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April 16 Public Night Successful; We'll Do It Again On May 14

Education Outreach
AOAS hosted a successful public observing event at Carol Ann Cross Park on April 16th as well over 110 people are treated to stunning views of Saturn, Jupiter, and a 1st Qtr Moon! We'll do it all again on May 14th.

For the estimated 110 to 125 guests attending the Carol Ann Cross "Saturn in the Park" event on Saturday evening, April 16th, a universal theme emerged something along the lines of "I never knew you could see that" or the more general and expressive, "WOW"! Several visitors brought their digital cameras and AOAS members helped many of them to try and take an image of the cratered moon, or Jupiter's cloud belts or Saturn's rings. Several were moderately successful and a couple achieved one or more spectacular shots. Anyone who did obtain one or more good images is invited to submit them to AOAS at either my email address or simply send them to webmaster@aoas.org. Images of visitors are also welcomed. We'd love to help you show them off to others in the area in one of our Photo Gallery albums.

(click READ MORE for the rest of this story)
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Telescope Manufacturer Celestron Bought by Synta

General NewsI received the following message from Dr. Chuck Larson, AOAS Education Director, in an email this afternoon. Many people may not have realized that a deal was in the works for Celestron to be bought out by another company as I was unaware, but after reading the message below I feel that this might be a benefit to us as amateur astronomers in the long run. I offer this story as I received it for your inspection and contemplation.


Leading telescope manufacturer purchased by long term overseas optics manufacturer

TORRANCE, CA -- April 6, 2005 --

Celestron, one of the world's leading designers and manufacturers of telescopes, binoculars, spotting scopes and microscopes, today announced that SW Technology Corporation, a Delaware company, an affiliate of Synta Technology Corporation ("Synta") acquired all of the outstanding members ownership interests of the company. Synta is a well-known optics manufacturer that has participated in the development of some of Celestron's most popular products, such as the NexStar GT computerized telescope line. Synta has been a Celestron supplier for over 15 years.

Celestron will continue to be led by the senior management team of Joseph A. Lupica and Richard L. Hedrick with Chairman Alan Hale and Celestron founder Tom Johnson remaining as consultants. Synta and its related companies will continue to manufacture and supply other telescopes and related products for Celestron. As a result of the acquisition, Celestron will be in a position to meet all current financial obligations and continue to lead the product engineering, development and manufacturing processes from the Torrance, California headquarters. All product warranties will stay in effect and product support will not be interrupted or delayed. The company's first goal is to fill a three month backlog of product orders and work to resume full scale production and product development operations.

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Earth's Moon: Still A Puzzle

Lunar & PlanetaryBy Leonard David
Senior Space Writer

LEAGUE CITY, TEXAS -- Planet Earth's natural satellite has got a grip on scientists. The charisma of the Moon is made more so by many unanswered questions, even after Apollo moonwalkers went the distance to study the nearby, crater-pocked globe. Not only the U.S., but European, Indian, Japanese and Chinese probes are being readied for a new scientific assault on the Moon, hoping to glean insight about lunar ice, the Moon's cratering history, and even how that big, dusty ball of rock got there in the first place. Surprisingly, Apollo expeditions at $25 billion not only scratched the lunar surface but also promoted new question? That fact was clearly in evidence at the 36th Lunar and Planetary Science Conference (LPSC), held here March 14-18 and co-sponsored by the Lunar and Planetary Institute and NASA's Johnson Space Center.

Luna Incognita

Even to the untrained eye, just looking at the bruised and battered Moon suggests it has a tale to tell. "The Moon is like a witness plate. We have an impact recordwe just have to play the record," said Paul Lucey a professor at the Hawai'i Institute of Geophysics and Planetology at the University of Hawai'i in Honolulu. The Moon offers insight into how impacts shaped the Earth and played a role in the formation of life here on Earth, he said. "Ask not what astrobiology can do for the Moonask rather what the Moon can do for astrobiology," Lucey advised. Additionally, Lucey said, the Moon's poles are "luna incognita"—unknown and unexplored territory. "It all boils down to the fact that the tilt of the Moon with respect to the Sun is so littlecraters there can remain permanently shaded from the Sun." These craters are dubbed "cold traps"—locales of super-chilly temperatures—perhaps even colder than measurements made in the Saturn system, Lucey told SPACE.com. What's key is the idea that Moon-impacting comets unleashed their vast reservoirs of chemistry into the lunar environment. Along with water ice, molecules of methane, maybe ammonia and carbon dioxide, among other comet constituents, migrated like celestial holes in one into those cold, Sun-shy craters. "All kinds of things could potentially go there," Lucey noted.
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NASA telescope spots two giant planets

Deep SkySwirling gases apparently reach 1,340 Fahrenheit

Associated Press

A NASA telescope peering far beyond our solar system has for the first time directly measured light from two Jupiter-sized gas planets closely orbiting distant stars, adding crucial features to astronomy's portrait of faraway worlds. Studies of the infrared light from the two giant planets suggest they are made of hot, swirling gases that reach 1,340 degrees Fahrenheit or higher.

