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Galileo Events and Star Party Set for January

Galileo Galilei
Fort Smith, Arkansas — The University of Arkansas - Fort Smith will host special events and provide a “star party” in January to mark the 400th anniversary of Galileo's historic discovery of the moons of Jupiter with the newly invented telescope.

Dr. Todd Timmons of Fort Smith, professor of mathematics and history of science, said multiple events will be scheduled on Jan. 19 and 21.

“Each activity is devoted to Galileo, his work and his significance,” said Dr. Timmons. “Galileo's discovery of the moons of Jupiter is one of the most important events leading to the eventual acceptance of the Copernican system and a critical component of the scientific revolution.”

Sponsors are the Arkansas Oklahoma Astronomical Society and UA Fort Smith's College of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics; the College of Humanities and Social Sciences; and the Center for Lifelong Learning.

A showing of “Galileo's Battle for the Heavens,” a PBS dramatization of Dava Sobel's best-selling book “Galileo's Daughter,” is planned for 7:30 p.m. Jan. 19 in room 101 of the Math-Science Building.

Dr. Kerry Magruder, curator of the history of science collections at the University of Oklahoma, will present a multi-media talk titled “The Works of Galileo: A Guided Tour” at 3:30 p.m. Jan. 21 in the Boreham Conference Center, room 101 of the Baldor Technology Center.

Those attending Magruder's talk will move to the Campus Green immediately after he speaks to view the moons of Jupiter and other revelations discovered by Galileo.

“All events are free and are open to the public,” said Dr. Timmons. “We encourage everyone interested in the PBS documentary to read the book prior to the event.”

Dr. Timmons said he was excited about what Dr. Magruder will share when he comes to Fort Smith.

“OU's Galileo exhibit is one of the most extensive in the world,” said Dr. Timmons, “and this is a wonderful opportunity for residents of our area to glimpse what is included in the exhibit.”

Dr. Timmons said Dr. Magruder's talk will present Galileo's life and works, showing what Galileo accomplished and what made him an international sensation.
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Science and Children-- Online Resources for Astronomy Education for Kids

Education Outreach
The September 2008 issue of Science Class--an online companion to Science and Children, The National Science Teacher Association's (NSTA's) journal for elementary teachers--is full of resources to help teachers explore the joys of Astronomy both for themselves and then later with their students. Included in this issue is a nice collection of online resources that they have compiled that relate to Astronomy:

In the News: Astronomy
Too busy to sift through the news in search of interesting stories? Click on the link to read current news stories, collected for you by NSTA staff members, that are related to this theme.

On the Web: Astronomy
With so much on the web, it's hard to know what's really useful. In this section, you'll find web-related opportunities related to this theme.

From the S&C Archives: Astronomy
Readers tell us again and again how timeless our journal articles are. So in this section, we've compiled theme-related articles from the Science and Children archives.

Books, Books, Books: Astronomy
Tired of your textbook? Click on this link for a list of some of the elementary-level books we've found related to this theme.
We hope these are helpful you with your units on Astronomy during the coming year !

Thanks again to the NSTA for their great resources. See their web site at: http://www.nsta.org for more information.
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Basics of Astronomy Classes start June 10 at Crawford County Adult Education Center

Education OutreachAOAS will once again offer summer Basics of Astronomy classes through the Crawford County Adult Education Center in Van Buren located at 605 Alma Blvd Circle, just south of DHS offices, on Tuesday evenings beginning June 10, 2008. The class will run six (6) weeks in length, beginning at 6pm each Tuesday 'til 8pm, and the cost will be $20 per student. Class size will be limited to 25 students. All students MUST PRE-register and have their fees paid to AOAS by June 8, 2008.

These basic classes will deal with current astronomical theories and research, but will be on a level that is easily understandable for the age group indicated. No prior knowledge of astronomy is assumed, yet the weekly classes will be detailed enough to be very interesting and helpful for anyone who enjoys the current astronomy-related news stories and magazine articles available to the general public. Observing through one or more telescopes will be offered immediately after each 2-hour class concludes outside the Van Buren classroom every night that weather allows. Additional observing will be offered to students each Saturday evening at our AOAS-owned Coleman Observatory for as long as classes are offered on the same weather dependent contingency. Observing sessions on TUESDAY evenings will run from 8:00 pm until 9:00 pm, and observing at the observatory on SATURDAY evenings will run from 8:00 pm until at least 10:00 pm every clear night.

