Here’s What’s Up
“Here’s What’s Up” is the Longo Planetarium’s weekly link to some fascinating astronomical topic. This is an archive of all the items we have posted. Keep up with this by liking the CCM Facebook page at www.facebook.com/countycollegeofmorris!
- April 11, 2016 – If you were to go into space, would you be willing to live in a balloon? Seems a little scary, but the BEAM (Bigelow Expandable Activity Module) is just that! Sent up by the SpaceX, being tested over the next 2 years, layered fabric, strong as steel, and lightweight, it could provide easy ways to expand the functional area of the International Space Station, and pave the way for the possibility of sending humans to Mars. Learn more here: https://www.nasa.gov/content/bigelow-expandable-activity-module
- February 29, 2016 – We are stuck in our island of 200 billion stars called the Milky Way. How can we map this galaxy we are stuck inside? In an unusual way — map the DUST! The APEX telescope shows us the disc of the galaxy in unprecedented detail. See a video of the edge of our galactic house:https://www.sciencedaily.com/videos/5e3c7256a7a29dbcecafb1ae39fcb72f.htm
- January 11, 2016 – We bid goodbye to a legend today. David Bowie inspired music, as well as folks to look forward to the possibility of science and imagination. Evidence of this: Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield, aboard the International Space Station, produced the first music video in space, playing Bowie’s “Space Oddity”. It is one of the most watched internet videos, and spoken of by Bowie himself as the most beautiful, moving, and honest version of his song ever produced. With over 27 million views, you have likely seen it, but it’s a perfect time to revisit it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KaOC9danxNo
- January 4, 2016 – For our first posting of the New Year, let’s turn our eyes back towards home.¬† The DSCOVR spacecraft is approximately a million miles from Earth, and the only observatory able to see a constant view of the complete daytime side of the Earth at once.¬† It is parked in an orbit around The Sun, directly between it and our planet.¬† It is there to view weather, climate, and ground-based events such as sandstorms and forest fires, as well as being able to predict dangerous solar bursts heading our way.See an overview of the mission, and a link to see constantly update images of our precious home:¬†http://science.nasa.gov/science-news/science-at-nasa/2015/23dec_marble/
- December 14, 2015 – More from Pluto! We have been following the download of information from the New Horizons spacecraft for the second half of this year. The highest resolution images have been beamed to Earth, including full color images!¬† Check out the latest pictures here: http://www.nasa.gov/feature/pluto-s-close-up-now-in-color
- November 23, 2015 – Moons don’t necessarily last forever! Mars’ moon, Phobos, is showing signs of being demolished by the gravity of its parent planet. Wrinkles on its surface are showing the wear and tear on this 7 mile wide moon. It will be destroyed soon… well, astronomically soon; it will be ripped apart in around 40 million years. But we are already seeing signs of its demise. More information here: https://www.nasa.gov/feature/goddard/phobos-is-falling-apart
- October 5, 2015 – From 3.1 Billion miles away, the New Horizons spacecraft keeps surprising us with new data! This time, high-resolution images of Pluto’s largest moon Charon. With deep canyons, and massive mountains, its surface is much more planet-like than we ever expected. See the remarkable images, and a video fly-over here: http://www.nasa.gov/feature/pluto-s-big-moon-charon-reveals-a-colorful-and-violent-history
- September 28, 2015 – The MAGIC returns! Back by popular demand is Longo Planetairum’s own “Astrono-Magic for Muggles” show! On Saturday, October 24, at 3:00 pm and 5:00 pm we will be inviting Wizards and Muggles alike to look at the amazing astronomy that weaves it’s way through the Harry Potter universe. Tickets are $10 each. Call 973-328-5076 soon for reservations — these shows will surely sell out quickly!
