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Lead Articles

Eric Becklin tells about SOFIA

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In 2013, I  had the great opportunity to interview the Chief Science Advisor of SOFIA, Eric Becklin whilst the flying telescope was here in New Zealand for its first southern deployment. During the interview, Eric Becklin told us about the telescope, the aircraft, about why SOFIA is in New Zealand and Southern Hemisphere, the wonders of infrared astronomy, favourite discoveries and what he thinks about the future of humankind.

Find out more and watch the video here:


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Help needed: Questions from the Middle Pod (age 7/8)

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I received this email from Lee - who organised the fantastic Space Night last week. The Middle Pod felt obviously VERY inspired by the amazing lineup of people who participated in the Space Night.

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We need your help to answer these questions back to the kids!

'The middle pod (age 7/8) are doing space as an inquiry topic and have come up with some questions. Quite an impressive range of thinking.
I'm happy to research and answer, but if anyone wants to send me either some info or a full reply to any of these that would be very helpful.
I'm feel as though I might need to reach out to Steven Hawking on some of them... 

Read more ...

Education with SOFIA

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SOFIA is a very powerful astronomical observatory but it also has a very strong education section. 

There are many educational materials that teachers from New Zealand can also use in their classroom. For instance, on SOFIA's page there are presentation that have been used for Educators and Students in the past and also classroom activities to learn about infrared light. You can download a great NASA Poster about the invisible light and literature and promotional materials.

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Melanie Newfield, Haritina Mogosanu, Eric Becklin

SOFIA Presentations to Educators and Students

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SOFIA is back in New Zealand

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In April 2002, whilst visiting NASA Ames' most priced building in the campus (energywise), I bumped into a poster of a huge aircraft. I love airplanes so my question was what was so special about this one that they had a poster of that size up on the wall. The answer came very quick. The aircraft (SOFIA) had a telescope inside it. Suffice to say that for me this is the epitome of heaven. Seriously, what can be more amazing (to an airplanes and stars lover) than an airplane with a telescope in it? With the mirror the size of the HSS (Hubble)! 

SOFIA stands for Stratosferic Observatory for Infrared Astronomy and it's a joint venture between NASA and DLR (German Space Agency).

Here are some quick facts on this wonderful flying machine

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Latest News

As real as it gets - Flying above Mars

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Finnish filmmaker Jan Fröjdman transformes imagery from HiRISE, a camera aboard the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, into a dynamic overhead view of the Red Planet.

Watch it here.


Great Overview New Horizons mission

alan stern copyMeet Dr. Alan Stern, the Principle Investigator and learn about NASA’s historic mission to Pluto and beyond. Live stream on 13 February 2017 (can be watched again) here.

Introduction to Astronomy restarts

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Highly recommended Ronen Plesser’s free course Introduction to Astronomy will now be offered at Duke University on their new platform Duke Extend. The new session of Introduction to Astronomy starts November 28, and you can learn more and register here.

This ten week course progresses outward from our own Earth into Solar system, Galaxy and Deep Space, to cover essentially everything in the Universe. Watch Ronen's introduction on YouTube here.

Visit Rosetta’s comet in amazing 3D.

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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?

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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.

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