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Posts Tagged ‘outer space’

An Educational Solar Eclipse Road Trip

On August 21, 2017, people across the United States witnessed a once-in-a-lifetime astronomical event. Juliana Rorbeck, one of our ProQuest editors, traveled to Nashville, TN–the largest city along the path of totality–to observe the spectacular Great American Solar Eclipse firsthand.

Eclipse or Bust

When I first heard about a solar eclipse that would be visible from Oregon to South Carolina, I knew it would absolutely be worth seeing in person. After researching various cities along the path of totality–wherever the moon completely blocks out the sun–I chose Nashville. My fiancé and I decided to make a road trip of it.

A Shortage of Glasses

Seven days before the eclipse, most stores were already sold out of solar eclipse glasses. Certain online retailers were even caught selling fake pairs of glasses. With all of the information swirling around about how staring at the sun, even briefly, can cause permanent eye damage, this caused a bit of panic, especially in South Florida. After calling up four stores and going to five locations, we ended up finding our solar eclipse glasses at a 7-Eleven. Talk about a close call. Even though glasses are not necessary to view totality, the before-and-after views are equally spectacular and incredible. We were ready.

Hitting the Road

On Friday, Aug. 18th we rented a car and drove from Boca Raton, FL, to St. Augustine. Over the course of the weekend, we explored Savannah, walked through small towns in Georgia such as Waynesboro, spent the night in Athens, and drove around the Blue Ridge Mountains. In Blairsville, GA, I found a painted rock commemorating the eclipse.

Painted rock found in Blairsville, GA. (Credit: Juliana Rorbeck)

Eclipse rock. (Credit: Juliana Rorbeck)

For entertainment, I brought along some eclipse reading material and we prepared ourselves to look for certain phenomena such as the Baily’s beads effect. This happens when sunlight streams through the valleys and craters of the moon and the last brilliant blast of light creates the illusion of a massive diamond ring hovering in the sky.

The night before the eclipse we took in the sights around downtown Nashville. People had poured in from all over the country to celebrate. Since we had booked a flight home that departed soon after the eclipse ended, we realized that the Nashville International Airport would make for a fine eclipse viewing location.

The Eclipse

ProQuest editor Juliana Rorbeck awaits the eclipse with family in Nashville on Aug. 21, 2017. (Credit: Juliana Rorbeck)

On Monday afternoon we congregated outside one of the terminals with dozens of fellow travelers. I spoke with people who had traveled from as far as Maine and Puerto Rico to watch the event.

Then the sunlight grew dim. A minute before totality, just before 1:27 in the afternoon, there was an amazing shimmering effect that could be seen all over the ground. Suddenly everything looked as though we were underwater. People gasped and pointed. The air grew less hot, even cool, the midday summer heat gone within seconds. We saw a great diamond–Baily’s beads–and then the thinnest silver ring. The sun had vanished behind the moon. Completely.

People gather in front of the Nashville International Airport to record the Great American Eclipse during totality on August 21, 2017. (Credit: Juliana Rorbeck)

People took out their phones to try to record the moment. A few folks captured it on their cameras, but most people simply looked around in amazement. Some even cried. The best way I can describe it is by saying it was a 360-degree sunset. Dusk everywhere you looked. It was strange enough to spend so much time intently focusing on the brightest point in the sky, only for it to be plunged into darkness.

The edge of the sun peeked out from behind the moon. Before I could wrap my mind around what I’d seen, it was over.

From the Boca Raton Office

While Boca Raton did not fall under the path of totality for this eclipse, ProQuest editors got to see a partial eclipse at 2:57 pm.

This is an unfiltered photo taken by a cell phone camera of the partial eclipse. Notice the lens reflection on the bottom right.

(Credit: Jennifer Oms)

Shadows from leaves created hundreds of crescent shapes along the ground.

(Credit: Kimberly Carpenter)

Editor Jennifer Oms used a paper plate with a pinhole in the middle and a piece of paper on the ground to see the partial eclipse.

ProQuest Editor Jennifer Oms created a pinhole viewer to observe the partial eclipse. (Credit: Jennifer Oms)

Still Curious about the 2024 Eclipse or Other Space Sciences?

Check out SIRS Issues Researcher to learn more about space exploration.

Space Exploration & Travel Leading Issue in SIRS Issues Researcher

New Leading Issue: Private Space Sector

Private Space Sector Leading Issue via SIRS Issues Researcher

SIRS Issues Researcher’s new Leading Issue: Private Space Sector is out of this world!

The future of space travel is taking off with private companies. This action-packed Leading Issue will help students explore how the private sector is launching reusable rockets, hauling cargo to the International Space Station, and providing useful services to NASA. The private sector also wants to make space tourism happen by 2020.