- September 21, 2015 – On September 27th, we will experience a full lunar eclipse, when the moon will be at one of its closest points. This is a rare event, and should not be missed! NASA created a wonderful informative video explaining the event: http://svs.gsfc.nasa.gov/cgi-bin/details.cgi?aid=11981
- September 15, 2015 – Pluto’s next batch of images are returning from the New Horizons spacecraft! The first images sent back in July were intriguing, and the more detail we get, the more intriguing things seem. See one of the latest images with lots of further links here: http://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap150914.html
- September 8, 2015 – For the first time ever, there will be a star party at the White House! On October 19th, there will be stargazing from the South Lawn with President Obama, and lots of opportunities to participate with your school or community. Find out about this groundbreaking space science night:¬†http://tinyurl.com/npznc48
- May 18, 2015 – The World Science Festival Street Fair is approaching! On Sunday, May 31st, in Washington Square Park in NYC, come encounter science in exciting and innovative ways. NASA will have a huge presence this year, including the new NASA Orbit Pavilion. There will be so much to do for minds of all ages… displays, demos, shows. AND IT IS FREE! It will be a “day of science your family will never forget.” Check it out: http://www.worldsciencefestival.com/programs/ultimate-science-street-fair/
- May 11, 2015 – Our universe just appeared a little larger — A galaxy further away than any other previously known has been discovered. The light we see from here on Earth today left this galaxy over 13 billion years ago! Learn more of this amazingly energetic galaxy, and the optimistic possibilities for finding more of them in the future: http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/speaking-of-science/wp/2015/05/05/astronomers-measure-most-distant-galaxy-yet/
- April 13, 2015 – As the Dawn spacecraft continues to study Ceres, and we await glorious images of its surface, NASA has released an interactive map of the Dawn spacecraft’s first destination, Vesta. Explore its surface in rich detail here: http://solarsystem.nasa.gov/news/display.cfm?News_ID=48984
- March 30, 2015 – One of the most haunting and beautiful images has just been returned from Mars. The Opportunity Rover had the ‘opportunity’ to take a self portrait in shadow. Eerie mountains in the distance, and a perfect shadow in the foreground. See it here: http://apod.nasa.gov/apod/image/1503/marsshadow_opportunity_1024.jpg
- March 2, 2015¬†– And now… an incredible mystery: An asteroid that shines back! The Dawn spacecraft is approaching the asteroid Ceres, and as it does it is noticing a couple of mysterious reflective places, unlike anything we have ever seen before! What could they be? NASA has no idea, but we hope to unravel this riddle in when Dawn gets there at the end of this week.¬† Here’s a statement from NASA regarding this enigma: http://science.nasa.gov/science-news/science-at-nasa/2015/27feb_cerespuzzle/
- December 18, 2014 – As we finish up the semester and the year, we thought it would be a nice idea to show the lighter side of our workers at NASA. These folks obviously love their jobs, and they are “All About That Space!” http://news.distractify.com/mark-pygas/nasa-all-about-that-space/
- December 8, 2014 – NASA’s next space vehicle, the Orion Spacefcraft successfully finished its first unmanned test flight last week. What is the future use of this spacecraft? To the Moon, asteroids, Mars, and beyond — see what we have in store right here: http://www.space.com/27940-nasa-orion-spacecraft-future.html
- November 24, 2014 – We’ve been mentioning comets quite a bit lately. But how do we understand WHAT a comet is? Here is a great activity for the classroom, mainly geared towards middle school, that can get students really thinking about comets, their composition, and importance! http://sciencefriday.com/teacher-resources/11/21/2014/what-exactly-is-a-comet.html There are lots of audio clips from scientists to illuminate tricky concepts.
