Tag Archives: Education

Happy Earth Day!

Today is Earth Day! We spend this day celebrating Earth, raising awareness of things threatening the planet, and learning how to fix those problems! This year’s theme is plastic pollution and the threat it poses to humans and other life.

Plastics can be very useful, but the huge amount that is discarded incorrectly and dangerously is a serious issue. In one year alone, the state of New York uses enough plastic bags that, if they were tied together, they could reach the moon and back – 18 times! Worldwide, about 1 trillion bags are used and disposed of every year. And that’s not including other plastic items like drinking straws, plastic bottles, and single-use plastic containers.

earth day 18Much of what we use is not disposed of correctly! Each year, about 8 trillion tons of plastic waste ends up in our oceans. The waste congregates together, forming enormous “islands” of floating plastic where fish and other sea life cannot live. There are currently 5 of these huge clumps around the world – the largest of these is the size of Texas! If the current trend of littering continues, there will be more plastic by weight in the ocean than fish by the year 2050.

All this means, however, is that we have a long way to go to fixing this problem. And you can help out, too! Here are some steps that you can follow to start:

  • earth dayReduce! Minimize your use of plastics, because recycling is far from perfect, and many recycled plastics will end up in landfills anyways.
  • Refuse! Similar to reduce, but making a more conscious effort to reject using plastic products, such as not taking a straw at a restaurant.
  • Reuse! If you do use plastic products, be sure to avoid single-use items and instead choose something that you can continue to utilize over a longer period of time; or better yet, get yourself reusable, non-plastic items.
  • Recycle! When you do end up using and needing to dispose of plastic products, recycle them! But be smart about it. Only recycle products that you know are recyclable. Educate yourself on local recycling management procedures and what kinds of material they take.
  • Remove! Help to clean up the plastic that is already littering our planet! Helping can be anything from picking up trash yourself to supporting organizations that are tackling the problem at a larger level.

All in all, there is a lot to do, but education is the first step to solving these issues. Tell a friend or a family member what they can do to help! Let’s work together to make the world a better place.

If you want to learn even more about what to do or how to help, here’s the link to the official Earth Day 2018 website: https://www.earthday.org/

Written by Scott Yarbrough

#WhySpaceMatters: NASA’s Anniversary

If you’d like to know what’s out there in the universe, it’s an awfully exciting century to be alive! From Vostok to Hubble to New Horizons, ambitious feats of engineering are bringing our corner of the cosmos into fuller detail and color all the time. At AstroCamp, we’re all about harnessing the wonder of space exploration as fuel for passion and inquiry. We hope that some of the students who peer through our telescopes into the deep, dark beyond will keep looking and pushing the boundaries of human knowledge as part of the next generation of scientists.

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Campers at AstroCamp are #whyspacematters!

Space matters because it stimulates curiosity, drives innovation, and lends context to our existence on Earth. It matters because it changes our perspective on everything. In honor of NASA’s anniversary, here are a few mind-bending ideas that show #whyspacematters to us.

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Campers get a closer look at the conjunction of Jupiter and Venus. Credit: Andy Balendy

Look up at the night sky. You are experiencing a tiny gravitational pull from every star and planet you see, and hundreds of billions that you don’t see. Even weirder, your body is pulling back on each one! If you replaced the sun with a black hole of the same mass, Earth’s orbit wouldn’t change, but 8.3 minutes later we’d get very, very cold. That’s the amount of time it would take for the sun’s last light to reach Earth.

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Two black holes (shown in purple) in spiral galaxy Caldwell 5. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/DSS

When you look out into space, you’re also looking back in time. The average distance to a star you can see with the naked eye is in the ballpark of 100 light-years. This means the image your eyes receive is about 100 years old. The closest star to earth is 4.22 light-years away. If it mysteriously disappeared right this second, we’d have no idea until 2019! The Milky Way and its nearest neighbor, the Andromeda Galaxy, are on course to collide in roughly 4 billion years, as our sun nears the end of its life. Galaxies are mostly empty space, so the odds of things actually smashing into each other are remote, but any life forms present at that time will witness a complete transformation of the night sky.

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New Horizons LORRI image of Pluto, 7/14/2015. Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute

Over 70 years ago, within the memory of many people alive today, no spacecraft had ever left our home planet. As of this writing, 533 people have orbited Earth. 12 have walked on the moon. A telescope the size of a school bus floats in space, probing the history of the universe. Robots study nearby worlds on our behalf. Voyager 1, which has been sailing towards the distant stars since 1977, is now three times as far from the sun as Pluto, over 12 billion miles away from Earth… and counting!

Happy Anniversary NASA! Here’s to the bright future of exploring the great unknown.

WELCOME TO OUR ASTROCAMP BLOG

We would like to thank you for visiting our blog. AstroCamp is a hands-on physical science program with an emphasis on astronomy and space exploration. Our classes and activities are designed to inspire students toward future success in their academic and personal pursuits. This blog is intended to provide you with up-to-date news and information about our camp programs, as well as current science and astronomical happenings. This blog has been created by our staff who have at least a Bachelors Degree in Physics or Astronomy, however it is not uncommon for them to have a Masters Degree or PhD. We encourage you to also follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Google+, Twitter, and Vine to see even more of our interesting science, space and astronomy information. Feel free to leave comments, questions, or share our blog with others. Please visit www.astrocampschool.org for additional information. Happy Reading!

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