Tag Archives: Universe

MOST February Break Week Day Camp, 20 – 24 February 2017

Greetings, fellow astrophiles!

This in from the TACNY listserve.

The Milton J. Rubenstein Museum of Science & Technology has answered parental demand by offering its first February break day camp, called Expedition MOST (most.org/learn/vacation-camps/). Children ages 6 to 12 can spend their vacation learning about everything from nanotechnology to the vast universe.

Every day, museum educators will help campers explore a different STEM topic by taking an expedition to a different part of the MOST. Their day will be filled with games, science experiments, and even explosions.

The camp runs 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Feb. 20 to 24, 2017. The MOST will provide a healthy morning snack, but campers must bring a lunch that doesn’t need to be refrigerated or microwaved.

The camp costs $250 for MOST members and $280 for nonmembers, but additional children from the same family are half price. The registration deadline is Feb. 10 and space is limited, so interested parents should sign up soon.

You can register online at the MOST’s website. You can download a letter for parents and the registration packet at the site. Return the registration materials with a $50 deposit by Feb. 10 to keep a space for your child. The balance of the fee is due before the start of camp.

For more information, contact Cynthia Waibel via email at cwaibel@most.org or phone at 315-425-9068, extension 2141.

And from the MOST website (as of 10 January 2017):

Expedition MOST: A Journey Through Science

Spend your February break learning about everything from nanotechnology to the vast universe with our weeklong day camp, Expedition MOST. Every day, we will explore a different STEM topic by taking an expedition to a different part of the museum. Your day will be filled with games, science experiments, and even explosions! Sign up today!

The details:

* Runs 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Feb. 20-24, 2017
* Includes a healthy morning snack, but campers must bring a lunch that doesn’t need to be refrigerated
* Designed for children ages 6 to 12
* Minimum of 10, maximum of 20 campers
* Cost is $250 for MOST members, $280 for nonmembers
* Siblings are half price!
* Registration closes Feb. 10

Download a letter for parents and the registration packet, and return the registration materials by Feb. 10 to keep a space for your child. A $50 deposit is due when you reserve a spot, and the balance is due before the start of camp.

You can sign up for Expedition MOST online or by contacting Cynthia Waibel via email or phone at 315-425-9068 x2141.

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.

NASA Space Place – The Invisible Shield Of Our Sun

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. NASA Space Place has been providing general audience articles for quite some time that are freely available for download and republishing. Your tax dollars help promote science! The following article was provided for reprinting in July, 2014.

By Dr. Ethan Siegel

2013february2_spaceplaceWhether you look at the planets within our solar system, the stars within our galaxy or the galaxies spread throughout the universe, it’s striking how empty outer space truly is. Even though the largest concentrations of mass are separated by huge distances, interstellar space isn’t empty: it’s filled with dilute amounts of gas, dust, radiation and ionized plasma. Although we’ve long been able to detect these components remotely, it’s only since 2012 that a man-made spacecraft — Voyager 1 — successfully entered and gave our first direct measurements of the interstellar medium (ISM).

What we found was an amazing confirmation of the idea that our Sun creates a humongous “shield” around our solar system, the heliosphere, where the outward flux of the solar wind crashes against the ISM. Over 100 AU in radius, the heliosphere prevents the ionized plasma from the ISM from nearing the planets, asteroids and Kuiper belt objects contained within it. How? In addition to various wavelengths of light, the Sun is also a tremendous source of fast-moving, charged particles (mostly protons) that move between 300 and 800 km/s, or nearly 0.3% the speed of light. To achieve these speeds, these particles originate from the Sun’s superheated corona, with temperatures in excess of 1,000,000 Kelvin!

When Voyager 1 finally left the heliosphere, it found a 40-fold increase in the density of ionized plasma particles. In addition, traveling beyond the heliopause showed a tremendous rise in the flux of intermediate-to-high energy cosmic ray protons, proving that our Sun shields our solar system quite effectively. Finally, it showed that the outer edges of the heliosheath consist of two zones, where the solar wind slows and then stagnates, and disappears altogether when you pass beyond the heliopause.

