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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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It will all be over in a few hours

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We are counting down to 14 July 2015 when the New Horizons spacecraft will fly by the binary dwarf planet Pluto-Charon. A lot of people, especially the New Horizons team at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory in Maryland, will keep their fingers and toes crossed, hoping that the painstaking preparations and the navigation of this unique mission will render the results as planned.

PlutoCharon300New Horizons will approach the Pluto system face-on almost perpendicular to the Pluto-Charon orbit which itself is almost perpendicular to the ecliptic. This view, as we also see it at the moment from Earth, happens during two periods of Pluto’s long orbit around the Sun. Early images from New Horizons have already shown the interesting “dance” of this binary system.
The animation here, which was made about at the time that New Horizons was launched, shows the mutual Pluto-Charon orbit to scale. The red dot indicates the joint centre of mass of the system, which lies more than 1000 km above Pluto’s surface (more than Pluto’s radius). Because of their relative size and distance, Pluto and Charon are in mutual tidal locking, which means that they face each other with the same side all the time.

New Horizons will fly close past this system on 14 July at 11:50 UT, at a distance 12,500 km from Pluto's surface. This is well within the orbits of the four moons Styx, Nix, Kerberos and Hydra, the furthest of which (Hydra) has an orbital radius of almost 65,000 km. During the flyby all systems aboard the spacecraft will work overtime, but the observations of the Pluto system have already begun long before that.

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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... 

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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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