Category Archives: OMSI

The Blue Moon – August 31, 2012

Blue Moon

The Blue Moon – August 31, 2012

(From our friends at OMSI)

A blue moon is usually explained as a full moon, which occurs twice in the same month. In August 2012, it is on the 1st (8:27 p.m. PDT) and 31st (6:58 a.m. PDT). A blue moon occurs every 3 to 4 years, when the date for one full moon falls on or near the beginning of a calendar month so that the following full moon comes before the end of the same month.

There are several different meanings for the term ‘blue moon. ‘ The phrase ‘blue moon’ has been around over 400 years, but during that time its meaning has shifted around a lot. The earliest reference was cited in The Maine Farmers’ Almanac, 1937. The almanac states that when there were two full moons in a calendar month, calendars would put the first in red, the second in blue.”

In astronomy, as stated above, a ’blue moon’ is the second full moon to appear in a single month. However, in meteorology, the correct definition of a blue moon is the physical explanation of why, on rare occasions, the moon appears blue. The scattering of moonlight causes a “blue moon” by smoke particulate. The red end of the spectrum is scattered more than the blue end of the spectrum, which causes light seen from the moon to look more blue: hence, a blue moon.

Despite the differences in meaning, in general terms, the rarity of seeing a moon that looks blue and/or the rarity of two full moons appearing in one month prompted the well-known saying “once in a blue moon,” which means something that happens very rarely.

Happy Blue Moon!

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Perseid Meteor Shower Expected to Peak August 12-13, 2012 – Star Party Portland, OR

(From our friends at OMSI)

August 12, 2012 – OMSI Star Parties: Perseid Meteor Shower Watch

The Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI) is getting ready for its largest star party of the year on Sunday, August 12, the Perseid Meteor Shower Watch! Hundreds of star lovers from across the Pacific Northwest will be meeting at both Rooster Rock State Park and Stub Stewart State Park at 8 p.m. to watch and enjoy the wonder of the Perseid Meteor Shower. The event, sponsored by OMSI, the Rose City Astronomers, the Vancouver Sidewalk Astronomers and Oregon Parks and Recreations will have telescopes set up for attendees to use. OMSI staff will be presenting informal talks about the meteor shower, constellations, and the summer sky.

The event is free, and there is a $5 per vehicle parking fee for public. On the scheduled day of each OMSI Star Party, it is suggested that interested visitors call the OMSI Star Parties Hotline, (503) 797-4610 #3 then #5, or check the OMSI Star Parties web site http://www.omsi.edu/starparties for possible weather-related cancellations.

photo of a meteor shower

Watch the Meteor Shower with OMSI!

The Perseid Meteor Shower occurs when the Earth enters the path of debris left by the comet Swift-Tuttle in its last trip past the Sun. Swift-Tuttle follows a highly eccentric orbit around the Sun with an orbital period of about 130 years. The comet last passed by the Earth in December 1992. Timing is not precise, but according to the American Meteor Society, the 2012 peak is expected on August 12th at around 9:00 p.m. PDT (0400 hours UT on August 13). There is some uncertainty, so it’s very worthwhile to observe on either side of this time. The OMSI Star Parties will be held on the night of August 12 and into the early morning of August 13. Estimate peak rates for this year’s Perseid is near 60 for those under transparent rural skies. Those under dark but hazy skies should still be able to see 30 to 40 Perseids per hour. Those under urban skies will be lucky to exceed 10 to 20 per hour. Fortunately, this year will have the waning crescent moon on August 12 and will be a nonfactor for viewing the fainter meteors of the Perseids. While viewing the Perseids, we will look at the close pairing of Saturn and Mars. As a bonus, the International Space Station will be visible on the same night.

