Friday, February 27, 2009

Free Online Space Magazine

Thursday, February 26, 2009 7:25 AM


Hi you guys

I’m the marketing firm representing Space Lifestyle Magazine, and I wanted to inform you and your group members that the latest issue of the magazine has just been posted online at But as importantly I wanted to notify your association and its members that the magazine has a contest to give away a Zero-G flight and some other prizes to subscribers. Subscription is free and can be entered directly at

We would really appreciate it if you would pass this note on to your members to take advantage of the information and the opportunity to win the prizes.

Thank you very much

Terri Albers Griffin

Albers, Inc.


Terri, Events Coordinator
Phoenix Astronomical Society

Pretty Sky Alert for Fri Feb 21

Space Weather News for Feb. 27, 2009

SATELLITE DEBRIS UPDATE: US Strategic Command is still cataloguing debris from the Feb. 10th collision of Iridium 33 and Kosmos 2251 over northern Siberia. Orbits have been measured for more than 350 fragments. Check today's edition of for maps showing how the debris has scattered in the space around Earth.

PRETTY SKY ALERT: When the sun goes down tonight (Friday, Feb. 27th) step outside and look west. Venus and the crescent Moon are having a beautiful close encounter in the sunset sky. If you point a small telescope at the pair, you will see that Venus, like the Moon, is a crescent. The phases of the two are almost the same, adding an extra dimension of beauty to an already lovely show. Don't miss it!

Terri, Events Coordinator
Phoenix Astronomical Society

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Planetary Wonderings: Braille

Planetary Wonderings
March Focus: Astronomy Resources for the Visually Impaired

By Mary-Frances Bartels, NASA Solar System Ambassador

Two months ago I mentioned some notable astronomy-related anniversaries that occur this year — from the 400th anniversary of Galileo’s use of a telescope to the 40th anniversary of the moon landing. I recently learned of another significant anniversary, one not usually associated with the study of the universe. This year marks the 200th anniversary of the birth of Louis Braille. As a teen, Mr. Braille changed the world of the visually impaired by inventing a system of reading and writing employing raised dots. Two years afterwards, he adapted his system to musical notation, and later, mathematics. Through a tactile system Braille helped blind persons more fully participate in society. While not an astronomer, how has Braille’s legacy opened up the world of astronomy to the blind?

Over the past decade NASA has been involved in the creation of a number of resources for use by blind persons. Sometimes these materials are adapted from those developed for sighted persons. Other times resources are developed “from scratch.” Let us explore some NASA projects that use tactile methods to teach about outer space to a group not usually associated with this topic.

Touch the Stars — First published in 1999, this combination Braille and large print astronomy text by Noreen Grice includes tactile line drawings. It covers a variety of general astronomy topics including constellations, planets, moon phases, eclipses and galaxies.

Touch the Universe: A NASA Braille Book of Astronomy — This is another Braille and large print book by Grice, and includes images of raised patterns to translate colors, shapes and other intricate details of the cosmic objects, thus allowing the reader to feel what he cannot see. A number of Hubble photographs were embossed for this project which was made available in 2001.

The Evolving Universe — In 2004 the Mid-continent Research for Education and Learning (McREL) and the Colorado School for the Deaf and Blind (CSDB) worked with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory to create materials which focus on the origins of the universe. This resource, part of the Adaptive Curriculum Enhancement (ACE) program, is based on the module, "Genesis Cosmic Chemistry: Cosmogony." Students act as scientists as they study tactile models of specific features of the universe. While studying the Standard Cosmological Model students learn of the difficulties of conducting science on very large time and distance scales by indirect observation and inference. More information on ACE may be found at:

Touch the Sun: A NASA Braille Book — Like her previous works Noreen Grice combines Braille and print for a book that can be appreciated by both visually impaired as well as sighted individuals. Published in 2005, the tactile images in the book were created using a process called “thermoforming.” Images include those from the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory ( SOHO ) and the Transition Region and Coronal Explorer (TRACE) spacecraft.

Feel the Impact — Another project from the ACE program, and released in 2007, includes experiments and data analysis of natural phenomenon related to the Deep Impact mission.

Touch the Invisible Sky: A Multi-Wavelength Braille Book Featuring Tactile NASA Images — Published in 2008 this Braille and large print book introduces the concept of non-visible wavelengths, and includes images from the Chandra X-ray Observatory, the Spitzer Infrared Telescope, Hubble, and ground-based telescopes. The color pictures make this book able to be appreciated by seeing people as well. It was authored by Noreen Grice, Simon Steel, and Doris Daou.

