Tag: New Horizons

Walking to Pluto, Step 4Walking to Pluto, Step 4

Step 4:  Go Farther

Pluto & Charon in Full Color (Image Credit:  NASA)

Pluto & Charon in Full Color (Image Credit: NASA)

New Horizons has flown past Pluto successfully, and is now on the way to check out other Kuiper Belt objects.  Here’s Corwin Wray’s simulation (made with Pixel Gravity, his software for doing multi-body models on your laptop), which concludes with a wistful look back at our Solar System:


Like New Horizons, you can explore further too.

It’s worth your while to start by tracking down Guy Ottewell. Yes, he’s on the web, folks, and you can connect with him! Start with his Home Page, which includes all of his books, including the latest version of the book form of his Thousand-Yard Model as well as innovative ideas in several fields, from voting systems to landscape design:    He has a Facebook Page on which he’s been more active as of 2014, sharing art and world news:    And he joined Twitter in 2013 and tweets regularly, especially on human-rights topics, which should interest anyone who’s become aware of just how small our human community is in this huge universe: find him as simply @GuyOttewell on the tweet machine.  A few of his books are available at Amazon, but take care—the latest updates are best obtained by purchasing directly from the author.


Of course, you might want to follow some of informational links given in the workbook pdf’s for this project:

For more information on both the inner and outer planets: http://solarsystem.nasa.gov/planets/charchart.cfm

For more information on the asteroid belt:   http://solarsystem.nasa.gov/planets/profile.cfm?Object=Asteroids&Display=OverviewLong

For more on Kuiper-belt objects and Pluto:   http://solarsystem.nasa.gov/planets/profile.cfm?Object=KBOs and also http://solarsystem.nasa.gov/planets/profile.cfm?Object=Dwarf

And of course we have an active mission beyond Pluto right now.  It’s an APL project, so they have a great page on the program:  http://pluto.jhuapl.edu/

Read about the Pioneers’ adventures here http://www.nasa.gov/centers/ames/news/2013/pioneer11-40-years.html#.UzDJ44WwX_0 and here http://www.nasa.gov/topics/history/features/Pioneer_10_40th_Anniversary.html#.UzDKb4WwX_0

Discover more about the Voyager missions at: http://voyager.jpl.nasa.gov/where/index.html

And find out where all the system-leaving spacecraft—as well as Earth-orbiting satellites, the planets, and other system objects–are right now: http://www.heavens-above.com/SolarEscape.aspx?lat=0&lng=0&loc=Unspecified&alt=0&tz=UCT

For more on the Oort cloud, see http://solarsystem.nasa.gov/planets/profile.cfm?Object=KBOs


Lots of other interesting links:

The National Optical Astronomy Observatory presents Guy Ottewell’s original project description from 1989 online:

A wonderful collection of poems and quotes related to astronomy, gathered by Michele Stark, an astronomer with a wonderful page she created while lecturing in physics at the University of Michigan, Flint. l  You’ll also find astronomy labs she’s created for non-majors interested in the field, under “Outreach and Education

A relatively exhaustive listing of scale models in place around the world—most are designed for point-to-point driving or cycling tours, so scroll to the bottom portion of the list for walkable models, several of which are roughly on the same scale as that presented here. Check before you set out—some of these installations were only temporary, as part of larger events and some are virtual (i.e., online). I would like to imagine astronomy fans travelling to all of them, as baseball fans travel to all the major-league parks.

The National Center for Earth and Space Science’s “Voyage” program has a “somewhat” pricier scale model in Washington D.C. but also offers up lots of useful curriculum materials:   http://voyagesolarsystem.org/   Their program is fee-based, not by any means free, but it is very comprehensive and aims to involve parents, teachers, students, and their communities: http://journeythroughtheuniverse.org/home/home_default.html

You can keep track of the Voyager spacecraft in real time at http://voyager.jpl.nasa.gov/where/index.html   They’re in rapid motion—Voyager 1 is travelling at over 38 thousand miles per hour (over 17 km per second).

All about the sun (with a wonderful NASA graphic of a solar flare compared with the Earth): http://www.universetoday.com/94252/characteristics-of-the-sun/

A summary page on the Peppercorn Model at SpyHill Research, which also includes some links to interesting places: http://www.spy-hill.net/myers/peppercorn/

Why isn’t an AU exactly the same as Earth’s orbit any more? Sorry academics, the best answer is in Wikiland: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Astronomical_unit

More about our Moon: http://www.universetoday.com/19677/diameter-of-the-moon/ By the way, Universe Today is a good site to follow!

