Archive for the ‘astronomy’ tag

Pluto, Planet Nine and Other Backyard Worlds

By February 15th, 2017 at 7:02 pm | Comment

By: Marc J. Kuchner

Eighty-seven years ago, this week, Clyde Tombaugh was poring over a pair of photographic plates, hoping to change the world.  He was staring hard into an arcane device called a blink comparator, which allowed him to rapidly switch from viewing one image to the next. In those days before computers, that was the best tool he had for finding the faint, moving dot he was seeking, a new planet in our solar system.

When Tombaugh discovered Pluto in those photographic plates on February 18, 1930, the news made headlines all around the globe. “In the little cluster of orbs which scampers across the sidereal abyss under the name of the solar system there are, be it known, nine instead of a mere eight, worlds,” said the New York Times. It was a victory for Tombaugh, and for astronomy. Read the rest of this entry »

Citizen Science Galore at the USA Science & Engineering Festival Booth #3523

By February 19th, 2016 at 11:43 am | Comment

SciStarter, Science Cheerleader, Astronomy Magazine, and Discover Magazine exhibit will kick off events in celebration of Citizen Science Day with Public TV’s The Crowd & The Cloud!

Washington, DC – (February 15, 2016) – Celebrate Citizen Science at the USA Science & Engineering Festival (USASEF) by doing fun activities that will contribute to meaningful research on the environment, genetics, biology and more. Visit booth # 3523 to learn what citizen science is, and how to do interesting projects at home using the SciStarter website. At the booth you’ll meet experts and editors from Astronomy Magazine, Discover Magazine, and the upcoming public television series The Crowd & The Cloud. You can participate in research with scientists who will join us. Meet members of the Science Cheerleader group (current and former NFL and NBA cheerleaders pursuing science and technology careers) who will perform science-themed routines, talk to kids about their dual careers as scientists and professional cheerleaders, sign autographs and lead citizen science activities selected from SciStarter.  

If you can’t attend the Festival in person, go online to join a live Google Hangout (url will be shared via Twitter @SciStarter and #CitSciDay)  with USASEF attendees to participate in a discussion with citizen science participants/enthusiasts from across the U.S. and around the world. The Hangout will be led by former NASA Chief Scientist Waleed Abdalati, Host of The Crowd & The Cloud, and participants include Darlene Cavalier, Founder of SciStarter and Science Cheerleader, and a Professor at Arizona State University’s School for the Future of Science in Society.

The hangout will showcase events from the country in celebration of National Citizen Science Day! SciStarter is a proud partner of National Citizen Science Day, presented by the Citizen Science Association. This celebration kicks off at the USASEF on April 16 and runs through May 21, 2016. Hundreds of events will be held throughout the country, and you can find them here.  

Citizen Science Projects Featured at USASEF

FaceTopo: Help scientists build a taxonomy of the world’s adult (14+) faces by taking a 3D selfie at the USASEF and posting it to the Facetopo database! FaceTopo will map, measure, quantify, and compare a huge variety of human facial morphology to increase understanding of variation in human facial phenotypes.

Genetics and Smell Chemistry: According to the Monell Center two individuals’ smell perception differs by 30% due to a variation in the olfactory receptor gene OR10G4. You and your child can step right on up to our booth, take a whiff of a smelly cotton ball, and together, we’ll help researchers catalog the variations of smell perception from parent to child to better understand the degree of olfactory perception variation through inheritable DNA changes.

NASA’s Soil Moisture: NASA’s SMAP (Soil Moisture Active Passive) satellite is orbiting the globe every three days to measure soil moisture levels. NASA and GLOBE.gov need your help ground-truthing the data, in part, to help calibrate the accuracy of NASA’s satellite mission. This will improve weather forecasts, detail water/energy/carbon cycles, monitor droughts, predict floods, and assist crop productivity.We’ll show you how to obtain the instruments needed for this project, and how to get started!

The Great Sunflower Project: The Great Sunflower Project uses data collected on Lemon Queen sunflowers to examine the effects of pesticides on pollinators, identify the key plants to support healthy pollinator communities, and evaluate and improve gardens, parks and other green spaces for pollinators. Pick up your free pack of sunflower seeds and spend a few minutes with us to learn how to observe your new sunflower plant for five minutes to record and share information about all the pollinators that visit.

ZomBee Watch: Scientists believe that the Zombie Fly, Apocephalus borealis, is parasitizing honey bees. Help researchers determine where honey bees are being parasitized by the Zombie Fly. You’ll learn to spot infected bees (we’ll show you what that nasty Zombie Fly looks like in person!), build your own bee catcher, and report observations to this project.

 

Importance of Citizen Science to Society

Science is our most reliable system for gaining new knowledge and citizen science is the public involvement in inquiry, data collection, and the discovery of new scientific knowledge. A citizen science project can involve one person or millions of people collaborating towards a common goal. SciStarter’s website connects scientists and community leaders to more than 1,100 citizen science projects and anyone wishing to contribute to science research.

 

About the Partners in Citizen Science Booth #3523

SciStarter connects people to real science they can do by making it easy for people to find and join projects from its dynamic database featuring more than 1100 citizen science projects, events and tools!

Discover Magazine’s mission is to enable readers to lead richer lives by explaining and expanding their universe. Each month they publish in-depth information and analysis on various topics ranging from technology and space to the living world. Astronomy Magazine contains the most absorbing material relating to the world of astronomy on every page.  

Science Cheerleader works with more than 300 current and former NFL and NBA cheerleaders who playfully challenge stereotypes, inspire kids to consider careers in science and technology, and encourage everyday people to get involved in real science activities.

