Earth Day – 2020

   It is the annual Earth Day this year on Wednesday April 22nd.
   What exactly is Earth Day?

“It is a day of political action and civic participation. People march, sign petitions, meet with their elected officials, plant trees, clean up their towns and roads. Corporations and governments use it to make pledges and announce sustainability measures. Faith leaders, including Pope Francis, connect Earth Day with protecting God’s greatest creations, humans, biodiversity and the planet that we all live on.”(https://www.earthday.org/earth-day-2020/)


   The theme for Earth Day 2020 is Climate Action
   
   Download the 2019 edition of NASA’s photo book, Earth (PDF).
 
Go to NASA’s Earth Day Toolkit web site for ideas and activities for parents and educators (which by the way, are one and the same. “Parents are Teachers!”


Click here to go to the Qué tal in the Current Skies web site for monthly observing information, or here to return to bobs-spaces.


Also Follow me and other great resources at Feedspot.


Click here to go to the Qué tal in the Current Skies web site for monthly observing information, or here to return to bobs-spaces.


Also Follow me and other great resources at Feedspot.

A Tail of Two Comets

   April 1990 Comet Austin (1989c1) now getting brighter approaching naked-eye visibility.
   April 2020 Comet ATLAS (2019c1) predicted to brighten to naked eye visibility has now apparently broken apart.

   30 years ago, April 1990, I wrote the first of what was to become a continuing column about Earth and Space called Scope on the Skies for Science Scope Magazine. This is the Professional Journal for Middle School Science Teachers and is published by the National Science Teaching Association (NSTA)

   That April 1990 column, Comet Watch – “Comet Austin”, was about a potential naked-eye visible comet discovered by New Zealand Astronomer Rod Austin during December 1989. The comet was appropriately named Comet Austin 1989c1. The comet increased in brightness over the months following its discovery reaching around 4th magnitude and naked-eye visibility the following May of 1990.

   This month as Comet ATLAS (2019c1) was showing signs of becoming a bright comet it broke apart. This was reported a few days ago and the break-up has since been tentatively confirmed.

   
   
   

Click here to go to the Qué tal in the Current Skies web site for monthly observing information, or here to return to bobs-spaces.


Also Follow me and other great resources at Feedspot.

Have Some ‘Pie’ – View Some Planets

   Saturday March 14th, 3/14/2020, is perhaps better known as Pi Day given that 3.14, the value for Pi, is also the month and day number. Learn more about Pi and see what NASA has planned for this special day at the NASA Pi Day Challenge web site.
   Saturday the 14th, weather depending, is another day this year when you have a choice of planet viewing – all of the six visible planets in fact. In the early morning skies look east and southeast for a line-up of planets ranging from Mercury, to Saturn, Mars, Jupiter, and the 19-day old waning gibbous Moon. In the evening after sunset Venus shines brightly over the western horizon. Venus is near the outer ringed planet Uranus, but Uranus is not considered a naked-eye visible planet in most skies.
   Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn are all visible, but that’s only five visible planets. So where is the sixth visible planet?

   
   
   

Click here to go to the Qué tal in the Current Skies web site for monthly observing information, or here to return to bobs-spaces.


Also Follow me and other great resources at Feedspot.

Teacher Eclipse Pictures

   Here is a collection of pictures and comments from Science Teacher members of the NSTA (National Science Teachers Association) who viewed the August 21st total solar eclipse from different locations across the United States of America. The State where the picture(s) was/were taken is abbreviated to be part of the picture name – so you could scroll down to the bottom of the picture to see that.
   The caption below a picture starts the sequence of pictures from each teacher. Clicking on any picture will open it into a slide show where you can move forward or backward through the various pictures.
   From Ryan Westberry: Here’s a video I made after watching the totality in Wyoming at Green River Lakes just off the center line. I sent my drone up really high to capture the landscape while also filming our reactions on the surface- and set it all to music.
I did edit the language in the beginning of totality (overcome by that moment) but there are some “Oh S^*t” toward the end that need to be known if anyone plans on showing it. (I’m not promoting that.) I’m just wanting to share in the emotion (I was literally shaking and had tears of joy) and magnitude of watching the event and the love of the science. 🙂

   Here is one of the 360o videos I made while the school yard was filling up with families and the students.

   If you are wondering what do with any eclipse glasses perhaps donate them to the Eclipse Glasses Donation Program – organized by Astronomers Without Borders.

   
   
   

Click here to go to the Qué tal in the Current Skies web site for monthly observing information, or here to return to bobs-spaces.

NSTA @ Nashville


   I’m in Nashville Tennessee for the next several days at the NSTA national conference. Planets and stars will still be in the skies but not as easy to see from downtown Nashville as it is where I live. On the morning of April 1st the waning waning crescent Moon will be within a few degrees from Dwarf Planet Pluto. Too dim to be seen without a large telescope it is, nonetheless, a neat idea that when you look toward the Moon you are also looking in the direction of Pluto. It’s out there!
   And here is a sequence of graphics showing the pre-sunrise morning sky at 5:30 am EDT for each day during the conference, and one night view on April 1st showing Jupiter. Both Pluto and the Moon are located just above and to the left from the handle of the teapot asterism for Sagittarius the Archer.

   
   
   

Caution: Objects viewed with an optical aid are further than they appear.
Click here to go to the Qué tal in the Current Skies web site for more observing information for this month.

