Southern Illinois University Edwardsville’s Pamela L. Gay, an assistant research professor in the Center for STEM Research, Education and Outreach, has been elected to the Board of Directors of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific. She is one of three new members on the 12-person board.
Also elected to board with Gay are Gibor Basri, professor of astronomy at the University of California Berkeley, and Dr. Philip Sadler, F.W. Wright senior lecturer in the department of astronomy and director of the Science Education Department at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.
“We live in a time of great change, where astronomy and space exploration are driving forces behind innovations in computational, aeronautical, and imaging technologies,” said Gay, who achieved a doctorate in astronomy from the University of Texas. “The space and astronomy communities will require STEM educated employees to thrive.
“The Astronomical Society of the Pacific, with its international reach and its numerous global partnerships, is positioned to enact and support the educational and research activities that are needed. I will bring to the ASP board my passion for public engagement in science and my experience working with the global astronomy education community. By working together, and acting globally while thinking cosmically, we can use astronomy and space science to develop our world.”
Gay has served as an astronomer, writer and podcaster and has most recently focused on using new media to engage people in learning astronomy. She is the director of CosmoQuest.org, a virtual research facility based in the SIUE STEM Center. CosmoQuest provides public access to opportunities normally only available to professional researchers.
Gay co-hosts Astronomy Cast with Fraser Cain, publisher of Universe Today. She also works to communicate astronomy to the public through her blog StarStryder.com, through frequent public appearances and popular articles. Her writing has appeared in Astronomy, Sky and Telescope, and Lightspeed magazines. She has also appeared on the History Channel’s “The Universe” and the National Geographic Channel’s “Top Secrets.”
|Here is a preview of an early phase of the lunar eclipse at 5:30 a.m. EDT on the morning of Wednesday, Oct. 8.
Credit: Starry Night
Most of North America will witness a total eclipse of the moon Wednesday (Oct. 8), but the morning sky, weather permitting, will also hold a surprise for intrepid skywatchers interested in seeing another celestial body alongside the eclipsed moon.
The planet Uranus will be in opposition to the sun on Tuesday evening, placing it very close to the full moon during the total lunar eclipse on Wednesday morning. Uranus is just around the limit of naked-eye visibility at magnitude 5.7, so interested observers will need binoculars to spot it. Even in the most powerful telescopes, Uranus is so far away that it will be only a tiny, featureless, blue-green disk.
The lunar eclipse officially begins when the moon slips into the faint outermost shadow of the Earth, called the penumbra. This shading, which occurs at 4:15 a.m. EDT (0815 GMT) on Wednesday, is so subtle that it might be invisible to the casual observer.
The European Space Agency’s Rosetta mission will deploy its lander, Philae, to the surface of comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko on Nov. 12.
Rosetta is an international mission spearheaded by the European Space Agency with support and instruments provided by NASA.
Philae’s landing site, currently known as Site J, is located on the smaller of the comet’s two “lobes,” with a backup site on the larger lobe. The sites were selected just six weeks after Rosetta’s Aug. 6 arrival at the comet, following the spacecraft’s 10-year journey through the solar system.
In that time, the Rosetta mission has been conducting an unprecedented scientific analysis of the comet, a remnant from early in the solar system’s 4.6-billion-year history. The latest results from Rosetta will be presented when Philae lands, during dedicated press briefings.
The main focus to date has been to survey 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko in order to prepare for the first-ever attempt to soft-land on a comet.
The descent to the comet is passive and it is only possible to predict that the landing point will be within a “landing ellipse” (typically a few hundred yards or meters in size). For each of Rosetta’s candidate sites, a larger area — four-tenths of a square mile (one square kilometer) — was assessed. Site J was chosen unanimously as the primary landing site because the majority of terrain within an area that size has slopes of less than 30 degrees relative to the local vertical and because there are relatively few large boulders. The area also receives sufficient daily illumination to recharge Philae and continue surface science operations beyond the initial 64-hour battery-powered phase.
Over the last two weeks, the flight dynamics and operations teams at ESA have been making a detailed analysis of flight trajectories and timings for Rosetta to deliver the lander at the earliest possible opportunity.
The River Bend Astronomy Club serves amateur astronomers from Southern Illinois and the St. Louis Metropolitan area, and beyond, fostering observation, education and a spirit of camaraderie.