxy of citizen science programs that you can join! You’ll find programs perfect for dedicated astronomers and novices alike, from reporting aurora, creating amazing images from real NASA data, searching for asteroids, and scouring data from NASA missions from the comfort of your home. If you can’t get to your favorite stargazing spot, then NASA’s suite of citizen science programs may be just the thing for you.

Jupiter shines brightly in the morning sky this spring. If you’d rather catch up on sleep, or if your local weather isn’t cooperating, all you need is a space telescope – preferably one in orbit around Jupiter! Download raw images straight from the Juno mission, and even process and submit your favorites, on the JunoCam website! You may have seen some incredible images from Juno in the news, but did you know that these images were created by enthusiasts like yourself? Go to their website and download some sample images to start your image processing journey. Who knows where it will take you? Get started at bit.ly/nasajunocam

Interested in hunting for asteroids? Want to collaborate with a team to find them?? The International Astronomical Search Collaboration program matches potential asteroid hunters together into teams throughout the year to help each other dig into astronomical data in order to spot dim objects moving in between photos. If your team discovers a potential asteroid that is later confirmed, you may even get a chance to name it! Join or build a team and search for asteroids at iasc.cosmosearch.org

Want to help discover planets around other star systems? NASA’s TESS mission is orbiting the Earth right now and scanning the sky for planets around other stars. It’s accumulating a giant horde of data, and NASA scientists need your help to sift through it all to find other worlds! You can join Planet Hunters TESS at: planethunters.org

Intrigued by these opportunities? These are just a few of the many ways to participate in NASA citizen science, including observing your local environment with the GLOBE program, reporting aurora with Aurorasaurus, measuring snowpack levels, training software for Mars missions – even counting penguins! Discover more opportunities at science.nasa.gov/citizenscience and join the NASA citizen science Facebook group at facebook.com/groups/Sciencing/ And of course, visit nasa.gov to find the latest discoveries from all the research teams at NASA!

GREAT SOUTHERN JUPITER: Incredible image of Jupiter, submitted to the JunoCam site by Kevin M. Gill. Full Credits : NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS/Kevin M. Gill
Light curve of a binary star system containing a pulsating (variable) star, as spotted on Planet Hunters TESS by user mhuten and featured by project scientist Nora Eisner as a “Light Curve of the Week.” Credit: Planet Hunters TESS/NASA/mhuten/Nora Eisner

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!

Free Astronomy Magazine – May-June 2020 Issue Available For Reading And Download

The most recent issue of Free Astronomy Magazine (May-June 2020) is available for your reading and downloading pleasure at www.astropublishing.com.

It is my hope that you had opportunity to read the perspectives from several amateur astronomers (myself included) and their organizations in the March-April issue (announcement).

May-June returns to the selected survey of astronomical content of local and cosmological interest from NASA/ESA, ESO, ALMA, as well as our fearless (and isolated in Italy) leader/editor Michele Ferrara. The two highlights of original content include an analysis of a recent journal article on the possibility of observing meteors entering the atmosphere at sub-relativistic speeds (try reading that three times fast) and another journal article (and entire research project from Cornell) on the possibility of using the known light-releasing behavior among lifeforms on Earth as a possible way to check for life on (nearby) exoplanets.

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

The web browser-readable version: www.astropublishing.com/3FAM2020/

Jump right to the PDF download (18 MB): May-June 2020

FYI – Recent Emails To CNYO For Your Consideration

Greetings fellow astrophiles,

The CNYO contact email receives a number of messages each day about space events, outreach opportunities, and freely-available or commercial items of interest. In light of many of us enjoying our extended stays at home with either freezing/cloudy conditions outside, I thought it worth sharing a few items that came in recently for your reviewing pleasure.

Edward Givens – “Constellations”

My name is Edward Givens. I’m a composer from Portland, Oregon. I just completed a new album entitled “Constellations”, which I am releasing for free.

Each piece is named after a constellation, and each composition is based on an asterism for its central motif or melodic riff. For example you could express the Big Dipper as the musical notes BBAGEDG. Of course you could express it in other ways too! – this is art not science. However, it does make for a wonderful way to initiate the creative process, and produce music that echoes an appreciation of the celestial realm.

