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Lead Articles

The World's First Dark Sky Island - The Isle of Sark

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Isle of Sark Nightscape

Photograph of the Milky Way over the avenue in Sark by Sue Daly

While researching a topic very close to my heart, namely the night sky and the importance of darkness, I discovered a remarkable destination which has great appeal to stargazers, nature lovers and tourists alike: the small Isle of Sark, in the Channel Islands.

Self governing Sark, has a population of around 550 people. It has no public street lighting or cars and the only form of transport is by bicycle, boat, tractor and foot. Aware of the benefits of preserving their precious night sky and protecting their natural environment, the community embarked on a mission to illuminate their island sensibly and sustainably. As a result, there is no light pollution so the view of the heavens is breathtakingly beautiful at night. It’s also no coincidence residents report low levels of crime and high levels of happiness in their community.

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Smart Lighting

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Using innovation to light our world sustainably

solar bike path netherlands 3Photo Credit Studio Roosegaard

Here at one of our main goals is to raise awareness about the importance of the night sky and how to protect and preserve natural darkness. We do this not just because we value the Cosmos, but because the night sky is integral to our wellbeing and that of the environment.

We are particularly interested in innovative, energy efficient and environmentally sensitive lighting because the world needs sustainable solutions to overcome light pollution. Best lighting practices are the way forward.

Thankfully, advances in technology offer systems that can meet a wide range of lighting requirements, including those that adapt to changing conditions. This is welcome news because towns and cities can select the best options for their particular needs, instead of following a one size fits all, blanket approach.

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Request for submissions from students and educators in New Zealand

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Motivated by the UNESCO’s initiative to announce 2015 as the International Year of Light, the AAVSO is celebrating more than a century of commitment to collecting photons in order to study the variable sky. As part of that celebration, a set of activities has been announced, engaging everyone interested in astronomy to share their favorite story, research project, pretty picture, observing experience, or art work. We invite you to join us and share with us your passion for observing the night sky.

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Mutual Events of the Satellites of Jupiter, 2014-2015

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It happens only for a few months every six years, that we can see mutual occultations and eclipses of the Galilean moons of Jupiter. We are presently in such a period but for only a few months more. During a mutual eclipse one satellite passes through the shadow, cast by the Sun, of a second satellite. At an occultation one satellite passes in front of another as seen from the Earth. The precise times of the resulting minimum brightness and the measurement of the reduction in brightness provide useful information of the relative positions of the satellites involved.
Interested? Before you grab a pair of binoculars or a small telescope, first read this whole article, written by the RASNZ occultation specialist.

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Latest News

As real as it gets - Flying above Mars

mars flyover JF

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

IntroAstro copy

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.

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.

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