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Enlightening the Future: The Quality Lighting Teaching Kit

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The CIE National Committee of New Zealand (International Commission of Illumination) is supporting a program developed by the NOAO to promote Education & Public engagement on better quality lighting. The kit was inspired by the International Year of Light and was funded by the Optical Society of America (OSA) Foundation, the International Astronomical Union (IAU) and the U.S. National Optical Astronomy Observatory (NOAO). Using quality lighting, the QLT kit allows students to creatively problem-solve six realistic cases on how light pollution affects wildlife, the night sky, our eyes, energy consumption, safety, and light trespass into buildings.

LightingKitThe activities are optimized for 11-13 year olds but can be expanded to a year younger and a few years older. Most of the activities can be done within in a few minutes with the exception of the Energy Activity. The activities can be done during class or in an afterschool program and as stations that the students rotate through or as stand-alones, one at a time. The goal is to increase student and public awareness of light pollution issues and “quality lighting” solutions. There is an extensive support for the kit contents and activities at this website address:

CIE-NZ will be very interested to promote this initiative through New Zealand, and will be glad to loan the kit.
Please contact me for further information.

Dr. Francois Shindo
Research Scientist
Photometry & Radiometry
Measurement Standards Laboratory
Gallaghan Innovation
DDI: 04 9313732
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


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STARMUS III - Epilogue

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Thursday 30 June (Asteroid Day) saw a round-table discussion in the great dome of the La Palma Observatory Roque de los Muchachos.
This was streamed live to the venue at Teneriffe. Discussed were planetary defence in view of Asteroid Day, abrupt climate change and science communication. An interesting discussion, very well lead by Russell (Rusty) Schweickart, but without clear results as could be expected.

Friday 1 July we first had organised a private excursion to the Teide Observatory in the morning, and in the afternoon it was the last day of STARMUS 2016 with the SONIC UNIVERSE CONCERT held in the Auditorio de Tenerife Adán Martín in Santa Cruz. This was a very special concert with performances by:

Sarah Brightman & Tenerife Symphony Orchestra at special request of Stephen Hawking,
ANATHEMA with Stephen Hawking himself participating in their first song,
Chris Hadfield & Rick Wakeman Space Oddity (David Bowie),
Rick Wakeman Life on Mars (David Bowie).

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STARMUS III - Wednesday 29 June

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Wednesday 29 June 2016



image2Stephen Hawking opened this session with a talk entitled “A brief History of Mine”.

Born on 8 January 1942 in Oxford he had an unremarkable time as a student at various schools until he started with his PhD study. At that time Cosmology and Gravity were areas that were ready for development. His first book was “The large scale structure of Space Time” written with Ellis (1973).

Stephen Hawking 8 January 1942 with his parents

Stephen talked about how he discovered the relationship for entropy of a Black Hole. Around 1982 he shifted his attention to the very early Universe. As we know modern cosmology has developed to be a precision science starting with the CMB structure observed by the WMAP satellite in 2003 and with the greatly improved latest results from the ESA Planck satellite, which give a “blueprint for all structure in the Universe”. He became very ill when he was working on his bestseller “A brief History of Time” but completed it as he was motivated by the notion that science must be explained to the general public.

Referring to the recent LIGO results he suggests that some day we may be able to use gravitational waves to look back to the Big Bang itself. It is an exciting time to be alive, witnessing 50 years of major improvements of our understanding of the Universe. He concluded with the advice to look up to the stars rather than to your feet, to be curious and to “just not give up”. He received a standing ovation for several minutes from an excited 1000+ audience.

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STARMUS III - Tuesday 28 June

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Tuesday 28 June 2016



Brian Schmidt of the Australian National University gave a good overview of the discoveries that lead to the notion of Dark matter and of Dark Energy, from Edwin Hubble’s observations to the discovery of an accelerating Universe. The latter was first proposed in two papers in 1998. Computer simulations of the evolution of the Universe and detailed analyses of the Cosmic Microwave Background radiation (CMB) are the resources to establish the ratio 5, 26 and 69% for a composition of “normal” matter, Dark matter and Dark energy. The CMB also shows that the Universe is almost perfectly flat.

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Latest News

Visit Rosetta’s comet in amazing 3D.

Rosetta 3D copy

Rosetta spacecraft has impacted on comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, ending its very successful mission. You can view the comet in this amazing interactive 3D visualisation here.
Find a description of the tool here.

Are we heading for a new Maunder Minimum?

2016 09 01 1472723838 9260456 Solar Cycle Prediction

Original image here.

We are coming out of the current sunspot cycle 24 which will end around 2019. The maximum of this cycle has yet again been well below that of the previous two cycles.

“Some studies show that sunspot magnetic field strengths […] are already close to the minimum needed to sustain sunspots on the solar surface”.

Read Dr. Sten Odenwald’s Blog here.

ESO Astronomy Camp

ann16031aStudents aged between 16 and 18 years old, can apply for participation in the 4th ESO Astronomy Camp. The camp will take place from 26 December 2016 to 1 January 2017 in Italy and it is organised by ESO and its Science Outreach Network, together with the science education event organiser Sterrenlab and OAVdA.

Click the link 4th ESO Astronomy for detailed information.

Teachers invited to join the STEAM Team

STEAMThe Planetary Society is developing a youth education program with the goal to help teachers educate and engage students around the world in Science, Technology, Engineering, Math, and the Arts.

The STEAM Team is an advisory network of educators from around the world who will help to create the most effective education program possible. We want to bring your educational expertise to bear on a widespread program to enhance STEAM education around the world.

By joining this team, you will become part of a global advisory council of educators. We will reach out to you for feedback on the educational resources we develop, and on the direction of our youth education program as a whole. We’ll send you surveys, questions, and opportunities to share your ideas.

Read more here

What happens at the edge of the Universe?

EdgeoftheUniversePBSWhat is at the edge of the Universe and what happens if we are trying to get there.
In this episode in the Space Time series by PBS Matt tries to answer this question in a scientific way.
Watch it here.

Join PBS on Facebook

Tour the ISS in 360 degrees

ISS schematic

Tour the International Space Station in interactive mode. Navigate through all the modules in 360 degrees panorama view.
Find the link on our ISS page here.

Modeling Gravitational Waves in the Classroom


Last month, Caltech scientists made a historic announcement, that for the first time they directly detected gravitational waves. This confirmed an important piece of Einstein’s theory of relativity. JPL education specialist Lyle Tavernier, shows how you can use simple materials, such as gelatin, marbles, a mirror and a laser pointer, to turn this exciting news into a lesson in modeling that meets Next Generation Science Standards.
More here.

Course Introduction to Astronomy closing down

large icon Duke

The highly successful course that has been offered on Coursera by Ronen Plesser at Duke University is closing down. This means that you still have until the end of March 2016 to download the course material.
The title “Introduction” to Astronomy is a bit misleading, as the content is very comprehensive and goes quite deep for the average lay person.

See the Course Overview and Syllabus here.

When you are signed up as a student at Coursera, you can use the following links:
See the explanation for the shutdown here.
Download the course material here.
Additional resources can be found via the menu on the Course website.

We can highly recommend this course for anyone with a serious interest in Astronomy and Cosmology.