Unprotected passage through interstellar space would be life-threatening, as young stars, nebulae, and other intense energy sources pass perilously close to our solar system on ten-to-hundred-million-year timescales. Yet those objects pose no major danger to terrestrial life, as our Sun’s invisible shield protects us from all but the rarer, highest energy cosmic particles. Even if we pass through a region like the Orion Nebula, our heliosphere keeps the vast majority of those dangerous ionized particles from impacting us, shielding even the solar system’s outer worlds quite effectively. NASA spacecraft like the Voyagers, IBEX and SOHO continue to teach us more about our great cosmic shield and the ISM’s irregularities. We’re not helpless as we hurtle through it; the heliosphere gives us all the protection we need!

Want to learn more about Voyager 1’s trip into interstellar space? Check this out: www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.php?release=2013-278.

Kids can test their knowledge about the Sun at NASA’s Space place: spaceplace.nasa.gov/solar-tricktionary/.

This article was provided by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, under a contract with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

2014-ll_orionis.en

Caption: Image credit: Hubble Heritage Team (AURA / STScI), C. R. O’Dell (Vanderbilt), and NASA, of the star LL Orionis and its heliosphere interacting with interstellar gas and plasma near the edge of the Orion Nebula (M42). Unlike our star, LL Orionis displays a bow shock, something our Sun will regain when the ISM next collides with us at a sufficiently large relative velocity.

About NASA Space Place

The goal of the NASA Space Place is “to inform, inspire, and involve children in the excitement of science, technology, and space exploration.” More information is available at their website: http://spaceplace.nasa.gov/

NASA Space Place – A Glorious Gravitational Lens

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. NASA Space Place has been providing general audience articles for quite some time that are freely available for download and republishing. Your tax dollars help promote science! The following article was provided for reprinting in June, 2014.

By Dr. Ethan Siegel

2013february2_spaceplaceAs we look at the universe on larger and larger scales, from stars to galaxies to groups to the largest galaxy clusters, we become able to perceive objects that are significantly farther away. But as we consider these larger classes of objects, they don’t merely emit increased amounts of light, but they also contain increased amounts of mass. Under the best of circumstances, these gravitational clumps can open up a window to the distant universe well beyond what any astronomer could hope to see otherwise.

The oldest style of telescope is the refractor, where light from an arbitrarily distant source is passed through a converging lens. The incoming light rays—initially spread over a large area—are brought together at a point on the opposite side of the lens, with light rays from significantly closer sources bent in characteristic ways as well. While the universe doesn’t consist of large optical lenses, mass itself is capable of bending light in accord with Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity, and acts as a gravitational lens!

The first prediction that real-life galaxy clusters would behave as such lenses came from Fritz Zwicky in 1937. These foreground masses would lead to multiple images and distorted arcs of the same lensed background object, all of which would be magnified as well. It wasn’t until 1979, however, that this process was confirmed with the observation of the Twin Quasar: QSO 0957+561. Gravitational lensing requires a serendipitous alignment of a massive foreground galaxy cluster with a background galaxy (or cluster) in the right location to be seen by an observer at our location, but the universe is kind enough to provide us with many such examples of this good fortune, including one accessible to astrophotographers with 11″ scopes and larger: Abell 2218.

Located in the Constellation of Draco at position (J2000): R.A. 16h 35m 54s, Dec. +66° 13′ 00″ (about 2° North of the star 18 Draconis), Abell 2218 is an extremely massive cluster of about 10,000 galaxies located 2 billion light years away, but it’s also located quite close to the zenith for northern hemisphere observers, making it a great target for deep-sky astrophotography. Multiple images and sweeping arcs abound between magnitudes 17 and 20, and include galaxies at a variety of redshifts ranging from z=0.7 all the way up to z=2.5, with farther ones at even fainter magnitudes unveiled by Hubble. For those looking for an astronomical challenge this summer, take a shot at Abell 2218, a cluster responsible for perhaps the most glorious gravitational lens visible from Earth!

Learn about current efforts to study gravitational lensing using NASA facilities: www.nasa.gov/press/2014/january/nasas-fermi-makes-first-gamma-ray-study-of-a-gravitational-lens/

Kids can learn about gravity at NASA’s Space Place: spaceplace.nasa.gov/what-is-gravity/

This article was provided by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, under a contract with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

2014june23_abel2218

Caption: Abel 2218. Image credit: NASA, ESA, and Johan Richard (Caltech). Acknowledgement: Davide de Martin & James Long (ESA/Hubble).

About NASA Space Place

The goal of the NASA Space Place is “to inform, inspire, and involve children in the excitement of science, technology, and space exploration.” More information is available at their website: http://spaceplace.nasa.gov/