The above is only a sampling of the efforts NASA has made to make astronomy accessible to the visually impaired. Other resources are “out there” and being developed.

Resource of the Month: Google Mars consists of maps showing elevation, visible, and infrared. Users can even check on the status of Mars landers.

Activity of the Month: All of the above resources use various methods to make images understandable to visually handicapped persons. Some methods to make tactile images include thermoform, swell paper, and silk screen. These all require special equipment. Think of some objects and concepts in astronomy, such as comets, galaxies, orbits, eclipses, etc. How might you make tactile representations of these using household objects? Would you use string, fabric, hot glue, paper, or what? Make a tactile image and give it only as much detail as needed to convey the general concept you want to illustrate. “Test” its effectiveness by having a blindfolded friend touch it. Better yet, if you know someone who is blind, let him “see” it himself. Make any needed changes to improve your “image.” These are some of the same steps professionals used to produce the materials discussed in this article.

Suggestions, questions, corrections, and comments about “Planetary Wonderings” are welcomed and may be directed to stargazer @ (remove spaces). Past columns may be found at (click on “Planetary Wonderings” on the right side of opening screen) and at (columns from Jan. 2007 to the present).

Remember to keep looking up!

Sources (not already mentioned in article):,2


Feb. web site message

Saturday, February 28, 2009 1:20 PM


Just wanted to thank you for including information on making astronomy
accessible to blind and low vision folks and mentioning my Braille/Tactile

Much appreciated!


Noreen Grice
You Can Do Astronomy LLC

Terri, Events Coordinator
Phoenix Astronomical Society

March PAS Newsletter is ready for download.

The March 2009 PAStimes Newsletter
is ready for download at this link.
Please enjoy!

Terri, Events Coordinator
Phoenix Astronomical Society

Tuesday, February 24, 2009


Meeting of the Minds (PAS Business meeting)

G- 147 at PVCC
7pm - 10pm

This month we have a long Meeting Agenda.
Please feel free to download the Agenda on line at

If you have any topics you'd like added to the list, feel free to
email me at by 3pm the day of the meeting.
After 3pm I can't guarantee I will receive the email in time to add
your topic to the list.

Everyone is welcome to join the meeting. Remember, this is a Business
meeting, not a general meeting with a speaker. No children are allowed.
Children = under 18 yrs old or younger than attend a college. I know, some
17 years olds attend college, so that is acceptable.

We talk about the topics on the Agenda and those that we do not accomplish
prior to 10pm, will be bumped to the next MOM's, which will be Mar 26th.

No RSVP is needed. Just come have fun with us. Some of the topics in
the Agenda are also in the process of being discussed in the forums. Feel
free to read up on them prior to attending the meeting. This way you can
avoid repeating suggestions we already received in the forums. I will
be skimming the forums prior to the meeting and taking notes on what
everyone discussed, so that we can discuss them further. This could save
time when discussing items quickly at the meeting.

If you are one of the few who has NOT picked up their YEAR IN SPACE
Desk Calendar, please plan to attend this meeting, or come to the PAS
Meeting on Mar 5th. I will try to have the calendar at both meetings
just in case you attend to pick it up.

If your topic needs to be one of the first to be talked about becuase
you can not stick around until 10pm (the possible end of the meeting)
then let me know ahead of time so I can have that topic be discussed
earlier in the evening.

The Agenda, on line, is not the order in which the topics will be discussed.
I may send out an ordered list prior to the meeting sometime Thursday.
If not, you will find out the order of discussion at the meeting.

We will see you there!!!
Terri, Event Coordinator

Terri, Events Coordinator
Phoenix Astronomical Society

Monday, February 23, 2009

Comet Coincidence

Space Weather News for Feb. 23, 2009

COSMIC COINCIDENCE: What are the odds? On Tuesday, Feb. 24th, Saturn and Comet Lulin will converge in the constellation Leo only 2 degrees apart. At the same time, Comet Lulin will be making its closest approach to Earth--the comet at its best!-- while four of Saturn's moons transit the disk of the ringed planet in view of backyard telescopes. Oh, and the Moon will be New, providing dark skies for anyone who wishes to see the show.

The best time to look is around 1 a.m. Tuesday morning (your local time) when the planet-comet combo ascend high in the southern sky. To the unaided eye, Comet Lulin looks like a faint patch of gas floating next to golden Saturn. Point your backyard telescope at that patch and you will see a lovely green comet with a double tail.

Terri, Events Coordinator
Phoenix Astronomical Society