Posts Tagged ‘astronomy’

CSU’s Coca-Cola-Space Science Center’s Venus Transit Project In USA Today

June 3, 2012

The CCSSC is making a national name for itself with its webcasting of the transit of Venus  on Tuesday. Go to the following  link to read the USA Today story.

USA TODAY VENUS TRANSIT

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CSU Scientists Go Around the World to Capture Transit of Venus

May 28, 2012

 News release from Columbus State University

COLUMBUS, Ga. — Partnering with NASA, researchers from Columbus State University’s Coca-Cola Space Science Center are traveling to Mongolia and Australia this week to get the best possible images of Venus passing between the Earth and the sun, a celestial event that won’t occur again for another 105 years.

 Space science center staff will be teaching and watching the skies at a middle school near Alice Springs in Australia, working from a tent city in Mongolia’s Gobi Desert, and also stationed in Utah and at home in Columbus to photograph, video and webcast Venus as it moves across the face of the sun in an event that astronomers call a transit. The 2012 Transit of Venus will last nearly seven hours from June 5-6, providing extraordinary viewing opportunities for observers around the world, said Shawn Cruzen, executive director of the center and a Columbus State University astronomy professor.

 “For astronomy fans, this is a once-in-a-lifetime event,” Cruzen said. “Unfortunately audiences in the continental United States will only be able to see a portion of the transit as the sun sets in the west. An additional limitation in viewing the sun is the danger posed to the naked eye. Special equipment and techniques are required to create a safe observing environment.”

 In an effort to make this event more accessible to the public, Columbus State University’s Coca-Cola Space Science Center has partnered with NASA and the International Space School Education Trust to provide a multi-continent webcast of the 2012 Transit of Venus. The space science center is believed to be the only university-affiliated institution partnering with NASA to provide images from remote locations for its webcast. 

Audiences throughout the world will have an opportunity to experience the event safely via the Internet and NASA TV. Using private funds, Coca-Cola Space Science Center teams are traveling to Mongolia and to a school in the Australian outback near Alice Springs to be in optimal observation sites to acquire images and video of the entire transit. 

The team going to Australia left Sunday and are not only going to record the transit, but  will be part of an extensive outreach effort, teaching and lecturing about the transitand other related astronomy topics to hundreds of local schoolchildren. They are also scheduled to be interviewed by a national television station. 

The team going to Mongolia leaves June 2. They will spend about 18 hours in the air before arriving in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia and trekking to their camp. The expedition is being led by a team that includes a former space shuttle commander and a former astronaut trainer and will also include extensive leadership training, team-building and communication exercises. 

Both teams are soliciting questions about the event from students around the world and posting answers, videos and updates on a blog at http://ccsscvenustransit2012.blogspot.com.

 In addition to the teams traveling to the other side of the globe to record the transit, one team will remain in Georgia to provide local images and video of the event. A Columbus State University student, Katherine Lodder, will provide yet another set of U.S. images from Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah. Other Columbus State University students involved in the effort will be behind the scenes working on the computers to coordinate images and the webcast. 

Experts caution that the only safe ways to view the Transit of Venus will be through a solar-filtered telescope, a rear-projection screen, welding glasses (No. 14 or above) or a live webcast such as that being staged by NASA and CSU’s center. In Georgia, on Tuesday, June 5, the transit will be viewable starting at about 6 p.m., continuing until sunset. CSU staffers stationed in Mongolia and Australia will be able to view and record the entire seven-hour event, continuing into Wednesday, June 6.

“Literally, we want geographically disparate sites so we don’t get clouded out,” Cruzen said.

They will send images back to the Coca-Cola Space Science Center at 701 Front Ave. in downtown Columbus, which will be open for visitors to see pictures and videos of the transit from 5:30-11 p.m. June 5.

 Historians have traced interest in the Transit of Venus to ancient civilizations, but scientists began focusing on the planet’s movements starting in the 18th Century as a means of determining the size of the Earth’s solar system.

“Today, we know the size of the solar system,” Cruzen said. “But now, it can inspire the next generation of scientists and engineers.”

The three continental teams capturing the transit will be equipped with hydrogen alpha, calcium K-line, and solar white light filters that will allow for spectacular imaging of this event. These filters are provided by the center’s Mead Observatory, where they are used regularly to obtain images and animations of solar phenomena such as sunspots, flares, plages, faculae, prominences, and filaments. Typically, students from Columbus State study these solar phenomena to better understand the sun’s cycle of activity and its interaction with the Earth. However, during the Transit of Venus, these solar features will become, for one final period in our lives, the stunning backdrop against whichVenus’ planetary disk will cross the sun’s 865,000-mile face.

View the webcast by visiting http://www.ccssc.org/transit2012.html or by linking through the NASA partners page at NASA’s Sun Earth Day website,http://sunearthday.nasa.gov.

 

My Trip to Mars

February 7, 2012

"Mars Control"

It was me serving as communication’s officer on the space ship heading for Mars, and my old friend and venerable retired music educator Dr. George Corradino serving as my counterpart on the planet.  We were assigned that position as we participated in the Challenger Learning Center Mars Mission.  We got to press the mike button and pass along important travel instructions and end our messages with phrases like “over’ and “over and out.” 

