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Astronomy

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Fri, September 30 2011

Mapping Everything

The universe is about 13.7 billion years old and has expanded since its beginning at the Big Bang. Because distant objects appear to be receding as the universe expands, the light from them is “stretched” out, altering its wavelength to the red part of the electromagnetic spectrum. This “redshift” can be measured for every object in deep space. 

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Galaxies
Thu, August 4 2011

The Perseids Are Coming!

The Perseids are coming!  The most consistently best meteor shower of the year, the “Perseids,” (PER-see-ids) will reach their peak next week.

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Composite of 2010 Perseid Meteors
Thu, July 28 2011

Astronomy Night at the Museum

The night opened with few clouds and a bright waxing gibbous moon. Alex and I, interns at the National Air and Space Museum, stood outside with Sean O'Brien, astronomy educator at the Museum and Albert Einstein Planetarium technician, to survey the sky and anticipate the night. This was my first star party at the Museum. As we set up, the first line of visitors formed outside the door of the Public Observatory waiting for 6 p.m. — opening time. We set up the Tele Vue telescope first. The view was spectacular. Along the terminator, the line between the dark and light sides of the Moon, craters popped between the stark white of the moon and the blue of the sky.

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Sun - January 19, 2011
Fri, June 17 2011

From Earth to the Solar System

For the month of June, 30 beautiful images of the solar system are on display on the terrace by the Independence Avenue entrance.  They are part of the From Earth to the Solar System exhibition developed by the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory/Chandra with the NASA Astrobiology Institute.

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Titan
Fri, May 27 2011

Another Journey for John Glenn’s Ansco Camera

Nearly 50 years ago, John Glenn purchased a camera at a drug store that served as the first astronomical experiment performed by a human in space. That three-orbit voyage for Glenn included two cameras, one the Ansco he purchased and the other a Leica supplied by NASA. The flight not only kicked off decades of orbital experiences for U.S. astronauts, but also science experiments, observations, and thousands of rolls of film and digital files created through hand-held photography. The results of those experiments and the photos taken are what people left on Earth use even today to understand human spaceflight.

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Another Journey for John Glenn’s Ansco Camera
Tue, April 5 2011

Transit Authority

On the morning of March 2, I got an excited text message from fellow astronomy educator Shelley Witte, telling me that the International Space Station (ISS) and Space Shuttle Discovery would be coming very close to transiting the Sun from our position at the National Air and Space Museum’s Public Observatory at exactly 3:08 pm.

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Sun - February 16, 2011
Sun, April 3 2011

Jumping In Tweet First

On Saturday, March 19, I was thrilled to participate in the first ever Sun-Earth Day Tweetup organized by the NASA Goddard Spaceflight Center. It was also the first time the Smithsonian officially participated in a Tweetup. The event was a great opportunity to give twitter fans (aka “tweeps”) some face-to-face interaction with our research scientists, curators and educators, and provide some fun hands-on learning that illustrated the Sun-Earth connection.

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Camilla's puppet. 
Thu, December 30 2010

Ten Events of Great Significance in Space Exploration during the Twenty-first Century’s First Decade

As the first decade of the twenty-first century comes to a close what might we consider the ten most important events in space exploration and discovery?

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SpaceShipOne
Tue, December 21 2010

Imaging the Lunar Eclipse

I was pleasantly surprised when the clouds rolled out and the weather turned out to be favorable for the total lunar eclipse last night!

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Lunar Eclipse December 2010
Fri, December 17 2010

Total Lunar Eclipse

The Moon is one of the most easily recognized celestial objects and arguably the easiest one to observe. It is simple to view the changing phases from day to day, with your naked eyes. Binoculars or a telescope will reveal countless craters, ancient lava flows, and other intriguing lunar features.

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Eclipse Sequence

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