From Dr. Ethan Siegel -- For those of us in the northern hemisphere, winter brings long, cold nights, which are often excellent for sky watchers (so long as there's a way to keep warm!) But there's often an added bonus that comes along when conditions are just right: the polar lights, or the Aurora Borealis around the North Pole. Here on our world, a brilliant green light often appears for observers at high northern latitudes, with occasional, dimmer reds and even blues lighting up a clear night.
March 6, 2015 -- In 2024 crews of four will be sent to Mars with the goal of creating a permanent human settlement there. 200,000 people applied to be one of the first four people willing to make this one-way trip. A 22-year-old college student from Texas is one of the final 100 applicants. Ask your students: Would they take a one-way trip to Mars, knowing they would never return to Earth?
Below is an announcement from the Falcon Telescope Network. Be sure to also see the attached file. Note the registration deadline is March 3, 2015.
By Dr. Ethan Siegel -- As crazy as it once seemed, we once assumed that the Earth was the largest thing in all the universe. 2,500 years ago, the Greek philosopher Anaxagoras was ridiculed for suggesting that the Sun might be even larger than the Peloponnesus peninsula, about 16% of modern-day Greece. Today, we know that planets are dwarfed by stars, which themselves are bound together by the billions or even trillions into galaxies.
Where is Rosetta? is an interactive 3D tool that shows where the European Space Agency's comet-chasing Rosetta spacecraft was from launch in 2004 to where it will be beyond the end of its nominal mission in 2015. Rosetta is the daring (and recently successful) mission to chase, orbit, and land on a comet. Rosetta was the first space mission to rendezvous with a comet, the first to land on a comet's surface, and the first to follow a comet as it swings around the Sun.
By Dr. Ethan Siegel -- When you think of our sun, the nearest star to our world, you think of an isolated entity, with more than four light years separating it from its next nearest neighbor. But it wasn't always so: billions of years ago, when our sun was first created, it very likely formed in concert with thousands of other stars, when a giant molecular cloud containing perhaps a million times the mass of our solar system collapsed.
11/16/2014 - This week the European Space Agency landed a probe on a comet 300 million miles from Earth. The probe will give scientists an opportunity to better understand comets and their role in providing the foundations for life. This story will give your students a totally new image of comets!
Access the audio file and lesson plans at the Listen Current website (you can register for a free account to access all teaching materials): https://listenwise.com/current_events/253-comet-landing
By Dr. Ethan Siegel -- You might think that, so long as Earth can successfully dodge the paths of rogue asteroids and comets that hurtle our way, it's going to be smooth, unimpeded sailing in our annual orbit around the sun. But the meteor showers that illuminate the night sky periodically throughout the year not only put on spectacular shows for us, they're direct evidence that interplanetary space isn't so empty after all!
From EARTH Magazine -- On March 13, 1989, a geomagnetic storm spawned by a solar outburst struck Earth, triggering instabilities in the electric-power grid that serves much of eastern Canada and the U.S. The storm led to blackouts for more than 6 million customers and caused tens of millions of dollars in damages and economic losses. More than 25 years later, the possibility of another such catastrophe still looms, and the day-to-day effects of space weather on electrical systems remain difficult to quantify.