Friday, May 16, 2008

Phoenix Mars Landing & 25th Anniversary of Sally Ride's First Spaceflight

Phoenix Mars Landing Preview Webcast for Schools

On May 25, 2008, the NASA Phoenix spacecraft will arrive at Mars. Phoenix

will be the first vehicle intended to land on the surface of Red Planet since the

Mars Exploration Rovers "Spirit" and "Opportunity" landed in January 2004.

Phoenix is a three-legged lander that will perform its "entry, descent and landing"

sequence and, if successful, will commence a three-month surface science mission.

Phoenix will dig down to an ice-rich layer that scientists calculate lies within inches

of the surface. The lander will check samples of soil and ice for evidence about

whether the site was ever hospitable to life.

NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California will be conducting a live webcast

for schools on Thursday, May 22, at 9:00 a.m. PDT (12:00 p.m. EDT). This

webcast will preview the events of the entry, descent and landing, the path to Mars

so far, and the science mission.

Appropriate for 4th- through 12th-grade classrooms, the program will feature

information and video clips for 30 minutes. Four selected schools connected

through the NASA Digital Learning Network will engage in Q&A with JPL

staff for an additional 20 minutes.

For information on how to view the webcast live, visit

To learn more about the Phoenix mission, visit

25th Anniversary Celebration of Dr. Sally Ride's First Spaceflight --

Earth Then, Earth Now: Our Changing Climate Educator Conference

The Earth Then, Earth Now: Our Changing Climate Educator Conference will

focus on understanding climate change and will celebrate the 25th anniversary

of Dr. Sally Ride's first space shuttle mission. How was Earth's climate

different 25 years ago? What changes are predicted over the next 25 years?

Participants will investigate the basic science behind our understanding of

climate change. They will also learn about the global impact of climate change

on the atmosphere, ocean, continents and ecosystems. The conference will

draw upon the latest science to present the story of our changing climate.

Dr. Ride will give a keynote talk, and leading climate scientists will give presentations.

The conference will also include hands-on activities, materials for the classroom

current ideas for facing our climate challenge and creating a healthier planet.

Participants will also learn about the wide-ranging career opportunities in this

expanding and dynamic field.

The conference is taking place on July 23-24, 2008, at the NOAA Science

Center in Silver Spring, Md. The registration fee of $60 covers teaching

materials and most meals.

For more information and to register for the conference online,


Terri, Events Coordinator
Phoenix Astronomical Society

Comet Boattini Brightens

Comet Boattini Brightens

This is an AstroAlert from Sky & Telescope.

May 16, 2008

A faint comet discovered in Virgo last November is slowly brightening
as it approaches the Sun. Comet Boattini (C/2007 W1) has now
become dimly visible to the unaided eye for skywatchers in the
Southern Hemisphere.

While not exactly a barn-burner, and showing little or no sign of a tail,

Comet Boattini is now in Hydra and low in the western sky after sunset.

When the bright Moon leaves the evening sky next week, Southern

Hemisphere skywatchers will get a better view of this visitor.

As reported on IAU Circular 8945, issued yesterday by the

Central Bureau for Astronomical Telegrams (CBAT) at the

Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory in Cambridge, Massachusetts,

Alexandre Amorim of Florianopolis, Brazil, found the comet to be

magnitude 7.3 on April 30th in 10 x 50 binoculars; its coma appeared

to him about 12 arcminutes in diameter. By May 8th, David Seargent

in Cowra, NSW, Australia, called it magnitude 6.4 to the naked eye.

On June 15th Comet Boattini swings 41° south of the Sun and enters

the morning sky. Then on June 24th it reaches perihelion, 0.85

astronomical unit from the Sun and 0.24 a.u. from Earth. Northern

Hemisphere observers will get their chance to see Comet Boattini

in early July, when it crosses Taurus and enters Cetus. But by then

it is expected to be fading from 7th to 8th magnitude.

This object is not to be confused with another Comet Boattini,

C/2008 J1, which is much fainter (magnitude 14) and currently

in Vulpecula.

If you received this AstroAlert by e-mail, be sure to check the

online version here for possible corrections or updates.

Roger W. Sinnott
Senior Editor
Sky & Telescope

Terri, Events Coordinator
Phoenix Astronomical Society

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Space Weather News for May 15

Space Weather News for May 15, 2008

Satellite Tracker
has gone global. The tool now works not
only for US and Canadian
readers, but also for sky watchers in
countries around the world. This
development comes as the International
Space Station
is making bright and
frequent nightly apparitions over Europe,
Africa, the Middle East, parts
of Asia and Australia. If you live in those
areas, give it a try:

POLLEN CORONAS: Warning, this story may
make you sneeze. Swarms of
springtime pollen in the northern hemisphere
are drifting in front of the
sun and making multi-colored coronas
(rings of light) in the sky.
Unlike circular coronas caused by water
droplets in clouds, pollen coronas
have strange elliptical shapes dotted by
colorful bright patches.
Pictures featured on today's edition of show you
what to look for.

Terri, Events Coordinator
Phoenix Astronomical Society

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

2 cool links to check out

MS gives free tours of space

or goto for the download

Terri, Events Coordinator
Phoenix Astronomical Society

Monday, May 12, 2008


Space Weather News for May 12, 2008

ERUPTING PROMINENCE: Today, astronomers are
monitoring an unusually
active prominence on the sun's eastern limb.
Even veteran observers are
impressed, using words like "amazing" and
"jaw-dropping" to describe
the activity they have seen. One onlooker
described the fountain-like
eruptions as "volcanic in appearance." This
beautiful activity may herald
the approach of a new sunspot--or it may be
just a temporary upheaval,
here today and gone tomorrow. What happens
next? Check for images and updates.

Terri, Events Coordinator
Phoenix Astronomical Society