- November 17, 2014 – What might planets beyond our solar system look like? We are coming closer to an educated guess. Planets are notorious tricky to detect, as they get drowned out by the light of their sun. But, using other techniques, and seeing the effects on lanes of dust can gives us some great information.¬† Images, and other details are available here: http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.php?feature=4368
- November 10, 2014 – Rosetta spacecraft update! This Wednesday, November 12, we may be marking a big milestone in space exploration as the Philae probe detaches from Rosetta and tries to impale itself onto the surface of comet 67P. See the exciting details, and all the possible perils of this endeavor here: http://www.cnn.com/2014/11/10/world/philae-comet-lander/
- October 27, 2014 – The Rosetta spacecraft is near Comet 67p — close enough that its instruments can get a good idea of the aromatic chemicals that make up a comet. So, now we know what a comet smells like! (Spoiler alert: it’s not pleasant!) Find out more about a comet’s pungent scent, and see some of the most detailed images of a comet’s surface here: http://www.news.com.au/technology/science/space-probe-rosetta-gets-a-whiff-of-comet-67p-and-thats-what-is-smells-like-pee/story-fnjwlcze-1227102621070
- October 20, 2014 – Yesterday, comet Siding Spring passed remarkably close (within 82,000 miles) to the surface of Mars. It gave six Mars-based spacecraft, and some deep-space observing telescopes, a unique, surprise opportunity to observe the nucleus, coma, and tail of a comet up close! See the lead-up, and follow what we have learned already here: http://earthsky.org/space/comet-c2013-a1-siding-spring-mars-encounter-october-19-2014
- September 29, 2014 – Two spacecraft from opposite sides of Earth arrived at Mars last weeek. The US Maven spacecraft and the MOM spacecraft from India each went into a Mars orbit. They are both looking for evidence of the possibility of Martian life, and the will communicate and complement each others’ information. More information here: http://www.latimes.com/science/sciencenow/la-sci-sn-mars-maven-mom-images-atmosphere-spacecraft-20140925-story.html
- September 15, 2014 – The Venus Express spacecraft is currently surfing across the atmosphere of our sister planet! After 8 years of studying the planet from afar, it has begun dipping down close enough to the planet to sort of skip across Venus’ thick cloud layers. Watch it happen, and find lots of other information, including a printable, buildable model of Venus Express: http://www.esa.int/Our_Activities/Space_Science/Venus_Express/Venus_Express_up_above_the_clouds_so_high
- September 8, 2014 – As we get back to school, let’s look at the European Mars Rover Challenge! This past weekend, students on 24 teams from all over the world met in Poland to show their innovations in robotic exploration of Mars-like environments. The robots had to accomplish 5 tasks involving scientific investigation and repairs on less than a $15,000 budget. An overview of the event is here: http://news.yahoo.com/student-built-rovers-face-off-mock-mars-missions-134751529.html. ¬†The official site with LOTS of info: http://roverchallenge.eu/
- August 25, 2014 – Our final summer reading suggestion is by Mary Roach: “Packing For Mars”. The space program has run into many hurdles and surprises in its quest for sending folks into space. From the hazards of a space toilet to the sloppiness of eating, space travel is a difficult task, resulting in many humorous anecdotes. Mary Roach goes through much of the training herself, and gets the best stories directly from the astronauts who experienced them. Investigate further here: http://www.maryroach.net/packing-for-mars.html
- August 18, 2014 – It’s time to recommend an interesting reading selection to fill out the remainder of your summer. “The Last Policeman”, by Ben Winters has a little bit for everyone. With the current trend of dystopian novels, this turns that around and is PRE-dydstopian, set in the months and weeks before a large asteroid is imminently going to crash into Earth. It is also a mystery, a conspiracy story, a road story, and a study of what life might be like before an astronomical cataclysm. This is also the first book of a trilogy, finished up with “Countdown City”, and “World of Trouble”. Learn more about the novels, published by Quirk Books, here: http://www.quirkbooks.com/TheLastPoliceman
- August 4, 2014 – The summer fun edition of Here’s What’s Up continues with an inspiration set of toys: Lego has joined the revolution promoting women working in the science and technology fields. They have released three new sets featuring women scientists: a paleontologist, a chemist, and, of course AN ASTRONOMER! Read about the story behind it here: http://time.com/3074690/lego-women-in-science-stem-toys/
- July 14, 2014 – The next few days to be loaded with stormy weather. This installment of our summer fun series is for when you’re stuck inside — why not watch a great film? “The Dish” is one of the smartest, funniest films about a side of the first moon landing very few people know about: the live broadcast of the first steps on the moon relied on a handful of fellows in a sheep meadow in Parkes, Australia. Find out how we almost DIDN’T get to see that historic moment:http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0205873/
- July 7, 2014 – This week’s summer reading selection is geared towards our middle school readers. “A Black Hole is NOT a Hole” explores the most amazing of space objects in ways that younger readers (approximately 9-12 yrs of age) will find humorous and fascinating. Loaded with great images to help explain this fascinating feature of astronomy, more info can be found here: http://www.amazon.com/Black-Hole-Not/dp/1570917833/ (And be sure to log onto Amazon Smile to support County College of Morris!)
