Label: Space

July 14, 2011

I’m pleased to introduce a new Seymour Science blogger, Saira Jesani. Saira has a degree in Microbiology & Immunology from McGill University, worked as a science writer for Seed magazine, and helped to launch Visualizing.org, which uses data and design to help make sense of scientific and economic issues. We’re very pleased to have her as a contributor to the Seymour Science blog!

— Seymour


Who knew you could find things on Earth - which you thought were lost forever - when you look from Outer Space?

That's exactly what happened when space archaeologists found some long lost pyramids in Egypt. They spotted 17 of the ancient memorials - built with a square base and four triangle-shaped sides - by studying satellite photos.

They even think some of those pyramids may be buried under the Nile River! Not sure the old Egyptian kings (commonly called pharaohs) would have been too happy about that!

The BBC television network has made a program called "Egypt's Lost Cities" about this discovery. The image above, from that program, is a computer generated picture (CGI) that they created to to bring the satellite images of the lost pyramids to life.

Want more fun facts on pyramids? Check out Seymour Simon's book: Pyramids and Mummies. Happy reading! 

 

 

Posted by: Saira Jesani

(4) Comments  •   Labels: science news, Earth, Space, Pyramids, Archaeology, Egypt   •  Permalink (link to this article)

November 11, 2010

        Jupiter Before and After

In case you didn’t notice, Jupiter’s great South Equatorial Belt (SEB) disappeared this year!

Don’t worry, though. The huge, gassy planet is going to be fine. That belt (which we see as a dark brown stripe but is actually a mass of dark clouds) has disappeared before.

When it has returned in the past, astronomers have described an amazing sight….and it appears that is starting to happen again. A high energy, white plume is pushing through the clouds on Jupiter, and this probably means that the stripe is coming back.

Since most of us don’t have high-powered telescopes, we can rely on the people at SpaceWeather.com, who love to record these things. There will be updates and plenty of images on their website, so keep checking in the coming weeks.

But in the meantime you can see Jupiter in the night sky. Look up overhead at night. Jupiter is the brightest object in the night sky after the moon this month. You can’t miss it. Just look up at night and look for the brightest "star" (really a planet and really Jupiter). 

Posted by: Seymour Simon

(2) Comments  •   Labels: science news, Jupiter, Space   •  Permalink (link to this article)

October 20, 2010

'The Universe' cover

People often ask me how I choose the subjects for my books. Titles come about in all sorts of ways.

Sometimes it is simply a topic that I am very passionate about (hence all my books about Space and exploring our universe - this has been a fascination for me since I was a little kid). At other times, my editor and I decide what is needed to "fill out" an existing series. For example, my recent Collins/Smithsonian books have been dealing with environmental topics like Global Warming and Tropical Rainforests, and now I’m just beginning research on a third topic for that environmental strand, about Coral Reefs.

 

'Silly Dinosaur Riddles' coverOften, I will decide to do a book simply because it is on a topic that I know kids will love. I’ve just finished up a new book with my good friend, the illustrator Dennis Kendrick. It’s called Silly Dinosaur Riddles, and it hits two enduring hot spots for elementary-aged kids — they love dinosaurs, and they love to tell jokes and riddles! So, deciding on that topic was easy, and we’re delighted with the way that it came out. It’s also going to be my first original eBook - designed to read on a smartphone, an iPad, or any other tablet reader. More and more schools and libraries are buying these devices to use with kids, and I’m excited to be creating books that children can read on one of these new readers.

 

Back in 2002, I wrote two books that I knew my young grandsons would love  — Seymour Simon’s Book of Trucks, and Seymour Simon’s Book of Trains. One of the very nice things about writing for children is that books have long lives. Every three or four years, you get a new crop of kids who grow into the topic or reading level, and fall in love with your book all over again. 

That happened this week with my Book of Trains, when I discovered this lovely review by Frances Loving, a librarian who writes a thoughtful blog called Quiet Ramblings. The book may be almost ten years old, but it’s clearly still relevant for her students! Click here to read her review.

I always like to hear from readers, parents and teachers. If there is a topic that you’d like to see me cover, drop me a note here and let me know! 

Posted by: Seymour Simon

(1) Comments  •   Labels: New Books, eBooks, DInosaurs, Writing, Space   •  Permalink (link to this article)

October 4, 2010

 

Happy World Space Week! In 1999 the United Nations General Assembly decreed that every year from October 4-10 should be the largest annual space event on our Planet Earth!

 What can you do in your home or your school to celebrate World Space Week? Well, the most important thing is to simply take the time to look at, read about, and celebrate the wonders of our Universe. Years ago, I published a book of poetry called STAR WALK, 

in which I juxtaposed color photographs of space with poems by a range of authors. (As we all know, poetry doesn’t sell. The book is long out of print, although you may find it in your library). I wrote this in the introduction to the book:

As far back as early Native Americans such as the Passamaquoddy, and even before that, people have looked to the stars in wonder and appreciation. They wrote stories and poetry about the fixed stars and the wandering planets, the bright Sun and the changing shapes of the Moon…..the glowing comets and streaking meteors. They also drew pictures of what they had seen and, in more recent times, photographed the amazing sights of space.

Take some time and look at the night sky this week. Jupiter remains the brightest “star” in the sky, other than the moon, and is visible to the west every night. If you look through binoculars, you may even see one or more of its moons.