"It's an awesome experience to realize we are seeing the glow of distant worlds," said astronomer David Charbonneau of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Mass., whose team captured light from a planet in the constellation Lyra. "The one thing they can't hide is their heat."
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October Sky - Live, Distance Learning Event

NASA Space PlaceThe NASA Glenn Research Center in partnership with the Cleveland Area Metropolitan Library System will be conducting a live 60 minute discussion with Homer Hickam author of the #1 New York Times Bestseller Rocket Boys and inspiration for the hit movie October Sky on April 14, 2005 from 11:30am EST to 12:30pm EST. Rocket Boys by Homer Hickam, is the true story of the author's life growing up in the mining town of Coalwood, West Virginia. In October 1957, Sputnik raced across the Appalachian sky, leaving in its wake 14-year old Homer's dream to build rockets. With the help of his friends, a dedicated teacher, his mother, and others in his small, company town, Homer's rockets would carry him, and his town, farther than he ever expected.

The free live broadcast, webcast, and videoconference will feature Homer Hickam discussing his inspirational life story and the key people who helped him along the way. The program will feature numerous opportunities for students and the public to interact with the author through email.

For Additional Information, Related Activities and Connection Details Visit: http://www.nasa.gov/centers/glenn/education/
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Utterly Alien

NASA Space Placeby Dr. Tony Phillips

New Horizons spacecraft will get a gravity assist from Jupiter on its long journey to Pluto-Charon. Credit: Southwest Research Institute (Dan Durda)/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (Ken Moscati).
There's a planet in our solar system so cold that in winter its nitrogen atmosphere freezes and falls to the ground. The empty sky becomes perfectly clear, jet-black even at noontime. You can see thousands of stars. Not one twinkles.

The brightest star in the sky is the Sun, so distant and tiny you could eclipse it with the head of a pin. There's a moon, too, so big you couldn't blot it out with your entire hand. Together, moonlight and sunshine cast a twilight glow across the icy landscape revealing . . . what? twisted spires, craggy mountains, frozen volcanoes?

No one knows, because no one has ever been to Pluto.

"Pluto is an alien world," says Alan Stern of the Southwest Research Institute in Colorado. "It's the only planet never visited or photographed by NASA space probes."

That's about to change. A robot-ship called New Horizons is scheduled to blast off for Pluto in January 2006. It's a long journey: More than 6 billion kilometers (about 3.7 billion miles). New Horizons won't arrive until 2015.
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AOAS Provides Presenters for River Valley Area Schools

Education OutreachAmerican elementary schools generally present the science of astronomy and space science during the 4th, 5th, or 6th grades. Teachers are sometimes pushed to their limits with the enthusiastic responses and a deluge of questions from their students when the subject of space comes up. AOAS can help during these times, and we're here to assist those teachers when they need us.

Bob Moody, current AOAS President, is displaying the Phi Delta Kappa International Certificate of Recognition for Distinguished Service by an Organization Outside Education which was awarded to AOAS May 11, 1998 for having represented the science of Astronomy to more than 60,000 individuals since 1985.
In 1985, I was observing with other AOAS members shortly after we formed this club, when someone overheard me describing the stars of Scorpius to two young ladies who wanted to know more about their "sign". I didn't give them anything they could use in forecasting their futures as an astrologer might, but instead I described the constellation's stars as I pointed out the shape of the Scorpion. I'd loved anything to do with space since childhood and it just seemed natural to me to share what limited knowledge I had. I turned around after a while to find that I'd had that other audience member behind me, and was shocked to hear him say that I'd done a good job at presenting my info on Scorpius. Then he completely blew me away when he asked if I'd be interested in giving any school presentations on astronomy sometime. That was how I began my deepest love involving this wonderful hobby, and I still do presentations for area schools now nearly 19 years later whenever I can.

In 1998, AOAS Education Director, Dr. Chuck Larson, asked Joe Roam and myself how many people we thought we might have been involved with in even the slightest way regarding astronomy and our presentations of it to area schools and the public in general. Well, we took about 2-3 weeks racking our brains to try and give him an accurate guesstimation. The numbers we came up with were some 60,000 people that we had reached in our first 13 years as a group, and we both felt that this was a conservative estimate. Either Joe, or I, or both of us, had participated in most or all of the events that AOAS had held until that time, and we had both seen star parties as large as the estimated 3,500 attendees at Vasche Grasse Park SE of Ft Smith on January 26, 1986. That event highlighted Halley's Comet in it's starring role that evening, but that was one BIG star party! Just three months later in April 1986, another estimated 2,500 people joined us at Ben Geren Park for comet Halley's curtain call before it returned to the frigid depths beyond Neptune where it currently resides. There is no doubt; AOAS knows how to show the public a good time at the eyepiece of a telescope.