- June 30, 2014 – It is time to begin our summer reading and fun list! Our first choice is from Cosmos’ host Neil deGrasse Tyson, who gives us a bunch of short essays on how space is trying to do us damage. “Death By Black Hole” is a bunch of bite-sized chunks of info on how crazy the universe can be! http://www.amazon.com/Death-Black-Hole-Cosmic-Quandaries/dp/0393330168# (And be sure to log onto Amazon Smile to support County College of Morris!)
- June 23, 2014 – As we head to the end of the school year, and the edge of the Solar System, it is a perfect time to see the positions of the furthest spacecraft from Earth that we still track. Voyager 1 and 2 are each well over 100 times further away from the sun than we are. You can see their constantly updating odometers, and learn much more about these marathon machines here: http://voyager.jpl.nasa.gov/where/index.html
- June 17, 2014 – In just over a year, the New Horizons spacecraft will be the first to visit Pluto up close! Even though we can’t classify Pluto as a planet, we still love the little trooper. Check out the New Horizons spacecraft, and see the countdown to rendezvous at: http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/newhorizons/main/
- May 13, 2014 – Our next planetary stop is the second-to-last of the gas giants: Uranus. At about 1.8 billion miles from the sun, it gets very little solar energy. Even at this distance, enough charged particles can reach it to create faint auroras on its otherwise plain surface. See them through the eyes of the Hubble Telescope:http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2012/04/120413-uranus-auroras-science-space-hubble/
- May 6, 2014 – As we finish our look at Saturn, we will use this installment to peer ahead to our next stop — The Cassini spacecraft has seen Uranus from the orbit of Saturn. See this first-ever perspective of the planet we will begin to explore next week: http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov/news/newsreleases/newsrelease20140501/
- ¬†April 21, 2014 -Let’s take a close look at the moon! The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter has been collecting high-resolution images of the northern hemisphere of the moon. Zoom in to amazing tiny craters and rocks on the surface of the moon at ultra-high definition at http://lroc.sese.asu.edu/gigapan/.
- March 31, 2014 – For the last few months, we have been featuring links related to our Solar System. Our little neighborhood is actually unimaginably vast — it’s difficult to describe its size and scale. However, this little web page makes a fairly decent attempt, “If the Moon Were Only 1 Pixel”:http://joshworth.com/dev/pixelspace/pixelspace_solarsystem.html.
- March 24, 2014 – As we spend some more time by Saturn, we can’t neglect its amazing ring system. This shiny disc looks tranquil from far away, but up close you would see a dynamic, chaotic system of clumps of ice and snow. See some of the recent twists in Saturn’s rings here: http://www.universetoday.com/109254/saturns-ring-shows-a-twist-in-cassini-snapshot/
- March 17, 2014 – ATTENTION teachers and parents of 5th through 12th graders! The Cassini team has announced their spring “Scientist for a Day” essay contest. This is a great opportunity to have your class explore and write about the wispy F ring, the mega-moon Titan, or the hexagonal storm at Saturn’s north pole. Join NASA and the Cassini team, and help determine the next course of the study of Saturn: http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov/education/scientistforaday13thedition/
- March 3, 2014 – As we continue to pay a visit to Saturn, we highlight one of the most bizarre sights in the Solar System — a giant 6-sided storm! It is unclear why this giant hurricane-like feature on Saturn has a honeycomb-shaped border. It is quite a sight — here are some of the best images of this oddity: http://www.space.com/18674-saturn-vortex-hexagon-storm-photos.html
- February 24, 2014 – We now scoot along to look at a satellite we have placed around Saturn. The Cassini spacecraft arrived in 2004, and has been working flawlessly ever since, dramatically increasing our understanding of this ringed planetary marvel! Explore the fascinating equipment and abilities of this intrepid machine:http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov/spacecraft/overview/
- February 6, 2014 – So, since it has been so frigid here, I thought I’d remind you of the moon of ice — Europa.¬† This moon of Jupiter is covered with a thick sheet of ice, and most of the rest of its body is a giant liquid ocean.¬† It has all the building blocks of life, but at -275 degrees, can you call this living?!¬† Check out everything regarding Europa here:¬†http://solarsystem.nasa.gov/europa/faq.cfm
- ¬†January 29, 2014 – As we linger around Jupiter for a bit, let’s start looking at some of its interesting moons. Io is a small moon, whose body gets squished and squeezed by the gravity of Jupiter like it is a dog toy.¬† Just like we have ocean tides here on Earth, Io has SURFACE tides, and hot lava gets squeezed thousands of feet into the air.¬† Investigate this fascinating place further here: http://spaceplace.nasa.gov/io-tides/en/
- November 25, 2013 – We continue our exploration of the Asteroid Belt as we visit one of the best resources for educators and hobbyists: The NASA Discovery “Small Worlds” site. There is plenty of news and information, and tons of activities for the classroom, as well as at home to keep our young scientists busy on those days off from school! Check out all the great info, images, and activities at http://discovery.nasa.gov/smallworlds.cfml.
