Weekend Astrophotography…. again

Saturday night the skies were clear and the night was supposed to be warm (it actually got quite cold!). So I set out with two others to scout a new dark sky site for the Canberra Astronomical Society.  They took their scopes but I thought I might continue to experiment with my DSLR and see what sort of shots I could get in the new location. Continue reading

Weekend astrophotography

It was a beautiful weekend here in Canberra. We’re heading into summer, the nights are clear, and warming up nicely.  I took one look at the sky on Friday night and decided that I’d spend some time brushing up on my photography skills!  I love observing and taking photos of what I see – but I’m not a fan of standing out in the cold trying to keep the frost and dew off the telescope and camera with various dew shields and heaters! Continue reading

Women in Space: Judith Resnik

This article is one of a series of articles in which I will profile every woman astronaut, cosmonaut and taikonaut who has been into space.  Last time we looked at the career of Sally Ride. Today I’m profiling astronaut Judith Resnik. (The feature image above is a collection of drawings of women astronauts by artist Phillip J Bond. You can find Phillip’s wonderful series on women astronauts here.)

When the space shuttle Challenger was due to launch in the middle of the night (Australian time) on the 28th of January of 1986 – I was in the middle of a standard teenage baby sitting gig.  The kids must have been 6 or 7 years old and we were all very excited by the upcoming launch, but disappointed by the late hour.  As I tucked the kids into bed I agreed to wake them up during the night so we could watch the launch.   We didn’t get up during the night, I don’t remember why – maybe I didn’t set the alarm, maybe I decided not to wake them, maybe I just forgot.  When I woke in the morning and turned on the TV, the images of the Challenger exploding a minute into launch were so horrifying they still affect me today. Continue reading

Science Communication ‘Memes, blogs and videos: how social media has transformed the way we communicate science’

On Friday night I was lucky enough to be able to attend National Science Week’s Event ‘Memes, blogs and videos: how social media has transformed the way we communicate science‘ in Canberra.  The event was a panel discussion between some of the most prominent and influential social media science communicators around the globe.  The panel included:

Phil Plait – (AKA @BadAstronomer) an astronomer, writer and popular science blogger, Elise Andrew – Creator of I Fucking Love Science on Facebook; Henry Reich – Creator of MinutePhysics and MinuteEarth YouTube channels; Mitchell Moffit & Gregory Brown – Creators of AsapSCIENCE YouTube channel; Destin Sandlin – Creater of SmarterEveryDay YouTube channel; and Chris Cassella – Managing Director of Science Alert.

It really was a stellar ‘cast’ who have a combined social media reach of well over 100 million people per week.  So what did these ‘giants’ of social media have to say about science communication?  Well they said a lot, so I can only cover the highlights here.  For a start – they all agreed – anyone can be a ‘science communicator’. You don’t have to be a scientist, or journalist or writer to be an effective science communicator, you just need to have a passion for science, and the time and ability to pass that information onto others.  So what do the panel members think makes their science communication successful, and what can they suggest to someone interested in science communication? Continue reading

Women in Space: Sally Ride

This article is the third in a series of articles in which I will profile every woman astronaut, cosmonaut and taikonaut who has been into space.  Last time we looked at the career of Svetlana Savitskaya the second woman in space.  Today I’m profiling astronaut Sally Ride, the first American woman in space. (The feature image above is a collection of drawings of women astronauts by artist Phillip J Bond. You can find Phillip’s wonderful series on women astronauts here.)

In 2004 I saw Sally Ride at an Australian Broadcast Corporation (ABC) Radio National Science Special in Canberra.  When I first saw her speak, I was surprised how small she appeared on stage.  In my mind, Sally Ride was larger than life, an adventurer, explorer, a trailblazer who broke boundaries in physics, astrophysics and space exploration.  Of course within a few minutes of her speaking I was completely drawn into her world of science and space exploration where her stature, and gender is irrelevant.  (The transcript of the show she shared with astrophysicist Paul Davies, and marine biologist Syliva Earle can be read here).

sally ride shuttle

Sally Ride aboard the Shuttle (Image credit NASA).

Sally Ride was born in Encino, California. She had one sibling, a sister, her mother was a volunteer counselor at a women’s prison, her father was a political science professor. Sally went to Swarthmore College, taking physics courses at UCLA, she then went on to Stanford to earn her Bachelors degree in English and Physics, and her Masters degree and PhD in physics.  Sally was an accomplished athlete, and nationally ranked tennis player in her youth. Continue reading