The upcoming public TV science documentary series, The Crowd & The Cloud (Spring 2017), presents stories of citizen science, crowdsourcing and community science from across America and around the world. Some are classic and decades-old, such as the Audubon Society’s Christmas Bird Count. Others are just starting: like Smartfin, which is partnering with the Scripps Institution of Oceanography to add hi-tech sensors to surfboards to track ocean acidification. These and many other projects come to life through engaging human stories, with C&C’s online and social media designed to help “turn viewers into active citizen scientists.”

Join the international star hunt!

By January 3rd, 2013 at 5:08 pm | Comment

Less of our light for more star light!
What would it be like without stars at night? What is it we lose?

Starry night skies have given us poetry, art, music and the wonder to explore. A bright night sky (aka “light pollution”) affects energy consumption, health and wildlife too.

Spend a few minutes to help scientists by measuring the brightness of your night sky. Join the GLOBE at Night citizen-science campaign! The first campaign starts January 3 and runs through January 12.

GLOBE at Night is a worldwide, hands-on science and education program to encourage citizen-scientists worldwide to record the brightness of their night sky. During five select sets of dates in 2013, children and adults match the appearance of a constellation (Orion or Leo in the northern hemisphere, and Orion and Crux in the southern hemisphere) with seven star charts of progressively fainter stars. Participants then submit their choice of star chart with their date, time and location. This can be done by computer (after the measurement) or by smart phone or pad (during the measurement). From these data an interactive map of all worldwide observations is created.

Over the past 7 years of 10-day campaigns, people in 115 countries have contributed over 83,000 measurements, making GLOBE at Night the most successful, light pollution citizen-science campaign to date. The GLOBE at Night website is easy to use, comprehensive, and holds an abundance of background information. Guides, activities, one-page flyers and postcards advertising the campaign are available. Through GLOBE at Night, students, teachers, parents and community members are amassing a data set from which they can explore the nature of light pollution locally and across the globe.

There are 5 GLOBE at Night campaigns in 2013:
January 3 – 12
January 31 – February 9
March 3 – 12
March 31 – April 9
April 29 – May 8

Make a difference and join the GLOBE at Night campaign.

Guest post by Dr. Constance E. Walker, director of GLOBE at Night

It’s Time to Count the Stars

By October 15th, 2011 at 7:42 pm | Comment

Each purple mark is where someone has taken a look at the stars overhead and reported the data to Star Count.

Each purple mark is where someone has taken a look at the stars overhead and reported the data to Star Count.

Wow! Take a look at the map on the Great World Wide Star Count website. The fall campaign started yesterday and already there are oodles of citizen scientists from around the world posting their data. Citizen scientists from China, Australia, India, Kuwait, Egypt, South Africa, the European Union, Canada, United States, and Mexico have gotten involved so far. They are all looking at how bright the stars are overhead to help us get a better understanding of how streetlights, porch lights, car headlights and other nighttime lights affect how we see the stars in the sky.

Because different stars are visible in different parts of the planet, people north of the equator, in the Northern Hemisphere, are looking for different stars than people south of the equator in the Southern Hemisphere. Citizen scientists that are participating in the Great World Wide Star Count in the Northern Hemisphere are looking at the brightness of stars in the constellation Cygnus. Citizen scientists in the Southern Hemisphere are looking at the brightness of stars in the constellation Sagittarius.

To join the worldwide star gazing effort, print the magnitude chart from Star Count. Then, an hour after sunset sometimes between October 14 and 28, 2011, go outside and find the constellation Cygnus or Sagittarius in the sky. (If you’d like to plan ahead yet are not sure what time the sun sets, you can figure it out with a sunset calculator.)

How bright are those stars? Can you see them clearly or are they hard to see? Compare the way the constellation looks in the sky with the magnitude charts. Record the magnitude of the stars according to the directions in the activity guide and you are ready to report your findings at the Star Count website.

After reporting the magnitude of the stars you saw, take a look at the results pouring into the Star Count map. In the five years that the project has been going on, tens of thousands of people have participated from about 90 countries around the world. You might notice on the map that the same stars appear brighter in some areas of than they do in others. The stars are the same, but they are being seen from places that have different amounts of light pollution – lights from buildings, roads and parking lots that make it difficult to see the stars of the night sky.

Great World Wide Star Count

Days: October 14-28, 2011

Time: An hour after sunset

Enjoy to stars!

Be a star: join the international star-hunt!

By February 21st, 2011 at 2:33 pm | Comments (3)

Globe at Night: February 21 - March 6, 2011

Globe at Night: Feb 21 - March 6, 2011

Have you ever seen the Milky Way from where you live? Most of us have not, and it’s largely due to increased light pollution from outdoor lighting. Light pollution not only wastes billions of dollars a year in energy and money but it causes human sleep disorders and disrupts habits critical to ecology.

Globe at Night is an international star-hunting campaign that needs volunteers to record their observations of particular constellations in order to measure light pollution. This year’s campaign runs from February 21 through March 6, 2011.

Last year, citizen scientists contributed 17,800 observations and raised awareness about the issue all over the world. The project takes just a few minutes of your time to measure sky brightness and contribute those observations online. Those of you that are tech-savvy can contribute in real-time via the Globe at Night web app. Out of this world!

Contributing to Globe at Night is as easy as pie:

1. Find your latitude and longitude.
2. Find Orion by going outside an hour after sunset (about 7-10pm local time).
3. Match your nighttime sky to one of the project’s magnitude charts.
4. Report your observation.
5. Compare your observation to thousands around the world.

Be a star! Join Globe at night!

Read the rest of this entry »