- November 18, 2013 – We continue to explore the Asteroid Belt by checking on the Dawn spacecraft. Launched back in 2007, this spacecraft has visited Asteroid Vesta during 2011 and 2012, and will continue on to Asteroid Ceres, and will become a permanent satellite of this dwarf planet in 2015. Follow the fascinating facts we’ve found, and what we hope to find in the future at: http://dawn.jpl.nasa.gov/.
- November 11, 2013 – Our trek through the Solar System now brings us to the Asteroid Belt, where we have just discovered one of the oddest objects we have ever seen: an asteroid spraying out comet like trails of dust, but in all directions. This mysterious objects is spouting and spinning like a lawn sprinkler! Pictures and info of the asteroid, currently known as P/2013 P5, is available here: http://hubblesite.org/newscenter/archive/releases/2013/52
- November 4, 2013 – Mars has two potato-shaped moons, which are worth further investigation. They may be pit-stops on our way to human of exploration of Mars! Tons of information about these curious moons are available here:http://www.space.com/20413-phobos-deimos-mars-moons.html.
- October 30, 2013 –¬† The next mission Mars is on track to launch on the afternoon of November 18! The MAVEN spacecraft will study the atmosphere of Mars, and see how it has dissipated over time, and whether it could have supported some kind of extraterrestrial life.¬† Follow everything related to this mission, and even watch the launch live athttp://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/maven/
- October 9, 2013 – NASA’s Juno spacecraft, launched back in August 2011, will be swinging back home TODAY, (Oct. 9) before continuing it’s journey to Jupiter! It will be stealing a tiny bit of Earth’s orbital momentum in order to get the boost it needs to reach the gas giant in 2016. Amateur radio operators (HAMs) are invited to say “Hi” to Juno by transmitting Morse code. More info on Juno is here: http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/missions/details.php?id=5888 HAM radio operators can get instructions here: http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/hijuno/
- September 30, 2013 – Today we take a closer look at our own backyard.¬† To see some wonderful views of our planet from above, and a top ten things you should know about Earth, stop and explore here:http://solarsystem.nasa.gov/planets/profile.cfm?Object=Earth
- September 23, 2013 – Our tour of the Solar System now takes us to Venus!¬† A harsh landscape has made it quite difficult to arrive at the surface of our next-door neighbor.¬† But, in the late 1970’s a handful of Russian spacecraft called Venera managed to hit the ground and take some pictures.¬† See the intriguing photos, and other information, here:¬†http://mentallandscape.com/C_CatalogVenus.htm
- September 16, 2013 –¬†Our journey through the Solar System began with the Sun last week. We now head 36 million miles from there to stop by Mercury! The Messenger spacecraft has taken over 170,000 images of this planet, and revealed exciting information, as well as some mysteries. Find out more: http://messenger.jhuapl.edu/index.php
- September 9, 2013 –¬†Our updates are about to embark on a journey through the Solar System. Let’s begin with the Sun. The STEREO spacecraft has shown us some of the most amazing and intriguing picture of the star that holds our planetary system together! For everything you wanted to know, and a bunch of surprises, about the Sun, check it out here:http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/stereo/main/#.Ui3GlNKsiSo
- August 19, 2013 – Many years ago, the web site http://nineplanets.org¬†brought together the most comprehensive collection of facts and mythology related to the planets in the Solar System. Even though the number of planets has dropped to eight, they kept their classic name, as well as continuing to update the web site with some of the best information and images of our neighborhood of space!
