Earthshine Newsletter - First edition

Here is the first edition of Earthshine News. To subscribe visit the Earthshine web site and sign up.

Welcome to Earthshine News!

This is the first edition of Earthshine News, a newsletter published by the Earthshine Astronomy and Space Science Organization. Earthshine News provides information on the activities of Earthshine.

Earthshine Activities

The Mississauga–based Earthshine Astronomy and Space Science Organization was formed in 2003. Earthshine’s mandate is to promote astronomy, space science, and related sciences to the residents of the western Greater Toronto area. The purpose of Earthshine is to fund, build, and run an astronomy and space science facility in Mississauga to replace Toronto’s McLaughlin Planetarium. Since the McLaughlin Planetarium closed in 1995, we have been left without a badly needed astronomy and space science facility in the GTA.

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Earthshine has run a successful educational public outreach program at the Riverwood Conservancy since 2009 by partnering with the Mississauga Centre of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada (RASC). Monthly public star parties are held on the green area in front of Chappell House. Several RASC members set up a number of telescopes to observe the Moon (observing evenings are scheduled around the first quarter lunar phase), a planet or two, double stars, and other objects of interest. If we are lucky, we watch a pass of the International Space Station. Attendance at these events varies, but is usually between 200 and 250 people. Over 3500 visitors have attended these events since they started.

Earthshine has also partnered with the RASC to run evening programs for youth groups (Cubs, Brownies, Girl Guides, Scouts, and Pathfinders). The programs consist of a presentation that covers all the requirements for the group’s specific astronomy or space exploration badge.

Remaining 2013 Riverwood Dates

Tuesday, October 15 (weather backup October 16)

Tuesday, November 12 (weather backup October 13)

Fundraising Campaign

Earlier this year, the Earthshine Board of Directors decided to expand its programming and buy a mobile digital planetarium. Mobile planetariums usually consist of an inflatable dome approximately 6 to 8 metres across and hold 30 to 50 people.

Earthshine will run a fundraising campaign on Indiegogo to raise the $100,000 needed to purchase the planetarium. Once successful, Earthshine will look for a temporary or permanent site to run planetarium programs.

Why a Planetarium?

In addition to beautiful simulated star views, a planetarium can take the audience on virtual trips around the solar system and to other stars and galaxies. A planetarium can be used day or night, no matter what the weather, and entertains, educates, and inspires.

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We will also be able to produce and run programs for students of all grades, tailored to the Ontario science curriculum. The Ontario science curriculum currently specifies the study of the following astronomy and space-related subjects:

Of course, students of all grades will enjoy astronomy programming in the planetarium.

Digital planetariums can now be used to present other science programming as well, such as biology, chemistry, environmental and earth science. This allows us to expand the school audience to all grades. Many existing planetarium shows on a variety of topics can be purchased.

Until we find a permanent site, Earthshine will run programs at schools, community centres, and other sites. However, the Board of Directors feels that it is critical to ultimately find a permanent home for the planetarium to run programs.

How Can You Help?

The fundraising program will start September 30, 2013. When several people give small amounts and then spread the word to friends, family, and contacts, the donations grow. We are looking for 1,000 people to support the planetarium project by donating $100, or 5,000 people to donate $20 each.

During the campaign, which will last four to six weeks, we will run special activities, such as talks at libraries (see below) and sidewalk astronomy events; we will also distribute press releases to traditional media and promote the campaign using social media.

Earthshine is a registered charity and can issue tax receipts for donations.

How Will the Funds Be Used?

The first $100,000 will be used to purchase the mobile planetarium along with some existing programming. The next $100,000 will be used to lease a facility large enough to hold the planetarium, a classroom, an activity area, and office space. Earthshine has produced a business plan that shows that with 20,000 visitors a year, the planetarium will break even. Earthshine will hire its first two employees to run these programs but will also depend on volunteer help to run the planetarium.

When in operation, Earthshine will actively apply for various grants and seek donations to keep the astronomy program running and expand its operations.

Mississauga Library Programs Arranged to Promote the Fundraising Campaign

To promote interest in the mobile planetarium fundraising campaign, we contacted all 18 Mississauga libraries in July. Earthshine offered to run free evening programs consisting of a presentation on recent astronomical discoveries, followed by outdoor observing through telescopes, weather permitting. Volunteers from the RASC provide the telescopes as they do at Riverwood events.