Asteroid information for Wiki fans: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asteroid_belt

The Project Astro Notebook used to be sold as a huge expensive bulky (and still wonderful) binder. Soon, you’ll be able download at least some portions in pdf format from the free government-sponsored education resources site eric.gov. However, for now your best bet is to buy the DVD’s at http://astrosociety.org/astroshop/index.php?p=product&id=577&parent=1

While you are waiting for your DVD to arrive, the Astronomical Society of the Pacific has a page full of resources for you, including a few of the Project Astro activities. http://www.astrosociety.org/education/astronomy-resource-guides/

If you actually need to shop for marbles, by all means the best place for working on this project would be “Moon Marbles”, at http://www.moonmarble.com/c-78-shooters-approx-19mm-or-34.aspx

Astronomer Phil Plait summarizes the latest estimates on stars with planets beyond our own system: http://www.slate.com/blogs/bad_astronomy/2013/11/04/earth_like_exoplanets_planets_like_ours_may_be_very_common.html

Why use a FIFA 4 or 5 ball? Well, the dimensions are good for it. But any similar-sized ball will do for this project…like the tennis-ball-patterned playground ball I have.  Guy Ottewell likes to use a bowling ball—but notes that it’s kind of heavy to lug around. http://www.achallenge.com/t-faq.aspx

A seemingly unrelated topic—watching for the bright flare of reflected sunlight from certain Earth-orbiting satellites: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/washtech/features/iridiumqa.htm The interviewer on that page is talking to Chris Peat, whose website contains a wealth of information on satellites, the solar system, and the positions of the Pioneer and Voyager spacecraft. http://www.heavens-above.com/?lat=0&lng=0&loc=Unspecified&alt=0&tz=UCT

Just to show how established walkable solar system models have become, here’s a typical promotion for a talk by Eric Myers of SUNY (see the GoogleMaps list below) and another talk summary that may inspire you to think about other ways of building a model https://nightsky.jpl.nasa.gov/event-view.cfm?Event_ID=44693   and http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=7&ved=0CGcQFjAG&url=http%3A%2F%2Fregionalaaptmeeting2013.weebly.com%2Fuploads%2F2%2F2%2F9%2F3%2F22939768%2Faapt_meeting.docx&ei=jaU5U5rvCqiIyAGK0YHwBw&usg=AFQjCNHl4_6jyF2UU_JJ7H9SrD6suXOhjA&sig2=MBKeDxFBGjHlVB2rk8n3wA&bvm=bv.63808443,d.aWc

A few places (courtesy of SpyHill Research’s page) where you can use GoogleMaps to follow a model:

> SUNY College at New Paltz, New York:  Map, KML

> Dutchess County Rail Trail, Morgan Lake, Poughkeepsie, New York:  Map, KML

> Riverfront City Park, Salem, Oregon:  Map, KML

> Walkway over the Hudson, between Poughkeepsie and Highland, NY:  Map, KML

> Marist College, Poughkeepsie, NY:  Map


For an insanely delicious solar-system project for any mad bakers in your circle, visit Rhiannon’s recipe on her cakecrumbs blog: http://cakecrumbs.me/2013/08/01/spherical-concentric-layer-cake-tutorial/ with some extra photos and video on waitwow http://www.waitwow.com/make-scientifically-accurate-cake-planets/

If you need more reassurance that science and math are not only fun but also funny, visit http://www.xkcd.com (but do prescreen before sharing with students—this webcomic does sometimes use “PG-13” language.

If you have already memorized all of Gary Larson’s Far Side comics, visit the science cartoon webring at http://jcdverha.home.xs4all.nl/scihum/webring.html

And of course, don’t forget to visit Science Cartoons Plus (http://www.sciencecartoonsplus.com/pages/gallery.php)


Materials shopping tips:

Pins with small round heads—look for beading pins—however, be aware that beading pins aren’t sharp, so pick up some ordinary pins as well. http://smile.amazon.com/Beadaholique-20-Piece-Ball-21-Gauge-1-5-Inch/dp/B00BBAXXYS/ref=sr_1_1?s=arts-crafts&ie=UTF8&qid=1396515591&sr=1-1&keywords=pins+2mm+head   For pin tips, any small sewing pin with a nice sharp tip will do. (Note that beading pins are not that sharp.)

For the jacks ball, you can pick up a jacks set anywhere. Online (e.g., www.orientaltrading.com , they’re often sold in party packs of a dozen sets. But any bouncy ball bigger than ¾” and no bigger than 1” in diameter will do the trick.

If you decide to buy a playground ball or soccer ball online, locate an air pump before your shipment arrives—they’re often shipped uninflated.

And if you buy on Amazon, be sure to sign up for smile.amazon.com first, so your purchases can support your favorite charity.