- August 12, 2013 – Hopefully the clouds will stay away tonight, so you may be able to catch a glimpse of some cosmic dust streaking into our atmosphere! Here’s some information on this and other meteor showers:
- August 6, 2013 – For 20 years, the Hubble Space Telescope has dazzled us with remarkable images of astronomical wonders. To mark this occasion, you can look back at some the highlights, and even send your very own personal ‘happy birthday’ message up to the satellite itself! http://www.google.com/earth/explore/showcase/hubble20th.html.
- July 31, 2013 – The International Space Station is a remarkable scientific achievement. Seeing this speck drift across the night sky, and knowing you are viewing a handful of astronauts living and working in space – about 260 miles up – is awe inspiring. When can you see it? Find out with this interactive website: http://spotthestation.nasa.gov/
- June 17, 2013 – We always follow the weather here on Earth, but we sometimes forget that as the solar wind pushes past us and proceeds to other planets, that space has weather, as well! To keep up with these events, and other astronomical marvels, such as meteor showers, just go visit http://spaceweather.com/
- June 13, 2013 – For 23 years, the Hubble Space Telescope has shown us that space science can be beautiful! The Amazing Space website has resources for educators, parents, and students, with a nearly endless supply of engaging information and activities. Go see it: http://amazing-space.stsci.edu/
- June 4, 2013 – As the school year winds down and summer begins, parents, teachers and students are looking for engaging activities. Here’s some great models you can print and make for free! From a bal…loon-powered nanorover, to a cream-filled ice cream cone Cassini model, here are fun projects for all abilities, grade levels and interests: http://solarsystem.nasa.gov/kids/index.cfm?Filename=papermodels
- May 13, 2013 – For the finest, free, printable star charts around, StarMaps is a wonderful website. They provide monthly guides to our skies, with detailed constellations, as well as any special astronomical events you can see with telescopes, binoculars, or just the naked eye. Print out a new guide every month at: http://skymaps.com/downloads.html.
- May 6, 2013 – In honor of our 19th annual Women Who Dare program happening this week, we remind you that NASA has exciting careers for everyone. The Women of NASA have been working hard to remind young women that a job in space science is a challenging, lucrative one. They’ve created a website to help you prepare for a career, with lots of background on the groundbreaking women who make space exploration possible! Find out more here:http://women.nasa.gov/careers/
- May 1, 2013 – Our planetary next door neighbor, Mars, is an intriguing world. It would be nice to visit, but the distance is a huge hurdle. How far away is it? Take the trip here: http://www.distancetomars.com/
- April 1, 2013: April is “Earth Month,” so we figured we’d start it off by looking back towards where we live. Explore some of the most interesting places on Earth, featuring some of the finest images of our home:www.nasa.gov/externalflash/earthmonth2013/index.html
- April 9, 2013: The next horizon of space travel is an investigation of the asteroids. They may be ripe for exploration, and could hold lots of natural resources. NASA plans on going on the ultimate fishing trip: to hook an asteroid, and drag it closer to home for further study! http://news.discovery.com/space/asteroids-meteors-meteorites/nasa-to-hunt-and-capture-an-asteroid-130407.htm
- April 22, 2013: We’re all hoping for clear skies tonight to catch a glimpse of the Lyrid Meteor shower, whose peak is tonight! An early large moon may wash out the skies after sunset, so the best time for a chance to see a shooting star will be the last few hours before sunrise (3 AM – 6 AM). This is not traditionally a large meteor shower, but even seeing a couple streaks across the sky is a thrill.¬† More information on the history or this shower and viewing tips are here:http://earthsky.org/tonight/lyrid-meteors-increase-while-moon-waxes-throughout-weekend.
- March 25, 2013: “Mars in a Minute” is a nifty, simple glimpse at how we communicate, and lose communication with the rovers on Mars. Check it out: www.nasa.gov/multimedia/videogallery/index.html?collection_id=18895&media_id=161136981
- March 18, 2013: The Kepler Space Telescope is scanning the skies for planets beyond our solar system. Now, YOU can create your own far-off planet, and even save a portrait of your alien world! Try it now:¬†220.127.116.11/system/interactable/1/index.html