Like on Facebook

Like this message on Facebook.

Astronomical Society of the Pacific Newsletter
December 2013
Season’s Greetings from ASP Executive Director, James Manning
  • ASP’s 125th Anniversary Commemorative 2014 Calendar Now on Sale
  • Timothy Ferris to Keynote at ASP’s 125th Anniversary Dinner on February 7, 2014
    • Tickets on Sale Now
  • Call for Nominations: ASP 2014 Annual Awards
  • Target of Opportunity: Comet ISON
  • Build Your Own Telescope
  • Skynet Junior Scholars Workshop
  • MISSION: MARS, Exploring Mars with Pascal Lee
  • 2014 Bay Area Project ASTRO Introductory Workshop
Thank You for an Awesome 2013!

Season's Greetings from the Astronomical Society of the Pacific
Dear Friends and Colleagues,
Solstice time and the holiday season that surrounds it are a study in contrasts.  We spend most of the time in darkness, yet fill it with conflagrations of light.  And the greatest gifts we give and receive are both the biggest—the love and presence of family and friends—and the smallest: the kind word spoken, the delight in a child’s face, the quiet moment looking up at the majesty of the stars.
In this season of contrasts and remembrance, we at the ASP are especially grateful for the presence of our members and supporters—great gifts indeed.  We thank you for sharing the journey with us, for your ongoing support, and for your guidance as we continue to advance our cause and prepare to celebrate our 125th year.
On behalf of the ASP Staff and Board, I wish you all good things this holiday season, gifts large and small in the dawning year, and a surfeit of quiet moments to look up in wonder at the stars!
Jim Manning

ASP’s 125th Anniversary Commemorative 2014 Wall Calendar Now on Sale
ASP Astronomy calendarIn honor of the ASP’s 125th anniversary in 2014, the organization is selling a limited edition commemorative wall calendar featuring stunning astrophotography submitted by our own Night Sky Network community members and other sources. In addition to “what to look up for” each month, the calendar also includes key dates, milestones, and “firsts” from the ASP’s extensive and diverse history. The calendar is on sale to raise funds for ASP programs and services, and will make a perfect holiday or year-end thank you gift for friends, family members, colleagues and clients! Size: 13" x 10.5".
One calendar for $20
Three calendars for $15 each (25% discount)
Five calendars for $10 each (50% discount)
(Shipping and handling charges apply)
Please visit the ASP’s AstroShop for more details.
Timothy Ferris to Keynote at ASP’s 125th Anniversary Dinner on February 7, 2014
Timothy FerrisThe ASP is pleased and excited to announce that award-winning astronomy writer, journalist, lecturer, educator, and former ASP Board Member, Timothy Ferris, will present the keynote address at the ASP’s 125th Anniversary Dinner Gala on February 7, 2014 in San Francisco. The evening will showcase the ASP and the organization’s 125 years of empowering and inspiring astronomy education and outreach.
Nominated for both the Pulitzer Prize and National Book award, Mr. Ferris is the author of a dozen books, among them “Seeing in the Dark,” “The Whole Shebang,” and “Coming of Age in the Milky Way,” which was translated into fifteen languages and named by The New York Times as among the leading books published in the twentieth century. A former newspaper reporter and editor of Rolling Stone magazine, he has written more than two hundred articles and essays for publications such as The New Yorker, National Geographic, The New York Review of Books, Forbes, Harper's, Life, Nature, Time, Newsweek, Readers' Digest, Scientific American, The Nation, The New Republic, and The New York Times.
Tickets for the ASP's 125th Anniversary Celebration Dinner are on sale via this link.
Call for Nominations: ASP’s 2014 Annual Awards!

Bruce MedalKnow an awesome astronomy teacher at the high school or college level? Someone making exciting strides in astronomy instrumentation or software? A dedicated, accomplished amateur astronomer? The ASP is now accepting nominations for the organization’s 2014 annual awards which recognize special achievements in astronomy research, technology, education, and public outreach. Nominations are welcome in seven categories, online or in writing, until January 1, 2014. Honorees receive a cash award and engraved plaque, as well as travel and lodging to accept the award at a banquet which takes place as part of the ASP’s Annual Meeting next summer. Please click here for award categories and the nomination process.
Target of Opportunity: Comet ISON
Jim DeBuizer and Diane Wooden, SOFIA images of Comet ISONNASA’s Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA, with whom the ASP partners in E/PO) took off on a “target of opportunity” flight that included study of Comet ISON on Oct. 24, 2013. This was SOFIA's second chance to capture data on a comet, having previously studied Comet Hartley 2 in 2010. For the Comet ISON observations, the object was predicted to be very faint.
Comet ISON, a pristine chunk of primordial material from the Oort Cloud, recently entered the inner solar system for the very first time and is heading toward a close encounter with the Sun. On Nov. 28, 2013, Thanksgiving Day, Comet ISON will reach perihelion, passing within 730,000 miles of the Sun. The comet was discovered in September 2012, by researchers Vitali Nevski and Artyom Novichonk using the International Scientific Optical Network’s (ISON) 0.4-meter (16-inch) telescope, and was named in honor of the institution.
Aboard the October 24 SOFIA flight was principal investigator Diane Wooden, who had proposed that Comet ISON be studied at three infrared wavelengths: 11.1, 19.7, and 31.5 microns. Wooden is working with a diverse team that will combine its numerous observations to better understand the composition of Comet ISON.
“These measurements are important because they serve as constraints or upper limits on the flux of thermal emissions from larger dust grains in the coma [head of the comet],” said Wooden. “Studying the dust’s thermal emission from SOFIA enables us to derive the grain size, its distribution, and the mass of the amount of dust coming from the comet. This is a critical compliment to studying the gases that are released, and thereby contributes significantly to understanding the origins of comets.”
[Top image: SOFIA FORCAST instrument scientist James DeBuizer, left, consulted with principal investigator Diane Wooden, right, during the Comet ISON observations. (NASA/SOFIA/Nicholas A. Veronico). Bottom image: Images of Comet ISON obtained using SOFIA's FORCAST camera at wavelengths of 11.1 and 19.7 microns. In these images, the comet's tail and resulting dust trail points to the upper right of the photo (images smoothed slightly during processing). (NASA/Diane Wooden)]