Books are NOT required for this course. However, if you have ANY book on astronomy at home, it's fine for you to bring or use any books of this type. If students want to purchase an astronomy-related book, we recommend a book entitled “Universe”, (the small version) 64 pages, Eyewitness Books #125 for approx. $16.00, by DK Publishing. Other titles are also acceptable from DK Books, including “Astronomy”, for around $16.00, or the larger, more spectacularly detailed “Universe”, 512 pages, for about $50. All these selections are available at Books-A-Million in Ft. Smith.


AOAS members enjoy discounts. Join AOAS for the yearly rate of $40/yr, and save. Basics of Astronomy classes are ˝ price to AOAS members, PLUS, AOAS members receive 20% off on all books purchased at Books-A-Million stores whether class related or not, for as long as paid membership continues.

Send your personal check or money order payments made out to:


c/o Coleman Observatory

5533 Wildwood Rd

Van Buren, AR 72956

Payments MUST be received by June 8th to register for the class. Unregistered students will not be accepted into class late. For more information, contact the instructor, Bob Moody, at: bobmoody@aoas.org or simply click on my name in blue above. We look forward to a stimulating series of classes.

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ASTRONOMY DAY 2007! Pt. 1 - April 21

Education OutreachWhat if Astronomy Day happened twice in one year? In 2007, it DOES! This year we'll celebrate Astronomy Day on April 21 in the Spring, and we'll do it all over again this Fall on September 15.

Hackett Public Schools have asked me to come and visit their classrooms 4 times so far in this 2006-2007 school year, and on this occasion I presented a Night Sky Network program on extra- solar planets and the scale of our Milky Way galaxy to the 3rd thru 6th grade Gifted & Talented students. We'll give some of these same presentations at ASTRONOMY DAY 2007 PT. 1 at the Nature Center near Barling, AR. - Photo by Gayla Edwards, Hackett School Gifted & Talented instructor; used by permission.
It has been quite some time since AOAS celebrated an Astronomy Day with any sort of concerted effort. I am ashamed to admit that, but it's time to start reorganizing and putting our best efforts into a local event. Luckily, at least from my point of view anyway, this will be a special year since its the first year that has ever seen TWO Astronomy Day dates. TWO chances to atone for all our missed opportunities in the past. We'll hold our first event in collaboration with the Janet Huckabee Arkansas River Valley Nature Center on April 21st, and this fall we'll hold our second Astronomy Day 2007 at the UA Fort Smith campus.

April 21 - 12:00 noon to 4:30 and then Dusk until 11:00pm
Karen Westcamp-Johnson is the Park Interpreter at the Nature Center and she has helped us to acquire the Center's large multimedia room for our displays and for our video presentations as well. We will put together several presentations using our Night Sky Network toolkits and the materials they contain, and we'll also have 2 or 3 DVD presentations, such as on the joint NASA/ESA/ASI Cassini-Huygens spacecraft now performing its mission to Saturn and it's largest moon Titan. We also have a DVD presentation about the Hubble Space Telescope in it's 15th year of operations describing much of what it discovered in 2006 and another excellent program might be the DVD "Cosmic Collisions" about the obvious pitfalls of objects hitting Earth, but the newly realized benefits of all sorts of things "going bump in the night" as well.
Member Larry Taylor lifts a young visitor to the eyepiece of his telescope at a visit we made to Hackett in 2006. We'll need "all hands on deck" to assist with public viewing for the evening of April 21 at Wells Lake near the Nature Center. Photo by Gayla Edwards, used by permission.
Our displays and presentations will be active from 12:00 noon until 4:30pm when the Nature Center closes for the day. Later in the evening on April 21, we'll return to the Nature Center area to the picnic area on the shore of Wells Lake for a public Astronomy Day Star Party. We'll set up our telescopes by 7:30 and observe from dusk until at least 11:00pm that evening. We'll need several members with your telescopes for this event.

We'll have a discussion and some preliminary planning for this first event at the Messier Marathon this Saturday evening, and again on April 6th at our next regular AOAS meeting when we'll finalize some plans and modify others. There are many things that you can do as a member of AOAS to help this Astronomy Day become a success. You might help with the displays and presentations or you may want to wait and come out to setup your telescope to help with the star party that evening. Either way you choose, we will need as many members helping as possible, and I hope that we have several members step up to ask, "What can I do to help on Astronomy Day 2007 Pt. 1?"
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Alone in the Dark; Or, Confessions of a Rank Amateur

Education Outreach
One of our visitors to an outing in 2005 gazes into the eyepiece at the Ringed World, Saturn! It takes time to go from a "rank amateur" to an experienced astronomer. All it takes is practice, practice, practice... Photo by Bob Moody
I guess I'm not the only one who's ever felt this way, but just try to get someone else to admit it. I know, I have tried, and it doesn't work. Everyone is an expert. Everyone seems to know just where all the constellations are on any given night, where all of the Messier objects are, they even know the names of all the stars that make up a constellation. They not only can tell you what planet you're looking at, they can tell you how many moons it has, and all their moon's names, too.