Above, below, around
The circling systems formed
A wilderness of harmony

– Percy Bysshe Shelley

I am making the album free for the foreseeable future. To listen, or to download a copy, please go here – https://edwardgivens.bandcamp.com/album/constellations

To listen online – just click the play button. To download it, click where it says: “Buy Digital Album name your price – and simply enter 0 for the price!”

Or if you prefer, you may go to my Soundcloud page instead (and see soundcloud embed above).

Anyone is welcome to include the music in their presentations, videos or slideshows etc. especially educators. However please contact me first.

Lastly, at the time I write this – many of us are more or less confined at home. I intend this, and indeed all my music to act as an escape into the world of the imagination, to somewhere serene and restful and evocative of natural beauty. So let your mind wander among the stars for a few moments – with soundtrack!

Sincerely
Edward Givens

Dark Sky New Mexico – Remote Telescope And Imaging Hosting Company

Hello Fellow Astronomers:

Greetings from Dark Sky New Mexico. We certainly hope that you are staying healthy during these difficult times, and we send our deep concerns for anyone in your communities that may be suffering.

As you may know, if you have visited our website, we are a highly sophisticated, full service Astronomical Observatory facility located in Animas, New Mexico. We are blessed with the darkest skies and the most clear nights of almost anywhere in the world.

We wanted to let you know that we at Dark Sky New Mexico are open for business and ready to meet your remote astrophotography and/or stargazing needs!!

We have piers available in our new building, and we can have you up and running without your having to leave your home or facility! We have done many installations for astronomers who sent us their equipment, and we did the rest-we can even supply you with a telescope!

So enjoy viewing the skies, even while being in lock-down and following Social Distancing guidelines. And of course when all this passes over, you are welcome to visit our state-of-the-art facility.

Please send an email to info@darkskynewmexico.com, or call us at 508-735-1105 so we can answer all your questions. We look forward to hearing from you and telling you all about becoming a member of our community.

Thank you.

When DSNM hosts your telescope, you can look forward to:

  • Dark Skies
  • 300 Clear Nights per Year
  • Reliable Electrical Power
  • Fiber-Optic Based Communication
  • On-Site Accommodations
  • Virtually No Light, Air, or Noise Pollution
  • Modestly priced piers
  • Flexibility to share a pier with a friend or an entire astronomy club
  • 24/7 Support Services

DSNM, located near Animas, New Mexico, is among the darkest skies in the nation and has the high speed Internet services needed for remote astrophotography. With 300+ viewing nights, it is home for some of the most accomplished astrophotographers in the world. The DSNM website, www.darkskynewmexico.com features the phenomenal images taken by this group.

Ursa Major – Night Sky Star Stencils

Website: www.ursamajorstencils.com/products/night-sky

I am Dick Shimmin with Bridgeway Inc. in Galesburg, Illinois. Bridgeway is a not-for-profit agency that provides a variety of services to our veterans as well as to persons with disabilities. The sale of our American-made products helps fund those programs.

The attached information explains how our Night Sky Star Stencils decorate anyone’s home who is attracted to the night time sky, particularly those who are with the Central New York Observers.

The Night Sky Star Stencils create accurate displays of the sky at night in most any darkened room with glow-in-the-dark paint that is included. They are produced in 2 sizes featuring either the winter or summer night skies over the Northern Hemisphere. Our newest Night Sky Star Stencil displays a view over the Southern Hemisphere. Full kits include a star map, star & planet locator, paint, brush and reusable adhesive.

Retail purchases can be made directly through ursamajorstencils.com, where we do offer a $6.99 flat rate shipping fee per every retail order sent to a single address.

Please contact me should your organization be tax exempt or wish to be considered for our wholesale program.

I realize that you may receive numerous, similar requests. However, our primary objective of helping veterans and persons with disabilities may prompt you to give greater consideration to help promote our product.