October Qué tal Now Available

october que tal   As the subject line says the October issue is now online and available.
   Many interesting celestial events this month including one minor meteor showers, a partial penumbral lunar eclipse, and conjunctions with our Moon, planets, and stars. In the east before sunrise look for Jupiter to be the point of a right-triangle with the ‘twin’ stars. Mars will pass by the star Regulus in Leo and will have a temporary traveling companion – Comet ISON. Both will be within a couple of degrees from one another but will have very contrasting apparent magnitudes. Mars is naked-eye visible and the comet is not.

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

Preview June Issue of Qué tal

wordpress-voki   As the subject line states, the June preview issue of Qué tal in the Current Skies is now online and available at this temporary web address: http://currentsky.com/2013/jun13/index.html
   It will be at its regular web address in a few days.

   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.

Way Back!

Mr. Peabody, His 'Boy', and the Original Wayback Machine

Mr. Peabody, His ‘Boy’, and the Wayback Machine

   Yesterday marked the 20th anniversary, 1993-2013, of the first web site. This was a web site created by CERN, (European Organization for Nuclear Research). In those days before browsers like Netscape appeared web pages were all text and consisted of links to other web pages or web sites – but again all in text, no graphics. The URL to connect with their original web site,telnet info.cern.ch, required that you had access to the Telnet. Commands, e-mail, everything, was all text.
Click here to go to the recreated first web site by CERN.

   I have grown up with the Internet, literally. In the mid 1980s I got my first computer, an Apple ][ with a whopping 48K of RAM. This was before the disk drive came out so loading a program meant re-typing the code every time or saving it on a cassette tape. The Modem I had was an acoustical modem at 300 baud. That modem changed as time went by and I am pretty sure I bought every speed that came out up to the 56K modem. It was around then that I finally went broadband!
   There was nothing called the Internet back then, but there was dial-up using a modem to connect to a local BBS. Where I lived in Peoria Illinois Bradley University operated one of the few Telnet systems called the Heartland Freenet. When you dialed in you could then connect via the Telnet (and at broadband type speeds) to other sites on the Freenet. This allowed me, for example, to connect with the Big Sky BBS in Montana where I would work on a Distance Education project with teachers from some Pacific Northwestern states, and Alaska.

Click on this image to go to January 2000

Click on this image to go to January 2000

   In those days, as a newsletter editor/publisher, I saw some serious value in learning how to write HTML and moved from posting on discussion boards to having my own web site. What I saw was the ability to connect, link, to other web pages. This was important in my thinking because I could more easily reference something, or connect with a similar web page. However the really big change came when the TABLE command was added. Suddenly page formatting became more like desktop publishing in the sense that columns could be created for a more ‘newspaper look’.
   Back then personal web sites were actually a web page or pages and were typically a sub-domain under the ISP’s web name. Many web pages had a URL that included the ISP name followed by /~ (slash tilde) then followed by the person’s name or name for the page. For example on every ISP I used I was /~starwalk, for example, http://www.pei.net/~starwalk (web site no longer at the address). These were not truly websites as we know them today but were very common. In the spring of 1997 I bought a domain name, currentsky.com, and for a couple of years out of a concern for being mistaken for a commercial site I would always follow a post by adding that ‘despite the .com’ this is not a commercial web site – nothing for sale.

   My oldest set of web pages is from January 2000. I had a monster of a disk drive crash sometime the year before and lost all files on even a backup drive. However on the Internet Wayback Machine there are copies that go back to april 1997. Click here to go way back to Qué tal in the Current Skies web site April 12th 1997!

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

Student Science Opportunities

Iris logo    “Join the Tracking a Solar Storm challenge and guide students as they learn about the Sun’s anatomy, the space weather it generates, and why studying our star is important.
   This challenge is designed around NASA’s Interface Region Imaging Spectrograph, or IRIS, mission. Scheduled to launch in April 2013, the IRIS spacecraft will study the dynamics of the interface region of our Sun’s atmosphere using an ultraviolet telescope and imaging spectrograph. As students participate in the challenge, they will learn about the IRIS mission and the instruments scientists use to gather solar data.
   An educators’ guide to the IRIS challenge is available on the Tracking a Solar Storm website and includes key information for helping students study the sun’s weather, track a solar storm, and predict its effect on Earth. Students will demonstrate what they have learned by collecting data and producing a space weather report.”

Click here to go to the IRIS Challenge web site.

whatif   “Candy, soda and other everyday items will be the tools of the trade for teenage rocket makers competing in the What If? Live Student Design Challenge, which was kicked off Tuesday by NASA and the Ahoora Foundation of Plano, Texas. Registration is open through Feb. 28 for the worldwide contest, in which 14- to 18-year-old students will design experimental propulsion systems using materials that are cheap and easy to get.”

Click here to read the NASA press release.
Click here to go to the What If web site.
   
   
   
Click here to go to the Qué tal in the Current Skies web site for more observing information.

Next Generation Science Standards

ngss-2   The most recent and revised set of the Next Generation Science Standards, NGSS, have been released today. The links below will take you to the main page on the web site and the others take you to the specific grade levels for the standards under review for Earth and Space Sciences.

  •    Clck here to read more about the Next Generation Science Standards.
  •    Click here to read the Grade 1 ‘NGSS’ for Earth and Space Sciences (Space Systems: Patterns and Cycles).
  •    Click here to read the Grades 3-5 ‘NGSS’ for Earth and Space Sciences (Space Systems: Stars and the Solar System).
  •    Click here to read the Middle School ‘NGSS’ for Earth and Space Sciences (Space Systems).
  •    Click here to read the High School ‘NGSS’ for Earth and Space Sciences (Space Systems).

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