An increase in the number of meteors at a particular time of year is called a meteor shower. Comets shed the debris that becomes most meteor showers. As comets orbit the Sun, they shed an icy, dusty debris stream along the comet’s orbit. If Earth travels through this stream, we will see a meteor shower. Depending on where Earth and the stream meet, meteors appear to fall from a particular place in the sky, maybe within the neighborhood of a constellation.

Meteor showers are named by the constellation from which meteors appear to fall, a spot in the sky astronomers call the radiant. For instance, the radiant for the Leonid meteor shower is located in the constellation Leo. This meteor shower gets the name “Perseids” because it appears to radiate from the constellation Perseus. An observer in the Northern Hemisphere can start seeing Perseid meteors as early as July 23, when one meteor every hour or so could be visible. During the next three weeks, there is a slow build-up. It is possible to spot five Perseids per hour at the beginning of August and perhaps 15 per hour by August 10. The Perseids rapidly increase to a peak of 50-80 meteors per hour by the night of August 12/13 and then rapidly decline to about 10 per hour by August 15. The last night meteors are likely to be seen from this meteor shower is August 22, when an observer might see a Perseid every hour or so.

“Shooting stars” are intense streaks of light across the night sky caused by small bits of interplanetary rock and debris called meteoroids crashing and burning high in Earth’s upper atmosphere. Traveling at thousands of miles an hour, meteoroids quickly ignite in searing friction of the atmosphere, 30 to 80 miles above the ground. Almost all are destroyed in this process; the rare few that survive and hit the ground are known as meteorites.

Most people do not know how easy it is to watch a meteor shower. Although it is Summer, evening temperatures can drop and jackets may be a necessity. Choose an observing location giving a wide view of the sky with as few obstructions as possible. If you’re viewing from the city, try to observe where artificial lights interfere the least. Places like Rooster Rock State Park, Stub Stewart State Park, Mt Hood area, or eastern Oregon are popular locations for dark sky in viewing the meteor shower. Possible to watch it from the comfort of your backyard, but only the bright meteors would be visible. Meteor watching is basically an unaided-eye event but binoculars are handy for watching trails (persistent trains) that may hang in the sky for one or more seconds after a meteor’s passage.

The Radiant will be low in the northeast sky after sunset. For early evening viewing, be outside about the time the first stars appear. The Radiant will be low in the northeast but don’t concentrate just on that one area, but rather, let your gaze wander over a large portion of the sky. Meteors that appear near the Radiant will have short paths while those that begin farther out have much longer ones. In the early evening you may spot a few so-called Earth Grazers which can blaze long trails across the sky. They’re not likely to be numerous but do appear, sometimes at the rate of half a dozen or more an hour.

As the hours pass the Radiant rises higher and between about midnight and dawn the greatest number of meteors can be seen. Viewing through city lights will reduce their numbers considerably but the brighter ones will show up nicely.

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OMSI Star Party in Portland, OR Area – July 28, 2012

(from our friends at OMSI)

OMSI Star Party: Lunar Viewing

July 28, 9:30 pm, at Rooster Rock State Park or L.L. Stub Stewart State Park

Cost: Free with $5 parking per vehicle fee

Earth’s moon will be in a perfect position for viewing on this day, as the angle of the sun causes deep shadows to fall on its surface, making its highlands and craters more easily visible. Together with the Rose City Astronomers and the Vancouver Sidewalk Astronomers, OMSI has organized these star parties to give beginners and experts of all ages the opportunity to view this and other celestial objects up close and personal through a telescope and binoculars. Other viewing highlights include Mars, Saturn and several star clusters.  On the scheduled day of each OMSI Star Party, it is suggested that interested visitors call the OMSI Star Parties Hotline, 503.797.4610 #3 then #5, or check the OMSI Star Parties web site http://www.omsi.edu/starparties for possible weather-related cancellations.

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Free OMSI Star Party – Portland, OR Area – June 30, 2012

OMSI Star Party

Join OMSI in the Portland area for free star parties throughout the summer!