"Mars Transport Vehicle"

 It was all part of a program for Coca-Cola Space Science Center Members. About 30 of us flew the mission just like sixth grade school kids do every year.  It was  more than instructional. It was a lot fun.  The instructors at CCSSC are really good at their jobs,  and I can see how the school kids would love participating in the space missions. I recommend it to anyone interested in the wonders of the universe.

"Mars Transport Vehicle"

 The universe is fascinating place, and though a lot has been learned about the plants, galaxies, black holes, and stars, a lot continues to be learned because there is so much we still don’t know.  I can’t think of a more enjoyable way of learning about it than at the Coca-Cola Space Science Center.   The Omnispehere, a world-class, state-of-the-art planetarium, alone is worth a trip, but I would also recommend the space travel missions, also, especially for the kids.

I’m just about to renew my membership because it’s a bargain, with special privileges and special events, and because the CCSSC deserves the community’s support. You Can learn all about it by clicking ont his link.

Moon Orbiting Astronaut Al Worden Pans the Space Shuttle Program

January 28, 2011

1971 NASA photo of astronaut Al Worden Speaking in the Omnisphere Theater at the Coca-Coal Space Science Center,  the man who orbited the moon in 1971, didn’t have much positive to say about the U.S. Space Shuttle.  “It’s a dangerous vehicle,” he told the audience on the eve of the anniversary of the 1986 Challenger disaster that took the lives of 7 United States astronauts. 

He did say, however, that if the shuttle had been successful in its original mission it would have been good.  The original mission was to provide a low-cost shuttle back and forth to the International Space Station, but the cost skyrocketed, and if the Apollo program had been continued it would have cost a lot less.

After his talk, I asked him if there was anything positive about the Shuttle. He said there were some things. For one, it put the Hubble Space Telescope into orbit.

“Should we put a man on the moon again?”

“I don’t care,” was his response.

“In other words, we shouldn’t.”

“No. The moon is nothing.”

He added that he thought we should go beyond the moon. 

A lady interjected, “Wouldn’t the moon be a good platform to launch further space exploration?”

He didn’t think it was necessary.  

He does support NASA and  the continuing exploration of outer space.   He was invited by the Coca-Cola Space and Science Center to participate in commemorating and honoring the legacy of bravery and dedication to space exploration by the crew of the Challenger Shuttle that blew up in January of 1986.

I have to admit it was somewhat special to meet and chat with a man who had orbited the moon.  He was friendly and willing to answer any questions about his experiences. He was the Apollo 15 Command Module Pilot. As David Scott and Jim Irwin explored the surface of the moon, Col. (ret.) Worden orbited the moon alone for three days in the command ship “Endeavour.”  On the trip back to earth, Worden took the furthest deep space walk, moving along the outside of “Endeavour” to retrieve film from two moon-mapping cameras.

He said the most exciting moment about the trip to the moon was when the Endeavour rotated around and he saw the moon looming large.  “We hadn’t seen the moon for 20 hours,” he said, pointing out that they were flying backwards to the moon so they didn’t see it until they were almost there. 

He had high praise for the Coca-Cola Space Science Center, praise that I echo.  It is truly a great place to learn about astronomy and space travel.  If you are really into those things, you might want to do what I just did and become a member of the Center.  The Center’s Executive Director Shawm Cruzen puts it this way:  “You can join in on the mission. Support the future of science education. Help inspire the next generation of space explorers. Become a member of CSU’s Coca-Cola Space Science Center.”

   

On the Way to “On the Shoulders of Giants”

November 11, 2008

  Every Thursday when I would arrive at the Coca-Cola Space Science Center, yellow school busses would lined up on Front Avenue, and, inside, school children would be everywhere. They were obviously having a ball as they were exposed to space science. 

Jet FLight Simulator Line, Coca-Cola Space Science Center, Columbus, GA

Jet FLight Simulator Line, Coca-Cola Space Science Center, Columbus, GA

  While operating for people of all ages -the CALL class “On the Shoulders of Giants,” about the great astronomers, that I just finished is an example of the center’s service to senior citizens –  the main target, says Assistant Director Larry Pallotta,  is the 5th grader. 

 Pallotta told me that kids also come from afar to participate in this program. Every year groups bus down from the Atlanta and Columbia, South Carolina areas and other out-town places.

 Kids like to do, not just sit and listen, and the center is a hands-on place where kids (of all ages) fly fighter jets in simulators …

Jet Flight Simulator, Coca-Cola Space Science Center, Columbus, GA

Jet Flight Simulator, Coca-Cola Space Science Center, Columbus, GA

  Operate Mars rover minatures by remote control ..

Mars Exploration Rover, Coca-Cola Space Science Center

Mars Exploration Rover, Coca-Cola Space Science Center

   Land a space shuttle …

Space Shuttle landing game, Coca-Cola Space Science Center

Space Shuttle landing game, Coca-Cola Space Science Center

  Touch a screen to see the planets of our solar system …

Planet Identifier, Coca-Cola Space Science Center

Planet Identifier, Coca-Cola Space Science Center

  This experience is one of the new ones. 

  Add these to the Omnisphere Theater, a state of the art planetarium that features a number of different shows for different age levels, and the Challenger Space Center, where students get to experience what a ride is space is like,  the Meade observatory with a 16″ LX200 Schmidt-Cassegrain  telescope, and numerous outside other programs, and you have a creative, active educational and entertaining center for learning about space science. If you haven’t been lately, go … and if you want to enjoy it to the max, take a kid with you.