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ASP E-Newsletter


February 2012

Donald W. McCarthy wins AAS Education Prize.

More stars. Less light. Participate in GLOBE at Night!

Transit of Venus Resources.

Communicating Science - A National Conference on Science Education and Public Outreach.

Astrobiology Summer Science Experience for Teachers (ASSET).

Educators Selected to Fly on NASA's SOFIA Airborne Observatory.

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Don McCarthy

Donald W. McCarthy wins AAS Education Prize

We’re pleased to report that ASP Board member Donald McCarthy has won the 2012 Education Prize of the American Astronomical Society (AAS).

Don, from the University of Arizona in Tucson and its Steward Observatory, was cited for his three decades of running the university’s Astronomy Camp, involving more than 1,500 students, teachers and adults; for expanding his camp model internationally through the Tecnológico de Monterrey; and for encouraging his campers to pursue science as a career—several of whom now hold PhD’s in astronomy.  Don’s work also has inspired many students to pursue astronomy projects in international science fairs, leading to 11 National Young Astronomer awards and seven finalists in the Intel Science Talent Search.  In addition to promoting best practices in education and the understanding of the process of science, he has provided outreach over the past ten years to adult leaders in the Girl Scouts of America, providing a model for instructing Girl Scouts in astronomy and science inquiry.

The Society congratulates Don on his achievements and his award!

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GLOBE at Night logo

More stars. Less light. Participate in GLOBE at Night!

Calling all Earthlings! Take a few minutes to get involved in the GLOBE at Night campaign to preserve dark skies! GLOBE at Night is a citizen-science campaign open to people all over the world to raise awareness of the impact of light pollution by inviting citizen-scientists to measure their night sky brightness and report their observations to a website from a computer or smart phone. Light pollution threatens not only our “right to starlight”, but can affect energy consumption, wildlife and health. Through 2011, people in 115 countries contributed 66,000 measurements, making GLOBE at Night one of the most successful light pollution awareness campaigns to date. Please join us to participate in the 2012 campaign an hour after sunset til about 10pm March 13 through 22, and April 11 through 20. For information and resources, visit us at www.globeatnight.org.

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transit image
The June 8, 2004, transit of Venus at sunrise from an overlook above the Catawba River near Connelly's Springs, NC. Courtesy David Cortner.

Transit of Venus Resources

The phrase "once in a lifetime" denotes a rare event. A transit of Venus is actually a "twice-in-your-lifetime" event, because these transits occur twice during an eight-year span, with each pair separated by more than a century. The current transit pair (2004 and 2012) concludes this year. Miss it, and you'll have to wait 105 years to see another. So where will you be on June 5–6, 2012? The Astronomical Society of the Pacific offers resources for viewing the transit, including a downloadable 2012 almanac and instructions for building a sun funnel to attach to a telescope for safe transit viewing.

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ASP meeting logo

Communicating Science - A National Conference on Science Education and Public Outreach

Tucson, Arizona Aug. 4 - 8, 2012

Also featuring: In the Footsteps of Galileo, a national workshop of educators in grades 3-12 and in informal settings.

Join us in the beautiful setting of the American Southwest for a three-day symposium on the joys and challenges of communicating our understanding of the universe and science in general -- whether in the classroom, in a museum or nature center, to general and specific audiences, through books and magazines, on the web, via festivals and fairs, on radio and television, or through the social media. Preceding the symposium will be a two-day workshop: In the Footsteps of Galileo, a national workshop of educators in grades 3-12 and in informal settings.

Anyone involved or with an interest in science education and public outreach (EPO) and science communication is welcome, including: scientists and EPO professionals from NASA and NSF projects, planetariums, museums, science centers, universities, scientific organizations, research institutions, parks, nature centers, and afterschool settings; K-14 teachers and instructors; administrators; education researchers and program evaluators; book authors, science journalists, podcasters, bloggers, public information officers, webmasters; amateur astronomers doing outreach; and those interested in these fields of endeavor.

For more information and to sign up for updates, visit: http://www.astrosociety.org/events/meeting.html

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SETI logo

Astrobiology Summer Science Experience for Teachers (ASSET)

Astrobiology Summer Science Experience for Teachers (ASSET) will be held at San Francisco State University, July 22 - 29, 2012.  This summer institute for high school teachers will be intense and exciting, interactive and content rich, with presentations by leading astrobiology researchers from the SETI Institute, NASA, and the California Academy of Sciences.  Scientists will share the latest in astrobiology research on the origin of life on Earth, the extreme conditions in which life exists, Mars exploration, the formation of planetary systems around Sun-like stars, and the search for life in the universe.  Participants receive the entire Voyages Through Time / /(VTT) curriculum and complementary astrobiology materials, for use in their classrooms. VTT is a standards-based integrated high school science curriculum, delivered on CDS. Visit http://www.voyagesthroughtime.org/ for details. Curriculum, travel, room and board expenses are grant funded. 3 graduate credits are available for a very reasonable tuition fee (~$350 TBD)

Applications will be accepted now through April 13. Visit http://www.seti.org/seti-educators/asset for application and details.

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AAA educators onboard SOFIA
From left, Terry Herter, principal investigator of FORCAST and SOFIA staff scientist James De Buizer discuss an infrared image with Airborne Astronomy Ambassadors Theresa Paulsen and Marita Beard. (NASA/SOFIA/N. Veronico)

Educators Selected to Fly on NASA's SOFIA Airborne Observatory

Twenty-six educators from the United States have been selected for research flights aboard SOFIA, NASA's Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy. As participants in the Airborne Astronomy Ambassadors program, the educators will partner with professional astronomers using SOFIA for scientific observations in 2012 and 2013.

SOFIA is a modified Boeing 747SP jetliner equipped with a 100-inch (2.5-meter) diameter telescope. The observatory enables the analysis of infrared light to study the formation of stars and planets; chemistry of interstellar gases; composition of comets, asteroids and planets; and supermassive black holes at the center of galaxies.

"These educators submitted applications describing how they plan to take what they learn from SOFIA back to their classrooms and communities to help promote increased literacy in science, technology, engineering and math," said astronomer Dana Backman, manager of SOFIA's education and public outreach programs, which are managed by the SETI Institute and the Astronomical Society of the Pacific. "Selection for this unique opportunity is truly an honor for the educators, as well as for their local schools and science centers." Read more.

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