Media-Based Space Contests

space matters

Why Space Matters
   Tell us why space matters and you could win a trip to one of NASA’s visitor centers.
   Our nation is on the threshold of a new era of space exploration. NASA and the space industry are currently developing technologies, systems and strategies to explore space beyond Earth’s orbit.
   Space exploration has spurred an abundance of new ideas and innovations that enhance our daily lives, from satellite technology that can precisely track disastrous hurricanes, to medical device breakthroughs that save thousands of lives each year.
   Picture it: What will life be like in 10, 25 or 50 years if we continue to explore the unknown and push the boundaries of space travel? Consider the inevitable migration of humans to other worlds and the limitless applications of space technology that are waiting to be developed.
   Here’s your chance to share how space exploration will benefit generations to come and let your voice inspire others.

   Click here to learn more or to register for the Why Space Matters contest.


Anime Contest

NASA’s Sun-Earth Days program wants to see your best Anime artwork!
SolarMAX is the official superhero mascot for Sun-Earth Days!
Keeping an eye on space weather is quite a large job for one super hero so he needs your help.
Your job is to create and submit a new and original anime style character with a visible space weather related super power.

   Click here to go to the Solar Max Anime contest web site.

   Click here to go to the Qué tal in the Current Skies web site for more observing information.

Losing the Dark

night sky

   Loch Ness Productions, in collaboration with the International Dark-Sky Association, is proud to announce the availability of a new free-for-download planetarium show highlighting the issues regarding light pollution. It’s called “Losing the Dark”.
   Written and narrated by Carolyn Collins Petersen, produced by Mark C. Petersen, and soundtrack music from Geodesium, “Losing the Dark” introduces and illustrates some of the issues regarding light pollution, and suggests three simple actions people can take to help mitigate it. The show gives planetarium professionals a tool to help educate the public about the problems of light pollution.
   The 6.5-minute public service announcement is being distributed in two forms. Of course, it’s a fulldome video, for digital dome theaters. We’ve also made the show as a high-definition flat screen video; classic planetarium theaters without fulldome capability can show this version using their traditional video projectors.
   The show is currently available in English, but translations are underway that will allow the program to reach a worldwide audience — and if you can help in the process, the IDA would love to hear from you!
   Major donations from Starmap and the Fred Maytag Family Foundation funded “Losing the Dark”. The project was launched with seed money from the International Planetarium Society and donations from IDA members.
   Help bring back the dark of night to planet Earth!

   “Losing the Dark” on the Loch Ness Productions website:
   “Losing the Dark” on the IDA website:

Read a little more about light pollution and the Globe at Night project.
   Click here to go to the Qué tal in the Current Skies web site for more observing information.

Mid-West Snow Storm- part 2

ruler   Once again our part of the world is getting a smack down from ‘mother nature’. As of around 8:30 a.m. CST there was a total of 15 inches on the ground in most places in my backyard although there are some places where it is deeper. This means about 12 inches of fresh snow since around 3 this morning. It is a heavy wet type of snow and is weighing heavily on tree branches, power lines, clothes lines, and so on.
   A friend from the northeast sent me this, “oh you poor flat landers… lol got 28, 15, and another 12 to come.. Snows almost to the window sill.

From a Facebook posting:

I think its time for Old Man Winter to get Mother Nature drunk, and have a little fun making spring.

   Some pictures from the storm.

   A short video from the backyard at around 8:30 a.m.

This video doesn’t exist

   Click here to go to the Qué tal in the Current Skies web site for more observing information.

March Qué tal Available

page   As the subject line states, the March issue of Qué tal in the Current Skies is now online and available at the web address below.

   Thank you for your support and encouragement.
   Clear Skies…
   Bob Riddle

   Click here to go to the Qué tal in the Current Skies web site for more observing information.

Tomatoes, Our Sun, and eCybermission

Sun-Earth Days 2013: This year, NASA would like to feature your astro photographs and videos (up to 90 seconds each) of our active sun on the Sun Earth Days Solar Maximum Flickr group. We will feature your images with accreditation and select an image each week to feature on the NASA Sun Earth Day home page.

   Click here to go to the Sun-Earth Days web site for more information.