Students don’t have to wait until college and career to gain experience with space science! Besides delving into the Private Space Sector Leading Issue, students can also learn about the space industry through hands-on experience. Explore the links below for opportunities for students to gain knowledge and experience with NASA and private sector programs.

 

NASA Programs:

  •  NASA Education’s page includes a wealth of knowledge for students and teachers through STEM education. Guidance for education includes an A-Z list of projects, design challenges, and opportunities for students to interact with NASA.
  • Current Opportunities for Students is also included in the NASA Education website. This page provides webcasts, contests, and lectures. It also lists scholarship and intern possibilities.
  • United Launch Alliance provides cost-effective launch services for NASA. They also provide an educational page on their website dedicated to students with rocket terminology and fun facts. Students can register to compete for a CubeSat satellite launch or look into the Intern Rocket Program.
  • Student Launch is a competitive rocket launching competition designed for students to learn the importance of teamwork while building a cost-effective reusable rocket. This NASA-conducted engineering design challenge provides resources and experiences for students and teachers.
  • SystemsGo is a NASA-endorsed program that helps students design rockets using STEM and teamwork. The site offers everything from educational video resources, launch events, and even how to start an aerospace program at school.
High school students from Texas participating in the SystemsGo aeroscience engineering program launch rockets in Willow City, Texas.

High school students from Texas participating in the SystemsGo aeroscience engineering program launch rockets in Willow City, Texas. Image via Ralph Arvesen on Flickr.

 

Private Sector Programs:

  • SpaceX‘s FIRST program awards students with scholarships as well as a chance for 10-15 high school seniors to become interns. Other programs include building and battling robotics for older students and a LEGO robot challenge for kids ages 9-14.
  • Virgin Galactic offers a Global Scholarship and Mentoring Program for students interested in STEM education.
  • Blue Origin offers an Astronaut Experience. Sign up for an experience on the New Shepard space vehicle.

How are your students exploring space science? Drop us a line in the comments section below or Tweet us at #ProQuest!

This Day in History: NASA Established

This day in history marks the beginning of the United States’ official journey to explore the “final frontier”–outer space. Featured here are a few of the significant events in the history of American manned space flight.

Equipping the United States for Leadership in the Space Age”President Dwight D. Eisenhower

When the Soviet Union put the first human-made object into space by launching the artificial satellite named Sputnik in October 1957, the United States faced mounting pressures to enter the “Space Race.” Fearful of being surpassed in missile technology, Congress quickly passed legislation to create a new government agency to conduct civilian space exploration. President Dwight Eisenhower signed the legislation creating the National Aeronautics and Space Administration into law on July 29, 1958.

 “Sailor Among the Stars”Dr. Allen O. Gamble

The word astronaut first appeared in the English language in 1929, probably in science fiction, but it wasn’t commonly used until December 1958. That’s when NASA adopted it as the name for the men (and eventually women) it would train to compete in the space race. Dr. Gamble, NASA’s manpower director from 1958-1964, described the selection this way: “Someone found that the term aeronaut, referring to those who ride in balloons and other lighter-than-air vehicles, was derived from ‘sailor in the air.’ From this we arrived at astronaut, meaning ‘sailor among the stars.'”

Why Don’t You Fix Your Little Problem and Light This Candle?”Astronaut Alan B. Shepard, Jr.

NASA introduced the Project Mercury astronauts to the world on April 9, 1959, only six months after the agency was established. (Credit: NASA) [public domain]

NASA introduced the Project Mercury astronauts to the world on April 9, 1959,
only six months after the agency was established. (Credit: NASA) [public domain]

The men who made up NASA’s first astronaut class were called the “Mercury 7.” The seven men chosen from a pool of more than 500 American military aviators were Scott Carpenter, L. Gordon Cooper, John H. Glenn Jr., Virgil I. “Gus” Grissom, Walter M. “Wally” Schirra Jr., Alan B. Shepard Jr., and Donald K. “Deke” Slayton.

Shepard became the first American man in space, making his historic suborbital flight on May 5, 1961. He made the above statement to Mission Control as he sat in the cramped Mercury capsule atop a Redstone rocket on the launch pad, while the launch was delayed for over four hours. The actual flight lasted only 15 minutes but was a success.

“Not Because They Are Easy, But Because They Are Hard”President John F. Kennedy

President Kennedy gave NASA the goal of sending a man to the moon by the end of the 1960s. On May 25, 1961, he stood before Congress and proclaimed that “this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before the decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the earth.” On September 12, 1962, he gave another speech at Rice University in Houston, Texas, outlining his goals for America’s space program. “We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard.” Less than seven years later, Apollo 11 astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin would fulfill Kennedy’s vision by landing on the moon.