Galileoscope workshopBuild Your Own Telescope!
Using the Galileoscope to Teach Light and Optics in the Classroom

When: Saturday, January 11, 2014, 9:00am – 1:00pm
Location: College of San Mateo Science Building, 1700 West Hillsdale Blvd., San Mateo, CA
Learn about how telescopes work and how to use the Galileoscope in your classroom. Through hands-on activities in light and optics, workshop participants will learn about the behavior of light and build their own Galileoscope, modeled on the telescope Galileo used to observe mountains on the Moon, the moons of Jupiter, the phases of Venus, and more! Each teacher participant will receive a set of Galileoscopes for use in their classroom. Space is limited so register early!
Audience: 3rd - 9th grade teachers; interested educators of all grade levels
Cost: $30
Please click here to register.
Skynet Junior Scholars Workshop
Are you a group leader who would like to introduce the Universe to your youth with real research telescopes? We thought so! That's why a group of dedicated scientists and astronomy educators created Skynet Junior Scholars (SJS). With a simple internet connection, young people can conduct astronomy investigations with world-class telescopes in the U.S., Chile, and Australia. Suitable for middle school and older youth in 4-H clubs, afterschool and museum programs, SJS offers:
  • Access to Skynet Robotic Telescopes
  • Explorations: a series of inquiry-based STEM activities that engage young people in a variety of astronomy topics
  • Online web-portal for youth to create an image gallery, share data with other young scientists, and publish their results
  • Communication with astronomers, engineers, software developers and SJS staff
  • An opportunity for youth to advance, and assist astronomers with their projects
Youth in your out-of-school-time programs may participate in SJS after you complete an SJS professional development workshop. Participation in this workshop is free of cost. We simply ask that you commit to guiding 5-10 youth through an SJS Exploration by August 2014.
ASP’s next online workshop taking place January 20 to February 28, 2014 and applications are due December 16. Click here for more information. For questions about the workshop, please contact Sue Ann Heatherly via, or 304-456-2209.

MISSION: MARS, Exploring Mars with Pascal Lee
When: Saturday, January 25, 2014, 9:00am – 1:00pm
Location: SETI Institute, 189 Bernardo Ave #100, Mountain View, CA
Subzero temperatures, killer rays, raging dust storms…Mars is a hostile planet. Could anything survive there? One job for Future Mars Explorers: Stay alive and help search for alien life. The mission now: start training to become one of the first human explorers of the Red Planet. Guided by renowned Mars expert Pascal Lee and educators from the Astronomical Society of the Pacific and the SETI Institute, workshop participants will get a look at what it will take to send humans to the Red Planet. They will discover how to gear up for survival, navigate a spaceship, search for alien life, and so much more. Participants will also get a sneak peek at the latest designs for future Mars ships, spacesuits, and exploration rovers. The future of space exploration starts now!
Bring the excitement of Mars exploration to your classroom with MISSION: MARS! Mars exploration activities in this workshop will help educators make a connection into the Next Generation Science Standards and Common Core.
Audience: 3rd – 8th grade teachers; interested educators of all grade levels
Cost: $30
Please click here to register.

2014 San Francisco Bay Area Project ASTRO Introductory Workshop
When: Friday, July 25 9:00am – 4:30pm / Saturday, July 26 9:00am – 4:30pm (attendance on both days is required)
Location: College of San Mateo Science Department and Planetarium, San Mateo, CA
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, and volunteer astronomers with a passion for sharing their love of astronomy
Cost: FREE!
Please click here to apply.

Thank You for an Awesome 2013!
We know this is a busy time of year for many with family, friends, and all manner of festivity. Here at the ASP, we look back on a busy year interacting with many of YOU – hundreds of educators, researchers, and amateurs – champions who believe that astronomy is the gateway to science literacy for thousands of learners. Thank you for being a part of our mission!  
During this time of reflection, planning, and gratitude, we also invite you to support the ASP with an end-of-year donation. Your gift will help us continue to organize our marquee programs in education and public outreach AND design new programs to meet the ever-changing needs of teachers and students – inside the classrooms and out in the great outdoors. Thanks to donors like you, the diversity of our efforts and our audiences grows and grows. The sky is truly the limit!
You may donate easily and securely online, or via mail: ASP, 390 Ashton Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94112.
From all of us at the ASP, all the very best to you and yours in 2014. Keep looking up!

donate to support science literacy facebook twitter YouTube