Thank you

Sweet Science Series & Junior Cafe Scientifique – Joint Webinar – “Beyond COVID-19: How Do Engineering and Technology Transform the Microbiology Landscape”

Greetings, fellow astrophiles!

This in from the TACNY email list – and how appropriate that the Technology Alliance of Central New York is adapting to the current pandemic with the latest trends in online presentations.


Saturday, April 25, 11:00 am – 12:30 pm

You must register in advance HERE


Presenter: Douglas Yung, PhD

Douglas Yung is an Assistant Teaching Professor in the Department of Biomedical and Chemical Engineering at Syracuse University and the Director for the Bioengineering undergraduate program. He earned his B.Sc. in Electrical Engineering and Mathematics from UCLA in 2003 and a Ph.D. in Bioengineering from Caltech in 2008. He worked as a NASA Postdoctoral Fellow at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California on sensor development, microfluidics, and bacterial spore viability. His work includes the anthrax smoke detector, spacecraft surface sterilization, and determination of life longevity by detecting spores in extreme environments.

Douglas has long been intrigued by the interfacing of microbes with engineering tools on a micro- and nano-scale. He is unraveling methods to rapidly assess the viability of superbugs and harness energy from extremophiles using a combination of electrochemical, optical techniques and MEMS devices. He is an advocate of a hybrid teaching and learning environment replete with project-based hands-on work, experiential activities and peer collaboration, a style departing from traditional top-down expository pedagogies.

About Sweet Science 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 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.

About TACNY

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, see www.tacny.org

NASA Night Sky Notes: Hubble at 30 – Three Decades of Cosmic Discovery

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 April, 2020.

By David Prosper

The Hubble Space Telescope celebrates its 30th birthday in orbit around Earth this month! It’s hard to believe how much this telescope has changed the face of astronomy in just three decades. It had a rough start — an 8-foot mirror just slightly out of focus in the most famous case of spherical aberration of all time. But subsequent repairs and upgrades by space shuttle astronauts made Hubble a symbol of the ingenuity of human spaceflight and one of the most important scientific instruments ever created. Beginning as a twinkle in the eye of the late Nancy Grace Roman, the Hubble Space Telescope’s work over the past thirty years changed the way we view the universe, and more is yet to come!

We’ve all seen the amazing images created by Hubble and its team of scientists, but have you seen Hubble yourself? You actually can! Hubble’s orbit – around 330 miles overhead — is close enough to Earth that you can see it at night. The best times are within an hour after sunset or before sunrise, when its solar panels are angled best to reflect the light of the Sun back down to Earth. You can’t see the structure of the telescope, but you can identify it as a bright star-like point, moving silently across the night sky. It’s not as bright as the Space Station, which is much larger and whose orbit is closer to Earth (about 220 miles), but it’s still very noticeable as a single steady dot of light, speeding across the sky. Hubble’s orbit brings it directly overhead for observers located near tropical latitudes; observers further north and south can see it closer to the horizon. You can find sighting opportunities using satellite tracking apps for your smartphone or tablet, and dedicated satellite tracking websites. These resources can also help you identify other satellites that you may see passing overhead during your stargazing sessions.

NASA has a dedicated site for Hubble’s 30th’s anniversary at bit.ly/NASAHubble30. The Night Sky Network’s “Why Do We Put Telescopes in Space?” activity can help you and your audiences discover why we launch telescopes into orbit, high above the interference of Earth’s atmosphere, at bit.ly/TelescopesInSpace. Amateur astronomers may especially enjoy Hubble’s images of the beautiful objects found in both the Caldwell and Messier catalogs, at bit.ly/HubbleCaldwell and bit.ly/HubbleMessier. As we celebrate Hubble’s legacy, we look forward to the future, as there is another telescope ramping up that promises to further revolutionize our understanding of the early universe: the James Webb Space Telescope!

 Discover more about the history and future of Hubble and space telescopes at nasa.gov.

Hubble’s “first light” image. Even with the not-yet-corrected imperfections in its mirror, its images were generally sharper compared to photos taken by ground-based telescopes at the time. Image Credit: NASA

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!