We Came in Peace for All Mankind”Plaque affixed to the leg of the Apollo 11 lunar landing vehicle

(20 July 1969)--Astronaut Edwin E. Aldrin Jr., lunar module pilot of the first lunar landing mission, poses for a photograph beside the deployed United States flag during an Apollo 11 extravehicular activity (EVA) on the lunar surface. The Lunar Module (LM) is on the left, and the footprints of the astronauts are clearly visible. (Credit: NASA) [public domain]

(20 July 1969)–Astronaut Edwin E. Aldrin Jr., the lunar module pilot of the first lunar landing mission, poses for a photograph beside the deployed United States flag during an Apollo 11 extravehicular activity (EVA) on the lunar surface. The Lunar Module (LM) is on the left, and the footprints of the astronauts are clearly visible. (Credit: NASA) [public domain]

When astronauts first landed on the moon in 1969 as part of the Apollo 11 mission, they left behind evidence that they’d been there. Among these items were an American flag and a plaque, which was signed by President Richard Nixon and astronauts Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins and Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin, Jr. The plaque bears a map of the Earth and this inscription:

HERE MEN FROM THE PLANET EARTH
FIRST SET FOOT UPON THE MOON
JULY 1969 A.D.
WE CAME IN PEACE FOR ALL MANKIND

The Eagle Has Landed”Astronaut Neil Armstrong

Six Apollo missions landed on the moon during the years between 1968 and 1972: Apollo 11, 12, 14, 15, 16, and 17. Twelve men actually walked on its surface. Each of the five later Apollo missions also left a flag. Photographs taken by NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) satellite show the five flags still standing in place. (Buzz Aldrin reported that he saw Apollo 11’s flag blown down by rocket exhaust when the lunar lander blasted off the Moon’s surface to rejoin the orbiting command module.) The LRO images also show objects such as the lunar rovers used by some Apollo missions, and even the tire tracks they left behind.

“Okay, Houston, We’ve Had a Problem Here”Astronaut Jack Swigert

Photograph of the adaptor made from duct tape and other materials so that Command Module lithium lydroxide canisters could be used in the LM. (Credit: NASA) [public domain

Photograph of the adaptor made from duct tape and other materials so that Command Module lithium hydroxide canisters could be used in the LM. (Credit: NASA) [public domain]

Apollo 13’s journey to the moon was aborted when two of the oxygen-producing fuel cells exploded 2 days after its launch, with the spacecraft about 200,000 miles from Earth. The lack of oxygen wasn’t a real issue, but there was a problem with the CO2 scrubbers–which meant that the three astronauts on board could be suffocated by their own carbon dioxide exhalations. Guided by engineers on the ground at Mission Control, the astronauts used duct tape and surplus materials to repair air filtration canisters in the lunar module to help them survive the journey back to Earth.

“We Will Never Forget Them, Nor the Last Time We Saw Them”President Ronald Reagan

In this photo from Jan. 9, 1986, the Challenger crew takes a break during countdown training at NASA's Kennedy Space Center. Left to right are Teacher-in-Space payload specialist Sharon Christa McAuliffe; payload specialist Gregory Jarvis; and astronauts Judith A. Resnik, mission specialist; Francis R. (Dick) Scobee, mission commander; Ronald E. McNair, mission specialist; Mike J. Smith, pilot; and Ellison S. Onizuka, mission specialist. (Credit: NASA) [public domain]

In this photo from Jan. 9, 1986, the Challenger crew takes a break during countdown training at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. Left to right are Teacher-in-Space payload specialist Sharon Christa McAuliffe; payload specialist Gregory Jarvis; and astronauts Judith A. Resnik, mission specialist; Francis R. (Dick) Scobee, mission commander; Ronald E. McNair, mission specialist; Mike J. Smith, pilot; and Ellison S. Onizuka, mission specialist.
(Credit: NASA) [public domain]

President Reagan addressed the nation on January 28, 1986, after the Space Shuttle Challenger blew apart just 73 seconds after launch. The entire country mourned the loss of all seven astronauts aboard. The tragedy was a huge setback for the program, and the next mission wasn’t launched until almost three years later. The program suffered another catastrophe on February 1, 2003, when the Space Shuttle Columbia exploded over Texas during re-entry, killing all seven crew members.

The space shuttle program was launched in 1981, designed to be the “world’s first reusable spacecraft“–launching like a rocket, orbiting like a spacecraft, and landing like a plane. Crews ranged in size from five to seven people. NASA’s space shuttles have traveled 542,398,878 miles, making 21,152 Earth orbits. In all, there were 833 crew members in the 135 shuttle missions that were carried out through the end of the program in July 2011.

