Astronomical Society of the Pacific Newsletter
February 2013
  • Happy Birthday ASP – Celebrating 124 years of advancing science literacy through astronomy
  • Happy Chinese New Year – February 10: Year of the Snake
  • Thank You Supporters of the ASP and Mars!
  • Marni Berendsen Retires from the ASP; Champion of Amateur Astronomy
  • ASP Launches “Astronomy Ambassadors” Program at AAS Winter Meeting
  • Sky Rangers Workshop Welcomes 57 Participants from 25 States
  • Skynet Junior Scholars Seeks Educators to Join Astronomy Module
  • ASP Puts Educators into the Stratosphere on Board NASA’s Flying Telescope
  • 2013 Annual Meeting: Ensuring STEM Literacy – Super Early Bird Registration Closes Feb 15th
  • NASA Galileo Educator Network Teacher Workshop – Mar 2, Mar 23
  • 2013 Bay Area Project ASTRO Workshop – Aug 2 & 3

Happy Birthday ASP! Happy 124th Birthday ASP
On a chilly February 7th in 1889 in San Francisco, astronomers from Lick Observatory and members of the Pacific Coast Amateur Photographic Association — fresh from viewing the New Year’s Day total solar eclipse north of the City — met to share pictures and experiences. Edward Holden, Lick’s first director, complimented the amateurs on their service to science, and proposed to continue the good fellowship through the founding of a Society “to advance the Science of Astronomy, and to diffuse information concerning it.” Thus the Astronomical Society of the Pacific was born!
ASP Welcomes Year of the Snake
Testament to the fact that astronomical references and connections exist nearly everywhere, the Chinese New Year on February 7th will welcome the Year of the Snake. Accordingly, we share a few links to snake-related constellations for your enlightenment and enjoyment:
Hydra, the water snake
Hydrus, the lesser water snake
Ophiuchus, serpent bearer, with a snake coiled around him
And two parts of the snake seen in the illustration on the Ophiuchus link above are their own separate constellations:
Serpens, the serpent consists of Serpens Caput, the head, and Serpens Cauda, the tail

Visit Mars Today!Thank You Supporters of Mars and the ASP!
The ASP wishes to thank everyone who joined us for our Annual Dinner, “How to Get to Mars … and What to Do Once You Arrive.” Speakers, Dr. Pascal Lee of the Mars Institute and “Packing for Mars” author Mary Roach, engaged the room with lively and fascinating facts and figures about our favorite red planet. Mary even coaxed Apollo 9 astronaut, Rusty Schweickart, up to the mic where they swapped very amusing (and fortunately postprandial) stories about bodily fluids in space.
The ASP’s Annual Dinner raises unrestricted funds for the organization, which provide us with the flexibility to direct financial resources where and when they are needed. We are humbled by and truly grateful for the generous support of those who joined us in a celebration of exploration and science literacy!
ASP Champion of the Amateur Astronomer, Marni Berendsen, to Retire
Marni Berendsen will retire from the ASP March after more than 10 years of service to the amateur astronomy community in her capacity as Education Project Coordinator for NASA Night Sky Network (NSN). Along with colleagues at NASA and the ASP, Marni spearheaded NSN research and development – creating (with lots of help from clubs) 11 astronomy Outreach ToolKits, conducting scientific studies of our hobby, designing and implementing the club management system in use today, and demonstrating how amateur astronomers are the backbone of astronomy outreach in the US.  Marni will be sorely missed, but the network she created is thriving and growing, and ASP and NASA’s commitment to the program remains strong. Together we’ll keep the outreach community flourishing in the spirit of Marni’s vision.
ASP Launches “Astronomy Ambassadors” Program at AAS Winter Meeting
Alarmed by a 2009 study that showed 65% of Americans couldn’t name a living scientist, with another 18% who tried but failed (naming dead scientists or nonscientists), Debra M. Elmegreen, AAS past president, decided something needed to be done. The AAS Council agreed, and contracted with the ASP to conduct a pilot workshop at the AAS meeting in Long Beach on January 5 and 6. Thirty “Astronomy Ambassadors” learned about materials developed specifically for outreach, as well as communication techniques to increase their effectiveness. Participants included grad students, post docs and young faculty. ASP facilitators, Suzy Gurton, Anna Hurst Schmitt, Andrew Fraknoi and Dennis Schatz, were impressed with the enthusiasm these young research astronomers brought to the workshop. The team also looks forward to reading event logs and supporting the new Astronomy Ambassadors’ efforts.
Sky Rangers Workshop Welcomes 57 Participants from 25 States
No less than 50 institutions are currently represented at the ASP’s seventh full-length Sky Rangers Workshop (four online and three onsite…at Bryce Canyon, Yosemite, and Acadia), January 21 through March 15. Sixteen participants are park rangers and other specialists from the U.S. National Park Service, e.g., Assateague Island National Seashore, Rocky Mountain National Park, Carlsbad Caverns NP, Bryce Canyon NP, Yellowstone NP, and Mount St. Helen's National Volcanic Monument. The remaining 41 are naturalists, outdoor specialists, park guides, and historic interpreters from environmental centers, nature centers, state parks, and other outdoor learning settings across the USA.
Skynet Junior Scholars Seeks Educators to Join Astronomy Module Development &Technology Teams
Approximately 1,400 middle schoolers will explore the universe with research-grade robotic telescopes over the next three years, thanks to a $1.6 million program funded by the National Science Foundation. The University of Chicago will lead the effort, called Skynet Junior Scholars (SJS), in partnership with the National Radio Astronomy Observatory in Green Bank, W.Va.; the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; the Astronomical Society of the Pacific and 4-H.
The program will train 180 4-H leaders and informal educators in Wisconsin, North Carolina and West Virginia to engage their youths in telescopic observations of planets, asteroids, galaxies and other cosmic targets during summer camps or weekly club meetings. Skynet will build upon existing 4-H science programs, which provide hands-on learning experiences designed to prepare youths for careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).
Eighteen educators will be selected from formal and informal settings to form the SJS Module Development and Technology Teams. For application information, please click here, or email Vivian Hoette at, or Sue Ann Heatherly at
ASP Puts Educators into the Stratosphere on Board NASA’s Flying Telescope
The ASP supports NASA’s Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) program at Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif., with staff in the observatory’s education and public outreach group. 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.
For the past year, ASP staff has been working with the producers of the Discovery Channel show “Mighty Planes” to film a one-hour episode about SOFIA, its capabilities, and its entry into science operations. Part of the documentary will showcase SOFIA’s unique Airborne Astronomy Ambassadors program that pairs high school science teachers with professional astronomers. Teachers work with astronomers to see how observations are made with SOFIA. They then take what they learned back to their classrooms and schools to motivate students into science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) careers.
As part of the documentary, two of SOFIA’s initial cadre of Airborne Astronomy Ambassadors, Marita Beard and Kathleen Fredette, flew on the observatory’s January telescope and instrument verification and validation flight. Beard and Fredette were part of the initial cadre of teachers who flew in 2011, and they returned to discuss their experiences with the Discovery Channel crew.
SOFIA has selected 13 educator teams from the United States, two per team, who will fly on SOFIA during the spring and summer of 2013. The first two teams will fly in mid-February. For more on the Airborne Astronomy Ambassadors program, visit: or