Remaining 2013 Library Dates

Burnhamthorpe Library                        Tuesday, October 8

Malton Library                                        Wednesday, October 9

Lorne Park Library                                Thursday, October 10

Erin Meadows Library                         Thursday, October 17

Streetsville Library                               Wednesday, October 23

Churchill Meadows Library               Monday, November 11

Central Library                                    Thursday, November 14                        

For more information:

Email: info@earthshineastronomy.ca

Website: www.earthshineastronomy.ca

Twitter: @EarthshineAstro

Facebook: www.facebook.com/EarthshineAstro

To subscribe to Earthshine News, go to the Get Involved section of this website. 

 

What's so special about the Autumnal Equinox?

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The Autumnal Equinox takes place at 4:44 PM this Sunday, September 22. It marks the instant that the Sun is directly over the Earth's equator.  At this point, the period of day and night are equal - this is where the term equinox comes from.

The Sun has been moving south since last June 21 when the Sun was as far north as it gets. On that day, it was overhead of latitude 23.5 degrees north and summer began in the northern hemisphere. Over the next few weeks, note the position along the western horizon where the Sun sets. Notice how quickly the position shifts to the south. Three months from now, on December 21, the south will set at its furthest southern point and winter will begin. Brrrrr.

The impact of this north-south motion of the Sun? The Seasons! 

Read about the equinox in this article from Sky and Telescope magazine

Observing the Beak of the Swan

Have you seen the beak of the swan?

NASA’s APOD site is a great source of browsable inspirational astronomical images – take a peek!

NASA’s APOD site is a great source of browsable inspirational astronomical images – take a peek!

At the head of the constellation Cygnus (from the Greek word for swan) lies a very pretty double star named Albireo. It’s a favorite target for astronomical outreach parties, because of the difference in color between the two stars. The two stars are the yellow Albireo A, and a somewhat fainter blue-green Albireo B. It’s not known if the two stars orbit each other (a binary star system), or if they just happen to appear close from our vantage point on Earth (an optical double star system). Ironically, the brighter Albireo A is itself in binary star system, though you can’t see that in most backyard scopes.

A beautiful picture of Albireo by Richard Yandrick was featured in NASA’s APOD (Astronomy Picture of the Day).

Astronomy lecture series starts this week at Mississauga libraries

The Curiosity rover on Mars has been exploring the martian surface for over a year. 

The Curiosity rover on Mars has been exploring the martian surface for over a year. 

Earthshine begins a series of autumn astronomy presentations at Mississauga Libraries this week. All presentations are free! 

7:00 pm Tuesday September 10      Lakeview Library 

1110 Atwater Avenue  Mississauga, ON  Call 905-615-4805 to register

7:00 pm Thursday September 12     South Common Library  2233 South Millway Drive  Call 905-615-4770 to register

Talk title: Exploring the Universe

This talk will cover recent discoveries made in our solar system and galaxy by space probes, robots, and Earth-based telescopes. If the weather is clear, members of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada (RASC), Mississauga Centre, will have telescopes set up outside to look at the Moon and other objects in the night sky. All are welcome. We hope you will be able to join us!

October talks

Burnhamthorpe Library                    Tuesday October 8

Malton Library                                    Wednesday October 9

Lorne Park Library                            Thursday October 10

Erin Meadows Library                      Thursday October 17

Streetsville Library                            Wednesday October 23

 

Mississauga streetlight switchover in high gear

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The city of Mississauga is switching its streetlights over to LED.  The program was announced over a year ago in a city hall announcement.   All 49,000  street lights will be converted from the yellow-orange light of traditional High Pressure Sodium (HPS) to the more natural white LED lights.   About 25% of the lights have been converted to date.

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"The new LED street lights will significantly reduce maintenance costs and should result in a 55 per cent reduction in future energy consumption for the City. LED street lights will also increase safety, visibility and reduce light pollution in the sky" according to the announcement.
 

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LED street lights reduce the amount of light pollution. They are compliant with the International Dark-Sky Association (IDA) in terms of being dark-sky friendly by reducing sky glow. 

The Mississauga Centre of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada is obtaining a light meter to use to measure the bright ness of the night sky. Members will take measurements from different parts of the city over a period of time to try and detect a change in brightness due to the change in streetlight design.

We will continue to monitor this changeover and report on any difference in the brightness of Mississauga's night sky.  

 

The first evening with LED streetlights - quite a change.  

The first evening with LED streetlights - quite a change.