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Astronomy

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Tue, July 16 2013

Introducing the Phoebe Waterman Haas Public Observatory

On June 24, we announced that the National Air and Space Museum will receive a $6 million gift from the Thomas W. Haas Foundation to support the Public Observatory’s...

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Mon, March 11 2013

An Artistic Search for Pluto

How do you illustrate a non-fiction book for kids based on the former ninth planet? Some people still have some pretty strong feelings about Pluto’s demotion: protest signs, student protest speeches, public demonstrations. Cries of unfairness could be heard when news of poor Pluto’s removal from the planetary ranks occurred. It is the intention of this new children’s book to set the story straight or at least attempt to share “Pluto’s side of the story." I‘ve worked in the children’s book market as a freelance illustrator for several years in addition to my full-time job with the Museum’s Early Childhood program. My latest book assignment from Abrams Books for Young Readers, Pluto's Secret: an icy World's Tale of Discovery,  connected my job as an artist and an educator.  

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Book cover: Pluto's Secret
Tue, February 26 2013

Vulcan? But that’s not logical…

The news that “Vulcan” topped the poll results taken by the SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) Institute in Mountain View, California as a possible name for one of the two tiny moons newly discovered to be orbiting Pluto has gotten quite a bit of press this week. In 2012, Mark Showalter of SETI, working with scientists on the New Horizons mission sending a probe to Pluto, found a tiny fifth moon orbiting the icy world.

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Fri, February 15 2013

When Worlds Collide

A particularly bright fireball was observed earlier today over a wide area in Russia. Of even greater significance was the very strong sonic boom associated with the passage of the meteor through Earth’s atmosphere.

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Tunguska
Tue, January 15 2013

Reflections on "Explore the Universe" 2001-2012

One of the jokes I inherited from my student years is the final exam question "Describe the Universe" which was followed by "and give two examples."

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Magellanic Clouds
Mon, January 7 2013

Minor Planet 4262 DeVorkin

David DeVorkin is a curator in the Space History Department of...

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Fri, November 2 2012

Going Three Billion Miles at the Public Observatory

At our evening observing sessions at the Public Observatory, we’ve shared views of Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, the Moon, and other astronomical objects with thousands of visitors. But Neptune, the most distant planet in the Solar...

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Public Observatory
Mon, June 4 2012

Why should you care about the Transit of Venus?

Astronomy enthusiasts around the world are gearing up for Tuesday’s celestial show: the transit of Venus across the face of the Sun.  The small black dot of Venus, silhouetted against the bright Sun, will be visible with safe solar telescopes and, to those with especially good vision, with the naked eye when protected by eclipse glasses.

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Why should you care about the Transit of Venus?
Fri, May 11 2012

Transit of Venus on June 5th, 2012

If you visit the Public Observatory during its daytime hours in May (1–3pm on Wednesday through Saturday, weather permitting), you can use the 16” telescope to observe an object which looks a lot like the Moon.  Hanging in a blue sky, it shines with yellowish reflected sunlight. 

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Venus
Wed, January 18 2012

Shedding Light on a Common Problem

If you've been to any of the nighttime observing sessions at our Public Observatory, you might have wondered why we mostly view the planets and the Moon. After all, the Observatory...

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Public Observatory

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