Ensuring STEM Literacy
ASP 2013 Annual Meeting: Ensuring STEM Literacy
July 20 to 24, San Jose, CA.
Super Early Bird Registration Closes Feb 15th!
Co-hosted by San Jose State University, the ASP’s 125th Annual Meeting will take place in the nation’s hub of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) industries. Accordingly, we are excited to focus our 2013 Annual Meeting on STEM literacy, and across multiple disciplines from earth science to space science, from physics to astrobiology.
In addition to another popular Galileo Teacher Training Program (GTTP), 2013 also marks a Cosmos in the Classroom year. This unique triennial symposium welcomes teachers of college-level introductory astronomy for a series of education workshops about the most popular basic science class in universities across the country.
Please visit the ASP 2013 Annual Meeting Page often for speaker announcements, registration links, sponsorship & exhibit opportunities, volunteer information, abstract submissions and more.

NASA Galileo Educator Network Teacher Workshop – Mar 2, Mar 23
Become a NASA Galileo Educator through this 15-­hour professional development opportunity for teachers. This NASA Galileo Educator Network workshop emphasizes inquiry-­based strategies and the nature and practice of science. Learn activities and strategies for teaching Galileo-­themed science inquiry and space science content with NASA resources. Follow-­up sessions allow participants the chance to try strategies and activities in their classrooms, then share with the group their successes and challenges. Each workshop participant will receive the large best-­selling astronomy teaching resource guide The Universe at Your Fingertips 2.0, and NASA resources for use in your classroom. 
Audience: Teachers in grades 3–9 Cost: FREE!
Date: Saturday, March 2 / Saturday, March 23, 2013; 9:00am – 4:30pm (attendance on both days is required)
Location: Astronomical Society of the Pacific, 390 Ashton, San Francisco, CA (at Ocean Ave in Ingleside, neighborhood parking or K-Line)
Cost: FREE
2013 Bay Area Project ASTRO Workshop – Aug 2 & 3
Project ASTRO is a program that matches teachers with astronomers in Bay Area schools and community organizations. Project ASTRO is looking for 3rd–9th grade teachers to work with volunteer astronomers who have a keen interest in sharing the wonders of astronomy with students. Together, teachers and their astronomer partner attend a free 2-­day summer workshop to learn hands-­on, inquiry-­based astronomy activities designed to involve students in the excitement of scientific discovery.
Audience: Teachers in grades 3–9; volunteer astronomers with a passion for sharing their love of astronomy
Date: Friday, August 2 / Saturday, August 3; 9:00am – 4:30pm (attendance on both days is required)
Location: San Mateo County Office of Education, 101 Twin Dolphin Drive, Redwood City, CA
Cost: FREE!

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