(From our friends at OMSI)

OMSI Star Party: Summer Solstice Celebration
June 30, 9:30 pm at Rooster Rock State Park or L.L. Stub Stewart State Park
Cost: Free with $5 parking per vehicle fee

Astronomers will celebrate the beginning of summer with a free Star Party! Join us at Rooster Rock State Park and L.L. Stub Stewart State Park, weather permitting. From beginners to experts of all ages, here’s your opportunity to view the stars and other celestial objects up close and personal through telescope and binoculars. Viewing highlights includes Mars, Saturn, the moon, several clusters, and more! On the scheduled day of each OMSI Star Party, it is suggested that interested visitors call the OMSI Star Parties Hotline, 503.797.4610 #3 then #5, or check the OMSI Star Parties web site http://www.omsi.edu/starparties for possible weather-related cancellations.

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Summer Solstice and the Reason for the Seasons – June 20, 2012

(from our friends at OMSI)

For the Pacific Time Zone, summer officially begins with the summer solstice on Wednesday, June 20 at 4:09 p.m. PDT.  The earth is tilted so that the north pole is at its closest point with the sun. (Yet, the earth will be at its farthest distance from the sun, called aphelion, on July 5)  As a result there will be more minutes of sunlight in the northern hemisphere than there are at any other time of the year.  The word “solstice” is derived from the Latin sol-stitium, for sun-standing.  The summer solstice is the time of the year when the sun stops its northern climb and stands briefly before turning back toward the equator. As seen from Portland, the sun will reach its highest northern point in the sky at 67.54 degrees from the horizon on June 21 at approximately 1:12 p.m.  From March 21 until September 24, there are more hours of daylight than darkness.  After June 21, the days will gradually grow shorter until December 21, the winter solstice.

Not everybody is celebrating. Far to our south, across the equator, winter has arrived. For people in the southern hemisphere, June 21st, will be the shortest day of the year. It also means the beginning of their winter.

Six months from now, when the earth has made half of its yearly trip around the sun, the northern hemisphere will experience that cold weather. December 21 will be winter solstice. That’s when we have the fewest hours of sunlight and winter officially begins.

Learn more about the reason for the seasons with this short video available from the NASA Explorer Schools Program:  Reasons for the Seasons

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Transit of Venus Event – June 5, 2012 at OMSI in Portland, OR

Transit of Venus

Watch the Transit of Venus on June 5-6, 2012

CELESTIAL EVENT OF A LIFETIME
Rare transit of Venus viewing: June 5, 2012 from 3‐9 p.m. at OMSI

Portland, OR (May 29, 2012) The last to occur in our lifetime, a rare celestial event called a transit of Venus is set to transpire on Tuesday, June 5, 2012. The Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI) and the Rose City Astronomers Club will host a free transit of Venus viewing party in OMSI’s south parking lot for this exciting occurrence. Filtered solar telescopes and indirect viewing methods will be available for safely observing the transit. NASA TV and San Francisco’s Exploratorium will display the transit of Venus from viewing sites around the world. OMSI will show their broadcasts live in the museum’s auditorium. The auditorium doors will open at 2:30 p.m. and admission to the televised transit is free (no reservations required).

A transit of Venus is the observed passage of the planet Venus across the disk of the sun. It occurs when Venus, orbiting the sun “on the inside track,” catches up to and passes the slower Earth. To viewers, Venus will appear as a small dot in the foreground, making its passage (or “transit”) from left to right across the face of the sun.

For Portland, the transit will commence at 3:05 p.m. when Venus appears to the east of the Sun. The greatest transit movement will occur at 6:29 p.m. when Venus appears just off-center to the right of the northern area of the sun. The sun will set at 8:55 p.m. and the transit will end at 9:44 p.m. as Venus exits to the west of the sun.

It is important to use eye protection or indirect viewing techniques when observing this transit activity. Viewers should use only an approved solar filter which blocks dangerous ultraviolet and infrared radiation as well as visible light. Special solar viewing glasses are available at the OMSI Science Store for $2 (http://www.omsi.edu/science-store).