“Tomatosphere is a research project that will involve about 15 000 Canadian classrooms this year. In 2013, students will have the opportunity to grow tomatoes from two sets of seeds. One set will be seeds which have been exposed to a process called priming and the other set will be the control group. In this research project, students will be asked to germinate the seeds, but the two sets will not be identified until their results are reported to the web site. This methodology, known as a “blind study” will allow the mystery of the project to be real for the students.”

   Click here to go to the Tomatosphere web site for more information.

eCYBERMISSION is a web-based Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics competition for 6th, 7th, 8th and 9th grade teams. Your team will propose a solution to a real problem in your community and compete for State, Regional and National Awards.
eCYBERMISSION challenges you to explore how Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics work in your world.

   Click here to learn how to register as a virtual judge, or participate with students for the eCybermission contest.

   Click here to go to the Qué tal in the Current Skies web site for more observing information.

A Mid-West Snow Storm

from the Weather Channel web site

from the Weather Channel web site

   Knowing this storm was headed our way for the past week has not diminished its impact. The snow started around 6:30 a.m. and has been falling at about 2-3 inches (5 cm -9 cm) per hour since then. It was up to around 8 inches while I was clearing the driveway and in the last hour since I have been inside there is at least another 1-2 inches!
   I’m using a Mantis electric snow shovel and I am very happy with how it works despite the snow being higher than the shovel. The snow, fortunately, is very dry. There has been lightning and thunder throughout the morning as well. All highways and even both airports are closed.

   Click here to go to the Qué tal in the Current Skies web site for more observing information.

Name a Mascot-Mail a Pringle

   Two contests for students are online and available for participation however both are somewhat restrictive based on geography – one’s location.
   esa mascotThe European Space Agency, ESA, is hosting a Name the Mascot contest to select a name for
their mascot, however the competition is only open for students ages 4-12 years who reside in one of ESA’s 20 Member States or Cooperating States. Note that although the United States (NASA) works cooperatively with the ESA the United States is not part of the ESA so this contest is not available for students in the United States.
   Click here to go to the ESA – Space for Kids web site to learn more about this contest.
   Click here to go to the ESA/Hubble web site for a treasure trove of resources from the Hubble Space Telescope.

A Pringle

A Pringle

   ;A contest available within the United States for students, the Pringles Challenge, is based on designing a small package that will carry a single Pringle potato chip through the U.S. Mail system in such a manner that the Pringle will arrive at its destination intact or undamaged.
   Click here to learn more about the Pringles Challenge contest.

    Please note that posting the above information is not to be taken as a personal endorsement of the Pringle’s Potato Chip.
   Click here to go to the Qué tal in the Current Skies web site for more observing information.

Not Pisces Today!

click on this image to see it full size

click on this graphic to see it full size

   According to the pseudoscience of astrology the Sun enters the constellation of Pisces the fishes today. However according to the real position of the Sun on this date the Sun is already within the boundaries of the constellation Aquarius the water bearer, (as shown in the banner graphic) the constellation to the west of Pisces. Based on the apparent motion of the Sun along the ecliptic path the Sun entered Aquarius two days ago on the 16th as shown in this graphic.
   Click here for a little more information about the difference between astrology and Astronomy and an effect caused by precession.
   Click here to go to the Qué tal in the Current Skies web site for more observing information.

Winter Hexagon and Jupiter

11 p.m. CST

11 p.m. CST

   The first quarter Moon rises and sets this evening near the stars of two open star clusters, the Pleiades and the Hyades, and is also close to the planet Jupiter. This part of the sky also contains a large asterism known as the winter hexagon. This is a loosely drawn figure composed of six bright stars from six constellations (go figure!). Starting with Rigel in Orion move to Aldebaran in Taurus, to Capella in Auriga, through the twin stars of Pollux and Castor in Gemini (count as one), then on to Procyon in Canis Minor, and finally to the brightest night time star, Sirius (no kidding!) in Canis Major.
   Click here to see or download a full size graphic showing the winter hexagon.

   Click here to go to the Qué tal in the Current Skies web site for more observing information.

Mars Panorama

   Photographer Andrew Bodrov has created an incredible interactive panorama using images from the Mars Rover Curiosity. The images are from earlier this month when Curiosity was making its first drill into a rock outcrop at a site named “John Klein”.

   Click here to go to the Mars Curiosity web site.

   Click here to go to the Qué tal in the Current Skies web site for more observing information.