Far Out!

Well, it looks as though Pluto may not be the last stop on the way out of our solar system after all. New information from the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society Letters tell us that a couple of extreme trans-Neptunian objects (ETNOs) are most likely inhabiting the area beyond the orbit of our beloved dwarf-planet. The Guardian states that two planets as big as Earth may be edge lingering on the edge of the solar system.

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Citizen-Science After Dark: GLOBE at Night

Globe At Night

Want to participate in an international citizen-science campaign designed to raise public awareness of the impact of light pollution? Check out the GLOBE at Night program. The program encourages interested individuals to measure their night sky brightness and submit their observations. Contributors may share their findings to via a computer or smart phone. Why is this citizen-science campaign important? Light pollution affects energy consumption, wildlife, health, and our ability to appreciate the heavens.

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Fresh Start: Quadrantids Provide Early Morning (Meteor) Shower

According to NASA, the Northern Hemisphere will experience a spectacular celestial treat in the wee hours of the morning on Wednesday, January 4th. Around 2AM (EST), the 2012 Quadrantids (a meteor shower) will dazzle die-hard astronomers. Plan to catch the event? If so, brew some coffee and stay awake for the show!

Image of a rare early Quadrantid, captured by a NASA meteor camera in 2010Here are a few suggested activities/resources to keep you alert while you wait:

Out To Launch

According to NASA‘s web-based shuttle and rocket missions schedule,  space shuttle Atlantis will lift off from Kennedy Space Center today for a final repair visit to the Hubble Space Telescope.

NASA-Hubble

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Out of This World Visualization

Yesterday, I presented a session with all kinds of resources for visualizing ideas. Even though I mentioned ways to conceptualize astronomy, I forgot to mention the following gem. Created by the student team of Michael VanDaniker and Andrew Lund, the Solar System Visualizer is a helpful resource that shows the motions of celestial bodies in our solar system.