Transits of Venus always occur in pairs that are spaced eight years apart. Each pair of occurrences is then not repeated for more than a century. For example, the last transit of Venus took place on June 8, 2004, and of course the next one will be visible this June of 2012. The previous pair of transits occurred in December, 1874 and December, 1882. After 2012, the next transits of Venus will take place in December, 2117 and December, 2125.

Learn how to view the Venus transit with the experts by joining us for the event at OMSI! You can find more information by visiting http://www.omsi.edu/starparties or by calling 503.797.4000.

About OMSI
Founded in 1944, the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI) is one of the nation’s leading science museums, a world-class tourist attraction, and an award-winning educational resource for the kid in each of us. OMSI is located at 1945 SE Water Avenue, Portland, OR 97214. For general information, call 503.797.4000 or visit http://www.omsi.edu.

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OMSI Star Party – Perseid Meteor Shower Watch August 12, 2011

The Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI) is getting ready for its largest star party of the year on Friday, August 12, the Perseid Meteor Shower Watch! Hundreds of star lovers from across the Pacific Northwest will be meeting at both Rooster Rock State Park and Stub Stewart State Park at 9 p.m. to watch and enjoy the wonder of the Perseid Meteor Shower. The event, sponsored by OMSI, the Rose City Astronomers, the Vancouver Sidewalk Astronomers and Oregon Parks and Recreations will have telescopes set up for attendees to use. OMSI staff will be presenting informal talks about the meteor shower, constellations, and the summer sky.

The Perseid Meteor Shower occurs when the Earth enters the path of debris left by the comet Swift-Tuttle in its last trip past the Sun. Swift-Tuttle follows a highly eccentric orbit around the Sun with an orbital period of about 130 years. The comet last passed by the Earth in December 1992. Timing is not precise, but according to the American Meteor Society, the 2011 peak is expected on August 12th at around 9:00 p.m. PDT (0400 hours UT on August 13). There is some uncertainty, so it’s very worthwhile to observe on either side of this time. The OMSI Star Parties will be held on the night of August 12 and into the early morning of August 13. Estimate peak rates for this year’s Perseid is near 60 for those under transparent rural skies. Those under dark but hazy skies should still be able to see 30 to 40 Perseids per hour. Those under urban skies will be lucky to exceed 10 to 20 per hour. Unfortunately, this year will have the full moon on August 12 and will be a factor for viewing the fainter meteors of the Perseids. While viewing the Perseids, we will look at the Moon, Saturn and later Jupiter. As a bonus, the International Space Station will be visible on the same night.

To reach Rooster Rock State Park, take I-84 east of the Sandy River at exit 25. The park is located 22 miles east of Portland. To reach L.L. “Stub” Stewart State Park, take US-26 west of Portland and turn right on OR-47. The park is located 23 miles west of Portland. The event is free, and there is a $5 per vehicle parking fee for public. For possible weather cancellation, call (503) 797-4610 on August 12 after 4:00 PM to get the latest information.

Background:
An increase in the number of meteors at a particular time of year is called a meteor shower. Comets shed the debris that becomes most meteor showers. As comets orbit the Sun, they shed an icy, dusty debris stream along the comet’s orbit. If Earth travels through this stream, we will see a meteor shower. Depending on where Earth and the stream meet, meteors appear to fall from a particular place in the sky, maybe within the neighborhood of a constellation.

