New Member of the Team

barbie-head-shotThe Astro Babes want to welcome a new guest correspondent to our team! Barbara Millicent Roberts, an astronaut and notable Martian expert from Willows, Wisconsin, will be sharing her expertise in future blogs on our website.

Often referred to as “Mars Explorer Barbie,” Ms. Roberts officially began her assignment in collaboration with NASA in August. Her assignment coincided with the first anniversary of NASA’s Curiosity rover landing on Mars.

The Astro Babes want to express their gratitude to Ms. Roberts for agreeing to act as our official Mars Correspondent, and we look forward to her contributions in the near future.

Solar System Ambassador

Amy by Stu CroppedIn January of this year I became a Solar System Ambassador for NASA/JPL! This is a volunteer position who’s function is public outreach. This last Monday I gave a 2 hour presentation for our local LIR (Learning in Retirement) group. See – I can look professional if I want! No tin foil hats here!

What a fun group of adults who asked lots of great questions. I must be honest, I was a bit intimidated by these folks, they are very informed! We talked about asteroids and comets since this year has been a whirlwind of activity in both of those areas. I was a bit nervous at first, but I think things went well. I learned a lot about presenting in that venue! I wasn’t used to using a microphone (I forgot to turn it on twice!). Hearing me is usually not a problem! I only had one technical problem but I worked that out too!

Thank you LIR for letting me have the opportunity to talk with your members! I hope to see you again next year!

If you want to find a Solar System Ambassador in your area please follow the link above. There’s an interactive map for you to find someone in your state!


Sputnikfest 2013

IMG_3718Last year we were only participants, but this year, the Astro Babes brought solar telescopes to Sputnikfest in Manitowoc.

Once the 3 p.m. Alien Drop crowd cleared out, we set up just a few steps away from the ring where the chunk of Sputnik IV landed in 1962 at the intersection of Eighth and Park streets.

The crowd was non-stop to take a peak at Venus or the sun through the three solar telescopes and the three projections that we set up. Tom from Appleton and Jim from Manitowoc brought their scopes and a sunspotter – thanks for your help guys! The rest of the equipment we borrowed from NPMAS.

Although there weren’t any sunspots to see, Tom’s Coronado revealed several CME’s that really impressed the crowd.







Smile – Cassini’s Watching!

Say cheese, or batman, or fuzzy pickles or whatever it takes to get that perfect smile. You’ll want to look good for this one!

On Friday July 19th the Cassini spacecraft 900 million miles from earth will be taking our picture, in an event being called “The Day the Earth Smiled”.   I imagine that this could be one of those events that you’ll look back on and remember where you were, or what you were doing when that historic photo was taken.Saturn

Now I know that to Cassini,  earth will be just a tiny blue dot, and of course no one will see you in the photo standing on top of a building with a huge “Hi Mom” sign, frantically waving your arms and staring up at the sky.  But YOU’LL know that at that moment a beautiful and historic image is being taken from many miles from earth.

While Cassini has taken several photos of the earth over the last nine years, this is the first time that the public has know about it in advance. Making this a special event!

So on Friday at between 2:27 and 2:47pm Pacific daylight time (they’ve accounted for light travel times) whether you choose to go outside and make a scene, or you just take a moment to glance outside, make sure you stop, if only for a moment and smile. You’ll be taking part in recognizing a truly amazing event!

Oh… and don’t forget to say cheese!


Time Well Spent

star_gazing_projectPublic outreach – otherwise known as a great excuse for wearing my astronaut flight suit that I got at space camp. On Saturday I spent some time at a local science expo for kids, helping out in the booth with telescopes, binoculars and handouts. It was very fun and rewarding. I always love to share this hobby with other people.

It always amazes me to see how open the kids are to new experiences. Like a carnival ride they can’t get enough of, they line up over and over to peek through a telescope aimed at a paper target on the ceiling. Outside Gary and Wayne, ever the troopers, stood vigil by their solar scopes, patiently re-aiming the telescopes time after time, after little hands grab the eyepiece.  For hours in the cold they help hundreds of eager kids see something they may have never seen before – sunspots on the sun!

So here’s a challenge for all of you – find a way to share astronomy with someone. It could be a family member, a friend, or your child! You could simply share a beautiful moon, or find out when the ISS will be gliding by. Sometimes a little thing like that could spark interest. If nothing else, it’s a great way of spending time with your family.

Clear skies!


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