Sunday, August 9, 2015
Catching up and resting
It was good to have a couple of days with no sessions this weekend. I was able to rest, get over a cold, and catch up with some notes. Yesterday, I arose bright and early to get to the U.S.S. Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor before the crowds. The one hour plus bus ride to get there was well worth it. Every American must know of ‘The Day that will live in infamy’. Being there, above the decks of the Arizona was a very sobering experience. The day was sunny and calm, much like that day must have been when it began. The trip to the memorial and entrance to the Park Service visitors center was free. The crowd of 150 other tat took the ferry over with me were appropriately respectful. If it should be that you find yourself on Oahu, by all means, make the trip.
Last Thursday and Friday at the I.A.U., I devoted the days to the Division C, Education Division, sessions. I learned of a project called astroEDU, which is a peer review of astronomy teaching materials. There is an awful lot of astronomy activities on the web with a wide range of usefulness, not to mention validity. Although the effort is still in its infancy, it seems like a good start to ensure that all teachers of astronomy at all levels have materials that have been properly vetted.
Most importantly, I think, I have made contact with other astronomy educators. I hope to develop and grow my relationship with my fellow astronomy wizards. That, after all, was the prime reason for my attendance at the General Assembly.
I look forward in the week ahead to some sessions about light pollution and how to deal with it with support from local communities.
Wednesday, August 5
At the I.A.U. General Assembly
Just completed my second workshop with the folks from CAE, or the Center for Astronomy Education. They work out of the University of Arizona under the auspices of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. I have many new tricks to try in my Astronomy classes this fall. The third of the three sessions from the group will be tomorrow.
As I mentioned earlier, education seems to be a definite priority for the I.A.U., and rightly so. I have been always dedicated to reaching as many students as I can with my personal passion. I know that few, if any of them are likely to become professional astronomers, but that is not the point. I think an appreciation for the universe is one key part of being a good citizen, certainly in my home in the United States.
Having lunch right now. In a few minutes, I will be attending the talk on cosmology and dark energy.
Dark energy! Sounds like something George Lucas came up with!
End of Monday
Travelling is a pain in the butt. The first time I was on a jet airliner forty-six years ago it was an adventure. They served us a meal with real metal silverware! Ah well… I am here and safe, And after a good night’s rest, I will be ready to be infused and energized with new astronomical vigor.
The opening ceremony this afternoon was long but very satisfying. I have a new respect for the I.A.U. Though they may have trod upon my favorite little planets Pluto, nine years ago, they remain the guardians of the craft of astronomy on this planet. I was particularly impressed with the frequent emphasis on the need to educate and inspire the next generation. Among the sessions I am most looking forward to attending are the ones concerned with saving the dark sky. I worry for young people who do not know the stars because they have no chance to see them.
I could write a bit more tonight, but the bed is beckoning, and I need to be well rested for the marathon of the next ten days.
Here I am on the adventure, part Deux. I should be in Honolulu right now but my plane broke yesterday and they had to fix the engine That put us more than an hour behind schedule, and, of course, I missed my connection. Spent a lovely night in Tempe Arizona at the Sheraton, compliments of U.S. Airways.
Hopefully this Boeing 757 will work and I will be on the Island in about six hours. I have had enough excitement in the last 24 hours and am really looking forward to getting into astronomer mode at the I.A.U. meeting.
On this flight, I get to be in the exit row. No window, no table, but lots of legroom! I stand ready to man the lifeboat if necessary.
Now at 30,000 feet above the Pacific. I have a chance to catch up on some of the story so far. I am no stranger to flying, but there have been a couple of new twists so far this trip. I have made connecting flights before, but never missed one. As we pulled away from the gate at Detroit Metro Airport, the Airbus 310 that was about to fly us to Phoenix sat for a very long time before the announcement came over the intercom informing us that there was some sort of engine problem that needed to be corrected and that we were going to have to pull back to the gate. We all stayed on the plane for an hour as the maintenance was performed.
We finally left the runway about an hour and twenty minutes behind schedule. So much for making the connection.
To their credit, U.S. Airways had a new flight arranged for me and the appropriate boarding pass ready as I deplaned in Phoenix. They gave me a voucher for a night at the Sheraton Airport in Tempe Arizona, a somewhat non-descript hotel much like thousands of others near just about every airport around the world.
I slept fairly well in a nice comfy king bed, but, as is my wont, I woke every ninety minutes or so, worried that I would sleep through the alarms.
Which brings me back over the Pacific.
I have been looking through the various sessions that I hope to attend and there is more than enough to keep me busy and informed. I just hope I can absorb and record as much as possible. I do want to incorporate as much as I can into this coming year’s curriculum.
Boarding the flight to Hawai’i this morning. There’ll be lots to do at the I.A.U. meeting in the next 12 days!