Man is that frustrating or what. There I stand in front of my telescope trying to hide the fact that I've been there an hour and a half and I still can't get the darned thing properly polar aligned, and they're in the background calling off Messier objects and star names and NGC catalog items they've found, and all that in just the last fifteen minutes. What's a person to do?

Well I'll tell ya what I'm gonna do. I'm gonna get me one of those GPS-Locate Where I Am / Find True North / Tell Me What It Is / Tell Me Where It Is / Go Directly To It / Take a Picture Of It By Itself / All-In-One Telescopes. Or, then again, maybe not. Since I don't have an extra few thousand bucks to throw around, maybe I'll just give up and go home. I hate feeling so dumb, but isn't that the price you have to pay when you stand there alone in the dark and are afraid to acknowledge your ignorance about astronomy?

But wait a minute, maybe there's hope after all. Since I've joined the club, I could use my AOAS discount card at Books-A-Million and buy a book, or two, (at 20% off) to help me figure all this stuff out. I mean I may not learn everything about the cosmos from some book, but at least I won't sound like a fool when I ask one of my fellow "amateur" astronomers a question. And maybe then when someone asks me a question I might even be able to have an answer that is not only correct, it may even make it seem like I really do know something. But heck, why bother? It's just a waste of time and money to keep trying to learn this stuff....right?

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Stars in the Natural State

Education Outreach
Orion, the Giant Hunter - The brightest and most recognized of all constellations, Orion is seen in winter skies, rising in the east at sunset in January and dropping behind the western horizon in the first week of May. Orion is home to the magnificent emission nebula known as M-42, roughly estimated to be 17 light-years across lying approximately 1,500 light-years away. Image by Akira Fujii used by permission from David Malin Images.
The AOAS 2007 public observing events kick off on Friday evening, February 9, 2007, with the first of four scheduled public viewing events at the Janet Huckabee River Valley Nature Center. We call these special events in cooperation with the Nature Center our "Stars in the Natural State" and the public is invited to attend. Our other three events at the Nature Center for 2007 will be held on May 11, Sept 14, and Dec 14. Make plans to attend all four events, and you will experience four different quadrants of the night sky, and have an opportunity to see all 50 or so northern hemisphere constellations.

AOAS is very proud to announce a year-long collaboration with the Janet Huckabee River Valley Nature Center located at 8300 Wells Lake Rd in Barling, AR. Borrowing from the Arkansas State motto, we call these public nights our "Stars in the Natural State" viewing events, all of which as always begin at dusk no matter which of the four seasons in which they'll be held.

Setting four events with one for each season gives our visitors a unique opportunity to see all the northern hemisphere constellations by simply attending each of these events. With this first event, you'll watch mighty Orion as he fends off the mythical attack of Taurus the Bull, while slowly switching from the eastern sky to the western sky between this first event and the May 11 event. Of course by that time the eastern sky is seeing an entirely new set of constellations rise and take their turn at making the same stately trek across the vault of the night sky, this time bringing with it a giant number of distant galaxies scattered through the constellations of Coma Berenices, or, Bernices Hair; Canis Venatici, the Hunting Dogs; and Virgo, the Virgin.
The Great Nebula in Orion - This object is the showpiece object of the northern winter sky. It's beauty hides violent, turbulent processes as new stars are formed from the gas and dust visible in this colorful HST/SST image. More than 3,000 stars have been identified using a combination of visible (Hubble Space Telescope) and infrared (Spitzer Space Telescope) space-based observations. Photo from Hubble Heritage Project
Literally hundreds of faint small galaxies are within the reach of medium or large backyard telescopes, and a dozen or more galaxies are bright enough to view in even small telescopes.

Our observing events are learning experiences. Seeing several dozen constellations are a favorite request from our guests, as are the inevitable questions of "What planets are out?", and "Where are the Black Holes?", or "Can you see the [American] flag on the moon?" Our members are very happy to show whoever might ask them ANY THING they want to see, up to a point, that is.

The flag is NOT visible to any telescope, ground-based or space-based, period! We simply do not have the technology to see something that small on the moon. Will it always be that way? I wouldn't want to bet on that. And Black Holes? Well, by definition, they're black, and they can NOT be seen directly. We know they exist due to the evidence we see in objects where something unseen exhibits some gravitational influence on a separate visible object and thereby revealing itself. Thanks to our club's membership in the Night Sky Network, we receive periodic toolkits containing simple components which are very effective at helping us explain such difficult, or abstract ideas.

