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Flagstaff Festival of Science

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Festival of Science logo 2005 Flagstaff Festival of Science -

Swing into Science! From the tops of Earth's tallest trees to Saturn's mysterious moon, Titan, you'll want to Swing into Science during this 10-day adventure that may well find you exploring centuries-old volcanoes, falling for a frog, or throwing an atlatl!

USGS Astrogeology Research Program scientists and technical experts will be giving numerous talks on local and planetary science and leading a field trip to explore the San Francisco Volcanic Field! Join us at Science in the Park and meet Astrogeologists and our fellow USGS earth scientists, where we'll have hands-on demos and displays!

swing into science logoA summary of USGS events:

Saturday, Sept. 24
Science in the Park
10 a.m. - 2 p.m., Wheeler Park

Tuesday, Sept. 27
Mars Exploration Rover Missions
5 p.m., Lowell Observatory

Wednesday, Sept. 28
The Mysteries of Titan: New Images & Results from Cassini
7 p.m., Museum of Northern Arizona

Saturday, Oct. 1
Geology of the Escalante
9:40 a.m., Coconino Community College, V. Philip Tullar Commons

Sunday, Oct. 2
Volcanism in the San Francisco Volcanic Field Trip
Call for reservations, 928-556-7173

Follow the link below to continue reading about USGS Festival of Science activities, or visit the 2005 Flagstaff Festival of Science website for complete information about this event, which features activities from science organizations around Flagtaff, including Lowell Observatory, Gore, Naval Observatory, Northern Arizona University, and more!

Continue reading "Flagstaff Festival of Science"

Earth and Mars Close Encounter

Saturday, August 20, 2005

star map
Star Chart showing Mars (large red circle with symbol) rising, 20 August 2005 at 7AM UTC (midnight Arizona time).

Image Credit: Your Sky
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Earth is racing toward Mars at a speed of 23,500 mph, which means the red planet is getting bigger and brighter by the minute. In October, when the two planets are closest together, Mars will outshine everything in the night sky except Venus and the Moon. Because of the close proximity of Earth and Mars, the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) launch was planned for August 2006. Because it takes six or more months to reach Mars, the best time to start the trip is a month or so before closest approach--thus, August. MRO, launched August 12, will arrive at Mars in March 2006 after a seven month journey, enter orbit, and begin a two year mission to map the red planet in greater detail than ever before.

More: Science@NASA - Approaching Mars

Link: NASA - Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter

Link: Your Sky - Make your own star chart!

MRO is on Its Way to Mars!

Friday, August 12, 2005

NASA's first Atlas V rocket lifts off this morning carrying Mar Reconnaissance Orbiter
Image Credit: USGS Astrogeology/Deborah Lee Soltesz
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Members of the science and mission teams and their families watched the launch from a site at Kennedy Space Center (KSC) this morning as Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) successfully lifted off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida at 7:43:00 a.m EDT. The spacecraft launched from Space Launch Complex 41 aboard NASA's first Atlas V rocket. The MRO is healthy and performing as designed, presently communicating with ground stations and unfurling its solar arrays.

More: SoundSeeing (MP3 Audio, 12 MB) - Experience the excitement before, during, and after the launch. The audio experience takes place at the outdoor launch viewing area at KSC where mission members and their families watched the launch. The recording began several minutes before liftoff, and the chatter of the crowd, various announcers, and the roar of the rocket itself are heard.

More: NASA Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter - view launch video, view image galleries, and learn more about the mission

Link: MRO HiRISE Instrument - Meet the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) team of scientists and technical specialists from the University of Arizona, USGS Astrogeology Research Program, and other universities and organizations; learn more about the fantastic camera which will collect the most detailed images of Mars yet; and find out how you can participate in the mission!

Dark Skies in Arizona (Arizona Daily Star report)

Thursday, August 4, 2005

Astronomers have rallied strong support for keeping the skies dark in Flagstaff, where sky- watching has a long tradition, and Tucson, a world-famous space science community. Local governments in Coconino and Pima counties have upheld lighting ordinances that protect the night skies by using lights sparingly and shielding them so they point down at the things they're meant to illuminate.

To address statewide light pollution issues, State Sen. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Tucson, has sponsored astronomy-friendly legislation, including the "good-lighting bill" that the governor signed into law in 2003. And she helped defeat legislation last spring that would've allowed for bright, blinking billboards along the state's highways. But she says she's fighting a hard battle with her colleagues from Phoenix.

"Many members don't understand the importance of rural Arizona, don't understand the importance of industries in Flagstaff or Pima County and they just don't care," she said. "They feel that Phoenix is the central driving economy to the rest of the state."

More: Arizona Daily Star - Tucson, Flagstaff help astronomy; Phoenix is another matter by Anne Minard

Link: International Dark Skies Association

Robert McCall Show at the Arizona Museum for Youth

Tuesday, August 2, 2005

Celebrating 100 Years of Powered Flight
Robert McCall
The Arizona Museum for Youth will present Dreaming of Tomorrow, The Art of Robert McCall from August 26, 2005 until January 6, 2006. Robert McCall came to public attention in the early 1960s as the illustrator for LIFE magazine's memorable series on the future of space travel. At that time, he became one of a few select artists to be chosen for NASA, documenting the progress of American space history, and has been present at nearly every NASA event since.

In addition to artworks by Robert McCall this exhibition will feature some out-of-this-world activities including: design a scene from deep space, create an original space craft from paper, build a robot, stroll on the Moon, enter the "space race" to Mars, and draw a galaxy.

More: City of Mesa - Dreaming of Tomorrow, The Art of Robert McCall

Link: Arizona Museum for Youth

Tenth planet discovered

Tuesday, August 2, 2005

These time-lapse images of a newfound planet in our solar system, called 2003UB313, were taken on Oct. 21, 2003, using the Samuel Oschin Telescope at the Palomar Observatory near San Diego, Calif. The planet, circled in white, is seen moving across a field of stars. The three images were taken about 90 minutes apart.
Image Credit: NASA/JPL
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Tenth Planet Discovered

A planet larger than Pluto has been discovered in the outlying regions of the solar system.

The planet was discovered using the Samuel Oschin Telescope at Palomar Observatory near San Diego, Calif. The discovery was announced today by planetary scientist Dr. Mike Brown of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, Calif., whose research is partly funded by NASA.

The planet is a typical member of the Kuiper belt, but its sheer size in relation to the nine known planets means that it can only be classified as a planet, Brown said. Currently about 97 times further from the sun than the Earth, the planet is the farthest-known object in the solar system, and the third brightest of the Kuiper belt objects.

"It will be visible with a telescope over the next six months and is currently almost directly overhead in the early-morning eastern sky, in the constellation Cetus," said Brown, who made the discovery with colleagues Chad Trujillo, of the Gemini Observatory in Mauna Kea, Hawaii, and David Rabinowitz, of Yale University, New Haven, Conn., on January 8.

A name for the new planet has been proposed by the discoverers to the International Astronomical Union, and they are awaiting the decision of this body before announcing the name.

See the Full JPL News Release - NASA-Funded Scientists Discover Tenth Planet