Tag Archives: space

Star Party: Astronomy Night at Playcard Environmental Education Center, Playcard, South Carolina

26 Feb
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#Kepler sits atop the Starfinder Meade 16

Thursday night, I drove over to Playcard, South Carolina for a star party hosted by Horry County and the Playcard Environmental Education Center.  This free event took place in the open field next to the center, perfect for stargazing.

It was a beautiful night for the event–cloudless, lightly breezy, cool but not cold. The stars quickly came into view as the sun set.

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Setting up

The host astronomers provided a variety of telescopes and binoculars for everyone to try out, and they assisted guests in setting up their own equipment correctly. A decent pair of binoculars is now on my shopping list.

One of the most helpful tips they gave for using binoculars is to look at the area you’d like to view, like the moon, first with your eyes. Keep your sight trained there as you bring the binoculars to your face. This prevents having to crane your head around to try to locate specific bodies through the binoculars. If you look at the area before you bring them to your eyes, the binoculars will already be pointed in the right direction. (Sounds obvious, but I’ve seen many a birder doing the “Where’s Waldo?” through their binoculars.)

Beyond my personal enthrallment with space, the event was an ideal setting to get #Kepler pics and to spread the news about Humans In My House and the Stars Above It. I made coloring books with the illustrations from the novel, packaged them up with a box of crayons and some Red Ink Enthusiast swag, and passed them out to the children in attendance. I made twenty packets and gave away all but two.

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Coloring page from chapter 2 of Humans In My House and the Stars Above It

The event turnout was great, but it’s likely that you weren’t there. If you or your little one would like to get in on the coloring, download the Humans In My House and the Stars Above It Coloring Book or use the new Downloads tab on the menu to print the coloring pages.

My plans for this new tab include adding coloring pages from Humans book 1 and Nova June: Inventor (after it publishes), and kid’s book club discussions/reading comprehension topics for each of my novels, all free to download and print for personal and educational use.

In the meantime, happy coloring!

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Who Is Nova June? Nova’s Top Role Models in Science

7 Feb

Nova is always learning something. She knows progress means paying attention to the scientists, mathematicians, engineers, and trail-blazers who came before her and that learning from their mistakes and successes is the way to improve. Here are 10 of Nova’s top role models, in order of birth.

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  • Sophia Brahe (1559-1643)
    • Danish genealogist, horticulturist, and astronomer, known for her 900-page genealogy of 90 Dutch noble families, and for assisting her brother, Tycho Brahe (who insisted on educating her when her brilliant scientific mind began to show around age 10), in his astronomy, which included the world’s most accurate astronomical observations pre-telescope.
  • Ada Lovelace (1815-1852)
    • Mathematician and writer widely considered the first computer programmer for her creation and publication of an algorithm that would allow wider applications of a computing machine beyond calculation only.
  • Maria Mitchell (1818-1889)
    • First American woman to work as a professional astronomer, discoverer of a telescopic comet (too small to see with the naked eye) later named “Miss Mitchell’s Comet”
  • Ida Hyde (1857-1945)
    • American physiologist known for her invention of the microelectrode, an intracellular instrument used to monitor physiological parameters in marine animals. She also advocated for childhood health screenings in public schools to help combat tuberculosis and spinal meningitis among other infectious diseases. Because of the sexism and discrimination she faced in the scientific community, she, along with other female scientists and professors, founded the Naples Table Association to help fund and support women in scientific careers.
  • Marie Curie (1867-1934)
    • Physicist and chemist, first woman to win a Nobel Prize, and the first person and woman to win a Nobel Prize twice. Her research in radioactivity led her to create mobile x-ray units, and the vehicles and generators needed to run them, for use during in-the-field medical care for soldiers of World War 1. This is just one of her many accomplishments.
  • Bessie Coleman (1882-1926)
    • First woman of African descent AND first woman of Native American descent to hold a pilot’s license. She went to France to attend flight school because no one in America would teach her because of her race and gender. When she returned to the U.S. with her international pilot’s license, she became a successful air show pilot.
  • Grace Hopper (1906-1992)
    • Computer Scientist and United States Navy Rear Admiral who invented one of the first compiling tools and influenced programming languages still used today. She received the National Medal of Technology in 1991 and was posthumously awarded the National Medal of Freedom in 2016.
  • Chien-Shiung Wu (1912-1997)
    • Chinese-American experimental physicist who worked on the Manhattan Project developing the process to separate Uranium into Uranium-235 and Uranium-238 isotopes by gaseous diffusion. For this and other work, she won the Wolf Prize in Physics in 1978.
  • Rosalind Franklin (1920-1958)
    • Chemist who discovered and published findings on the double helix shape of human DNA. These findings were not widely recognized until after her death, although she was recognized for her work with viruses and coal during her lifetime.
  • Mae Jemison (1956-)
    • Astronaut, engineer, and physician, and the first African-American woman to travel to space.

 

If you’d like to learn more about these and others who’ve done great things, follow the links above or visit A Mighty Girl (my personal favorite source for inspiration), the Association for Women in Science, or read this article by Jan Sloan about the founding of the Naples Table Association published by University of Chicago Press.

Humans In My House, Kepler, and His Namesake

26 Oct

Ever wonder why I chose to name the curious cat of Humans In My House after astronomer and mathematician Johannes Kepler?

This excellent article by Marcelo Gleiser, written for NPR’s 13.7 Cosmos and Culture, discusses just some of the many reasons behind my choice. Though the opinion article is distinctly political and currently relevant, my motivations to choose the name were strictly related to Kepler’s fields of study and discoveries.

Kepler lived and worked persistently for knowledge, for humanity. It’s a value I believe is important to share with young readers through the curiosity and social consciousness of my characters, starting with Kepler and his human, Emily, regardless of the political climate of Johannes Kepler’s time or ours. Though I would never try to downplay the importance of politics, of policy, or its roles in our society, the moral of the series, especially of volume 2, is not “good politics,” but “good stewardship”–of humanity and of the earth.

The Humans In My House series is available here. Read volume 2, Humans In My House and the Stars Above It, to learn more about Kepler, his namesake, and his advancements in astronomy.

AVAILABLE NOW: Humans In My House and the Stars Above It

12 Sep

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Available now in paperback and Kindle.

Meet me and get a signed copy at Authors Invade Columbia

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