All posts for the month September, 2011

Check out Our Lunar Neighbor

Our Moon. Courtesy NASA.

So, what DOES the Moon mean to you?  That’s the question a group of folks interested in lunar exploration are asking as they prepare for International Observe the Moon Night, which is October 8th.  The idea is to get folks interested in the Moon, either by observing it or by learning more about the science that astronomers are doing to learn about the Moon. Preferably both!  The organizing team consists of scientists, educators, and Moon enthusiasts from all walks of life, the business community, and governments around the world.

So, what’s it take to get involved? Have a moon-gazing event.  It can be as simple as  gathering in your neighborhood, a gazing session at your planetarium or science center or through your astronomy club. There are already some cool events planned, like moongazing at the Casper Planetarium in Casper, Wyoming, and observing at the South African Astronomical Observatory.  You can peruse the current list of activities here.

To get folks in interested in some of the science done on the Moon past, present and future, the Astronomical Society of the Pacific has posted a special episode of their podcast series, Astronomy Behind the Headlines, called “Science From the Moon.” It’s an interview with Dr. Jack Burns of the University of Colorado’s Lunar University Network for Astrophysics Research (LUNAR)—written, conducted and produced by yours truly for ASP (with music from Geodesium)!  The podcast was made possible by NASA’s Lunar Science Institute. So, listen in on a great conversation about lunar science, and then get out there and enjoy the Moon!

Yarrr!!!!! We be Starrrrrgazin’!

Talk Like a Starry Pirate!

Ahoy, mateys, ’tis September 19th, and that means one thing—’tis Talk Like a Pirate Day!  As usual, I participate in the piratey goings-on by putting a distinctly starrrrrrrry cast on my blog entry, since astronomy is what I talk about (usually), and ’tis all about sailin’ the starrrrrrry deeps o’ space!

Now, I don’t approve of the nasty side ‘o piratin’ — you know what I mean, the ugly folks who take to the seas and really hurt people, or those folks who steal other people’s hard work (piratin’ music, etc.) … that’s not what TLAPD is all about (which ye’ll learn, if ye go to the Piratey Link above). As they say on the TLAPD page, ” So when we urge you to TALK like a pirate, we don’t mean you should ACT like a pirate. The Pirate Guys are solidly against pillaging, plundering and slaughtering like pirates.”

So, the idea here for TLAPD and the starry side o’ things is to think about what pirates and starrrrrrs have in common.

Aye, ye chumbuckets, they DO have things in common. Fer one thing, no pirate would be complete without a sextant. That’s an instrument the piratey ship’s navigator would use to help the captain and his/her crew find their way around the ocean blue by usin’ celestial objects’ (like starrrrs and planets) positions. (Ye can learn more about sextants here.)  For another thing, there’s a space pirate’s treasure chest full of celestial sights up there in the starry deeps that just beg for piratey exploration, like the Lagoon Nebula.  Pirates and lagoons go together like walkin’ and plankin’.  And, when yer out starrrrrgazin’ on Talk Like a Starry Pirate day (well, night, actually), ye should look smartly!  Ye WILL see the planet Jupiterrrrrr, and ye may also see a meteor or the Moon, risin’ up over the yardarm. If ye stay up all night into the wee hours of the mornin’, ye’ll see Marrrrrs risin’ in the east.

So, swing yer eyeballs and telescopes and binoculars around smartly, me lads and lasses, and check out the starrrrrs tonight!  Celebrate Talk Like a Pirate Day (and night) with the starrrrrs!