I began giving presentations to area schools during this time, also. The Astronomical League had developed an audio tape and slide presentation specifically for Halley's 1985-1986 return that anyone could use to inform the public about it's impending visit. We ordered the presentation kit, placed a few announcements in area newspapers and with the television stations, and the calls came in every few days. I diligently recorded my presentations and within 4 months, I had made 26 presentations to more than 7,000 students and teachers. Several of my presentations were to entire auditoriums filled with from 700 people (Vian, OK) to just over 900 people in Greenwood, AR another morning. I topped off that biggest day in Greenwood by making a quick presentation to 25 members of their Chamber of Commerce during my noon break before returning home. The satisfaction I felt after these presentations was deep beyond description.

Find out how to request a speaker by clicking on "Read more"

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Let the 2005 Observing Season Begin!

Education OutreachAs the weather warms and the Earth begins another time of regeneration and renewal in the Northern Hemisphere, amateur astronomers across America dust off our telescopes and prepare for another season of observing.
Visitors to an early 2004 public night at Coleman Observatory enjoy views of stellar targets through numerous sizes and types of telescopes.

Springtime once again. As the skies turn dark from the Earth's rotation on its axis every evening, the stars of the winter constellations appear in the western sky and quickly follow the Sun, only to be replaced by the stars and constellations of Spring and Summer. Amateur astronomers feel the lure of these happenings that intoxicate us with our own form of "Spring Fever". As members of the Arkansas Oklahoma Astronomical Society, we once again send out word across the land, "Come and observe with us and let us share the universe with you through our telescopes".

Anyone may join members of AOAS for any of our scheduled public events for 2005. Most of these events will be held at our Coleman Observatory located about 8 mi. NW of Van Buren. A printable map to the site can be found by clicking on "Coleman Observatory" in our "Main Menu" box to your left, then print a copy of the map to the observatory.

Other events are held for the public at Carol Ann Cross Park on 74th Street about 1 mile N. of St. Edwards Hospital at Rogers Avenue once each month through October. Dates for these scheduled events are listed in many locations of this web site, (see "Stars in the Parks", or "Site Events") and the public is always invited.

Our 2005 season begins tomorrow night with our first two events being held at Coleman Observatory on March 5th and 12th. The next event will be held at Carol Ann Cross Park on March 19th. All AOAS events are ALWAYS free and open to the public.Seeing Saturn's rings or the craters of our Moon are a great source of exciting new fun for the whole family.

Join us! Whether it's tomorrow evening or in October for our final event of 2005, we'd love to show you the wonders of the Universe and help anyone who asks to learn how to use a telescope, binoculars, or just your eyes to see the natural beauty that we find in a dark night sky.

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New NASA Undergraduate Program

NASA Space PlaceThe NASA Institute for Advanced Concepts (NIAC) seeks to identify creative and innovative students who possess an extraordinary potential for developing advanced concepts in the fields of aeronautics, space and the sciences. Each Student Fellow will receive a total of $9,000 for the Academic year 2005-2006. NIAC intends for these awards to benefit talented individuals who have shown extraordinary originality and dedication in their academic pursuits and a marked capacity for self-direction. The Fellowship seeks exceptional creativity, and the promise for important future advances based on a track record of significant accomplishment, and potential for the fellowship to facilitate subsequent creative work.
  • Applicant must be in a U.S. institution of higher education.
  • Applicant must be a U.S. Person.
  • Applicant must apply no later than their junior year of college.
Please visit http://niac.usra.edu/students/call.html for more information.

Proposals are due April 15, 2005.
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Women Working on Mars: Get Involved in Robotics!

NASA Space Place
When:Thursday, February 24, 2005 -- 10:00 a.m. and 3 p.m. Pacific Time

Where: http://marsrovers.jpl.nasa.gov/gallery/video/webcast.html

In honor of "Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day", February 24, 2005, the Mars Public Engagement program and NASA's Robotics Education Project are hosting an interactive webcast for young women interested in robotics and engineering.

Ever wonder what it's like to work in robotics? Or how young people can get involved at an early age? Just tune in for the "Get Involved in Robotics!" webcast to learn more!

Students will see and hear from a diverse group of girls and women involved in science and engineering at four different stages from elementary school to full-time employment as an engineer. The 40-minute production will highlight an inside look at how you can get involved at robotics at any age. A live audience and e-mail link will provide many questions for the panelists - you can even email in your own questions and have them answered live during the show.

Following the shows, log on to the LIVE WEB CHAT and ask your questions directly of women roboticists working at NASA! Webcast panelists will include a professional engineer, an engineering student in college, a high school student interested in engineering, and our youngest, an elementary student just learning about the world of engineering and Mars.

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