Meteor showers are named by the constellation from which meteors appear to fall, a spot in the sky astronomers call the radiant. For instance, the radiant for the Leonid meteor shower is located in the constellation Leo. This meteor shower gets the name “Perseids” because it appears to radiate from the constellation Perseus. An observer in the Northern Hemisphere can start seeing Perseid meteors as early as July 23, when one meteor every hour or so could be visible. During the next three weeks, there is a slow build-up. It is possible to spot five Perseids per hour at the beginning of August and perhaps 15 per hour by August 10. The Perseids rapidly increase to a peak of 50-80 meteors per hour by the night of August 12/13 and then rapidly decline to about 10 per hour by August 15. The last night meteors are likely to be seen from this meteor shower is August 22, when an observer might see a Perseid every hour or so.

“Shooting stars” are intense streaks of light across the night sky caused by small bits of interplanetary rock and debris called meteoroids crashing and burning high in Earth’s upper atmosphere. Traveling at thousands of miles an hour, meteoroids quickly ignite in searing friction of the atmosphere, 30 to 80 miles above the ground. Almost all are destroyed in this process; the rare few that survive and hit the ground are known as meteorites.

Most people do not know how easy it is to watch a meteor shower. Although it is Summer, evening temperatures can drop and jackets may be a necessity. Choose an observing location giving a wide view of the sky with as few obstructions as possible. If you’re viewing from the city, try to observe where artificial lights interfere the least. Places like Rooster Rock State Park, Mt Hood area, or eastern Oregon are popular locations for dark sky in viewing the meteor shower. Possible to watch it from the comfort of your backyard, but only the bright meteors would be visible. Meteor watching is basically an unaided-eye event but binoculars are handy for watching trails (persistent trains) that may hang in the sky for one or more seconds after a meteor’s passage.

The Radiant will be low in the northeast sky after sunset. For early evening viewing, be outside about the time the first stars appear. The Radiant will be low in the northeast but don’t concentrate just on that one area, but rather, let your gaze wander over a large portion of the sky. Meteors that appear near the Radiant will have short paths while those that begin farther out have much longer ones. In the early evening you may spot a few so-called Earth Grazers which can blaze long trails across the sky. They’re not likely to be numerous but do appear, sometimes at the rate of half a dozen or more an hour.

As the hours pass the Radiant rises higher and between about midnight and dawn the greatest number of meteors can be seen. Viewing through city lights will reduce their numbers considerably but the brighter ones will show up nicely.

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Earth From Space Student Internships at OMSI in Portland, OR

STUDENT INTERNSHIP OPPORTUNITIES

OMSI is seeking college interns to develop and present compelling demonstrations using spherical display systems (Science on a Sphere, Magic Planet) that make NASA datasets and research processes accessible to the public.

The demonstrations should frame NASA data to tell interesting stories in a visually engaging setting that demonstrate how NASA satellite data is collected. At OMSI’s main museum location, this programming will be displayed on a Science on a Sphere system, while Magic Planet spherical display systems will be used to provide programs at rural libraries, schools, and other outreach venues.

Interns will work together in groups of two or three.
Internships will begin March 1, 2011 and will be offered quarterly through May 31, 2013

KNOWLEDGE/SKILLS:
· Excellent written and oral communication skills.
· Extremely organized, detail oriented, and a team player.
· Ability to stay focused and manage time effectively.
· Excellent work ethic and ability to work independently.
· Experience and proficiency in Microsoft Office.
· Knowledge of Adobe Creative Suite and HTML a plus.

EDUCATION AND WORK EXPERIENCE:
The Earth from Space Intern must be a student at an Oregon university and should be working toward or have completed a Bachelor’s degree, with coursework or experience in the sciences, education, marketing, communications or related fields.

INTERN BENEFITS:
· Admission for the intern to the museum, OMNIMAX and Planetarium shows, and submarine tours.
· An OMSI Family Membership upon completion of project.
· The opportunity to meet many new people and learn more about NASA.
· Stipends available to eligible participants.

CONTACT:
Students interested in this excellent internship opportunity should contact Nate Lesiuk, Program Developer, OMSI Earth from Space Program at nlesiuk (at) omsi.edu or by phone at 503-239-7817.

Earth From Space Program Flyer

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