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.


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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: http://www.lochnessproductions.com/losingthedark
   “Losing the Dark” on the IDA website: http://www.darksky.org/losingthedark

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.

STEMtech Conference

    At the end of this month the STEMtech Conference will be here in Kansas City. One of my ‘partners’ (Trevor Sutcliffe) and I will be doing a poster presentation about the Ascent high altitude balloon project at the conference. We have prepared a Powerpoint slide show about Ascent as part of our table display. The video below is the Powerpoint presentation set to the music written by Daniel Eichenbaum for the ‘teaser’ video we made prior to our performances last spring. If the video runs too quickly to read the text you could click here to download the PDF version of our presentation.

    What was Ascent? This was a project conceived by Dark Matter, a group of artists, musicians, scientists, and educators, and funded by a small grant written to support a community-involvement project. The Ascent project led to two successful flights of high altitude balloons carrying hi-def cameras and data loggers to altitudes of 16-20 miles. The video and images of the flights, were used to produce full-dome videos that we played on a 60-foot dome at the Arvin Gottleib Planetarium in Kansas City. An original music score was written by Daniel Eichenbaum and performed live during the videos.
    A fun follow-up was to fly another balloon from the Kauffman Stadium (Kansas City Royals) during a science show put on by one of the local TV stations. We broadcast live video from the balloon that was then shown on the jumbotron screen periodically during the program. That balloon and eqipment went missing however. The GPS signal stopped during descent so while we have an idea of the area where it landed we have not found it yet.

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