Look up at the millions upon millions of stars that make up the Milky Way. To the naked eye, our galaxy looks like a hazy band of light that stretches across the night sky. The longer you look and allow your eyes to adjust to the dark, the more stars you will see. But still, we only see a fraction of the stars that are out there. After all, Alpha Centauri, the closest star to us after the Sun, is 4.3 light-years, or 25-trillion miles, away. Even a spaceship traveling ten miles per second would take more than seventy-thousand years to get to Alpha Centauri!

We are part of a vast, fascinating Universe, and with advances like the Hubble Space Telescope and other emerging exploration technologies, we are just at the beginning of a golden age of discovery.

I’m going to leave you with the words of one of my heroes, the great scientist and astronomer Sir Isaac Newton.

 

I seem to have been only a boy playing on the seashore,

and diverting myself in now and then

finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary,

whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me.

 

Happy World Space Week to all my readers!

—- Seymour 

 

Posted by: Seymour Simon

(0) Comments  •   Labels: science news, Astronomy, Exploration, Space   •  Permalink (link to this article)

September 28, 2010

Edwin Hubble, a great American astronomer, died 57 years ago today, September 28th in 1953. Hubble? Does his name ring a bell?         

 

Well for one thing, the Hubble Space Telescope was named after him, though he had nothing to do with its planning or construction. This photograph of the gigantic Pinwheel galaxy was shot by the Hubble Telescope. Space Age scientists wanted to honor Hubble because he made some of the most important discoveries in modern day astronomy. 

In the early decades of the Twentieth Century, Hubble was an astronomer  at the Mt. Wilson observatory which had the largest telescope in the world at that time. Hubble discovered and proved that some of the dim, fuzzy patches of light photographed through the Mt. Wilson telescope were actually entire galaxies, similar to our own Milky Way Galaxy. The recognition that the Milky Way was only one of billions upon billions of galaxies in the universe forever changed the way astronomers think of space.

 

The other great discovery he made was based on the “redshift.”

 

No, it has nothing to do with football or politics. An astronomer’s “redshift” has to do with the color spectrum of distant galaxies.  A spectrum of light is made up of the colors, red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet. It seems that the more distant a galaxy is, the faster it seems to move and the more its color spectrum shifts toward the red. This is the basis of the Big Bang theory, which proposes that the universe began with an intense explosion of energy at a single moment in time (about 13 billion years ago) and has been expanding ever since.

Hubble would have been proud that the Space Telescope was named after him. 

 

Posted by: Seymour Simon

(0) Comments  •   Labels: science news, Space, Hubble Telescope, Galaxies   •  Permalink (link to this article)

May 28, 2010

 

 

We’ve written before about "The Tech Challenge," the annual team design challenge for grades 5 through 12 run by The Tech Museum in Silicon Valley. Teams who enter must use the scientific process to design a hands-on project intended to solve a real-world problem. This year’s topic was "Ridding the Universe of Space Junk," described as follows: You and your team need to design and build a solution that can help rid the Universe of Space Junk one item at a time from the deck of your temporary home - The International Space Station.

CLICK HERE to see a 5-minute video from April’s final competition - with teams of kids trying to get a simulated "inoperative satellite" to burn up on delivery by attaching two Hall Thrusters to its thruster docking ports. Size D batteries were used to represent the thrusters. Looks like it was a fun - and challenging - day! 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If your family is traveling in the Southern California area this summer, this museum is full of hands-on fun for kids of all ages. Well worth a stop.

 

Posted by: Liz Nealon

(0) Comments  •   Labels: Video, Space, Science Museums   •  Permalink (link to this article)

May 11, 2010

Many of us were dismayed when President Obama recently announced cuts to NASA’s budget. Although everyone understands the need for austerity in these troubled economic times, I am always in favor of invention and exploration  - one of the best attributes of American culture.

This Friday, the space shuttle Atlantis is scheduled to make its final launch, undertaking a 12-day mission to the International Space Station to replace solar panel batteries, install a backup antenna and attach a Russian module filled with supplies. After the Atlantis mission, the other two shuttles - Discovery and Endeavour - are each going to make one more flight, and then all three will be retired.

Maybe it’s because I was an impressionable 8 years old when President Kennedy gave his stirring "We will go to the moon….." speech. Or because I used to set my alarm to get up and watch the shuttle launch when my friend, Navy Captain and astronaut Dan Bursch flew one of his four missions. Danny shares the U.S. space endurance record with astronaut Carl Walz - 196 days in space! (his kids still remember this milestone because he missed Christmas and several birthdays - even an astronaut is still just "Dad" when he gets home). So, despite its flaws, limitations, and several tragedies, I felt very sad when I heard the Shuttle program was being discontinued.

The good news, reported in today’s Science Times, is that we’re continuing to train astronauts for exploration of other planets…..we’re just not doing it in space!

Yesterday marked the beginning of the 14th NEEMO (NASA Extreme Environment Mission Operations) mission. A crew of six, led by Col. Chris A. Hadfield, a Canadian astronaut who flew two shuttle missions, descended 65 feet to an underwater laboratory off the coast of Florida, where they will practice the skills required for setting up a habitat on another planet.

 By adjusting the buoyancy of the diving suits, the aquanauts can go about their work feeling as if they are walking in the one-sixth gravity of the Moon or the three-eighths gravity of Mars.  And, they have set up a 20-minute time lag in communications with their mission controllers on the surface, just as they would have if they were trying to get advice or help in solving a big problem while on Mars.

Click here to read the entire story about how these aquanauts are developing the skills we will need for future space exploration. It’s not over yet!

 

             

Photo: NEEMO 13, courtesy NASA

   

 

   

Posted by: Liz Nealon

(0) Comments  •   Labels: Oceans, Exploration, Space   •  Permalink (link to this article)