The history of NASA includes not only manned spaceflight, but also the exploration of our solar system, galaxies, and the entire universe. Scientific advances have been made in astronomy, astrophysics, astrobiology, aeronautics, Earth and life sciences, as well as lunar and planetary exploration and much more. NASA technology and research have contributed countless innovations and technologies first pioneered in space exploration that benefit everyday life. Among these are cordless power tools, telemedicine, carbon monoxide and smoke detectors, satellite television, joysticks and GPS navigation systems. The impact of our nation’s decision to enter the “Space Race” nearly 60 years ago can’t be truly defined or accurately measured.

May Space Milestones

Launch of Space Shuttle Columbia

Launch of Space Shuttle Columbia (Public Domain) via Flickr

There are many space accomplishments that we celebrate each year. Some are remembered more than others, but they are all an important part of exploring other planets in our solar system and the galaxy beyond. Here is a list of space milestones that land during the month of May to share with your students:

May 5, 1961: Astronaut Alan Shepard was launched into space aboard the Freedom 7 capsule, part of the Mercury mission. He became the second person (and the first U.S. astronaut) to enter outer space.

May 24, 1962: Astronaut Scott Carpenter was launched into outer space aboard the Aurora 7 space capsule, part of the Mercury mission. The capsule orbited earth three times.

May 15, 1963: Launch of the Faith 7 spacecraft, which was manned by Gordon Cooper who spent 34 hours in space.

May 18, 1969: Launch of Apollo 10 lunar module which orbited the moon. The module was manned by two astronauts.

May 19 and 28, 1971: Launch of the Mars 2 and Mars 3 Landers by Russia. Mars 2 arrived on Mars in November 1971 but crash-landed on the surface. It was the first object to reach Mars’ surface. Mars 3 arrived on Mars in December of 1971 and transmitted data back to Earth for 20 seconds.

May 30, 1971: An unmanned spacecraft, Mariner 9, was launched and began orbiting Mars in November 1971.

May 14, 1973: Launch of the Skylab station, by a Saturn 5 rocket, which became the first orbiting laboratory in space.

May 25, 1973: A group of three astronauts were launched into space to board the Skylab station orbiting laboratory for testing.

May 20, 1978: Launch of Pioneer Venus I orbiter. It began orbiting Venus in December 1978.

May 4, 1989: Launch of space shuttle Atlantis by NASA to deploy the Magellan spacecraft, which was sent to observe the planet Venus.

May 13, 1992: First time three astronauts space walked simultaneously from the Endeavour space shuttle.

May 26, 2008: Phoenix spacecraft landed on Mars. It analyzed Mars soil and took photos.

May 22, 2012: The SpaceX company launches its first capsule, called Dragon, into space. The capsule delivered food and other supplies to the International Space Station.

Teachers, direct your students to SIRS Discoverer to learn more about outer space exploration.

Celebrate Buzz Aldrin’s Birthday

Astronaut Buzz Aldrin, lunar module pilot of the first lunar landing mission, poses for a photograph beside the deployed United States flag during an Apollo 11 Extravehicular Activity (EVA) on the lunar surface. The Lunar Module (LM) is on the left, and the footprints of the astronauts are clearly visible in the soil of the Moon. Astronaut Neil A. Armstrong, commander, took this picture with a 70mm Hasselblad lunar surface camera. While astronauts Armstrong and Aldrin descended in the LM, the "Eagle", to explore the Sea of Tranquility region of the Moon, astronaut Michael Collins, command module pilot, remained with the Command and Service Modules (CSM) "Columbia" in lunar-orbit.

Buzz Aldrin and the U.S. Flag on the Moon via Flickr [Public Domain]

Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin is well-known for being one of the first people to step foot on the moon. He was part of the Apollo 11 mission, which was the first manned spacecraft to land on the moon on July 20, 1969. Although he is now a retired astronaut, he is still active in the space community. He recently wrote a book called “Mission to Mars: My Vision for Space Exploration” where he explains his ideas for space travel and a future Mars mission.

Buzz Aldrin was born on Jan. 20, 1930 and he celebrates his 86th birthday today. Here are some facts about this famous astronaut:

His nickname “Buzz” was given to him by his sister.

Buzz Aldrin’s mother’s maiden name was Moon.

The name for Disney’s Toy Story character “Buzz Lightyear” was inspired by Buzz Aldrin’s name.

Astronaut_Edwin_E._Buzz_Aldrin_Jr

By NASA [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Educators, visit ProQuest SIRS Discoverer for student resources on Buzz Aldrin and space exploration. Here are some examples of searches to get you started:

Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin

Outer space, Exploration

Space flight to the moon, Apollo Project