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Spiders in Space
Spiders and their webs are everywhere and not just on Halloween. Sixteen of them have been sent into space. How well did the orb-weavers manage their webs? Did the jumping spiders starve in microgravity? What was the big surprise Gladys had for researchers when she returned to Earth?
Star Names in Harry Potter Stories
In the Harry Potter books there are a number of characters that are named for stars and constellations. You can find out more about these stars - and for those that don't know the books, there's a bit of background on the characters.
People once thought that stars were eternal and unchanging. Today we know that they have life cycles of birth and death. Here is the story of how a star like our Sun is born.
Start Observing - with Binoculars
What does every astronomer need? Most people would answer "a telescope." But, actually, binoculars are the best way to start observing the sky. Many experienced astronomers use them in addition to a telescope. Here is some guidance about getting started.
If stars aren't white, why isn't the night sky more colorful? If it's 93 million miles to the Sun, how many times farther away is the next nearest star? Will the Sun become a black hole and suck us in? Here's a short explanation of some common misconceptions about the stars.
Summer Solstice - St John's Day
Each day for six months after the winter solstice, the Sun rises a bit higher in the sky. It reaches the maximum height at the summer solstice, the longest day. Evidence of rituals and festivals at the times of the solstices goes back thousands of years.
The Wizard Earl, the start of astronomy with a telescope, Sir Walter Raleigh, Virginia, the Gunpowder Plot, and the Smithsonian. What does all of this history have in common? Syon Park, a stately home on the River Thames.
Tales of the Northern Lights
The aurora is an ethereal, shifting light in the northern sky and is associated with many tales and beliefs. It can look like the dawn, so Galileo named it after Aurora goddess of the dawn. It has reminded others of dragons, spirits, dancers, shield maidens, herrings or the legendary fire fox.
Teaching Moon Phases and Eclipses
Why does the Moon seem to change shape? If eclipses happen when the Sun, Moon and Earth are all lined up, why don't they happen every month? If you're an educator, you may need to understand why and explain it to children. Here are some online resources to help you out.
Teaching Why We Have Day and Night
Why do we have day and night? For thousands of years most people thought it was because the Sun went around the Earth. That is certainly what it looks like, so how can you explain that day and night happen because the earth spins on its axis? Here are some ideas.
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