Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Google Calendar & Today's APOD

Joe Masiero was nice enough to create a google calendar for IYA events in Hawai'i. If you use google calendars, look for the "Hawaii IYA 2009 Calendar."

Now, check out today's APOD:

That's Haleakala crater in the foreground, with Mauna Kea & Mauna Loa way off in the distance.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Impromptu Public Stargazing @ Magic Island

As per the last post we had our first "Sidewalk Astronomy" style event. We went down to Magic Island around sunset on MLK day and set up the 6 dobsonians.

We had quite a few folks walk by and look through the telescopes, ~150 people checked us and the telescopes out and got to look at a quarter Venus, the Pleiades, the Orion nebula and more.

Turns out even with city lights, the stars are still pretty good and lots of folks wanted to see us again. Next time we'll go when the moon is up, since that's always a fun target!

Thanks to Sarah J (also the picture taker), Geoff, Joe, Kirsten, Jenny and Geoff's pal Sean.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Stargazing @ Ala Moana?

We're going to try to bring out a couple of the 8" dobs this evening around sunset in the Magic Island/Ala Moana vicinity, for high traffic, bright sky astronomy fun.

See you there!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Awesome APOD video

This was two weeks ago, but if you didn't watch the awesome time-lapse video for the new year's eve APOD check it out:

Via: http://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap081231.html


NSF has put out a press release about IYA:


They included a bunch of relevant links:
National Optical Astronomy Observatory: http://www.noao.edu/
Dark Skies Awarenss Program: http://www.darkskiesawareness.org/
International Year of Astronomy, US Node: http://astronomy2009.us/
International Year of Astronomy (with video): http://www.astronomy2009.org/
The Galileoscope: Millions Looking at the Stars:
The International Year of Astronomy 2009 Opening Ceremony Press
Release: http://astronomy2009.org/news/pressreleases/detail/iya0901/

400 Years of the Telescope: http://www.400years.org/
400 Years of the Telescope on YouTube:

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

University of Hawaii Astronomers Unveil Planet Location Technology

U.H. Astronomers have developed a technology making it easier to find Earth-like planets in neighboring solar systems. John Johnson, IfA researcher presented the findings at the annual American Astronomical Society meeting in Long Beach, California. Hawaii Public Radio's Ben Markus reports in this 3:06 minute podcast that aired Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

IYA Student Ambassadorship

I have been selected as the IYA Student Ambassador for Hawai'i. I am also currently the Coordinator for the Graduate Student Educational & Public Outreach Committee (GEPOC), a volunteer body at the UH Manoa Institute for Astronomy (IfA), founded by Joe Masiero. I have been participating in public events in Hawai'i for over three years, since my first week as a grad student at the IfA.

We currently provide several programs to help spread knowledge and interest in astronomy to the public completely through volunteer efforts. These include Starlab planetarium shows, public talks, interactive activities for students from elementary to college level, stargazing sessions, yearly open houses and more. A list of public outreach events that graduate students have coordinated and participated in is available at the GEPOC webpage, http://ifa.hawaii.edu/gepoc/ These public outreach events are a great way to let people know about IYA and NASA's work, and they are entirely student coordinated and run.

We are hoping to take our outreach activities to the neighboring islands in the year to come and I plan to use the funds from the IYA Student Ambassador grant to facilitate that. There has already been discussion about providing activities and talks for students on Kaua'i, something that has never been done in the past. It is especially important in the state of Hawai`i to spread excitement for Astronomy, as it is an integral part of the state's economy.

Currently, much of what we do is provided at the request of the local community, such as schools, community groups, museums, etc. I would like to take a more active role in informing the public about IYA by coming up with new events in addition to our usual outreach. We have had passers-by take great interest at planned stargazing events for local groups, so I would like to provide impromptu public stargazing sessions as a way to let people know about IYA and what we do locally at the IfA.

We already have the framework for informing community members and students from elementary to graduate school about IYA. I will continue to work to provide outreach opportunities with other graduate students over the course of my career in Hawai'i and beyond, and I look forward to IYA as an opportunity to increase public awareness of the world of Astronomy and NASA.

I also plan to stress the importance of public outreach to faculty, students and other members of the Astronomical community, especially in the upcoming year. I personally feel that it is important to make sure the public (our employer!) stays informed about what we do as Astronomers, why Astronomy is cool and exciting, how to pursue a career in sciences and technology and what the future will bring.