Come and visit us at one or more of our dozen-plus planned events this year. You are guaranteed to see things you've never seen before and even things that you may never have known you even COULD see.
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Explore Our Solar System Program

Education OutreachThe following information may be of great interest to K-8 teachers: EXPLORE OUR SOLAR SYSTEM. This workshop for K-8 teachers will be held at the McDonald Observatory in Fort Davis, TX. The $525 fee includes room & board, materials, and instruction. Teachers will practice their new astronomy skills under the observatory's dark skies and partner with trained and nationally recognized astronomy educators. APPLY BY MAY 1, 2007, at http://mcdonaldobservatory.org/teachers/profdev

Chuck Larson, Ed.D.
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Cogno Science Challenge Program

Education OutreachInformation to classroom teachers - COGNO SCIENCE CHALLENGE: Each week share with your students a thought-provoking science puzzler, drawn from the award-winning Cogno science board games. You'll receive a weekly e-mail with a fully illustrated one-pager, ready to be photocopied for students. The e-mail message includes the answer and explanation, allowing you to facilitate as much or as little discussion as you like. Students will learn about astronomy, forces and motion, and life sciences. Scientist at NASA and the SETI Institute have reviewed all the content. For more informatiion and to register, see www.congo.com/challenge.

Chuck Larson, Ed.D.
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A Galaxy of Things to Explore with NASA Quest

Education OutreachNASA Quest has competitions where students can vie for prizes and help design futuristic spacecraft, aircraft and habitats. Current contests include the Lunar Outpost Design Challenge, helping to design the systems for living and working on the moon. Click here to go directly to NASA Quest.

Learn how our young students of the Arkansas River valley can join in on design competitions for how we'll live and work on the Moon, how we'll survey and explore the surface of Mars, and an entire universe of possibilities just by going to the NASA Quest site.
Meet the people of NASA and look over their shoulders as they make NASA's goals a reality. Whether in the area of aerospace design or training for space walks, NASA Quest is a rich resource for educators, kids and space enthusiasts who are interested in meeting and learning about NASA people and the national space program. NASA Quest allows the public to share the excitement of NASA's authentic scientific and engineering pursuits like flying in the Shuttle and the International Space Station, exploring distant planets with amazing spacecraft, and building the aircraft of the future. Click here to learn more about NASA Quest.
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Summer Astronomy Classes Offered by AOAS

Education Outreach"Astronomy for Beginners" and "Astronomy for Elementary Teachers" classes are being offered by AOAS this summer.

Learn the basics of Astronomy this summer. Choose either the "Astronomy for Beginners" or if you're a teacher of 4th 5th or 6th graders, take our "Astronomy for Elementary Teachers" class. Classes start July 11.
The Arkansas Oklahoma Astronomical Society (AOAS) will offer summer classes in the Basics of Astronomy for the general public, and additionally for the first time, a special class for area Elementary School Teachers specifically for grades 4 thru 6. All classes will be four weeks in length and will begin July 11.

“Astronomy for Beginners” will be a general information class in the basics of the science of astronomy, but focusing on the hobby of amateur astronomy more specifically. Students will “learn by doing” things such as by learning how to identify constellations, how to distinguish planets from normal stars in the night sky, and a very generalized understanding of how the universe works. This course is heavy on observing and students will observe each week of class and will discover how to use telescopes or binoculars and the different types of telescopes and binoculars, what to expect from a telescope, and what NOT to expect from a telescope. A book is recommended for the class, and the student is encouraged to purchase either of the two books suggested below, or both books if they so desire. The book(s) are not required for the class and even if no book is used students will still learn a great deal each week. A computer and Internet connection will also be very helpful but is not required. Every student will receive a CD-ROM of more than 200 space images from Hubble Space Telescope, and simple star charts of several constellations to help them identify these constellations on their own.

“Astronomy for Elementary Teachers” will focus on how Elementary School Teachers can supplement their classes with a basic knowledge of how astronomy relates to other science topics such as Physics, Chemistry, Geology, even Biology and Mathematics. However, there will be no mathematical requirements expected in these classes. These classes for teachers will specifically address the Arkansas State Requirements as set forth in the Benchmarks for Education. “Teacher” students will learn how to help their own students become involved with several hands-on activities that will help reinforce what their own textbooks cover in astronomy.

Click "read more" for the rest of the information on these classes.

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Become a card-carrying member of AOAS. Paying dues gives you several advantages over other registered users, including a subscription to the club newsletter, an AOAS.ORG e-mail address, use of club materials, including books and telescopes, and access to the Coleman Observatory facilities. On top of all that, you also qualify for a 20% discount on all books at any Books-A-Million location.

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