Gogh and Experience a Starry Night at CCSU

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You’ve seen the famous painting, now experience the real thing by viewing galaxies, star clusters, double stars and more through a variety of telescopes and mounted binoculars at Central Connecticut State University. On December 3-6 from 7:00 – 8:30 PM, if the skies are clear, join us for free public observing sessions hosted by CCSU astronomy students. Bring along your own binoculars to learn how to use them to paint a picture of the universe from your own backyard. We promise it will make an impression on you! For more information, visit www.ccsu.edu/astronomy or call 860-832-2938.

 

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Free public planetarium show this Saturday

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The next regularly scheduled free public planetarium show is this Saturday, November 18, at 8 PM. After the hour-long show, if skies are clear, please join us for views of the real night sky as seen through a variety of telescopes. For more information, consult our website.

 

Explore the Cosmos at CCSU Family Day

CCSU Family Day is Saturday, October 7, and the Copernican Observatory and Planetarium and Geology & Planetary Science Club have free activities that are out of this world! Planetarium shows run at 11:30 AM and 2 PM, and join us in the library-side foyer of Copernicus Hall for free geology and astronomy activities suitable for children of all ages. Between 11 AM – 2 PM can construct a starfinder or a model of Saturn to take home, examine rocks and minerals from Connecticut, try your hand at making craters, touch real meteorites and fossils,  and observe sunspots (weather permitting).

What to do with those eclipse glasses now

[NASA eclipse glasses donated to the Burlington Library by NASA Solar System Ambassador Kris Larsen; empty box that once house the 1000 pairs of eclipse glasses Kris Larsen bought and donated to the public for the eclipse]

Now that the Great American Eclipse is over, what do you do with those eclipse glasses? Given the pains many of you went through to get them, it seems a shame to just discard them. You can put them in a safe place until the April 8, 2024 eclipse (which will be 90% partial in Connecticut, and total in parts of New England and New York state). If you do this, you should examine them for any holes or defects BEFORE the 2024 eclipse (in case you need to get new pairs). You can always use them to view large sunspot groups. Only large groups are seen with just eclipse glasses and the eye, so it will not be an everyday event. To monitor sunspot activity, I recommend the Spaceweather website.

If you want to pass on to someone else the excitement you felt at observing the eclipse, you can donate your glasses (if they are in good condition) to Astronomers Without Borders, who will redistribute them to schools in South America for the next two total solar eclipses. Please follow the directions on their website.

Of course, you might just hang on to them as a memento!

Upcoming Free Eclipse Talks

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[Partial phase of a solar eclipse viewed in Egypt in 2006]

If you haven’t attended one of Dr. Larsen’s free public lectures on the upcoming solar eclipse you still have several chances! Please contact the host institutions directly to reserve your spots:

Wallingford Public Library: August 9, 7 PM

Bristol Public Library: August 14, 6:30 PM

CT Audubon Society (Glastonbury): August 15, 6:30 PM

 

Summer is the perfect time to catch a FREE planetarium show!

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[Nick, the planetarium projector, putting his best face forward in a selfie]

The Copernican Planetarium and Observatory is open year-round! Our next FREE public planetarium shows are Saturdays June 17 and July 1 at 8 PM. Afterwards, if the skies are clear you are invited to view the real night sky through a variety of instruments. Consult our webpage for more information.

When Teaching Children about the Eclipse, This Bunny Hops to it!

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[BB the Eclipse Chasing Bunny in Australia]

The August 21, 2017 Great American Eclipse is an opportunity that should not be missed! However, many more people will be viewing a partial rather than a total eclipse, including here in Connecticut. How do we teach people to safely view the partial phases? One way that I have been getting the message out to young people is through my trusted companion on all four of my solar eclipse trips, BB the Eclipse Chasing Bunny! On May 23, he and I visited the entire 5th grade class at the Webster Hill Elementary School in West Hartford. While the children enjoyed hearing about BB’s adventures in Egypt, China, Australia, and the Faroe Islands, they also got the message that you can safely observe a partial solar eclipse, and learned how to do it! The children will all be receiving solar viewing glasses (like BB’s) to take home to their parent, along with an information sheet about simple eclipse projection techniques, at the end of the school year. BB and I look forward to speaking to more children about the eclipse between now and mid-August.

— K. Larsen (and BB!)